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Christmas at the Houston House of Pies

Jenny Browne

               … with nothing on my tongue but Halleluiah.
                    -Leonard Cohen

We leave Granny home, dozing before the surround-sound
Mormon Tabernacle marathon. Oh we, like sheep.
Oh what white teeth.

Oh we watch a drag queen with taut triceps
tongue her Lemon Icebox as three preteen
Graces of goth descend into layers

of French Silk. I’m always Pecan
but it’s Christmas and thus the seasonal
assurance of too many options.

Once I hid in the garage and painted rocks for gifts
as the rainbow-paneled hot air balloon hauling
the breath of God roared above our yard.

Our yard, clasp your hands round
the open pint of paint I waved calling
comeandseecomeandsee all through the house.

All through the house black enamel snakes
climbed walls and soaked deep into creamy shag
and the aptly named Mr. Cloud came and bleached

and scrubbed and rubbed his neck
as that breath of God moseyed on west.
This thick air can take no such open-mouthed awe

so we crowd the exit to seek not the brightest star
but the machine with a glinting silver hook that centers,
lowers and misses another felt-bellied blue dolphin

while we finger the warm quarters in our pockets and wonder
if this the one round coin, square backyard, triangular fat slice
of 45 possible varieties to be chosen.

Once I memorized the tongue diagram so I knew
how the tip was made for sweet while deep
blue back-center meant bitter.

Once stones could talk.
Once the card on the smallest package said
here’s something to keep you warm.

Jenny Browne

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