Christmas with Burl Ives 

Valerie Horton

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

and wannabe-elf-dentists,

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.



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Christmas with Burl Ives  Copyright © 2018 by Valerie Horton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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