Is this the dream we have had all year –
the whole house smelling of burnt toast,
the black and white cat sitting on the bottom stair
chewing tinsel while the ginger tom looks on,
a floor littered with screwed up paper,
tights from grandma – a size too small,
plastic soldiers lying in wait for stockinged feet,
raised voices in the kitchen,
the clatter of baking trays dropped on the floor,
a half empty selection box under the tree,
three kids lounging on the patched brown sofa,
one reading, one making a gun with his fingers –
aiming it at the dog, and one staring into space,
twizzling her hair round her finger, sucking her thumb,
waiting for permission to turn on the TV?
Julia Webb lives in Norwich where she teaches creative writing, mentors writers, and works for Gatehouse Press. She is a poetry editor for Lighthouse and helps organise Cafe Writers. She has two collections published by Nine Arches Press – Bird Sisters (2016) and Threat (2019).
There is tinsel and a lantern coloured in red
and green crayon. There are fags in honeymoon
ashtrays, a picture of Santa Ponsa clouded under
smoldering Sweet Aftons. There are playing cards.
A matchstick currency. What’s the count now?
There are numbers shouted at players.
Bottles of stout. Circulating bottle openers.
There are my childhood hands collecting stout
caps in a shoe box treasure box.
There are men and moans about played cards.
There are stand offs about cold and reneged
cards. There is my mother making hot whiskeys.
Talk of a turkey drive.
Would you let the fire die down woman
for the love of God.
There is the ossified uncle shouted down
as he starts on the rebel songs.
Would you fuck off with your Boolavogue.
There is being noticed and sentenced to bed.
There is rain sleeting off single glazing with wind
rattling through panes. A stash of teddies.
It’s your turn now. The blue one is my favourite.
You go first.
There is coughing into darkness and an evening
played out in my mind. My father is winning.
My mother is laughing.
There is a jolt. I clamp my eyes shut and force
my thoughts to a halt.
You have to be a good girl for Santa to come.
There is the bedtime count.
One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four sheep.
Joanne McCarthy is a poet and spoken word artist who writes in English and Irish. Two of her videopoems featured as part of the 2019 Modwords Festival, Waterford. She is published in the current edition of Visual Verse,Vol 07 Chapter 2.
I’m sprawled over
the cigarette machine—
snogging David Barlow—
when Mum marches in,
hauls me home.
It’s the seventies, I’m 14—
still expecting a rake
of presents, nut roast
and all the trimmings
to magically appear
while I’m down the pub,
being all grown up.
Karen Little has exhibited her artwork internationally, and is widely published as a writer in the UK and further afield.