Monday, January 2, 2017

20)Carl Nellis Three Poems


He came to Bethlehem, the one who, sure,
Maybe fed a few, healed a few, but when
He let them down into the tomb, that promise,
That baby, that governance, how did it go?
His servants shoulders? Oh, yes, son of David,
Man after heart’s own god, and how many,
It was freedom for the mind that he came for,
not food but bread from heaven. hallelujah.

Standing in line, stripped down to bodies so badly
Wanting a just king to rule over them, one who would not
Squeeze them for Caesar’s sake, but institute
A fair coin for grain, who would provide for them
As the censors and spiritualists, the exchequers
And chancellors never had. He did not come.
That hope died. They wanted release, they groaned
Under the yoke. “How silly they were,” I was taught
To say, “to think in terms of principalities and powers.”

They all thought he came to release prisoners,
To set captives free, feed the hungry, throw off
The foreign hand, raise the nation to its own place
among fractious peers, divide the righteous from the wicked
on the seat of David’s son, plead the orphan’s cause,
send away the rich empty-handed, and scatter the proud.
Nope. False prophets and scribes deceived them
With false promises—one so far from the law they could not
see it clearly, one so close they could not see at all.
They were baffled.


What is your major malfunction?
I promise that there is some tech
Who can fix it. Just slide back the bolt
And open the receiver. This present
We have all mailed for, the dousing
And dividending of the spirit.
After all, he came to paint the bold in red
And blue, embolden the violet, to wrap you
in orange, and deliver arms into your stocksings.
That’s a Christmas that keeps you warm
For the rest of your life.

Sayeth Your G-d

The controlled burn,                     in harmony, no, no melancholy
Low light under tempo                          but the others save for this
growl up to eye level                 time when the governance shall
The generator, that’s glory   be upon his shoulders who chances
A family leaving supper                    everlasting upon everlasting
On the threshold, running—              from dark of winter to winter
Generosity to your neighbors,                       morning, groan, cut,
A purified light, a paschal                  burned, buried, born again
Lamb born into a barren place    for a new beginning, and once
A scratch in the dirt. That’s the way                       more. The path
Bulls bellowing in circles, father with one              bent, the tinsel
Hand on the outlet, passing a coil                     a circle. Glory, in
Around the branches. Upon them it shineth                  the highest
That dwell in the land, a candle of welcome              and peace
In every window; whisper once a year      doled out with raised
Again that what we cannot do but wish to              voices, hands
through the year, the surplus, clinker by clinker, waved, crowds
ornamentation, unto us, from us, over all                    rumbling by
Our days, wonderful, a princely piece,        the commons turned
We cook our cash, our pasts, on the mountain            conspirator
That every brother shall                                         in cold weather
Choke the air to light the tree           be joyful, be joyful, rejoice.

Carl Nellis is an editor and writing instructor working north of Boston, Massachusetts. His head is full of critical cultural studies, American medievalisms, science fiction, and poetry. In spare moments he serves as a host for the New Books Network podcast consortium in History and Intellectual History. You can learn more about Carl's work at

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