The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 20, Number 6
Nov 1996


Like, It Came from the Pole, Dude, IV
(Santa and the Pacific Rim)

by Sally Shelton

'Twas the night before Christmas (it comes every year,
Just like taxes and bad verse and all that you fear),
And the moon on the breast of the new fall'n snow
Was two thousand miles distant from San Diego.
Yes, no sign of sleighs or of snowmen or ice:
Christmas in Surfland looked eerily nice.
All the museum was mellow, but I wasn't calm.
Santa would never leave gifts 'neath a palm.
Santa is.....pudgy.....and that's not PC,
Nor is forced reindeer labor or elf slavery.
With all of the paperwork he'd have to file,
I figured he'd skip California by miles.
So I worked late that night in the museum collections,
Working on grants going in all directions,
Grousing and sniping (too much working with birds)
And trying to find the right wheedling words,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a globular shape in the high atmosphere
Aiming to land on the museum's flat roof-
But disaster awaited that first tiny hoof.
Santa had fed himself well all year long,
And trying to land here was terribly wrong.
The weight was just more than the fault line could hold,
And, as he touched down, he made all the ground fold
And buckle and heave (I was heaving some, too).
And Santa and cervids were airborne anew.
It looked like a rodeo up in the sky
As I clung to the door frame and watched things fly by.
There were bottles and fossils and flowers and gems-
And was that a curator shrieking out "Auntie Em!"?
Santa was caught in the antlers and reins,
And I shuddered to think of the multiple pains.
As soon as the quake stopped, SC came to earth
And came to his feet-no mean trick for his girth.
His belly was shaking, though he wasn't ho-hoing,
And he threw me some boxes and said he was going.
I can't say he was much of a jolly old elf,
But the big rock'n'roll left me speechless myself.
He untangled his team, but he found only six,
So two or three reindeer are up to some tricks,
Hiding beside dioramas and walls
And scaring the tourists by running down halls.
The boxes? Emergency gear for survival,
Post-earthquake, -election, and -budget arrival.
Dried soup and used flashlights, secondhand seismic bracing,
Political earplugs, belt tightener lacing.
He left with a finger aside of his nose:
We did, too, but not the finger he chose.
But don't think that we don't know whom to exalt:
We've renamed the feature the Santa Claus Fault.

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