This year,
as every year
Santa Claus has given me
some none too subtle hints.
He may or may not
be making judgements on my moral character
but he certainly knows
that I stink, now and then;
forget to shower occasionally.
two sticks of high-power
sport deoderant
and an “eau de cologne”
sampler pack.

He seems to know
that my teeth
are not as white as they should be.
my morning ritual of coffee and
are brought to bear
in a bleaching kit
and several tubes of “whitening”
And he has not forgotten
that I’m a stressful
little thing-
A professional sports massage
is slipped between
the usual chocolates, dental floss
and guitar picks.

Shaving cream
Face wash
Anti-Dandruf Shampoo
and a new, special anti-flake
that you put on at night
(Santa’s been struggling for years
with a remedy for my seborreic dermatitis)
And under the pile of breath mints
and gum (do I really have halitosis?)
I half expect
a little note:

“clean up your goddamned act
you dirty summamabitch!” -S.C.

Until I realize
that in truth, perhaps I have neglected
myself in these respects
and am no longer
a bit insulted
by this year’s stocking.
As I watch my brothers
pulling similar items
from their treasure bags

I look up
at my mothers tired face
her saggy eyes, that weak smile
with her coffee in the left hand
cigarette in the right
as I have done for years.
I look, and
as always, she is standing watch
over this sacrament
making sure there’s no confusion
over who’s is who’s
and deftly picking the occasional
stray price tag off
of this item
or that.
And I smile at her
knowing that naughty or nice
I will always come out of
christmas smelling better
at least.


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