December punishment arrives
costumed and dancing
as a patch-eyed man, guns and magic.

Insistent celeste and harp mingle
with piccolo trills, trumpets
and one sharp cannon blast.

Shrinking girl’s dream of candy and prince
blend to sweet nightmare. Soldiers
battle mice under towering tree.

Anorexic bodies lifted, dive. Tiaras twirl.
Flighty hand gestures linked to polished
smiles blend with yards of frothy fabric.

Thick-thighed men work against gravity,
leap and flit feet, elevate women,
wear strong grins and extra socks for size.

Plastic snow falls under hot light.
Dry-ice inhalation ends an act; break brings
dancers’ nicotine addiction smoke.

Shouts, applause and whistles
briefly diminish complaints
while children’s joy mixes pleasure with tedium.

Staged journey accentuates immovable location;
trapped timpani, imprisoned oboes,
snared strings, travel nowhere slowly.

In this pit of annual agony we crack
the nut, hoping it doesn’t break us
before compensation for the pain.

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