A Visit from Papa H.
By Rob Wilstein
(with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)
Twas the night before deadline, coffee shops all abuzz,
Grubbie creatures were writing, as most of us does.
Hi-test lattes were lined on the counters with care,
In hopes the muse Calliope soon would appear.
These scribes were ensconced, some off of their meds,
While visions of contracts danced in their heads.
Baristas with tats, and I with my Mac,
And each of us praying we're more than a hack.
When out in the street, the snow was a-flaking,
I sprang from my booth to see what was shaking.
A Christmas Eve storm like none we had seen
Would keep us all writing, a la Boss Springsteen.
We wrote through the night, our brains caffeine fueled,
Til we couldn't see straight, our vision bejeweled.
When what with my red-rimmed eyes was found,
But a flying oak desk, with eight authors around.
"I must be hallucinating," I said as I gazed.
Fellow writers wrote on, completely unfazed.
The desk commandeered by the white-bearded Papa
Loaded Springfield in hand, a lit'rary Big Bopper.
"Here's Faulkner," he roared, "Ms. Woolf, Roth and Bellow,
Munro, Cather, Kafka, and old friend DeLillo.
We've come to inspire you scribblers, you scribes,
And brought you good cheer for all to imbibes."
A blizzard of snowflakes swirled all 'round the crowd,
These giants of fiction completely unbowed.
Straight into the cafe came Hem and his crew,
Flasks brandished aloft, quite the hullabaloo.
The Grubsters looked up, laptops snapped shut in awe,
One wag piped up shrilly, "Where's George Bernard Shaw?"
Papa H. took a swig, passed the bottle to others,
"Drink up," he sang boldly, "all my writerly brothers."
Virginia and Willa sat close to old Franz,
While Big Don and Alice both looked on askance.
The two had Sir Kafka in a tight clench,
As Roth said to Bellow, "Mr. K.'s such a mensch."
I watched in amazement as Hem drank a pailful,
Then typed out six 'graphs, shot a look that was baleful,
Aimed at all of us Grubniks, our minds all aflutter,
"This is no dream. This is real," did I stutter.
The snow was now piled, in drifts eight feet high,
Against Diesel's windows, with Christmas Day nigh.
Hem's cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry,
The whiskey was flowing, Grubinators all merry.
Night turned into day and still we all jotted.
Our phrases turned clever, completely besotted.
Virginia went mournful, Kafka paranoid,
"Party on!" said the rest of us, our minds but destroyed.
Hem spoke not a word, typed furious and solemn,
Finished all of our 'scripts, our first drafts and columns.
"My gift to you Grubbers, you poor worthless shlubs,
Now let's blow this pop joint and hit some more pubs."
Hem sprang from his desk, at the door the snow parted,
And away we all flew, in good cheer and full-hearted.
All us Grubbies exclaimed, "Now's no time to write,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
Rob Wilstein is a 2012 graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program and a 1963 graduate of P.S. 174 in Queens, New York. Also known as the William Sidney Mount School, after the famed Long Island painter, P.S. 174 inspired Rob into a career as an artist. More recently he has channeled his artistic jones into the written word. He is currently working on his first novel, Big Shot, a historical journey into life on New York’s Lower East Side during the Depression years and its effect on Harry, a young Jewish immigrant struggling to achieve success.