THE SPOILED CHILD

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


(NEW STANZA)

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


(NEW STANZA)

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


(NEW STANZA)

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.