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A Message For Our Times


It's da night before Xmas, and on da cell block ,

Da lights was shut down, da screws checkin' da locks.

Bernie 'n' me, shut up high on third tier,

Da same as we been for t'ree friggin' years.

Da rest a da cons was passed out in dere racks

Blasted out on pruno, smack, oxy, 'n' blacks.

And Bernie wit' his ear plugs, in da top bunk

An' me down below gettin' into a funk,

When from da air vent dere arose such a grumble,

I pulled out my shank and got ready to rumble.

Away to da bars I put dem to my back,

An' I yell at Bernie, "Hey, unass the rack!"

He pulled out his earplugs den stood next to me,

Den said, "Dis can't take too long, 'cause I gotta pee."

When, what to my wondering eyes should behold,

Da damn grill fell off an' black smoke come outta da hole.

Da smoke didn't smell much like fire or gas

An' da bull didn't notice da smoke when he passed.

Da smoke made a column, Bernie climbed up da wall

Den the smoke got real solid and started to crawl.

I was goin' to shout to rack open da gate

When da smoke said to me, "Louie, it's getting late."




 I thought goin' to Hell was just an old fraud,

To scare guys like me from becomin outlaws,

But here was Old Nick, all smoky and black

To take Louie out, an' he ain't comin' back.

Den da smoke it turned red, and me, like a jerk,

Said, "In Hell ya tink a guy like me can find work?"

Da column of red shaped itself into a man,

A red suit, white beard, but he was slender and tan.

"Dere's not much work in Hell," he said wit a smile,

"The place is full up, the way it's been for awhile.

"As for work for you both, I need you right now,

"I'm way behind schedule," and he wrinkled his brow.

"With fires and riots, thugs looking for fights,

"Lots of folks now won't even put up their lights.

"I can't leave kids' presents out there on the porch,

"What doesn't get stolen will be put to the torch.

"Chimneys are few, houses sealed up all tight

"Computer alarms and patrol cops all night.

"Everyone has guns and are itchin' to shoot

"Dere's no time to place presents, only to scoot.

"Most times I can't get in, da sky's full of ack ack,

"I've armored the sleigh but I can't shoot them back,

"They came at me with clubs once and left me for dead,

"As near as I can tell it's cause my hat was too red.

"I've robots for reindeer, an elf who's a rookie,

"And now my physician says I can't eat da cookies.

"Louie, I must tell you, if I can't pick up some speed,

"Millions will miss gettin' da presents dey need."




"Santa," I tells him, "You're in one big bind,

"But Bernie 'n' me, we got six left on a nine,

"We could help speed tings up and keep youse from harm,

"Bernie he does the locks and I do alarms."

Santa only needed us to work Xmas eve,

And he got us some papers so we could both leave.

Well, we got brand new suits, green wit white little frills,

Den Bernie makes a crack about bringin' his pills.

"Tink about dis," I said leanin up 'gainst his rack,

"All da stuff we done stole, now we can put it all back."

So, wit his two new helpers, Santa picked up his speed

All da kiddies and peoples'll get what dey need.

And when we screw it up, trip, or break the wrong beam

The thugs and attack dogs come for Santa's new team,

You'll hear the sleigh's speakers as to its safety we make, say,

"Merry Christmas to all, and lighten up for Christ's sake!"


—Merry Xmas from Barry Longyear


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What About This Blog?

For writers & readers. For writers, this is stuff I've learned, am in the process of discovering, and stuff that is imparted to me by other writers. For readers, I believe the more one knows about what goes into the writing of a story, and into the life of being a writer, the more one appreciates an author's writings.

This is a two-way blog. Your comments on the blogs are welcome, as are your questions. Comments on blogs can be made directly on each blog entry. For questions and comments not related to specific blogs, use the eMail link below.

Barry B. Longyear is the first writer to win the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer all in the same year. In addition to his acclaimed Enemy Mine Series, his works include the Circus World and Infinity Hold series, Sea of Glass, other SF & fantasy novels, recovery and writing instruction works, and numerous short stories.