Roy Scranton

Roy Scranton is the author of the novel War Porn (Soho Press, 2016) and the philosophical essay Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (City Lights, 2015). His journalism, essays, fiction, poetry, and reviews have been published in The Nation, Rolling Stone, the New York Times, LIT, Boston Review, Prairie Schooner, Los Angeles Review of Books, Contemporary Literature, The Appendix, and elsewhere. He is also one of the editors of Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War (Da Capo, 2013). He holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton and an M.A. from the New School for Social Research, and teaches creative writing in the Department of English at the University of Notre Dame.

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25 December 2014

A Christmas Sestina

by Sara Marcus and Roy Scranton



The lull of the year, its butt — streets all still
shuddering in the wake of hundreds of reindeer,
the rippled lukewarm air wheezing a dull glow.
Simon and Simone, under the mistletoe,
legs athwart legs in a clothed postcoital yoga
dozed to the dream-jazz of Manitoba Fatt.

“Christmas done come, the goose done got fat.
The cops stole my dog and raided my still.
Gyms all closed — I can’t even do yoga.
I got the broke-dick Christmas reindeer
dongle up on the tree, it just fell on my toe…”
Simon and Simone smiled, hazy eyes aglow.

Chanukah’s over. It’s not for us, the glow
burning in the second-story window. The fat-
fried pancakes, doughnuts: done. Cut now to
that scene: that screen: a still
shed, a welcome child, his head on fire, sheep, cows, reindeer,
three wise Asian-Americans teaching the Christ child yoga.

That would have changed everything. “Blessed are the yoga
cats, for they ask not what their country can do for them, but what the glow
of gomukhasana grants all sentient beings.” Let metta reign, dear
evangels of another network, let the warm yellow fat
cherubim minister ecumenically, suffusing peace, making earth still.
“Simon,” said Simone, “you’re crushing my toe.

We’re all dipped in unity, grasped by our toe-
nail as we dangle like a dongle in our untimely yoga.
“I mostly know” — Simone — “but when tense, I still
feel the flicker at the edge of the glow
like I’m just alone. You know?” A pause grows fat
like a really fat reindeer

or — see? — the sky about to rain. Dear
Chanukah, dear Christ child, dear Ramadan, dear Shinto
roadside shrine, dear Ganesh in your bath of clarified fat,
dear red-nosed reindeer, dear Officer Krupke, dear white girl doing yoga. . .
Simone chants silently: “I want to want to hug you in the glow
that is spreading now, warm and dull, through the streets so still

but I fear getting fat. I should do more yoga.”
Simone wiggled her half-crunched toe. Simon gave a shrug. Low
to the earth, he could swear he heard reindeer. An instant — then all was still.