I hear that Santa's now an anchor-man for CNN.
A lucky break they say,
The day
That arctic oil rig blew.
He saw the plume
Of smoke and in his wondrous sleigh
Flew round the spewing syringe
Of pipe poked in Earth's skin.
And though the reindeer brayed,
He circled in,
One hand upon the reins,
And put the blaze
On film:
The virgin snow,
The orange dancing flower of flame,
Its argument of boiling carbon cloud,
A smutty stain
Smeared low
Across the pale and polar-blue long day.

A billion eyes watched CNN that night
And saw brave Santa's film,
His interview, his grin.
"A great disaster. Ho, ho, ho." The story
Didn't seem so grim
With Santa's ice-blue twinkling stars
Of eyes as cool as arctic brine
To sink within.

Dear Santa's now an anchor-man, they say.
Catastrophes are fun.
The sun
Shone out of Santa's arse when I was young.
But now he even reads the weather chart.
"Snow for Christmas. Ho,ho,ho."
And Christmas Days's as warm as Santa's heart.
And no one minds.

Dear Santa's now an anchorman.
They say,
The pages on his desk are blank.
He likes the autocue.
Monsoons, typhoons and wars and gory deaths
Kaleidescope on screen behind his silhouetted
Gown of red.
Albino bird's nest neat beneath his jaw.
That grin
Adds sweetness to all injury.

My children watch the news.
They say
He's cute.
But they confuse the miseries of fate,
Related by the jolly anchorman,
With adverts for pyjamas and the latest joystick games.
It's all the same
They say.
And no one can
The styles
Are nigh inseperable.

I dreamed that in the parliament of Strasbourg
Older children, dour and grey
With age,
And drunk on twaddle in ten tongues,
Watch CNN,
They say,
Now Santa's made it fun.
They gaze behind his silhouette at berets,
Contrasting his red with blue.
And do,
Not much,
But watch
The pipes that spit red flowers of flame,
The boiling clouds of burning homes,
That spread a smutty stain
Across the plains of Bosnian snow.
And watch again and wish:
Oh Santa I've been good, if slow.
On Christmas Day,
Can't you
Just end all this?

Andrew Starling

return to poems