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The Christmas Market

Rob A. Mackenzie

Those brown leaves beneath the brush 

whisper to me what it means to be alive 

and their husk of language sounds 

like the slogan at the zavvi store –

Take the Nightmare out of Christmas.


But nightmares bind the cortex 

in chains, and online pop-up 

catalogues spam my brain with links 

to jingling ring-tones. In my sleep, 

radiators clank tills and trolleys spill


onto horror aisles where Barbie dolls 

squeal Fairytale of New York all night 

in harsh mono. Security guards scissor 

pockets stuffed with debit cards and drain 

syrup from tins, their methods senseless


and inscrutable as clouds delivering 

a year of rain in the month’s first hour, 

a gush of floods that rush the bric-a-brac 

from my lounge to a newly-trashed motel 

before I wake up and sweep the drive.


Mid-morning, the Salvation Army brass 

strikes up Silent Night, and clove-scent 

saturates the Christmas market 

with the cathedral’s choir of bells. 

The dry suspicion of what it means


to be alive and unprotected 

is interrupted by my daughter asking 

for snow – now! – tomorrow too distant 

even to dream. She has fifty pence 

in her fist and lifts it to the sky.


From Iota 83 & 84 (Spring 2009)