Friday, December 9, 2011

34 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 1979

Welcome to the most unique poem that I have ever written during the long history of this project. Considering that it was only the second one, I had no idea how singularly unusual it would become at the time.

The first thing that you will notice is that it doesn't follow a rhyming format. I did not avail myself of the able-bodied assistance of Mr. Clement Wood this time around. (Google him if you desire.)

Instead I brought out a "favorite toy" last used in submissions to my college literary journal. I doubt if it's an original concept but it never failed to spark creativity and a smile from me. (It's geared around the first letter of each sentence; I'll let you uncover it on your own.) So this is the one and only poem that does not rhyme.

In the much bigger picture, this poem was directly inspired by one significant historical event that occurred on November 4, 1979; the Iranian hostage crisis. ( This was an enormous wound to the nation's psyche, one that my generation had never witnessed before. In a time when there was no internet and all news was directly consumed via newspapers and the three major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC and CBS), no other story mattered. Little were we aware that this one would actually continue for a mind numbing 444 days.

Outrage, anger, confusion, pain, sadness... the dizzying array of emotions that poured forth were intense and overwhelming. Despite "angry patriotism" that desired rescue and revenge, the primary concern was the safety of these men and women who were being paraded through the streets and subjected to unspeakable psychological and physical horrors.

As Christmas approached, I can state without the slightest bit of sarcasm that the prayers of a nation focused on one gift; the safe return of the hostages. Sadly, this would not occur until well after Christmas of the following year.

Consider this poem then to be my version of "channeling" the emotional undercurrent of America during this historic event; it could be summed up as pain, prayers, perseverance and patriotism. There is no doubt that at twenty-three years old, I was completely swept up in this wave.

The ironic thing is that in reading it today, I can still palpably feel it all. If the world is nothing more than a reflection of our focused intentions and emotions, I think that the continuing tension between Iran and the US is an accurate manifestation of the psychic "open wound" that both countries still acutely feel.

Christmas 1979
Richard Perrotti

Time keeps on turning and so we

Observe, t’is time to

Gather all that’s held dear. Occasional dread of

Each well-worn mission, is replaced by

The warmth that the memories bring. So we

Hang tough as times get tougher, and

Each feeling more precious than any have been.

Rest firm in our faith, strong in our love,

We stick together in bad as in good.

Each person’s important to us as a whole.

Christmas just serves to remind us this fact.

And with spirits united, we will survive and

No one will harm us. Our dreams and visions burn brightly, alive.

            Together, we can.

December 1979:
2nd - Crowds attack US embassy at Tripoli Libya
2nd - Foots Walker becomes 1st Cleve Cavalier to score a triple-double
2nd - USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
3rd - 11 trampled to death at Cincinnati Who concert
3rd - 45th Heisman Trophy Award: Charles White, Southern Cal (RB)
3rd - Christies auctions a thimble for a record $18,400
3rd - Iran accepts constitution
3rd - Shadow Traffic begins broadcasting in the New York City metropolitan area.
4th - Cleveland Cavaliers retire jersey # 7, Bingo Smith
4th - Liza Minnelli's 3rd marriage (Mark Gero)
5th - Ireland premier Jack Lynch resigns
9th - Murle Breer/Dave Eichelberger wins LPGA J C Penney Golf Classic
10th - Piet Dankert appointed as chairman of European Parliament
11th - Geoff Boycott scores cricket century in a limited-over international
11th - Great Britain grants independence to Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)
12th - Gold hits record $462.50 an ounce
12th - Rhodesia becomes independent nation of Zimbabwe
12th - President of Pakistan, Zia-ul-Haq, confers Nishan-e-Imtiaz on Nobel laureate Dr Abdus Salam.
13th - "Oklahoma!" opens at Palace Theater NYC for 301 performances
13th - Strikes against price increases in Gdansk Poland
14th - US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
15th - Deposed Shah of Iran leaves US for Panama
15th - World Court in Hague rules Iran should relase all US hostages
16th - 68th Davis Cup: USA beats Italy in San Francisco (5-0)
16th - QB Roger Staubach's last regular season game with the Dallas Cowboys
17th - Budweiser rocket car reaches 1190 kph (record for wheeled vehicle)
18th - Stanley Barrett 1st to exceed land sonic speed (739.666 MPH)
21st - Gary Unger plays in record 914th consecutive NHL game
21st - USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
21st - Zimbabwe adopts constitution
23rd - NY Islanders greatest shutout lose (8-0) vs Chicago Black Hawks
23rd - USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
24th - 1st Ariane-rocket launched
25th - Opening day of 4th Test Cricket, India 8-112 v Pakistan at Kanpur
25th - USSR airlifts invasionary army to Afghanistan
26th - Soviet Special forces take over presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.
27th - "Knots Landing," premieres on CBS-TV
27th - Red Army beats NY Rangers 5-2 at MSG
27th - Soviet troops invade Afghanistan, Pres Hafizullah Amin overthrown
29th - Red Army beats NY Islanders 3-2 at Nassau Coliseum
30th - Rock group, Emerson, Lake & Palmer break up
30th - Togo adopts constitution
31st - Winterland Rock Concert Hall in SF closes after 556 concerts


  1. hey this was the best Christmas poem I ever read !!

  2. Thanks Jyoti. It follows more of your style based on what I've read in your blog. Glad you enjoyed it.