Xmas season is upon us, and we know what that’s all about – SHOPPING!!! (Yes, I’m being ironic and tongue-in-cheek all throughout, but work with me here.) Well, why not give your loved ones the gift of poetry, one commemorating this joyous season of commerce?
It’s a poem about Santa Claus, the deity honored by Xmas, though his name is spelled a little creatively here. The author is the groundbreaking poet Ted Joans.
Who was Ted Joans?
To find out a little more about this celebrated figure of the arts, let’s turn to Wikipedia, the trustworthy and oh-so-NPOV ultimate repository of human knowledge. Retrieved 11/29/2019, it begins:
Theodore “Ted” Joans (July 4, 1928 – April 25, 2003) was an American jazz poet, surrealist, trumpeter, and painter. His work stands at the intersection of several avant-garde streams and some have seen in it a precursor to the orality of the spoken-word movement.
Cool deal! Maybe he’s like Keats or Wordsworth or Longfellow? A little further down:
While he ceased playing the trumpet he maintained a jazz sensibility in the reading of his poems and frequently collaborated with musicians. He continued to travel and maintained an active correspondence with a host of creative individuals, among them Langston Hughes, Michel Leiris, Aimé Césaire, Robert Creeley, Jayne Cortez, Stokely Carmichael, Ishmael Reed and Paul Bowles, Franklin and Penelope Rosemont; many of these letters are collected at the Bancroft Library of the University of California Berkeley. The University of Delaware houses his correspondence with Charles Henri Ford. Joans was also a close correspondent/participant of the Chicago Surrealist Group.
Joans’ painting Bird Lives hangs in the De Young Museum in San Francisco. He was also the originator of the “Bird Lives” legend and graffiti in New York City after the death of Charlie Parker in March 1955. His visual art work spans collages, assemblage objects, paintings and drawings including many resulting from the collaborative surrealist game Cadavre Exquis.
Now that’s quite a luminary then, huh? With all this cultural street cred, surely he was a master wordsmith.
The famous poem Santa Claws
I’m familiar with his works from an anthology I saw long ago. One was called “Santa Claws”, a fairly representative sample of his poetry. Wikipedia forgot to mention how much verve and dramatic force he has! Why, they were all too modest! For that matter, the leftist literary establishment that promoted Joans back in the day was all too modest as well. This poem begins:
IF THAT WHITE MOTHER HUBBARD COMES DOWN MY BLACK CHIMNEY DRAGGING HIS PLAYFUL BAG
IF THAT RED SUITED FAGGOT STARTS HO-HO-HOING ON MY ROOF TOP
IF THAT OLD FAT CRACKER CREEPS INTO MY HOUSE
I’d love to quote the thing in its entirety. However, it’s pretty short and I don’t want to go beyond “fair use” standards. The good news is that you can go to his site and read it all yourself. Best of all, it’s in a convenient JPEG that you can print out and distribute in your Xmas cards to your loved ones. It does say “free postcard” at the page, after all. Surely it’ll be a hit!