Cold Christmas ninety fifty one
and the seven of us anchored
to the bottom of our luck
trippin over arms and legs
in the basement of a crumblin house
in a single dusty room
with no sunshine comin in

pullin the blankets tight around us
as ropes pull tight round tumblin men
for Tommy’s only bits and pieces,
here and there,
now and then

Cold Christmas ninety fifty one
and the children decide what the toys
Tommy carved from wood become

Eddie’s woof-woof turns
into Jimmy’s rearin stallion
and when the two of them are gallivantin
Mary rides the desert on a camel.
The freckly yoke whose pointy nose
got blunted to a stub
will be doll-doll, trooper man, and Pinocchio
in turns.
Whose hands are glued to matchsticks
Little drummer boy’s or little drummer girl’s,
Or is it witch
or wizard stirring spells?
The square wheeled motorcar
clunking ‘cross the tablecloth—
zoomin in the hot rod or
cruisin sunny avenues in Hollywood?
The choo-choo steamin through the wildest wests
picks up a fly in Los Angeles
then later sails a letter to Australia,
delivers astronauts to Venus.

All the dreams
my little girls and boys
can pull
from painted wood!

He hadn’t a start for the whole of January.
Though we kept the flame as best we could,
we were perishin
for the whole of that spiteful month
then we ran out of coal
we ran out of peat
we ran out of logs
we ran out of sticks and scraps and twigs.
St Brigid nearly froze our blood.

Do you know how it feels
to be chopped down like a wintry pine
to be lying on a bed of icy needles goin numb
from your branch-tips to your heart?
Do you know what it’s like
to be suddenly sick of your stiffenin life
and wish
that hell
would burst
through the cracks in the floor
flare through the splits in the walls
and burn burn burn
you ought to be able to love

The toys were made of dreams and wood
and oh
how they burned.
I won’t forget
and how to forgive
is what I have not learned