Thursday, September 11, 2014

Adrian Mitchell's "Nothingmas Day"

I picked up this book of children's poetry at a used book store in Philly a while ago. I bought it mainly because I love the illustrations of John Lawrence. But the poetry by Adrian Mitchell is wonderfully absurd; playful, but often in a dark sort of way. I now have a favorite poem for the holiday season. It captures the love/hate relationship so many of us have about the holidays. While telling us about its absence, Mitchell vividly describes so much goofy hubbub and cheer. I feel I have been shown a funhouse mirror that in reflecting an unexpected and distorted image. also reveals a forgotten truth.

Nothingmas Day
by Adrian Mitchell

No it wasn't.

It was Nothingmas Eve and all the children in Notown were not
tingling with excitement as they lay unawake in their heaps.
          s their parents were busily not placing the last
crackermugs, glimmerslips and sweetlumps on the Nothingmas

Hey! But what was that invisible trail of chummy sparks or
vaulting stars across the sky
          Father Nothingmas -- drawn by 18 or 21
          Father Nothingmas -- his sackbut bulging with air!
          Father Nothingmas -- was not on his way!
(From the streets of the snowless town came the quiet of
unsung carols and the merry silence of the steeple bell.)

Next morning the children did not fountain out of bed with cries
of WHOOPERATION! They picked up their Nothingmas
Stocking and with traditional quiperamas such as: "Look what
I haven't got!" It's just what I didn't want!" pulled their stockings
on their ordinary legs.

For breakfast they ate -- breakfast.

After woods they all avoided the Nothingmas Tree, where
Daddy, his face failing to beam like a leaky torch, was not
distributing gemgames, sodaguns, golly-trolleys, jars of
humdrums and packets of slubberated croakers.

Off, off, off went the children to school, soaking each other with
no howls of "Merry Nothingmas and a Happy No Year!", and
not pulping each other with no-balls.

At school MIss Whatnot taught them how to write No Thank
You Letters.

Home they burrowed for Nothingmas Dinner.
The table was not groaning under all manner of
          NO TURKEY
          NO SPICED HAM
          NO SPROUTS
          NO NOT NOWT
There was not one (1) shoot of glee as the Nothingmas
Pudding, unlit, was not brought in. Mince pies were not
available, nor was there any demand for them.

Then, as another Nothingmas clobbered to a close, they all
haggled off to bed where they slept happily never after.

          and that is not the end of the story. . . . . . .

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