31 Days of Holiday Hooligans

children playing in snow

The No Holds Barred Poetry Writing Challenge has finally ended! I hope you enjoyed writing your poems, whether you chose to share them with others or made the executive decision that no eyes should ever have to read that embarrassing collection of words. That’s definitely how I felt about half of my poems, but I did have some favorites…

Did you have any favorites not listed above? Let me know in the comments. I know I can be my own worst critic, so open my eyes to what I’m definitely not seeing in those poems I’d rather forget I ever wrote. You can read all poems written for the 2022 challenge here.

I don’t do this challenge often (the last one was in January/February 2015). It usually comes whenever I’m in a poetry writing slump and I want to exercise my quill and rediscover the magic of poetry. Though I didn’t love all of them, I must admit some poems were magical, so I would call this challenge a success! My top favorite is “Winter wet dream,” no explanation needed. 😉

With NHBPWC 2022 finally over, it’s time we transition to the real reason you clicked on this post…

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NoHoldsBarredPoetryWritingChallenge Day 5: Too soon for Christmas?

woman standing in front of illuminated Christmas tree and drinking from Styrofoam cup in city during winter
Is it too soon for Christmas?
For jingle bells, for sleigh bells
ringing? For "Hark, the Herald,"
for angels singing?

Is it too soon to fall in love
with a small-town country boy
who wears flannel shirts
and rents a log cabin,
roasts chestnuts on the fire,
drinks eggnog by the gallon?

Is it too soon to rejoice 
the newborn King?
The Lion, the Lamb,
Emmanuel—God with us—
the Great I Am?

Is it too soon to search for meaning
in the snow, in the trees, 
in the lights, in the wreaths, 
in the presents, in the sweets?

Where are you, dear Christmas?
Have you been waiting for us?
Have we forgotten who you are
thanks to capitalist lusts?

Come back to us, Christmas,
remind us of your joy, your heart.
Post-Halloween playlist fades in,
watch the demons depart.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…

McDonald’s is closed on Christmas, so the bitter loners come the night before.

They bear the frigid wind as they walk to their driveways and skid across icy roads to the closest McDonald’s in cars that have yet to kick on the heat.

But it’s too cold to go inside, so they order their ice cream cones from the drive-thru, require that their French fries be fresh, park in front to the pick-up window and demand to see the manager after the young cashier—three years post college graduation, who unsuccessfully searches Indeed.com for jobs in her field when business is slow—tells them that it’s 32 cents extra for barbeque sauce because they didn’t order chicken nuggets.

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She thought the cookies, shaped
like Christmas trees, were burning,
green icing boiling over,
sprinkles in plastic container
melting onto stovetop eye.

Smoke tickled ceiling, hovered
overhead, thickened as
she neared kitchen.

Her one-year-old’s cries
from the living room
nagged her ear.

Flames dancing on tips
of branches. Black holes
singed into carpet. Ornaments
shattered. Angel lit like
North Star. Baby next to toppled
tree. A string of sparking
Christmas lights in his mouth.

© 2015 Nortina Simmons

Cold Turkey

“Why would anyone want to use a turkey baster to get pregnant? Wouldn’t a syringe be easier? Like inserting a tampon?”

And with that, Thanksgiving dinner was ruined. We stood around the dining room table. On it sat a feast from corner to corner— roasted turkey, honey baked ham, sweet cornbread, mac and cheese, chicken liver stuffing, sweet potato casserole, rice and giblet gravy, and of course the collards and ham hock.

Catherine threw down cousin Raquel’s hand, suspecting it was her own surprise pregnancy that sparked the comment. She turned and ran to the bathroom, cousin Darrel, the father to be, on her heels.

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