Fall/Winter 2016

Nathan Brown


It started as a little somethin’
he slipped into his reindeer flask
back when he kept getting kicked out
of any and all reindeer games.

He had been so good-natured
about it all, nobody had noticed
how the fire slowly left his eyes
and moved down into his nose.

At first, it was nothing more
than a swig of leftover eggnog.
But with the boom in population
over these last few centuries,
which of course means a hell
of a lot more work for him,
he’d started to spike it
with the better stuff.

     after finally figuring out
     what his boss is really up to
     in the glow of every hearth
     below every snow-caked roof
     he parks the big sleigh on
     while he stands there freezing
     his short-tailed ass off,
he’s gone to straight rum.

Appleton Estates is a favorite.
But recently, Dasher turned him on
to the new Black Barrel small batch
from Mount Gay in Barbados.

Good stuff.

Blitzen wants him to get help,
but knows it will take some time.
He’d trotted down the same road
some five hundred years ago or so
and understands it’s a tricky thing.

The rest of the reindeer team
has started grumbling, though.
They’ve all noticed how the light
that guides them is beginning to dim.

And with the weather getting worse
each year from burning fossil fuels,
somebody’s gonna have to intervene,
come mid-January, or sooner,
if Santa’s not gonna do it.


Nathan Brown holds a PhD in English and Journalism from the University of Oklahoma where he taught for seventeen years. He served as Poet Laureate for the State of Oklahoma in 2013/14 and mostly travels now, performing readings and concerts, as well as speaking and leading workshops in schools, libraries, and community organizations on creativity and creative writing. Nathan has published thirteen books. Most recent is Donít Try, a collection of co-written poems with Austin Music Hall of Fame songwriter, Jon Dee Graham. Karma Crisis: New and Selected Poems, was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and the Oklahoma Book Award. His earlier book, Two Tables Over, won the 2009 Oklahoma Book Award.



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