Burl Ives, I’m told, is a distance relative,
perhaps a third cousin, once removed.
As a kid, I bragged to all my friends
that the chubby snowman
in Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
was my great uncle.
I wonder if they believed me.
Once I got a gigantic stuffed
reindeer with a fluffy red nose.
The nose fell off on Christmas
Eve. I watched in tears
as Mom stitched it back on.
Last year, I found that shabby toy.
It barely came to my knees.
Ives as a fat, mustached snowman
sang ever so sweetly of misfit toys
everything ended snow-sparkly.
I heard Ivy died a while ago
as a mean drunk at his ranch,
alone, outside Las Cruces.
I buried my brother yesterday,
he’d been on the road to drink,
like Ives, he hated holidays.
In December, Ives went to a Juarez
bar for a week-long binge.
They say the locals were afraid
of the big, silky-voiced Anglo.
I’m going to visit his grave
next week if I can find it.
It’s a long drive through
a broken sage and sand desert.
They buried Ives outside Anthony,
an I-10 piss-stop town
that smells of cow dung.
I like to imagine Santa flying
over that cemetery, he’d leave
Ol’ Burl a cold fifth of rye.
Well, maybe not, Ives never
would have made the good list.
I break the seal on the rye –
my toast to another holly, jolly
Christmas this year.