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Nineteen Visions of Christmas

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Product Description

poems by

Sally Buckner

Poetry chapbook, 46 pages, $12 cover price

($10 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-331-3

Released: 2011

 

About The Author

 

SBuckley_Px2Sally Buckner is the author of two poetry collections, Strawberry Harvest and Collateral Damage. She also edited two anthologies of North Carolina literature, Our Words, Our Ways, and Word and Witness: 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry. Her writing and her work in North Carolina’s flourishing literary community have been honored by a number of awards, including the R. Hunt Parker Award for contributions to North Carolina literature. Formerly a journalist, then an English professor, she lives in Cary, NC.

Comments

For years Sally Buckner has generously gifted family and friends with her annual Christmas poem. And for years, those of us fortunate to be on her ever widening circle have kept her poems year to year. Now she’s gifting, merrily wrapped and filled with spirit, a wider world. Enjoy. Share. Celebrate. This is truly a champagne of words.

–Ruth Moose

Sally Buckner’s Nineteen Visions of Christmas is an innovative and interactive collection of poems that celebrate the Christmas season with all the warmth and light the season suggests. These poems sing with the grace of carols and are perfect for intimate family celebrations or for for use in classrooms, churches, and other gatherings. Indeed, they will delight all ages, reminding us of what we love most about Christmas and what we admire about poetry.

–Anne Clinard Barnhill

Sally Buckner’s poems in Nineteen Visions of Christmas range from well-known images to broader perspectives and appeal to young and old alike. She also encourages the reading of these poems in a variety of settings, and she teaches readers ways to personalize some of the poems for their own families and friends. As is true with Christmas, Sally Buckner has created poems that are themselves gifts to enjoy again and again.

–Malaika King Albrecht

Author’s Note

This collection presents a variety of perspectives of Christmas, some designed especially for children, most for adults; some based on the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus, others constructed around memory or custom. All focus on what is often called “the Christmas spirit,” a spirit of peace, love, and generosity.

This is an unusual collection in that it doesn’t simply present a series of poems, but suggests varied ways in which the poems may be used. In several, listeners may join the reader at certain passages-useful at religious services or social gatherings. Other poems may be used as a frame or trigger from which your own Christmas poem or story may emerge-a writing you may wish to share with family and/or friends. At the end of the book, see “Suggestions for Selected Poems,” which includes ways to encourage group participation and/or to substitute your own material to revise the poems for your personal use.

Whoever you are, whichever way you approach these poems, I hope they will be meaningful and useful. And I wish for all of you that your Christmaseses be blessed with compassion and peace.

Sally Buckner

Samples

SHEPHERDS

And there are shepherds abiding
in the fields, villages and valleys,
in throbbing cities, on snow-crusted mountains,
long and level plains, placid lakeshores,
and even on the heaving waves,

all keeping careful watch over their flocks,
their families and friends, parishioners
and patients, students, neighbors, clients,
customers and colleagues

by bleakest night and sun-dazzled day,
performing daily tasks without regard
for headlines or applause, and through
their work, their words,
proclaiming our dearest dream:

peace on this wonder-filled earth,
good will to all humankind.

CEDAR

Always cedar.
Fir trees didn’t grow in Iredell County,
and George never considered pine or hemlock,
which suited me fine: I loved the scent of cedar
spicing the entire house from the very minute
those feathery branches ruffled through the door
until right after Christmas, when we flung
its carcass, picked as clean as chicken bones
outside where it could dry till fit for firewood.

In early years, he’d combine his search
for a tree with a hunting trip, return grinning,
tree on one shoulder, rabbits on the other.
Later, when whatever disease the doctors
couldn’t find a name for drew the muscles
in his legs so tight he could barely walk–
lurched like a drunken sailor–he would drive
far out in the country, scanning the winter roadside
till he found a likely candidate, straight and full,
which he could manage to clamber to, cane
clasped in one hand, ax in the other .

Never paid or asked permission. Lord, why would he?
We were all tree-poor those days, wouldn’t miss a cedar
more than a dandelion. Nobody’d thought
of using tillable land for Christmas trees.
When Hoover was still making promises,
who would have laid down a cherished dollar
for something to toss away after just a week?

When George got home, he’d nail two boards in an X
for the tree’s support. I’d swath them with a blanket.
The girls would help him string the lights, then wind
cellophane garlands through the greenery.
Meanwhile I’d whip Lux flakes to a frothy lather;
dried on the branches, if you’d squint your eyes,
you’d swear that it was snow. Altogether,
it was some kind of pretty.

Eighteen years now, he’s been gone. At first,
my boy still at home, I’d buy a tree–
resenting every dollar–fix it up
the best I could all by myself. Then later,
hoisting trees got to be beyond me.
I purchased one advertised as “everlasting,”
needles, branches, trunk–all aluminum.
Don’t use lights, just big red satin balls.
The children, when they come, don’t complain.
The grandchildren exclaim, “Red and silver!
Look at it shine!” And it lasts year after year–
not half the trouble of a woodland tree.

But I still miss the scent of cedar.

NINE YEARS OLD, AND ALL’S WELL

Just before dawn,
stars glint like bits of frost
in the velvet Christmas sky.
Inside, our Heatrola roars a toasty blast.
Cozy beneath the shelter of our cedar,
I inhale its spice and relish
the threads of silver glistening from its boughs,
exult in the treasure beneath:
Lone Ranger gun-and-holster for tomboy me,
baby doll and layette for my motherly sister,
a fuzzy teddy bear for baby brother,
a tumble of boxes bound in red-and-green mystery,
a stash of tangerines and chocolate kisses.

On the sofa, a broad smile on her rosy face
Mama perches in her flowerdy cotton robe.
Behind her, sipping black, black coffee,
Daddy grins from his recliner.
At his feet, Sister sits cross-legged, in dazed delight.
In that little room, happiness bubbles
like the hot chocolate simmering on the range;
its glow almost as dazzling
as the rainbowed rope of lights
spiraling to the tip of our aromatic tree.

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