On the Eve, when tongues of hung dead bells
lay silent, smog scraped the landscape
stretched its wrath across the shivering city.
Below a growling sky, the grey track of a sleigh
lugged by a pack of nine empty dogs
weaved between mounds of bones and rust.
Like a swarthy pioneer he handled the reins
hoping for a place to slap his sack, retrieve a song
from his memory, hang a sprig of mistletoe above a hearth.
Between carcasses of once lit haunts he dug
barehanded, searching for a glint of glitter, broken shells
of decorated baubles, a wayward ring of a bell.
He swept the musty ground, tore over hills,
followed a path of fallen fern, hooked his thumbs
into his belt, bellowed until the withered trees shook.
Night after night he roamed, scraped the days
from his boots, tugged at his bedraggled beard,
listened for life under the covering of dark.
With a sag for a smile and holes for eyes, he sat
whimpering amongst the ashen landscape, there
he set himself, back to a tree, slumped for the last.
As midnight struck, a wail clogged itself to the cracks
in his heart. Hidden in an undergrowth, threadbare
and faint, a woman, swollen, ready.
by Panya Banjoko
This Friday, don’t miss our final poetry reading in this semester’s series! It features celebrated haiku and performance poet Mark Gilfillan alongside Ted Hughes Prize-shortlisted writer and translator Chris Beckett, and will take place from 7-9pm at the Society Café in Oxford. You can find more details and buy tickets here . Tickets will also be available on the door.
‘Santa circa 2092’ is copyright © Panya Banjoko, 2017. It is reprinted from Christmas Crackers: Ten Poems to Surprise and Delight (Candlestick Press, 2017) by permission of Candlestick Press.
Notes from Candlestick Press:
Panya Banjoko is a performance poet and writer whose first collection is forthcoming from Burning Eye Books in 2018. She performed at the 2012 Olympic Games and is a patron for UNESCO Nottingham City of Literature. Her work has been widely published in anthologies and by Bloodaxe Books and in 2008 she won a Women in the Arts Award for Outstanding Achievement. You can find more details about Panya’s work on her Facebook page or on her website and follow her on Twitter.
Candlestick Press is a small, independent press based in Nottingham and has been publishing its sumptuous ‘instead of a card’ poetry pamphlets since 2008. Subjects range from Birds and Sheep to Tea, Kindness, Home and Puddings. This year Candlestick is publishing six Christmas titles featuring newly-commissioned poems and a short story by poet Sean O’Brien. You can read more about them on the press’ website. Candlestick Press titles are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, as well as by galleries, museums and garden centres. They can also be ordered online on the Candlestick website, where you can find out more about the full range of titles. You can follow Candlestick on Twitter or find it on Facebook.
Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.