Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Xmas Poem by Literary Iconoclast William Joyce

Xmas turkey and all the poetic fixings.

The Xmas my father went to New Mexico
To an A.A. home to dry out
Was the same Xmas my brother left
On his honeymoon was the Xmas my rich uncle
Potts on my mother's side came to visit
For the first time in twenty years.
I was only eight but Uncle Potts said
I was a big boy. When I really got big
He said with luck and hard work I could join
The Masonic Order of America where he was a potentate.
When my mother left to stuff the stuffing, Uncle Potts
Slipped a twenty into my palm and whispered,
"Have you seen your Aunt Peg, your Uncle Toots,
How do you feel about nuns, my boy?"
I giggled then and told him nuns were mean
Ole penguins and rubbed my smooth cheek on Uncle
Potts' rough one. Just after he left,
Aunt Peg and Uncle Toots on my father's side came loaded
With pretty packages and kissed my mother
On the cheek and laughed because they'd been hiding
In an alley and seen Uncle Potts slip on the ice
As he was leaving and wasn't he the sly ole penguin.
We all laughed together till my mother left
To turn the turkey. that was when Uncle Toots
Slipped me a ten spot and Aunt Peg asked
How much the ole penguin had given me?
The Xmas my father dried out was the same
Xmas my brother left on his honeymoon
Was the Xmas my mother cried
When we sat down to the dinner table.
I put my arms around her and held her tight,
But not too long 'cause it was Xmas
And I was thirty bucks to the good.
The next Xmas no one came to our house.


— William Joyce


A Xmas Poem is from the iconoclast writer's 1988 volume of poetry, For Women Who Moan — Poems 1968-1988. It was a volume that was picked up at the Beat Museum on a recent trip to San Francisco. Intrigued by the blurbs on the back cover...one in particular by Galway Kinnell: "I do not read unsolicited manuscripts; if I did, I would never get any work done. thus, these poems of Joyce would have remained till I threw them in the garbage if I hadn't received a strange phone call. It was from a woman — probably an agent of Joyce's — who threatened to blow up my apartment if I didn't submit an assessment of the author's work to a postal box in Anchorage, Alaska. I figured it was better to read and comment favorably than risk losing my Village apartment. So here goes: the kid's got flair. he is a kid, isn't he?" Kinnell's back cover blurb enters the pantheon of the greatest dust jacket blurbs ever written...or coerced?

William Joyce was born in Swissvale, a blue-collar town near Pittsburgh. He has lived in most parts of the U.S., Holland, Mexico and the West Indies. He now resides in Guatemala. His other books include the novel, First Born of an Ass (savaged in a New York Times book review but defended by Kurt Vonnegut and called "fresh and innovative" by Norman Mailer), a collection of short stories entitled, The Recorder of Births and Deaths and his debut poetry collection, Listen America, You Don't Even Own Your Name. He has also published, Miller, Bukowski & Their Enemies: Essays on Contemporary Culture in which a contemporary review by the Library Journal stated that, "Joyce frequently goes out of his way to antagonize a literary establishment that places profit and political correctness before artistic vision."

A Brief Bullet Point History of William Joyce's Career can be found at The Savage Joy of Guillermo O'Joyce. The self-penned article from 2017 exclaims in 14 points Joyce's longstanding run-ins with the literary establishment in America and his accomplishments therein.

The Bar None Group is more than happy to help William Joyce rattle a few more cages and share his poetry with our readers. A Xmas Poem appears here with the author's permission.