Christmas Eve

By Peter Halstead


The prisoner of Chillon lies here,
Stretched out on the rack,
Chez Pizzerie du Lac.

Prisoner of vendors, he
Hides, behind the new shellacs,
The cost of artifacts.

Byron, Shelley, Germaine de Staël
Kept the cupboard stacked
With the contraband

Of heroes, not of facts.
But they rhymed the story and,
When the heroes went to jail,

Put their chalets up for sale.
Vendors claim the poets were
Just unhappy with Montreux.

Still, they got it back,
Byron's castle of Savoy:
Now they sell it as a toy.


Things grow upside down
This year, like skiers in Flendruz
Whose prime concern is shoes.

Last year was hats. The town
In Gstaad is overrun with boots
In chamois, rabbit, caribou.

No wonder. Chillon itself
Was built on cash,
The last resort of Eurotrash.

Bottoms sow the tops of things,
As a paratrooper's suit
Implies a parachute.

This Christmas evening even
Steeples are reduced to
Sky, which, like a fruit,

Opens from the inside out,
Growing as the air is used to
Snowing, backwards from the root.


This poem foreshadows “On the Merits of Literature” (in Volume 1), which was written December 5th, 1995.

October 7th, 1986, 12:10 P.M.