A Christmas Sestina

Nana, that horrible old bitch, is drowned in scotch number four,
smoking two cigarettes and telling me how it is. Crazy bird.
She exhales, billows of smoke filter through her moustache,
up through her snow-white hair. She’s Christmas drunk, railing
against Jesus. “Nothing but a hippie nailed to a cross,” she says.
I wonder if I can stuff her ninety-eight pound frame into the fire.

The cat slowly urinates into a bowl of chestnuts by the fire.
She’s been surly and suffocating since 1984,
just like Nana. Each time a gift is opened, some uncle says
“It’s a puppy,” to carols of groans. An aunt is having a bird
because my brother’s banging my cousins head into the railing.
After a few hours, oh how that kid’s head must ache.

Some illegitimate offspring is enthralled by Nana’s moustache,
pulling at it as she doses. I offer him some matches, hoping fire
will give him devious thoughts. My brother leaves his railing
duties to help and they’re able to singe a bit of lip hair before
she awakens. “Put on White Christmas,” yells the old bird.
Papa chases his eggnog. “Bing Crosby is an asshole,” he says.

Mum appears from the kitchen. “Dinner in ten,” she says,
Her nose asks: “What’s that odour?” “It’s burning moustache
Mum,” I whisper, as I go to the oven to have a peek at our bird.
While she loudly punishes potatoes I go for more firewood,
interrupting Dad and his brother’s wife on the deck fornicating.
A hot toddy and mistletoe in hand, she falls over the railing,

a fat angel in the snow. My cousin’s been out in his truck railing
coke and fixing his hair. “If it ain’t a fuckin’ Ford,” he says
“you might as well drive a sled. Shit, I bet Santa got a Ford
these days. Big F-350.” I tell him there’s snow in his moustache.
He picks at the flakes and rubs them into his gums, their fire
numbing his little remaining sense. “Let’s kill that bird,”

he exclaims, and I hope he means Nana. But no, ‘tis the bird
Mum’s been sharing chardonnay with, halfway off the rails,
swearing next year we’re going to Florida. The Christmas fire
has withered. “Not nearly enough to burn a body,” my Dad says
knowingly, as he licks his festive fingers and parts his moustache.
“Better be good.” Mum throws the electric knife at him. Fore.

The moustachioed attack the bird. It takes me
four tries to free the cousin from the railing guillotine.
My brother says nothing as he tosses our presents into the fire.

from the poetry collection JACK (Snare Books), which incidentally makes a wonderful last-minute Christmas present.