a few days after Christmas


Dollar store stockings,

ten cent candy canes,

a six-and-a-half foot tall fake tree

that we got for free

from St. Vincent de Paul.

Nearly everything we own

is from a bargain basement

or has been handed down.  

Our candle sticks,

Christmas lights,

stuffed elves.

Even the wood in the fireplace

was given to us.


I don’t mind sniffing out deals

or falling ass backwards into them,

and I don’t mind anything that’s been used,

but one day it would be nice

to provide

new, shiny things,


that one day I can hand down

to my daughter,

to my son.

Things that they can hold.

Tangibles that they cannot take with them

when they go,

but are good,

long-lasting belongings

that mean more than words

and are easier to understand and keep

than everything

that builds and rises

and pushes letters to letters

to letters

and leaves me feeling

that I have done much

but not enough.


I’m doing the best I can

with what I have,

but when you know

that you are not the strongest,

the smartest,

the kindest,

or the most giving,

and that you are only getting by

on luck from hard work and love,

it often leaves you wondering

late night after late night,

beyond wine and desire,

beyond comfort and stability,

beyond your wife

your kids,

your home,

if you ought to be making,






And even on the best days like this one,

a few days after Christmas,

you can feel pretty goddamned low

because even if you were providing

great, shiny things—a better place—

and even if you were a writer good enough

to make things last,

none of it would be enough

to make you feel deserving of anything

except what you already have,

which isn’t much,

but Everything.

A house of bargains and hand-me-downs,

and a wife and two kids

that you want to leave

the world to.


~ K.J.

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