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Michael Van Walleghen's Poetry


The spoiled child
sits quiet as a mouse

and learns to deserve
everything he gets.

It's Christmas Eve

so naturally his father
kicks the electric train

tracks, station, cars and all
across the living room--

Next, he'll wrestle the goddamn
sonofabitch Christmas tree
right out of the house.

And furthermore, furthermore
if there's any more crying
anymore talking back


the spoiled child
is going to get it again
with the strap.


The spoiled child
is exhausted by all this

and lies down in his bed
like a dog. His sleep
is full of yips and moans

but he is not a dog. Not
at all. There's simply
been an accident of sorts

a train wreck it turns out--
wreckage scattered everywhere

shouts, the breaking of glass--

then the nightlong, high-pitched
whistling of the broken boiler


the cruel, absolute zero
of deep space, live steam
condensing into stars

galaxies, the permanent
blizzard of the universe.


Just before true dawn

still bright, still there
at this chill latitude

the star of Bethlehem
sits low on the horizon

appearing as a tiny moon
or some far light leaking

from a bedroom keyhole--

God has placed it there
beyond all accident
the spoiled child thinks


and beyond all accident
he hears the Herald Angels
singing each to each--

They sound like bitter wind
the cold labyrinth of home
creaking in the wind, dogs

the knocking of pipes
the ragged, high-pitched
snoring of the Magi

the fitful shepherds
even the drunken Minotaur

uncomfortable on the couch
in his human body.