As we approach the finish line, this poem involves one of the most interesting, strange and true stories that directly inspired the end product. This story actually became the poem.
In 2010, I was really having trouble letting the theme come through. I was rereading all of the old poems desiring both inspiration and originality, not wanting to be repetitive. As one moves into a fourth decade of doing a project, that is an element of concern. Still nothing was helping.
Needing something to shift the energy, I did the most unlikely thing that I could imagine; I grabbed my camera and headed to a nearby local mall. It wasn't too insane as there was still another shopping weekend to go before Christmas. I was able to stroll around with little problem.
I walked into several stores including one called "A Christmas To Remember." It was a seasonal shop with all sorts of decorations and holiday paraphernalia. When I exited, I saw the mall's Giving Tree, where one could pull off an ornamental slip of paper and purchase a requested gift for a local needy family. Here was the inspiration I had been searching for.
I framed the shot to capture the tree and the name of the store that I had just exited. A perfect juxtaposition, I imagined that it would work beautifully in verse. As I was squeezing off shots to give myself a variety to choose from, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
Rather than spelling it all out, I'll simply tell you that I left the mall in a foul mood. When you read the poem, you'll understand why. However during the ride home as I was seething about lovely things like injustice and stupidity, I had the tiniest inkling that asked, "What would happen if you could see this differently?"
Enormous, instantaneous shift. The poem and the cover indicating "a light in the darkness," sprang almost fully realized from my mind and heart. A task that loomed imposing now turned into one of the most amazing and amusing anecdotes and poems that I have ever written.
The poem was a long time in coming,
With Christmas but two weeks away.
The author, re-reading old verses,
Was struggling for new words to say.
In fits and starts, he decided,
His horizons just had to expand.
So, camera in hand, he ventured
Out into “Shopping Mall Land.”
Inspiration revealed itself quickly,
In a scene set just to enthrall;
The store, “A Christmas To Remember,”
Near the “Giving Tree” placed by the mall.
Framing and snapping great pictures,
He was mentally writing the poem.
When suddenly darkness descended
In the form of a big mall cop “gnome.”
“You can’t take those pictures,” he ordered.
“The store and the mall won’t allow.
“Sorry,” he said, “I must do my job.
You’ll have to delete them right now.”
He stood and watched me erase them
While I muttered dark “holiday glee,”
I swear that all of this happened,
For, of course, the “author” is me!
He walked away, in these paranoid times,
As joy vacated my soul.
It felt as though Santa had left me
A monstrous bucket of coal.
But the “Giving Tree” stood before me,
A clear choice embodying.
I smiled at the easy decision;
It’s always the simplest thing.
I turned away in forgiveness
Of me and the big mall cop “elf.”
For the world, my friends, cannot give you
What you will not give to yourself.
I’ll shine one small light in the darkness
And keep it ablaze in my heart.
This one humble act of my choosing
Is the simplest place I can start.
December 2010 notables:
8th - With the second launch of the SpaceX Dragon, SpaceX becomes the first privately held company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.
11th - Two explosions occur in a busy shopping district of Stockholm, Sweden, killing one and injuring two others. Officials say the incident is being treated as a terrorist attack.
22nd - The repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, the 17-year-old policy banning on homosexuals serving openly in the United States military, was signed into law by President Barack Obama.