The Virtual Ho-Ho-etorium For December 31st, 2020

Happy New Years, Everyone!

I want to thank my fellow bloggers Brad Osborne and Corinne Bellocq for graciously accepting my invitation to participate in the following which I hope you will accept as my belated holiday gift to you all…

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Paul Szlosek

PAUL: Good evening, everyone! Hope you all had a delightful Christmas!

Welcome to the very first edition of the Virtual Ho-Ho-etorium! I want to thank all you kind folks who took time away from your hectic holiday schedules to be here tonight. I am sorry to report that I will be assuming hosting duties by my lonesome since my regular Poetorium co-host and cohort Ron Whittle is not able to be with us since both he and his wife have been suffering medical maladies that require surgery. Please keep them both in your hearts and prayers as they go through this very difficult time. Ron, however, being a true trooper did send me a brand new poem that I will be sharing with you all later tonight. Tonight will be a bit different than our usual show since there is no featured poet, interview, mystery poet segment, or writing challenges, but instead we will have two virtual open mics – a regular one before the break and another one afterwards reserved for Christmas and New Year-themed work, and of course, the good old group poem. We will also be suspending the usual one work limit per person for each open mic. Our good friend and last month’s featured poet Howard J. Kogan sent us a note that he would be sitting out tonight’s presentation (hoping to be back with us in January) but graciously suggested the perfect poem for me to kick off our first open mic on this chilly December evening. The following is an excerpt from the wintertime classic by the legendary New England Poet John Greenleaf Whittier – “Snowbound”:

Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl (An Excerpt)

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of grey,
And darkly circled, gave at noon,
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill, no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out…

Meanwhile we did our nightly chores,—
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd’s— grass for the cows…..

Unwarmed by any sunset light
The grey day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
and whirl dance of the blinding storm,
As zig-zag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingèd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window frame,
and through the glass the clothes-line posts
looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts….

And when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below,—
A universe of sky and snow!….

—John Greenleaf Whittier

Now please welcome our very first poet in our first open mic, Joan Erickson, who I understand will be continuing the theme of our opening piece with two wonderful snow poems of her very own…


I Shovel a Path

I shovel a path
for oil-man to fill tank,
use wide shovel – deep snow –
two or three feet.

Maybe the man could walk on top –
I try it – sink – so know he’ll sink
as he drags the hose.

I start shoveling. Dig – lift – throw to one
side – dig – lift – throw to one side.
Stop and rest – lean on shovel.

Gaze at snow covering yard –
field – stone walls. Blue shadows
slant across white surface.

I listen – listen some more – silence –
pure as the snow – and peaceful –
so peaceful.

I dig – lift – throw – too deep to shovel
to the ground – remove layers –
maybe two layers.

Can see the oil tank lid –
keep digging – stop and rest –
study the sky – deep blue
with wisps of clouds
moving slowly.

I dig – lift – throw – move toward
target. I know the man
will be happy.

Start back – shoveling as I go
over my own footprints. Maybe
tomorrow I will come out
and do some more.

But, if the wind is blowing –
if the temperature
drops, if the sun hides,
I will be in the house
playing with these words.

—Joan Erickson (02/23/15)

Red, White, and Blue Day

I hear the snowblower
as it does its job clearing
away snow and ice from
our first big storm.

Sun shines on the snow
on cars parked in view
from my windows.
Their rear red lights glow
in the morning sun.

My neighbor’s car is bright
blue. My dark blue jeep is
parked at the end of this
building and waits with others
to be shoveled off.

When I go to the windows
I can look out at the bright
blue sky.

When I finish this poem
I will stand up and say
good morning to this
red, white, and blue day.

—Joan Erickson (11/26/20)

PAUL: Next up is the one and only Joe Fusco Jr.:



When my brother-in-law visits our home,
He immediately starts to fix things.
Sometimes, I have a list prepared,
Sometimes, he looks around, sighs, and improvises.
A bracket for the front- porch door,
A nylon line for the weed- wacker,
The water in my daughter’s Timex watch,
No matter the size, shape, or degree of difficulty,
John will eventually fix it.
He looks at broken things as opportunities to improve the world.
I look at broken things as a colossal pain-in-the-ass
and my brother-in-law a god-like proctologist.
“You’re so one dimensional,” my sister-in-law exclaims
“All you like to do is write funny poetry.”
“That’s not true. I’m three dimensional,”
I reply. “I like to write funny poetry, eat, and screw.”
“Make that two dimensional,” my wife interjects then walks away,
Not revealing which dimension is in need of John’s attention.

—Joe Fusco Jr.

PAUL: We will now hear from a longtime Poetorium regular, Robert Eugene Perry:


Everything Belongs

I am a tree, grown up
twisted and gnarled from
bending backwards towards
the light, having spent
too much time
in shadow.

I am a stream, flowing
hither and yon, picking up
stuff meandering through
strange lands, sometimes singing
often murmuring seeking
an ocean.

I am a cloud, pursuing the heights
blown about and set off course
filled with moisture and vapors
stretched out and dissipated
at times reflecting the colors
of the sun.

I am the Universe, born of stardust
a miracle of contradictions
energy and matter, moving and static
constantly changing and adapting
neither created nor destroyed, only

—Robert Eugene Perry

PAUL: We missed seeing her last month, but she is back with us tonight. Please welcome to the Ho-Ho-etorium podium, Christine Burlingame:

Christine Burlingame’s Sweet Dog Rocko Warming Himself by the Fire…


Words At War

Words don’t
Simply slip out
Or bewildered me
Like they
Had once
Words wont
Dance for me
Or attempt to
Impress me
Because they
Just can’t
And it’s
Impossible to
Not feel
The heaviness
To ignore.
The fight
In my mind
To speak
That wordless
Cognitive dialogue
At war.

—Christine Burlingame


If you pretend
hard enough
to trust in
the moment
long enough
you might
learn to
let go
just enough.
To once again
be happy enough.
And yes,
it probably
won’t be enough.
But in some way
it will be
better than
because it will finally be

—Christine Burlingame

PAUL: Alongside the familiar faces of many of our Poetorium regulars in the audience tonight, there may be a couple new ones that you might not recognize. As some of you may or may not know, I have a poetry blog on WordPress, and I decided to extend the invitation to join us tonight to my fellow bloggers and writers there. I am happy to report I received two acceptances, so please welcome, the brilliant blogger and poet Brad Osborne (whose blog Commonsensibly Speaking is one of my personal favorites) trekking all the way from Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania to be with us this evening:

Brad Osborne

BRAD: Can’t think of any opening remarks other than I am grateful and happy to be here amongst the group…

Maiden Voyage

Fifty-two tons, one of the unsinkable ones
The proud flag ship of the White Star Line
With Captain Smith true and a seasoned crew
Left Queenstown for the New York skyline

But the captain didn’t know that the fires below
Were more than the common occurrence
The hull became frail in the miles they sailed
In the end, that would make all the difference

The lookouts worked hard, the only light stars
On a night that was cold and forbidding
But they did not see the iceberg set free
Hidden beneath still seas unforgiving

Then it was too late to avoid their fate
As ghostly ice gouged the hull wide and deep
The stokers knew first, as steel bulkheads burst
They were headed to an eternal sleep

The tragic fail, lifeboats hung at the rail
Hoped salvation that could not be lowered
And as water rushed in, raising panic and din
The North Sea came for what was owed her

What sealed their fate, how light scintillates
As scared signalman flashes passing ship
Distant twinkling light on such a starry night
Not seen as beyond horizon they slipped

The sea it is said, never gives up her dead
Tragic souls are gathered like plunder
But in the demise, saved spirits do rise
As the behemoth slowly slips under

There below the waves, the ones left unsaved
As what they said could never happen did
An icy deep shrine, forgotten to time
Where all the mariner’s failures stay hid

—Brad Osborne

PAUL: Thank you, Brad! I guess that concludes our first open mic tonight. I will close with a couple of poems, but before I do, I’d also would like to mention that Corinne Bellocq who pens the delightful blog Paquerite (a wonderful concoction of words and recipes) also wished to participate but feared the translation from French into English of her work would completely betray her writing (as a quote from Paterson, one of my favorite films about poets, so beautifully expresses “Poetry in translations is like taking a shower with a raincoat on.”) However, she has graciously whipped up a bowl of her heavenly “Rainbow Soup” as her contribution to tonight’s Poet’s Potluck Feast. Mmmmm… I can’t wait for you to try it..

I thought it would be fitting to end with another poem about winter, but I must warn you the following is one of my more downbeat pieces. Like much of my poetry, it is written in an obscure poetic form, in this case, an octameter. If you are not familiar with the form, it was originally invented by Shelley A. Cephas, and is a 16 line poem consisting of two stanzas of eight lines each. Because of the name, one might expect the form to be written in octameter (lines of eight metrical feet), but instead, each line consists of 5 syllables apiece. The rhyme scheme is rather complex – xxabxbxb cxacxcbb (x representing non-rhyming lines). This poem originally appeared online under a slightly different title in the Wolff Poetry Literary Magazine

Season of Disorder

Like a schoolyard fad,
Summer always fades,
leaving you to mourn
the loss of its light.

Please try to ignore
now premature night,
dying greenery,
fields shrouded in white.

Your thoughts, dense as lead,
weigh your spirits down.
Your body’s so worn,
it won’t rise from bed.
Old snow forms black scabs.

All songbirds have fled.
Spring, nowhere in sight,
is late (just for spite).

— Paul Szlosek (originally published in the Wolff Poetry Literary Magazine)

Yikes! That was so darn depressing! On second thought, that would be such a miserable way to close out the first half of what has been so far a pleasant poetry show filled with good cheer. Besides it doesn’t seem right not to end a Poetorium open mic without a poem by Ron Whittle. So instead, here is Ron’s poem which I promised I would share with you earlier…

The Moon Interviewing the Sun for
the Sunday Edition of the Newspaper

“So tell me
what do you remember
about the Big Bang?”

“Well, to be truthful
I don’t remember much,
but I do remember
it being cold and dark
and I lit a match
to see what was going on
and whooosh…
everything blew up in flames
and it’s been that way
ever since.
Kinda like lighting
the barbecue grill,
ya know what I mean.
Which reminds me,
when is the next time
a cow is going to jump
over you?
We haven’t had any
steaks or ribs up here
in a long time.
Ya know, I lost my beard
and eye brows the last time
I struck a match.
I won’t do that again.
You know it was kinda like whooosh…
and this whole side of the universe
smells like burnt hair.
You know
I get a kick out of your people-
they talk about solar flares
like they’re something special.
Hell, its just excess gas.
Here, pull my finger,
I’ll show you…”

Unfortunately this is where the interview end
and the Moon was shot into a new orbit.

—Ron Whittle

Well, folks, that is the end of our first open mic of the evening. We’ll be taking a longer than usual intermission before we come back and I present tonight’s group Christmas poem as well as the Secret Surrealist Santa Lists I asked people to submit. Then we’ll start the second virtual open mic, this one with a holiday theme. Now, I, being very fond of past holiday poetry gatherings (like the wonderful Jingle Mingle that our local Worcester area poet Anne Marie Lucci hosted each year at her Streetbeat poetry venue which the Ho-Ho-etorium is meant as a tribute to) and since some of my favorite memories of these gatherings involved food (who in the Worcester poetry community could forget Anne Marie’s blonde brownies at the Jingle Mingle or my mom’s chocolate chip cookies at the Poet’s Parlor?), I decided to replace the usual virtual vendor’s table with a virtual poet’s banquet table and asked people to contribute some imaginary food for a virtual poet’s potluck. So please sample all the delicacies you kind people have brought in and we will be back in a short while…

Intermission Begins

The Ho-Ho-etorium Imaginary Poet’s Potluck Banquet Table

Photo by Paul Szlosek

Dollar Store Skordalia brought by Paul Szlosek

Instead of what appears to be the mandatory bowl of hummus and pita bread served on the refreshment table of every gathering of poets from the beginning of time, here is a delicious substitute: skordalia, a Greek garlic dip or spread traditionally made by combining crushed garlic with a thick base such as day-old bread or pureed potatoes, lots of olive oil and citrus–either a wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice that usually takes hours to prepare, but this version is almost as good and can be whipped up in mere minutes with every single ingredient purchased at your local Dollar Tree, Dollar General, or Family Dollar...

one cup of mashed potatoes (prepared according to the directions on a package of either Buttery Homestyle or Betty Crocker Instant Mashed Potatoes)
garlic powder
lemon juice from concentrate
olive & vegetable oil blend
dash of salt
cold water

Place mashed potatoes in serving bowl, then stir in lemon juice, oil, salt, and garlic powder a little at a time to desired taste, then slowly add the cold water until the dip is the consistency of hummus. Drizzle with a little oil, dust with paprika and dried parsley or cilantro flakes (for an optional dash of holiday red and green), and serve with scoopable-shaped corn chips.

Velouté D’Arc-En-Ciel (Rainbow Cream Soup)* brought by Corinne Bellocq

*For a photograph of this scrumptious dish and the original recipe in French, please click here.

Photo by

Hamburger Chilli with Potato Rolls and Shredded Cheddar Cheese Brought by Dwayne Szlosek

Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography on

Champagne brought by Brad Osborne

1 – Bushel of the finest grapes

1- Glass bottle with cork

1 – Great amount of patience

Squeeze the grapes into the bottle. Apply patience liberally. Wait for the magic to happen, then consume with vigor.

A toast – “May your words always be effervescent and sparkle with life when they are decanted and shared!”

Swedish Christmas Glogg and Swedish Cookies (Made in the Shape
of Snowmen) Brought by Joan Erickson

“Making glogg was a tradition in my husband, Bob’s, family. The alcohol and spices were heated in a pan and when ready was lit with a match – then putting the cover on. Strong stuff -could only have a sip and feel it burn as it went down.”

—Joan Erickson

Ugly Cookies Brought by Chrissy Burlingame

‘Ugly Cookies’

We painted faces
of icing and
colored sugar
on our misshaped cookies.
A disfigured attempt at
cookie decorating
and feeling better.
A reflection of
our insides out.
We hadn’t a future
in confectionery careers
But as
inexperienced decorators
we smiled
and laughed nonetheless.
Such failures were
never meant to
be gifted—
They were the punchline
to our winter afternoon
well spent.

—Christine Burlingame

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Intermission Ends

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PAUL: Oh my goodness, I am stuffed and a bit woozy from all that champagne and glogg! Everybody, please find a seat and I’ll kick off the second half of the evening with the Christmas group poem.

As you might recall, I requested that people send in one to six lines starting with the phrase “Christmas is… ” to be be compiled into tonight’s group poem. I also gave everyone the option of having your name listed as an contributor or to remain anonymous. Only Joan Erickson, Robert Eugene Perry, Dwayne Szlosek, and Brad Osborne gave me permission to use their names, so the identities all the other authors of the following poem will stay secret, fittingly for this time of year, like a Secret Santa:

Christmas Is…

Christmas is the eyes of a child.

Christmas is the twinkle of lights in children’s eyes.

Christmas is the fresh scent of pine.

Christmas is giving and learning to receive
suspending doubt, willing to believe
letting go of resentments
making room for Presence
allows the Mystery within to conceive.

Christmas is fresh snowflakes on eyelashes.

Christmas is a sugar rush mixed with caffeine.

Christmas is laying wide-eyed in bed with a thumping hear of anticipation.

Christmas is a visit from Santa.
Time to roll out the red carpet,
time to hang up the stockings,
time to get ready for fun.
Time for miracles
under the sun

Christmas is forgetting what you don’t have and being thankful for what you do.

Christmas is a caring smile.

Christmas is missing family.

Christmas is winter snow, and when the wind blows.
It feels so cold it is time to start a fire.
And to hear it’s crackle with it’s orange glow.
And with it’s glow. The cold comes with a cup of hot chocolate.
Waiting for old saint nick, to warm his bones by the fire.
And kiddy’s i am not delivering christmas presents this year. HO, HO, HO..

Christmas is lighting the night.

Christmas is remembering kindness.

Christmas is being our best…

And with that last line, I need to concur that all the contributors really are the best! Thank you so much!

And now what Christmas gathering would be complete without the tradition of gift-giving? So to add the traditional present-giving element to our imaginary holiday gathering, I proposed a variation on the old surrealist game The Time Travelers’ Potlatch. In case you are not familiar with it (by the way, a potlatch is a gift-giving competition practiced in certain cultures), the game is played by having each person describe the gift that they would present to various historical, mythical, or fictional figures of their choice on the occasion of meeting them. Our variation was to be the Secret Surrealist Santa List in which we could all list up to six historical, mythical, or fictional figures and the Xmas presents we would give them if we were their surreal Secret Santas. Now only two people submitted lists beside myself, but I was tickled pink by them and I sure you will be too:

Chrissy Burlingame’s Secret Surrealist Santa List

For Sylvia Plath, a white candle in a bell jar.
For Revenge, Jello, a dish best served cold.
For Edgar Allen Poe, his truck’s title.
For Every Mole, tiny magnifying glasses.

Brad Osborne’s Secret Surrealist Santa List

For Wile E. Coyote, a membership to Amazon Prime.
For Pontius Pilot, a new set of hand towels.
For Pheidippides, a Nike endorsement.
For Van Gogh, one Airpod Pro.
For Santa’s reindeer, Dasher, just one year of not having to look at Rudolph’s ass all night!

Paul Szlosek’s Secret Surrealist Santa List

For Alexander Hamilton, a kevlar vest and frockcoat.
For Lois Lane, lead-lined lingerie.
For Sherlock Holmes, an Occam’s safety razor and shaving brush set.
For Danny Pudi, good coffee and warm socks.
For Robert Johnson, a textbook on contract law.
For Mankind, a digital doomsday clock with snooze alarm.

Thank you, Brad and Chrissy, for your generosity and incredible imaginations! Well done, my friends!

Okay, we can now start the second open mic. Please remember, folks, your poem or story needs to have either a Christmas, New Year, or general holiday theme…

I actually had some great Christmas poems to open with including one about my one Christmas spent in South Carolina and a patchwork poem consisting of solely lines from Christmas carols, but of course I can’t find them! So I am going to have to cheat and convert an existing poem to a Christmas one. Like all my poems I will be sharing with you tonight, it is written in an obscure poetry form, this one being a biolet, but this time I won’t bother with the boring rules of writing one (and just let you puzzle it out for yourself from my example):

A Frozen Yuletide Memory

On a chilly afternoon in late December,
I stood at the kitchen window and watched it snow,
And although that was over fifty years ago,
For some unknown reason I can still remember
I stood at the kitchen window and watched it snow
On a chilly afternoon in late December.

—Paul Szlosek

Now please welcome back to the podium, Joe Fusco Jr….


Our Neighbor

Our neighbor dresses in camouflage,
Straps himself in the chestnut tree that borders our backyards,
Waits for deer to prance by.

We live in Worcester, the Big City,
Concrete and asphalt,
Squirrels, an occasional raccoon if you’re not careful with the garbage,
Ornery wasps but the only deer are plastic and pull a bearded fat guy around,
Also plastic, two houses down most of December.

Our neighbor smokes grass while he waits in the chestnut tree.
He used to teach welding at the vocational school.
He used to play electric guitar for a Dead-like band.

Sometimes, his nine-year-old, also in camouflage, keeps him company.
If you look through the window of their family room,
You’ll see plastic antlers hanging from the fireplace.

Our neighbor waits like Godot in the chestnut tree.
The city has lowered our property assessment three times.
We instruct the kids to only use the front door,
Remember he has a night-scope and a bong,
Never ever prance.

—Joe Fusco Jr.

PAUL: Since the Ho-Ho-etorium is a celebration of Christmas and Christmas truly is family, please welcome to the virtual stage a dear friend of the Poetorium and my actual cousin, Dwayne Szlosek…

Dwayne Szlosek

DWAYNE: Good evening, everyone! Here are my Christmas Poems…

I Think I Might, I Think I May…

I think I might, I think I may.
I think, i think, i’ll stay,
To spend Christmas day with you.
I think i might, i think i may.
I think, i think, I’ll stay with you.
Thank you.
I will stay all day, on Christmas day.
I think I might, I think i may.
I think, i think, i will drink eggnog,
an open christmas presents on this day.
I think i might, i think i may.
I think, i think, i will stay for dinner,
an eat this wonderful meal with you.
An join you for that glass of wine, Caroline.
I think i might, i think i may.
I think, i think, i will stay,
the whole night with you.
The day after.
A month after.
The year after.
An the rest of my life after, with you.
And forever more….

—Dwayne Szlosek (12\14\2019)

Christmas With Everyone..

Christmas time of the year is for all of us
To share our joy with every girl and boy.
Christmas time is so near,
It’s time to share our thoughts and prayers
With you and everyone here.
Let them know I am thinking of them,
And all your well being.
I know you are thinking about me as well.
Because we are family in some way,
Why we are part of a family
Or we are friends or even best friends.
The joy of christmas will bring all of us
Together, on the Lord’s birthday.
To give thanks to him for our lives
And to the people we meet,
That will bring us joy.
I thank you all.
And a merry Christmas,
And a happy new beginning for the New Year…

—Dwayne Szlosek (12\7\2020)

Thank you! Hope you all had a great Christmas and will have a fantastic New Year!

PAUL: Now returning to the podium, is Joan Erickson with her Christmas poem…


Christmas Present

My oldest Granddaughter,
Jennifer, gave me a cat
for Christmas – a wooden cat –
almost the size of a real cat.
It now sits on my harvest table.

It has orange and gray tiger stripes
and has white on its nose and paws
and on the end of its tail. It is
a wooden puzzle made of large
pieces – easy to take apart and
put together.

I have named this cat ‘Puzzles.’ She
is very good – doesn’t scratch the
furniture and doesn’t need a litter box
and if I get bored during tomorrow’s
big snow storm, I can take her apart
and put her back together again and
not one scratch will I get.

I love my new cat.
Thank you, Jennifer.

—Joan Erickson (01/03/2018)

PAUL: And now once again, Robert Eugene Perry…


Reflecting on Christmas

Before recovery
Christmas was painful.

The coming of the giver of Life
only highlighted
my own self-centeredness.

I hid my face
in a barrel of Whiskey
hoping I would drown,

till one day He came down,
gently lifted my head and said:
I can raise you from the dead.

Do you wish to be made well?

Those words broke
the sodden spell –

the gates of hell
and I whispered

—Robert Eugene Perry

And now we will have Brad Osborne with his Christmas poem…


‘Twas the Night Before Covid Christmas…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, 2020 the year,
The days were blurring with pandemic fear;
The face masks were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that gifted vaccine soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
Thoughts of missing friends danced in their heads;
And mamma in her sweats and I in my briefs,
Had just settled down for some needed relief,

The year had been one like none could expect,
And holidays came with family to protect;
So, Nana and Pop wouldn’t be here this year,
But a video call would let them feel near;

Santa drove the smiling van instead of a sleigh,
And lucky we are to have gifts Christmas day;
The best gift from one generation to another,
When missing you meant we loved each other,

Dawn will still hold the wonder of little eyes,
As eager children bid a much too early rise;
And I offer but one wish as I turn out the light
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!

–Brad Osborne

PAUL: Last but not least on on our Holiday open mic, for the very first time tonight, someone in the last few months who has been a wonderful and loyal supporter of the Poetorium -Mishelle Goodwin..

MISHELLE; Thank you! Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Here is a poem I just jotted down from the top of my head. It’s called “MY CHRISTMAS”. Hope you enjoy it!

My Christmas

At Christmas time
we laugh
we sing
and jolly
where we where
that night

We celebrate Christmas
with a Christmas meal. We open our gifts
play with new and old toys.

Empty our stalking’s
that are hung by our chimney with care.
Keeping warm by the fire

The Christmas tree is up
With gifts galore and sing Christmas carols
all night long
I hung up my coat

Upon the hooks
In the hallway
Black Leather Coat
tassels and buttons
That shine and glow

Every year my Christmas Gifts
Are opened and clothes all hung
In my closet with care.
While all my toys are stored away.

Because love has no boundaries
That this year and every year
We are kind to who we meet
And I lost some along the way.

—Mishelle Goodwin

PAUL: WOW! Thank you everyone! You were just all amazing. Your kindness, support, and poetry has been the best Christmas present I could ever wish for!

I am going to close out the show with a poem of mine that contains a callback to the first poem I read tonight (see if you can catch it). By the way, the poem is an hodgenelle, a poetry form I created inspired by one of my poetry idols, John Hodgen:

I’m Not Santa

It doesn’t mean I’m Santa just because I wear a white beard,
It seems I can’t even walk down the street without being jeered
With Ho Ho Ho’s by nasty little brats, their faces smeared
With jam. Adults even worse, drunk, voices slurred, all-teared
Up, whining I never brought them a certain doll or multi-geared
Erector set. What would they do if I turned to them and sneered
“It doesn’t mean I’m Santa just because I wear a white beard,

And don’t try to climb upon my lap – that would just be weird!”?
My facial hair is real, I’m no mall Santa with fake whiskers adhered
To my cheeks with spirit gum. It might be easier if I sheared
The whole thing off, but I won’t. I have persevered,
Endured stupid jokes about reindeer and elves, silently steered
Past taunting teens. St. Nick’s a figure, not to be mocked, but feared.
It doesn’t mean I’m Santa just because I wear a white beard,

Yet all my tormentors, one day, might find themselves speared
With sprigs of holly through their hearts, or basted and seared
Over an open flame like a Christmas goose, or simply disappeared
Down a chimney. So now that we have this matter all cleared,
Please don’t Santa me anymore! I’d much rather be King Leared,
(Or from all you poets) Walt Whitmanned or John Greenleaf Whittiered.
It doesn’t mean I’m Santa just because I wear a white beard.

–Paul (“I’m Not Santa“) Szlosek

Wow, I’m getting really groggy (It must be all the glogg)! It’s been a rough year for all for us, but you, my dearest friends, made it bearable for me with all your kindness, support, and poetry! So thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Hopefully Ron and I will see you all in January ( if I don’t end up hibernating like a polar bear – pardon the poor pun, but I did say “bearable”). Please keep Ron and his wife in your prayers and hearts, stay safe and healthy, and have the most fantastic, stupendous, and amazing New Year humanly possible!

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19 thoughts on “The Virtual Ho-Ho-etorium For December 31st, 2020

  1. Oh my, oh my!! I just popped in for a peek–social phobia, doncha know 🙂 The recipes sound good, ‘specially the first one 🙂 Happy New Year to you and ALL Poets around the globe–and Yes Indeed, I’ll be praying for those who are not well, needing surgery–or just under the weather. Thanks for being our host, Paul–May God HUGELY Bless you!! ❤


    1. Thank you so much, Jael, for checking out the Ho-Ho-etorium. I am so pleased that you enjoyed it! Also I really appreciate your prayers for Ron. Both he and his wife are scheduled for surgery this month, and am hoping he will recover by next monthsto resume his rightful hosting duties at the Virtual Poetoriun.
      Happy New Year and Bless you!


      1. No worries, Paul–I’m honored to pray! And I have faith it will indeed be a happy New Year–circumstances change, but our God is unchangeable, HE LOVES US!! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul,
    What a demonstration of poetry, imagination, sensations and impressions. I am impressed…
    I took the time to read you all and I tell myself that I have worked very little;) … I am very honored to be here with you, and I tell myself that the road is still long and fascinating. I did not know these poems you speak of “hodgenelle”…
    I think I still have a lot to discover, and I hope to grow up protected by the light folds of your sensitive wings …
    Very loud Paul and again well done.
    I send my best wishes to the entire community of poets and readers and a special thought for Ron, whom I keep warm in my best thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Corrine, you are so very kind! I am so honored to have you participate with your delicious rainbow soup. I was sorry I couldn’t find a way to include that amazing photo of it directly on my site, but I hope it was satisfactory that I was able to include a link to your website.. I am so pleased you enjoyed the poetry of our little community. Also thank you for your interest in the hodgenelle. It is a poetry form I created that was inspired by the poet John Hodgen, and this was the first time I shared it online. Perhaps I will do a blog post on it here in the near future.

      Once again, thank you for your kindness, support, and special thoughts for Ron. Corrine!

      Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul and Ron, I want to thank you for your kind invitation to participate in this Holiday Edition of the Ho-Ho-etorium. I am honored to have my work sitting along side those of such exceptional artists and wordsmiths. I am humbled. To my fellow poets and writers, may you never run out of words or the courage to share them! Happy New Year one and all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tou are very welcome, Brad, and thank you! It was such an honor to have you participate in our humble holiday gathering. Your poetry, recipe for champagne, and secret Santa list was such a joy for me to read! Thank you once again, and please have a wonderful New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So much talent on this page. I enjoyed reading all the poetry. It sounds like everyone had a great time too. The food looked good too. I got a giggle from the photo of the cookies. What a lovely way to spend the evening. Thanks for sharing all the great poems Brad.
    Happy New Year to all. May you all be blessed with the new year. Hugs, Joni

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Joni! We are so pleased you enjoyed the Ho-Ho-etorium, the poetry of our humble group, and the imaginary food at our virtual poet’s potluck banquet!

      Thanks again, and Happy New Year!


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh it was wonderful lots of talent and it was like you were all there. What a wonderful thing to do. I can’t help but think of Brad and what a wonderful poet he is and how wonderful to be surrounded virtually in such a group. Thank you and happy new year to you as well. Bless you all and stay safe. xoxoxoxo Joni


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