Thursday, December 17, 2009


We are living Christmas
this year
huddled freezing against
the cold and
following yonder star
along deserted roads
to be staticized
in some small town
or other

there’s no room
left for us here
so we send out
greeting cards and résumés
deep and crisp and even
hoping to spark
some small beginning
or other

and farther
into the hills
there isn’t much
to watch over anymore
to certain poor shepherds
straining to hear
above the snarl
of empty stomachs
the voice of some small angel
or other

We are living Christmas
this year
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid
boxing it up and

in tempest, storm and wind
knocking on doors
and finding no room
even though
the baby is coming
Christmas is coming
past-dues are coming
and we are
still proceeding
we are
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
but even so
holding onto
this holy tide of Christmas
with bone-white fingers,
holding out for
comfort and joy
truth and grace
goodness and light
or until this long
lonely exile
is over
and we wake up
to some heavenly host,
new and glorious morn,
or any stray
hanging around
that might herald
unto us
some small hope,
some small
or other

[for the 32 people i work with who lost their jobs this week. i am so, so sorry.]


Karen said...

Until I read your comment after the poem, I knew how good but bleak the poem is and wondered at your mood. I thought you were, as you so often do, sympathizing with the common man. Now I know, sadly, that you are sympathizing with specific people - those whose faces and lives are real to you. Any time is a horrible time to lose a job. Christmas somehow feels like the worst time. For a country where things are supposed to be getting better, I am so sad to say I don't see it yet.

So sorry, too.

Julie said...

I am so sorry for those 32 people, Joaquin. I truly am. This hits home with me big time. I just deleted a long-winded ramble about myself. No need to wallow in my own self pity. Many people are hurting. At least I am not cold and hungry as many are. You describe it so well in your poem. I am truly blessed, even without a job. One thing I like to do is volunteer at local soup kitchens. Soup kitchens are always full of people who have it so much worse than I do. This year, they are especially full.

Unemployment really does a number on a person mentally. My brother-in-law is in the same boat, and we were just talking about how worthless it makes us feel. Many people who have jobs don't understand.

Obviously, you understand, because this poem is amazing. I love the weaving of song as a backdrop against the stark reality. Stanza two hits me in the soul for obvious reasons. The power of your compassion shines through beautifully.

But the last stanza...oh my gosh, how do I describe how much I love it? I can't do it justice here. Suffice it to say it is so true and real. The twisting rhythm is fantastic. But the words ring so true. Many people will appreciate this poem, Joaquin. I know I sure do. Thank you very much.

BloggerMouth said...

I'm not sure what to say... sorry? I come from a country where outsourcing is big... Not sure if I can say anything here. Except that I love your poem (surprise surprise). I hope they find another job. And that something else this Christmas will cheer them up. I quit my job today too.

Karen said...

I just got the title, too. Very clever - creched. Indeed.

RachelW said...

This is very clever, but it is more than that. It's a triumph. I wonder why sometimes it's other people's pain that calls out the most magnificent creations? And yes, I feel terrible for all the people who have lost their jobs and have to reinvent their dreams, too.

Nevine said...

Joaquin, your words are magnificent. Sorry, I couldn't find a less trite word. The feelings are real, and this is apparent. It's when I read words like this that I find my mind drifting to those big questions we all sometimes ask ourselves, the biggest being "Why are we here?" I am terribly sorry for those you worked with who have lost their jobs, and for anyone else that loses their job. It's a sad place we live in, to say the least. I'm with you in reaching out for "some small hope...". Sometimes it is all we can do. This was exquisite, Joaquin, especially in its realness. But then, that is what I've come to expect of you...


trooping with crows said...

Aw, Joaquin...I have so much to say here. Teary eyed, I will tell you first, that the poem itself is so brilliantly original and creative. All the intermixing of Christmas gospel and song woven into your compelling words. It's truly, amazing to read.
I don't know what to say about the theme without getting carried away. I feel like, people count their blessings and thank God for what they have while they have it. When it's gone or taken away, most people then blame God. Strange. What I'm getting at is, what I took from the poem was sort like...when things were lost to them, they carried on trying to keep thier chins up. Hope trying to surface here in the midst of hardship. Trying to keep "Christmas" in your heart during the worst of times is commendable and quite a test of faith. Maybe I am totally off, Joaquin! Well, in any case, I really liked it.

catvibe said...

Well this is the much shorter and more succinct version of my rant of a few days ago! This is SO how I feel around this time of year. Excellent.

joaquin carvel said...

karen - sorry - it's kind of a bum-out holiday - but thank you. i agree - christmas is the worst time, seems like. and i don't see it either. wish i did. (wasn't sure if the title was too much of a stretch, but it fit better than anything else i could come up with.)

julie - you're right. i was out of work for quite a while before i got the job i have now - i had no idea how much of my self-worth and even identity i had wrapped up in my job until i didn't have one. but every (sometimes awful) day was another shot. thank you - and prayers for you and your brother in law - may you find something soon (that won't make you prefer the soup kitchen - "ten cent raise & a fat boss" just came to mind!).

blo-mo - thank you. outsourcing gets a lot of press but i think our current situation puts it in better perspective. the folks we lost were simply cut to shore up the bottom line. (stock market - up. unemployment - up. hmmmmmm.) and wow - you quit your job?! so - a new adventure for you too. hope it's a good one.

rachel - that's a good question - and a humbling one. this was one of those poems that just kind of pour out - when that happens i can never tell if it's a good poem or just a puddle of catharsis. thank you - i suppose it also sometimes takes another person's eyes to see the triumph in what can feel like only turmoil.

nevine - it is sad - but it usually takes a major upheavel to get to those big questions. or at least to really start looking for answers. thank you - (i will take "magnificent" and/or "exquisite" and day of the week!)

troop - i don't think you're off - i think that's partly where this came from. it's not what i would call a "merry" christmas - but that's ok. what i was seeing as bleak, i think, is turning into a simple clarity. i hope. thank you!

cat - thanks - loved that rant. not that i don't want things to get better - but things get lost too easy. i think now's a good time to find them.

Sarah Hina said...

I'm late to this, Joaquin. I read it when you first posted it, but didn't feel up to commenting. I'm still not sure I can find the words. Yours are too powerful.

I'm sorry, too. I know that does nothing for your friends. And it must be a small consolation to birth such a beautiful, heart wrenching poem from their ash heap. But the gap you've painted with your words...the gap between hope and's at once despairing and uplifting to me. If only the latter because your empathy and understanding is a small, first bridge. If not to a miracle, then to a shoulder.

Aniket said...

This poem rubs the harsh reality on our faces and yet shows the brave side of humanity that we still brace it all by remaining wishful... hopeful.

I wish this brings about a change that does more good in future than the current loss to those 32 families.

Till then, lets hang in there...

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

You must feel very proud of this work. It is nothing short of flawless. From the words - to the meaning, and the inter-twining of both, you have created such an intelligent poem here. As Bob would say...."I'm jealous."

I think of all, who find themselves out of work these days, with sadness and anger!!!