Two Christmas Poems by Leslie Leyland Fields

Let the Stable Still Astonish

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And the, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.

Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said: “Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens and earth
be born here, in this place.”?

Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts
and says, “Yes, let the God
of Heaven and Earth
be born here—-

In this place.”


No Country for Two Kings

A king is come. There is no bed
in hostel or hearth for a girl
bursting with child. No bed for a birth
and less room for a king, no matter how infant
and Hebrew he is, no matter how long
the signs of his coming. See,
there he lies among dung and black sheep
in a two-mule town:
This is no place for a king.

But Herod hears. When you’re the solo royal
any rumor of a rival is good enough
to make the mad exchange:
1000 babies dying for his crown,
1000 mothers wailing grief
for his relief.
This is no country for two kings.

And when that child grows up crude
with tools and wood, yet dares to rule
over sickness, greed and fear,
he wins a timber throne, is crowned
with thorns and irony–

The signs are clear:
This is how kings are kept,
how man redeems,
Yes, let all the children die for me,
while another lifts his bleeding head,
Let me die to make my children royalty.

This is no country for two kings.


For more about Leslie Leyland Fields, click here.