Friday, July 8, 2005

Somebody Should Play Silent Night


In another life

when I attended

Malone College

I edited the campus newspaper.


One night

I couldn't think of what to say in my editorial.


I went to

Bob's Big Boy on Rt. 62.

I sat.  

Drank coffee.

Wrote down my thoughts.

Substituted those thoughts for my editorial.


                               *     *    *


People seemed to prefer the poem to my usual pendantic editorials.


                               *     *    *


Today's terrorist attacks in London made me remember 1988.  The year I spent studying there.


That year changed my life.


When I got the news this morning, I decided to post this poem.


                               *     *    *


Someone Should Play Silent Night

By Steven L. Denlinger


I sit alone in an all-night restaurant,

Listening to “Jingle Bells” playing on the radio somewhere above me,

Thinking about world peace,


              nuclear holocaust.


I listen to the waitress tell me,

Her eyes big (she only graduated from high school last year)

About two men in front of the restaurant that scare her.

The Navy owes her brother-in-law $3,000.  Probably $5,000.

And now he’s sick.


World peace is an illusion.

It will never happen.

I wonder if they turned off the lights on the Christmas tree in the student center.

Is is dark now? Earlier it was lit.

The security guard probably turned it off.


“What a shame,” the angels said. “Man will probably push the button.

Too bad.

He should have listened to that song we sang those greasy shepherds.”


The world is going to hell.

And people don’t care.

              I sit here.

              God cares.

              A nuclear bomb doesn’t.

I wonder what a dead Nicaraguan looks like.

How many bullet holes are in him?

Is he bleeding?  Are his guts blown all over the ground?

Crimson blood on dry brown earth.

Like it was when men killed Jesus.

Only they cleaned up the mess afterwards.


Doesn’t Jesus care?

But he wants us to kill our enemies to make the world

              Crimson, white, and blue for democracy.

What did you say, Mrs. Robinson?

Oh well, the flag is still safe.

You know, if they issued the war today, I’d probably have to wait

              ‘til next week to fight.

I’ve got exams - you know how it is.


I wish they would play “Silent Night” occasionally on the radio.


                                                                              December 17, 1987

                                                                              Canton, Ohio

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