Blooming Red by C. Howard-Johnson & M. Ball

 Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

This collection of highly individualized and unconventional Christmas poems is not for the tradition-bound. Yet, buried here in the esoteric is enough pathos, longing, joy and humor to strike a familiar chord of the human condition, of that unique flight of the heart during the Christmas season.

There are jewels to be extracted by an attentive mining of the lines of these poems. In Out of Malibu, America's Fulfillment of Prophecy, the original Christmas journey is adapted to a post-millennium bittersweet pilgrimage having as its ultimate destination the Vietnam Memorial.

On a less somber note, sardonic humor tinged with longing for the good old days is found in Christmas Reinvented, a stanza of which is below.

That was then these days we
may celebrate a couple of days
before the twenty-fifth, or
after, on bastard dates left
over from when others have
laid their claim on our
progeny.

Sly, subtle humor makes its way into Test of Faith, featuring grandma. Here it is, in part:

when I was six, I
lost the babe, no bigger
than a thumbnail. The loss,
foreshadowing
for shoplifted babes,
always first in the holy family
to go missing,

One of the most intriguing of these poems is Scientists Say in which the poet employs both criticism and irony in a reaffirmation of the meaning and sanctity of Christmas against the atheistic, existential interpretation of the Bing Bang Theory.

This is hardly your grandmother's collection of Christmas poems. The beauty and poignancy of the Holy Season  don't jump out at you; but, if you dig for them, it is worth the effort.

Reviewed by: Don Farinacci (2011)


Author's Synopsis

The reality of Christmas does not always resemble the images we see on commercial Christmas cards--or in our dreams. Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Mardalena Ball present a booklet that can easily substitute for a Christmas card. They portray the familar--those of family and warmth, giving and receiving. You'll also find the unusual from carols to the universe to end-of-year pondering with a couple of humorous poems thrown in for good measure.