The Old Lights Of Christmas


Devizes, Wiltshire; New Year’s Eve…


The cyclist sees, in the edge of her eye

Fireworks flash in the distant beyond

Ghostly swans on the dark of the pond

The old lights of Christmas go glittering by

The cyclist sees, in the edge of her eye

Houses shimmer with sparkling rain

Curtains drawn on sorrow and pain

The old lights of Christmas go glittering by

The cyclist sees, in the edge of her eye

Stars wheel over the Market Place

The shift of a shadow on Ceres’ face

The old lights of Christmas go glittering by


© Gail Foster 31st December 2016

What’s it about for you, then?



What’s it about for them, then

Loneliness, poverty, pain

Bang of the bailiff at the door

Death in a ditch in the rain

What is it like for the Joneses

Bigger and better you think

Posh port and pigs in blankets

Sick in the kitchen sink

What’s it about for him, then

A clock, and an empty chair

Picture of her on the mantelpiece

Candle smoke curls in the air

What is it like for her, do you think

Hairdo and heels and hurrah

Hampers and champers from Harrods

Packed in to Daddy’s car

What’s it about for the Christians

Return of the sacred child

Under a star in a stable bare

Jesus, meek and mild

What is it like for the Druids, then

Stood in the circle at dawn

Frost on the moss on frozen stone

Lit by the sun reborn

What’s it about for the children

Mysterious, glittery, bright

Hope of a mythic benevolence

Come as a thief in the night


What is it like for us, then

Rushing and spending and stressing

Cursing the souls in the queue at the till

Kissing a friend with a blessing


What will it be like for you, then

What will you will it to be

Riotous ostentation, or

Peace and sweet charity


What it’s about for me is this

One white and holy dove

The silence after the shops have shut

And love


© Gail Foster 3rd December 2016








Midnight Mass; St. John’s

IMG_3588 - Copy


Church on Christmas Eve

Experience of spirit

Secular delight

Candles flickering

Stirred by one communal breath

Casting bright shadows

The choir whispering

Mournful cadenced melodies

That bless the silence

Drunken folk giggling

Respectfully hiccupping

Noisy chundering

Strange and precious faith

The uninitiated

Wary, questioning

Through agnostic eyes

Such peculiar mystery

Custom, novelty

The truth hides in love

Ancient priests and children know

Its simplicity

The door is opened

Out in to the night The Word

Flies on sacred wings

Midnight Mass; the light

In darkness comprehending

Emptiness with joy


by Gail

Bar Humbug

In which there is much bad language in The Vaults (the best little micro pub in town), and Mortimer Cheese makes an unfounded allegation about Santa…


Not Bitter - Copy


 Mortimer Cheese wasn’t easily pleased

And he didn’t like Christmas at all

At the pub where he went for his grub and a vent

He would sometimes just rant at the wall

Particularly riled by people who smiled

He would give them a piece of his mind

He just didn’t get to where he was today

By being in any way kind

“Happy Christmas” they said, to the back of his head

“I think not” he would say as he turned

“Are you taking the piss?” he would splutter and hiss

Spraying mist from the beer he had earned

“Don’t give me that, about Christmas, you twat

All that tinsel and plastic and light

Santa” he said, “is a paedo in red

And I’m wishing for cloud on the night

As for the star and the kings from afar

I’m for Dawkins and none of that tosh

Jesus!” he said, “You are well off your head

Bring on the shagging and nosh!”

Seven pints supped, he was just warming up

He had a few choice things to say

Some thought he joked with the words that he spoke

But most folk just melted away

One girl held a candle, despite all his scandal

They had once had a ‘thing’ in his car

In a zebra striped dress which she wore to impress

She watched him with lust from the bar

“Leave me off your list” he said, getting more pissed

“Not you love, I’ll come in your stocking

A quick in and out, that’s what Santa’s about”

And other things frankly more shocking

His blood pressure rose as the atmosphere froze

And his words chilled the air of The Vaults

It seemed a good crack to stay on the attack

So he started on everyone’s faults

The sad and the chubby, the hapless, the grubby

All punters were grist to his mill

“What’s wrong with you folk, can you not take a joke

You’re all bloody ugly or ill”

By quarter to nine he had well crossed a line

Malc the landlord said “Cheese Boy, you’re barred”

“More feckin’ drink” said the drunk man, “I think

That I’m better than you and well hard”

“No, you’ve had enough” said the landlord, “so tough

It’s time you went home to your bed

You’ve been nasty and loud, you’ve done Britain First proud

And you’ve told us we’re better off dead”

Mortimer grumbled, and stood up and stumbled

And pointed himself at the door

Knocking the bar so the big humbug jar

Fell off and smashed on the floor

“Humbugs for me” he said, grinning with glee

As he picked out a few from the glass

“I’m already sweet but these humbugs are neat”

So he necked three, and fell on his arse

“He looks a bit red” one kind punter said

“Take no notice” said someone, “he’s joking”

“Stop larking about and get the fuck out!

Oh bollocks, he’s actually choking”

“Call for the Doc!”  “But he called me a cock”

“Well call for the nurse then!”  “She’s pissed”

There was nobody there who had much of a care

There were only the folk he had dissed

A bloke at the bar, who’d been quiet so far

Who had hoped to escape any drama

Had listened to Cheese, with his bile and sleaze

And had pondered the workings of karma

Understated but cool, the bloke jumped off his stool

Someone whispered “A nice little mover”

He grabbed hold of Cheese and with confident ease

Did a swift nifty Heimlich’s Manoeuvre

A grunt and a shout and the humbug shot out

Made a ring like a bell on the bar

“I’m guessing that’s time then” our Mortimer said

“I’d best get me coat then, ta-ra”

As he swayed up the street he heard following feet

And a voice that was eager to please

The girl from the pub, who was stripey and sweet

“Bar Humbug” sneered Mortimer Cheese


by Gail

Harriet’s Gift

For Harriet, and for Devizes; a poem for Advent


IMG_3308 - Copy


Today, my dear friend Harriet gave to me

A tiny glittery nativity

Like Russian dolls, the size of half a thumb

A tiny Joseph Dad and Mary Mum

And Jesus, smaller than a fingernail

Such tiny things to tell so grand a tale

And as she pressed them in my hand her eyes

So bright and hopeful, old and kind and wise

Were simply brimming with that shining light

That fuelled the star that lit that mystic night

Some weeks ago, she gifted me a stone

Found on a beach where she had walked alone

All gold and smooth from rolling ocean’s wear

For me to hold in moments of despair

And there were candles then, that she had lit

Upon the table where we sometimes sit

And then, like now, I very nearly cried

So touched by all the love she has inside

If only love and Christmas were like this

All simple joy, delight and friendly kiss

All gentleness, all light and subtle sheen

Like all the things in her that I have seen

I wish you joy, like Harriet wishes me

A Christmas full of love; all blesséd be


by Gail