Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Christmas Lights (10/30/08)
- TITLE: Shiny Happy People
By Helen Paynter
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‘Tis Christmas Eve in Sunniton;
the faithful few have come
to lift their voice, their worship raise,
and so rejoice – their Christmas praise
enhanced by sax and drum.
On bass guitar is Billy Bright,
his ardent praise expressing.
His mission is for greater joy;
to ditch tradition, tongues employ –
a new Toronto blessing!
And at the door is Mary Sparks
the hands of new folk shaking.
Her arms outstretched, her eyes are kind,
the smile is etched and never mind
how much her face is aching.
The janitor is Dennis Ray,
no task is too much trouble.
He’ll scrub the loos and sweep the stairs,
replace a fuse and stack the chairs;
all jobs done at the double.
But at the back is Ernest Grey;
fly in the vicar’s ointment;
the preacher’s bane – he’ll roll his eyes,
and then complain, or criticise;
he lives in disappointment.
The song is done, the vicar stands
in pulpit, so distinguished.
His first remark – a sudden crack!
They’re plunged in dark, the church is black,
the lights are all extinguished.
A moment’s still descends upon
the faithful of the flock.
But then in fright, a rising fuss;
and Billy Bright is heard to cuss -
his rapture lost to shock.
“It’s demons!” Mary Sparks asserts;
her voice is shrill and strident.
“I won’t keep mum, it’s no surprise;
I saw them come – I saw their eyes –
with forked tail and with trident.”
And at these words, a rising tide
of terror, anger, doubt.
“Who pays the bill? I’ll have his guts.”
“Oh please keep still! You’ve all gone nuts!”
Less joyful, less devout.
A calming baritone rings out,
“I’ll go and fetch a candle.”
It’s Dennis Ray; he takes the key,
calls Ernest Grey, “You come with me,”
and grabs the office handle.
The janitor’s headquarters are
a cluttered, happy mess.
But dark conceals a truth unseen,
the spark reveals a magazine –
of girls not over-dressed.
The rumour flies around the church
of Dennis’ sordid tastes.
Some tut and sigh, some sigh and tut
“I wonder why he buys that smut?
He’ll have to be replaced.”
Then Ernest Grey walks to the front,
says, “Why recriminate?
I don’t condone, but blame aside -
this night has shown our shadow side
light must illuminate.
“For those who walk with Jesus Christ
need no perpetual grin.
We’re hypocrites, our lives are veiled –
so let’s admit where we have failed;
and let the daylight in.
“For those who walked in shadows dark,
a saving son is born;
and sinners groping in the night
with wordless hoping for the light
now cry, “Behold, the dawn!””
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