for Richard Hood

I’m cooking a pizza in the oven.

Every bit of steam’s frolicking.

Snug on my high bed, the sheets listen.

From dawn to dusk the barnyard lights glisten

When I crease my covers whiter than snow,


For I am loving no flakes this Christmas.

With every yellow daisy popping up,

The meadow turning even more golden,

And the full moon, coming up now, blossoms

To let the elephants and flocks go by.


They flop out of sight like exclamations,

Arriving in wonder, McGee’s Crossroads,

To prep and string popcorn in rows of clouds.

There is no snow on Paul’s Hill this Christmas,

Just dollops of dewy lichens on posts.


May sweaters spring red, blue, white, brown, lacey,

Minds lift away from neutrally racy

Swears to mark the weather this morn.

I put suet out for the woodpeckers.

Not a one in sight will leave me undone.


All my button-holes I keep unbuttoned

For breezes to make my lashes whistle,

This merry Christmas day, Cricket snores.

The front door’s purposefully half-open,

My heart singing a sprig in awe of spring.

— Shelby Stephenson

Shelby Stephenson was North Carolina’s poet laureate from 2015-2018.

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