Christmas Tree at Owl Creek Bridge

by Arthur Radley

THEY cut me to the quick, literally; I'm still wincing, wincing every moment
     Hey, how 'bout one quick stroke? I ain't some frickin' oak!
No longer mounted on the roof rack to breath in the air; I'm shoved in the hatch
     Hey, get that tire iron out of my ass!
They put me up, tilt me, side to side, yelling in drunken fury that I'm not straight
     Hey, try standing up straight with no feet!
Cut at me like Chico and Harpo in that shipboard barbershop scene
     Hey, thanks: I didn't need those pines anyway!
Start hangin' shit off me: Big dewdrop ornaments, huge round balls, even candy
     Hey, sorry about that: I might have dropped that glassy one during the night!
Kids go running into me: That fat kid's gonna get a spike in the eye
     Hey, I'm standin' here (with no feet, remember)!
Put all those gifts underneath me, trying to keep me warm
     Hey, for a minute there, I was back in the forest, swaying to my music
The excitement of that night and morning, you can get caught up
     Hey, I'm your center square!
They pull at me, yanking gifts from underleg, and I get moist from the glee
     Hey, one at a time -- except you, fat boy; you stay away
! They're finished with me, slack jawed, gurgling their egg-nog
     Hey, move over: It's George Bailey at the end -- My favorite part!
They ignore me, go about their business for weeks in the chilled, hay-dry air
     Hey, is it my fault you got that ugly fuckin' sweater?
It's mid-January, they're eyeing me with annoyance
     Hey, now's my chance!
They finally see me sneaking out the porch door, and one goes grabbin' at me.
     Hey, leave Johnny tinsel alone!
But I make it out, and thump here and there, head for the hills, see the forest below
     Hey, I'm comin' back! I'm comin' ba--

''Sorry,'' says Mr. Man. ''I know it's a big job, this one. But here's the tip I forgot to give you guys--and I hope your holidays were terrific!''

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