IN THE HEYDAYS OF HIS EYES
(taut jeans dancing)

An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
 
 
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THE DEATH OF SANTA CLAUS

Charles Harper Webb

He's had the chest pains for weeks, but doctors don't make house calls to the North Pole, he's let his Blue Cross lapse, blood tests make him faint, hospital gown always flap open, waiting rooms upset his stomach, and it's only indigestion anyway, he thinks, until, feeding the reindeer, he feels as if a monster fist has grabbed his heart and won't stop squeezing. He can't breathe, and the beautiful white world he loves goes black, and he drops on his jelly belly in the snow and Mrs. Claus tears out of the toy factory wailing, and the elves wring their little hands, and Rudolph's nose blinks like a sad ambulance light, and in a tract house in Houston, Texas, I'm 8, telling my mom that stupid kids at school say Santa's a big fake, and she sits with me on our purple-flowered couch, and takes my hand, tears in her throat, the terrible news rising in her eyes.

 
 
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