By John Thomas Tuft

The city is blanketed beneath the darkness of night

And the graveyard of the alleyways shelter those who don’t belong

While in the shadows, pilgrims shuffle toward a nativity

That inspires no singing, yet carries a sad, hopeful song.

Joe the crackhead leads them further up and further in

Maria is wrapped in an old tablecloth against the cold

Three wise guys in ghetto crowns mutter urgent warnings to keep moving

Two prostitutes keep watch, shepherding the earnings from what they sold.

Joe knocks at the door of a church basement community center

Seeking solace for these undesirables, resplendent in their sin

Maria groans in the birthing pangs of withdrawal

But they are turned away, being told there is no room within.

They continue on, guided by desperation toward a fading star

Maria ponders all this while stepping over her vomit in the gutter

They are the most unlikely of all carolers

Questioning the meaning of this Christmas that we utter.

In a world of silent nights, with groanings too deep to be heard

The coming of the faithful is quite the festival to behold

With trees and lights, saints, and children’s laughter

And the telling of a plastic story while we select who is included in the fold.