Sentinel Poetry #49     December 2006    ISSN 1479-425X


Guest Editor: Nnorom Azuonye

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Cristian Mocanu


Christmas Trilogy


(Note to the Christmas Trilogy: These pieces are anchored in the Romanian culture. Romanian carolers go from house to house, come inside and sing. They are then rewarded by the hosts with gifts, usually something to eat.)


I.  Defeat

             (a shan-zi)


          The carolers

          try to cheat the frost.


          piercing the darkness

          one tiny light.



          for the first time

          a homebound U-turn.


II. Christmas Dinner

                  -a haibun-


              Most probably, they will come. She tries to move toward the window and peep outside, into the icy darkness. She gives up. Cold is not good for her. True, her whole body is aching, as it is. But cold would bring it beyond bearing.

                They will come. They are more dependable than anyone she ever depended on: siblings, husband, kids, grandchildren...Life is such a funny thing, it dawns on her now: the less obligation one feels to do something, the more certain you can be that you'll see it done.. They will come. Every year, they do. It's a tradition!

                They will come. She can even hear voices, at a distance. She throws a quick glance at the shelf: yes, it's there all right!

                But...oh, that can't be! Suddenly, no voices, no steps. Not even some kind of winter mirage...

                In the suddenly won frosty certainty, one question lingers: what is she to do with it? Her mind's hesitation was brief. Her feet, bearing the whole burden of age, hesitated some more. But she went to the shelf:


    absolute silenceó

    eating the apple prepared

    for the carolers.



III.  On The 12th Day Of Christmas

               -a Burmese climbing rhyme-


It's been twelve days...

Her glance sways, facing

the rays of morning.


a screeching sound:

guests look around, shyly.

they've found her, finally.


"M-m-merry Christmas" they utter.

A painful stutter, meant

to butter up uneasiness.


They dispel the tension

unwrapping presents, mention the

unusual dimension Christmas has


in old English songs.

With all wrongs forgotten,

she longs for music.


Her smile is brightó

her soul, despite pain

catches sight of both the pear-tree and the partridge.



Christmas Eve Blues

               a shan-zi


Christmas-tree lights

blinking to no-one.


Instantly melting

useless snowflakes.


Where's it hiding,

the city's soul?

ask the cab driver!



New Yearís Eve Blues

                                -a shan-zi


Houses, condos

align, left and right.


They shell each other

with smoke-bombs.


Smoke vanishes,

like champagne foam.

Just hopes linger on... 



  -a sonnet-


(on Epiphany Day, which closes the Christmas season, most Christians agree that three main mysteries in the life of Jesus Christ are remembered. Latin, Byzantine and Armenian Churches each focus on a different of these mysteries in particular. In Romania, all 3 rites are present alongside each other. As a tribute to all these traditions, I wrote this-CM):


Oh, stop a little while! Dare to explore

This celebration: itís both start and end.

Your heart must be alert, to comprehend

Its complex roots, its simple, tender core.


Itís not a mere sweet myth, some ancient lore:

On this day, with the Wise Men, you must send

Your gifts to Bethlehem:you must defend

(Against all Herods) the One you adore.


For he is to be baptised on this day.

Receive, with him, the Voice; receive the Dove:

From Godís embrace you mustnít stay away.


Liturgyís timing is set from above:

The Cana people drink their wine today!

Mysteries melt and mix: their name is LoveÖ


© 2006 by Cristian Mocanu



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