Poetry by John Thomas Murphy


All the good Santas are past their heyday.
Hit their peak mid-80’s, many an Advent back.
The new Santas are babies now: they stumble into malls
With Gin cologne, four-day stubble. Late 20’s, tops.

I saw one with his glasses crooked, his suit saffron,
His beard four inches lower on the left than the right,
Toilet paper peeking out of one boot, dog-earing
To the janitor-scattered cotton snow below.

In West Philly, I saw my first black Santa.
People debate about a black Jesus,
But no one makes much fuss about Santa;
He’s always white, old, fat, jolly, watching (you).

These adjectives are universal. The picture
In the Santa line bothered me, though.
It had a white guy w/ cookies, milk, grimace, pipe.
The coffee-can-slash-cash-drawer spewed green.

The kids not sure what to wish for,
Confused about sitting on his lap,
Squirming, not saying cheese,
Guessing Santa had just left the coal mine.

John Thomas Murphy is a tenth-grade English and Creative Writing living in White Plains, NY. Before moving to Westchester County, he lived in Troy, New Paltz, and Philadelphia, where he earned his graduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He has been published by The Cortland Review, The Chronogram, JMWW, Urban Graffiti, The Poet’s Cut, Promise, The Great Kills Review, Kota Press, and Evermore Books, among other publications. John also contributed an essay to the online project, Ruminations on America. He am currently seeking a publisher for my novel, Pigtown.