Sunday, 13 July 2014

Time Machine: A Capitol Christmas 2009

Time Machine: A Capitol Christmas 2009

T’was the night before Christmas:
All year through the House
And the Senate you’d find
Not a smidgen of nous.
Were there a machine
That detected IQ,
One could run it a month,
Then return it as new.

Except for one person
Asleep in a corner,
A government watchman
Named Ermingard Horner,
Who woke up abruptly
And pointed her Glock
At a fat man who stood
By the grandfather clock.

“Drop em!” she said.
He replied with a quake,
“Dearie me! Do you want
“All the presents to break?”
As she patted him down,
She concluded, right quick,
The nocturnal intruder,
In fact, was Saint Nick.

But inside his bag
Was no football, no ring,
Nor a toy nor a doll
Or new video thing,
Just pieces of paper
And pieces galore,
And they spilled from the sack
On his back to the floor

“What’s this?” she demanded,
“Start telling me true!”
“Each,” he confessed,
“Is a big I.O.U.
“For many a year
“Congress plundered the store;
“When they spent all they had,
“Then they borrowed some more.”

“Til the lenders, exhausted,
“Collapsed in distress,
“Then the government cranked up
“Its vast printing press,
“Until every tree
“From Nome to Miami
“Was cut to print money
“For your Uncle Sammy.”

Ermingard, being
Sufficiently bright,
Knew in an instant
That Santa was right.
And even today, she recalls
(With some chills),
The ladies room stalls
Stacked with ten-dollar bills.

The money was there for
(She found this alarmin’)
The banknotes were worth less
Than White Cloud or Charmin.
Somewhere, she knew,
Politicians would gloat
That they’d picked her own pocket
To buy her own vote.

Then Santa sighed, “Presents?
“Let’s all just forget it,
“Since cash is now worthless
“And no one gives credit.
”So, Christmas? Prepare
“All the kids for bad news,
“As I stuff their wee stockings,
‘With cheap I.O.U.s”

He mumbled farewell
With a cynical laugh.
But she said, “I’ve a sandwich
“And you can have half.”
He paused and he squinted,
Then smiled with a sigh,
And sat down beside her,
A tear in his eye.

He said, “Christmas can be,
“What we make it to be.
“Merry Christmas to you,
“Tuna salad for me.”

Words - 374

S.J. Masty, a London-based communication consultant, pilots the Time Machine column each Wednesday.

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