Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Season’s Greetings

by John F. Buckley

Flush with the love of music and holiday cheer, 
the Shonen Knife Extreme Fan Club parachuted 

into Osaka from low orbit. As the fan-club members 
slammed their forcefully-named energy drinks, 

adjusted their feet on their skyboards, and ignited 
in the atmosphere, Japanese schoolchildren oohed, 

pointed, and made wishes on the gorgeous array 
of falling lights. I watched the display on my Sony 

high-definition black-and-white television, eating 
nuclear hot wings, mourning 1995, and grading 

student essays. One boy raised my ire by forming 
his thesis as an acrostic down the left margin of 

the second through fourth pages. Few received A’s 
because few remembered to fold their final drafts 

into origami cranes. For those who remembered, 
I anointed the cranes’ wings with buffalo sauce 

and hung them from the branches of my Christmas 
tree, marveling at their switchblade acrobatics, 

their elegant selflessness, their unbearable snobbery. 
Christmas would come late this year, deferred by 

the moral weight of these paper birds. Santa, 
belonging to a union, refused to come to work 

after December twenty-fifth, so the presents and 
coal would be brought by the angel Pleuralshunt, 

half-orphan, half-plumber, the one who had visited 
my mother near the end, ready to drain fluid away 

from the heart and lungs, ready to snake pipes and 
bewail a widowed parent, ready to give the only 

gift that keeps on giving, juvenile pyorrhea. In 
countless holiday snapshots, it would look as if 

the black-grinning youth of the world had again 
discovered meth abuse, an august Victorian tradition.


SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

John F. Buckley

is the author of five books of poetry: two chapbooks from Alternating Current Press: Breach Birth (2011) and Leading an Aquamarine Shoat by Its Tail (2012); a solo collection, Sky Sandwiches (2012), from Anaphora Literary Press; and two collaborations with Martin Ott, Poets’ Guide to America (2012) and Yankee Broadcast Network (2014), from Brooklyn Arts Press. His work has been nominated multiple times for a Pushcart Prize, and his poems have appeared in The Manhattanville Review, mojo, Off the Coast, They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing, Tule Review, Waccamaw, and numerous other venues.

Buckley holds graduate degrees in creative writing (poetry) and English (literature) from, respectively, the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan and San Francisco State University. After twenty years in and around California, he once again lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife.

Author’s website:

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury