Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas a Mystery Writer's Night Before Christmas ...

photo by Giorgio Constantine

On this Christmas Eve, I take great pleasure in brutally fracturing the classic poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston—history is still not sure who wrote it, so apologies to both.  
Clement C. Moore
Henry Livingston

And now, without further commercial interruption …

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a laptop was stirring, nor even a mouse.
The reviews were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that new readers would soon find them there.

The critics were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of best-seller danced in my head.
And DorothyL in her wimsey, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for the hiatus nap.

When out on the Net there arose such a chatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the keyboard I flew like a flash,
Tore open the browser and dove in with a splash.

The glow on the screen cast like new-fallen snow,

A lustre of brilliance onto writing so-so.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the sight of a blog with eight writers so dear.

With a little bold driver so quick with a thrill,

I knew in a moment he hailed from Brazil.
More rapid than eBooks their creations they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now, Kubu! now, Aimee! now, Nigel and Thora!

On, Kaldis! On, Poke! on, Sherlock and Silva!
To the top of the Times! to the top of them all!
Now slash away! slash away! slash away pall!”

As wry thoughts, that before the final deadline fly,
When they meet with an obstacle soar to the sky.
So off to their blog-posts these non-courtiers flew,
With a sleigh full of ploys, and opinions not few.

And then, in a twinkling, I saw not from aloof,

The prancing and gnawing of hard comments and spoof
Taking aim at some points so to bring them to ground,
Brought on by hard thinkers from near and far ‘round.

The writers were dressed from each head to each foot
In bold clothes that were tarnished with gashes well put.
A bundle of ARCs each had flung on its back,
They looked like kind peddlers bringing books to a rack.

Their eyes—how they twinkled! Their dimples how merry!

Their cheeks like Jeff Bezos’s, their noses like sherry!
One’s droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
‘Til his bottle of bourbon fell out on the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

Threw up smoke of the kind to fire scotch from the heath.
He had a broad face that would fill up the telly,
And as he reached for his bottle mumbled, “Just jelly.”

Neither chubby nor plump, more like jolly and svelte,
I laughed when I saw him, ‘til his stare I felt.
But a wink of his eye and no twist to my head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

They all spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,

And filled all the bookshelves, then turned with a jerk.
And crossing their fingers aside of their noses,
And giving great nods, passed around the Four Roses.

They kept all at play ‘til the ladies gave whistle,
Then each turned as one to read an epistle. 
And I heard them exclaim, ‘ere my charger lost might,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-fright!”

And, of course—in my version—“Happy Chanukah and Kala Kristouyenna!”



  1. Ho ho ho and a merry Christmas from Knysna on the Indian Ocean, where it is hot and cloudless. It's wonderful to add a new piece to my Christmas arsenal. Thank you, Jeff for many deep chuckles so early this Saturday morning. Ho ho ho.

  2. I'm honored to be referenced in a classic poem, Jeff. Thank you so much. And happy holidays to you, too.

  3. Jeff, you should now add comedy to your list of genres. My chicks will be gathered 'round the table tonight and they will exchange gifts with each other, most likely including some esoteric DVDs that will keep them laughing into the wee hours. The family santas will be putting packages around the tree to greet them when they get up at the ungodly hour of noon tomorrow. Tomorrow morning I will get phone calls from my grandnieces eager to share the excitement from Santa's visit.

    Late this afternoon we will get into the true spirit by going to church and seeing the pageant as presented by the children of the parish during which I will remember one of my favorite moments from years past. When my kids were young I had some responsibility for the pageant. The year my son was about five, the boy who had the role of the innkeeper got cold feet just as we were starting. I grabbed my son out of the pew, told him his line to Mary and Joseph was that there was no room at the inn. He delivered it perfectly. The priest who was offering the Mass decided to have some fun so he asked my incipient comedian what he would have said. Without missing a beat,my son told the congregation of about 500 people that he would have told them they could sleep in the lobby. He bought the house down.

    The picture at the top of the post suggests that you are playing the ghost of Christmas past in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".

    A happy and joyful Christmas to all who celebrate the day and best wishes to all for a healthy and prosperous 2012.


  4. Stan and Tim, it is my honor to be part of this great adventure with you.

    Beth, what can I say but LOL at your Mr. Comedy! You and your family epitomize what this season is supposed to be all about...and throughout the rest of the year you pull no punches in expressing how you believe things should be. You talk the talk AND walk the walk. I admire that greatly.

    And now, as Beth properly guessed, please excuse me as I prepare to go don my chains for my midnight walk...

  5. Brilliant Jeffrey! Warm wishes to everyone!

  6. You certainly paint a picture-of you wise men dripping arcs from pockets, merrily clicking away. And passing the Four Roses, dancing on the edge of the Indian Ocean, around a lovely menorah! Happy holidays to all of you, and thank you for the entertainments.

  7. Thanks, Cara, that means a lot coming from you.

    And, Lil, have a spin around the menorah on me (with or without the roses) as a small measure of appreciation for your warm and wonderful support of MIE through the year.

    Once again, Happy Holidays.