Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0021 The Advent Of Commerce - Poem by Michael Shepherd

December 11; and through the letterbox
falls like a heavy snowflake, the first Christmas card..
who’s so eager to draw
my mind and heart to Advent-tide?

no stamp – ah yes, of course,
it’s from Alex the paper boy,
counting his goodwill before it’s cashed,
throwing me into a moral tizzy.

My parents, who knew the circumspection
with which the poor must treat the poor,
taught me that after God and the family
had been acknowledged on Christmas Day,

‘Boxing Day’ was the time for showing gratitude
to those who’d served your family faithfully
daily or weekly – the milkman with his
unsociable hours; the paperboy
(for those who could afford a daily paper) :
and other delivery boys;
the coalman; so, if they called with a delivery
on Boxing Day, your Christmas box
would be waiting in its envelope outside the door for them;
or the promising and friendlier note above the letterbox,
‘Paperboy please knock’

only the boldest would have dreamed
of knocking on your threadbare door
to wish a partially sincere seasonal greeting..
though the clop of the coalman’s horse and cart
significantly empty of all sacks, on Boxing Day
was known to be a gentle hint..

Around here, the dustmen of the mid-2oth century
who were the nearest to the Mafia
in this lower middle class suburb,
(and worked for it, carrying heavy iron dustbins
over their shoulders from your house to the cart…)
timed their bold knock on your door to coincide
with the day your double Christmas/New Year pension
had been drawn at the Post Office,
asking gruffly ‘Would you like to sign The Book? ’
which meant you wrote your name, address,
and amount (fictionally exaggerated? They left it to you)
so spontaneously given.. so that the whole street could read
and judge their contribution accordingly...

So I’m in a moral tizzy about Alex;
he’s worked unsociable hours all year
as the newspapers get heavier with advertising dross,
for just this chance to buy himself (or so we guess –
should we be entertaining worthier thoughts?)
those boys’ toys he’s been anticipating all the year;

OK he’s earned it – though we’ve never yet received
a thankyou from him… and it would have been nice
to feel it would be a surprise for him…
but the stores sell out these days long before Boxing Day..

and so, there goes another nibble at the heart of Christmas -
the season of receiving.

Comments about 0021 The Advent Of Commerce by Michael Shepherd

  • (12/13/2006 11:22:00 AM)

    Ah, the moral decision - to tip or not to tip? ? ! ! I firmly adhere to the old adage..pretty is as pretty does. If I have to climb to the rooftop every day to retrieve my paper - well, there's your answer! (Report)Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Poem Edited: Thursday, December 9, 2010

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