Wednesday, December 20, 2017

40 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 2017

In a year where unimaginable darkness arose and lives were lost as a result, I noted that an ancient form of activity has taken center stage in a modern form; scapegoating has returned with a social media vengeance. Pointed fingers and angry voices calling out the "others" as the most serious threat to our very way of living has taken hold across the country.

These others are simply people who are trying to improve their lot in life much the same as scores of immigrants have before. Coming from other lands, legally and illegally, they want what every person yearns for: freedom and a chance to build something for themselves and their families. Some have succeeded, many have been taken obscene advantage of. This is the unfortunate result of the use and misuse of power and it has been this way virtually forever. That will not be changing anytime soon.

Though now not a religious person, I was raised in a Catholic family and attended Catholic grammar and high school. I've been well educated in the Bible and the Western civilization and know the legends and stories well. It doesn't take an advanced education in divinity to know the Great Commandments that are common to virtually all of the world's great religions. Sadly, they seem to be quite out of vogue in today's modern world.

It makes me wonder what would happen if we were able to hit the "reset" button on Christianity and how the events of the original Christmas story would play out in 2017. I don't think it would be quite be the same. Consider this today when choosing whether or not to "cast the first stone", whatever form that stone may take.

 Christmas 2017
By Richard Perrotti

It is written “Do unto others
As you would have them do unto you.”
This serves as a constant for mankind
A Rule we can all live up to.

But one can also live down this rule,
Offering hatred, prejudice and shame;
Pointing fingers and cursing the “others”
In a cascade of vitriol and blame.

These “others” have always been with us,
Playing a critical role.
They afford us another opportunity
To align with (or away) from one’s soul.

“There will always be some in this land who are poor,”
Of this we cannot be naïve.
For how else would you then practice
“It is more blessed to give than to receive”?

“The godly care about the rights of the poor,
The wicked do not care at all.”
The “others” are there to remind us
Of what will result from this call.

Picture an impoverished young couple,
Worn down to the bone and skin.
Where would we have them turn to
When there’s no room for them in the inn?

Now imagine a poor unwed mother,
Pregnant by an impossible plan;
Eventually accepted by her husband-to-be
Was how the first Christmas story began.

In a feeding trough called a manger,
A newborn male child was laid.
Surrounded by shepherds, cattle and kings,
To the Light of the World they prayed.

How would we judge such a story today?
Would we open our hearts to these brothers?
Or denigrate them as heathens and strange
Casting them out as the “others”?

This is known as the season of giving,
Words we adorn on a shelf.
Here’s the true spirit of Christmas;
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Monday, December 19, 2016

39 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 2016

During the summer, I was inspired to compose this year's Christmas poem as an actual song. When the inner voice speaks, I grab a pad and start writing without judgement, even if strikes out of a dead sleep. The scribbles can later be translated during conscious hours. Thus the 39th edition of the poem was going to be a pleasant surprise to all, especially me!

And then the ugliness of our political process started to envelop this country like a fog. I still believed in the innate goodness and wisdom of our populace only to discover that the literary "dark night of the soul" could actually occur in the real world. The emotions that overwhelmed me were some of the worst feelings that I have ever experienced. And now the song of joy that was close to completion was going to remain unfinished. All of the light channeled into it had been extinguished.

I knew in my heart that an answer would arrive to help me process these events and that the Christmas poem might actually be a vehicle of healing.That's when the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" projected within my mind; I popped in the DVD and watched. And there it was, the ethereal skeleton that would form the frame of this year's poem. The Henry F. Potters of the world are our call to a greater, active level of love, growth and acceptance. This powerful thought will help us all win our wings now and forever.

Christmas 2016
By Richard Perrotti

Into each life, some Potter must fall.
(Henry, not Harry, I’m afraid.)
Who see a “discontented, lazy rabble,”
And to their lesser angels, tirade.

“Sick in his mind, sick in his soul,”
George Bailey’s dad did opine
He would fight for the families and children
That Potter would scorn and malign.

“I’m an old man and most people hate me,”
Said Potter with scant to believe in.
“But I don’t like them either,” he roared
“So that just makes it all even.”

“Your father’s so called ‘high ideals’
Without sense could ruin this town.”
Potter’s shadow surrounded George Bailey
And his dreams began to break down.

The price of battling such blackness
Is a painful, spiritual shove.
You become a “warped, frustrated young man”
Neglecting all those that you love.

Help arrives in a manner quite odd;
An angel, sans wings, to fulfill
Your request to vanish this Bedford Falls life.
You awaken to “Pottersville.”

With goodness and decency naught to be found,
Confusion and chaos will reign.
You search for the town so dear to your heart
To find a city, embattled, in pain.

“Strange, isn’t it?” the angel does say,
“Each life touches so many others.
When you’re not around, the hole that you leave
Effects countless sisters and brothers.”

Let despair not overtake you
Or darkness lead you astray.
You may not be a “praying man”
But you can ask to be shown the way.

Peace be with you, my sisters and brothers.
May love be the song your heart sings
As bells proclaim joyful tidings;
Our better angels “winning their wings.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

38 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 2015

I think that a good friend of mine spoke well when she gave me her thoughts about this year's poem. "It's like you tapped into the consciousness of the world, what everyone is feeling and what their hearts need to hear." All I can say is that the idea for this year changed in the wake of all of the sad events of the past few weeks. I wondered if I was ever going to get more than one verse (the second) and then one afternoon, I sat quietly and everything fell quickly and easily into place over several hours. It always stuns me when that happens and leaves me in a state of tremendous appreciation. This year was no different.

Christmas 2015
By Richard Perrotti

The night was cold as I gazed at the sky,
Sadness about me swirled.
How could I celebrate the season
With so much darkness in the world?

All of the hate, hurt and anger
Had exploded into my sight.
Did no one wish to be happy?
No, everyone needed to be right.

That’s when I heard him walk up to me,
Old, with a kindly face.
He smiled, at first saying nothing
As we both stared off into space.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” He gestured,
His hand reaching out to the sky.
“This light’s traveled eons to get here
And register in your mind’s eye.

As you dwell on the state of the world,
Consider the stars this cold night.
Truly if there were no darkness,
How would you understand light?

One more thought to soothe your soul
As you gaze at the deep dark afar;
All of the good that’s ever been done
Outnumbers this vast sea of stars.

So change your focus, search for what’s good.
You won’t have to look very far!
Be the light that dissipates night
For love is what we all truly are.”

I felt my heart lighten, releasing the dark,
Just as night must surrender to dawn.
I turned to thank him for his gentle words
To find no one there. He was gone.

Was it all in my mind? I wondered
Then realized that it mattered naught.
Love is the light of the season;
One just need remember that thought.