It’s 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve & the Oak Room
— crushed velvet wallpaper in heart’s-blood red
& tart-sweet tobacco smoke hanging in the air —
has only three patrons. Jesus sits at the bar, listening
to Bing Crosby sing regretfully about a lack of snow.
Mithras walks up, looking sharp in a black silk shirt,
hands him a glass of Macallans, a double on the rocks.
“They’ve missed your birthday again, little brother.”
The next bar is hopping. This one’s in a basement:
wood paneling, spattered Marmoleum, Old Spice,
& country music spilling out. The crowd cheers
a faux cowboy on a mechanical bull. “Want to have a go?”
Mithras asks Jesus. “It’s not as hard as it looks.”
Jesus shakes his head. “Your game, not mine.”
Mithras wins the grand prize (of course), the bull tamed
&, later, two double-D blondes conquered.
At midnight, Mithras & Jesus stand on the sidewalk
before the Church of Eternal Love . Mithras has the blondes
on each arm; Jesus has a knapsack. They all gaze up
at a white-robed statue, arms spread, false stigmata dark
against its glowing plastic palms. “Doesn’t look much like you,”
Mithras says. Jesus cocks his head, says “Never does”
& walks away. Mithras finds the nearest hotel, celebrates
his birthday in style: the blondes, Grey Goose, & Magic Fingers.
[Julie deGarie was born near the water and now lives in the mountains. She has been writing poetry off and on for many years, but has just recently gotten serious about it. She agrees with Richard Hugo’s assertion that truth should conform to music.]