The Day that they shot Santa Claus
by Bruce Dawe (1970)
The day that they shot Santa Claus
Money fluttered sadly from the trees,
Cash-registers played Verdi's Requiem
And a diminutive orphan breeze
Rose up from the credit columns of ledgers
And tinkled dolefully at each shop door,
While the city's father-figure lay in mourning
In the bargain basement of a Bourke Street store.
The news spread like a darkness; in the bosoms
Of sales-girls the little lights winked out,
Chewing-gum lost its flavour on the instant,
Copy-writers felt the cramp of doubt.
Everywhere were testimonies to the violence
The natural order suffered: shepherds glowed
With more than even their customary festive spirit,
Reindeer ran amok in Sydney Road,
And from the sky, as from the vaster heavens
Of Coles and Woollies, not to mention Myers,
A bio-degradable snow came drifting earthwards,
Yarra Bank angels shuffled into choirs
And there, at 45 rpm, they sang a heart-felt Miserere to the suspiciously blurred stars,
Tore up their song-books, snuffed their wind-proof tapers
And trudged down-town to drown their grief in bars.
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life:
grant us to perfectly know your Son Jesus Christ
as the way, the truth and the life, and that,
following in the footsteps of friends like Nicholas
who loved the poor, the weak and the young,
and who gave what he had to enrich those who had but little,
we may faithfully walk in the way that leads to eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
St Nicholas distributes gifts, Elisabeth Jvanovsky
Kairos: A Consort of Singers, performs Psalm 96, "Chantez a Dieu, chanson nouvelle" (Sing to the Lord a New Song) by 16th century Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY in June, 2009.
May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.