Silent Night – Harry Jelley

We liked poet Harry Jelley‘s piece at our Heathens’ Christmas Party this week so much that we persuaded him to let us publish it…


Silent nights
are the most settling/
They can be
slashed so cleanly
from one into the other
— like that moment you
      realised the comforting
      presence of a single smart suit on
      an almost-empty-but-for-them-bus
      at 3am
      isn’t chatting calmly on the phone
      but is
  a complex international
  business deal
  into a remote control
  & then you see the mud (maybe blood) (maybe hair) under their fingernails
      & thoughts go forensic.
That is how brittle this silent night is
a few days just before christmas
hushed hushed hushed
into a dead as Latin sleep
  startled by a dream-frenzy
  simmered by dream pressure
  shit — seeing the head of your dream lover
  is your mothe….
That is a silent night.
One heavy bearing pepper grinder truck axle
clearing its throat outside your window
away from the opposite.

So. Holy. Night.
the over-quiet carless/pramless/humanswithavoidableeyesless
With head bowed
                            warless veteren
                                                      Assisi’s scattered in alcoves
communing with the shit-flecked pigeons
shit-flecked historical/neo-gothic/brand-new/glass buildings
and the clean as nothing spirits.
And all is well.
All is bright as
street lights/daybreak
a pupil achieving grades
the eyes of a family dog
as kitchen tops and Flash(tm).

And in the shipping yards of Europe
are the huddled/freezing/containerblinded
they have worth/have value
and they are scared.

You will not hear them
you are not expected to.

You. Just. Enjoy. Your. Turkey.
Chances are it is majority antibiotics
because of big ol’ cuddly Big Bucks
this fowl/poultry has, in its own
exploited intellect
exploited little body
      harboured a little mutation
      that papers will call
      the next strain of bird flu.

Awww. You. Enjoy. That.
Like they loved the Sansburies advert
and loved how they waited for Harry Patch to die
before they started telling the cruellest lies
because the only people we hear above the garble of
adverts/spin doctors/brands
are those that were there
as long as they’re white and male and old
and it helps if they fought in a war.
But then remember to love this christmas
love so tough
like some sort of festive love workout or festive love zumba or festive love weights session
Love so hard that even the meat headed braun bastards
can’t fight it off
and see in your smile something that confuses them
then makes them warm.
Sit down on christmas day and
love. On purpose. For at least 10 reps – rest – 10 reps – rest – 10 reps – rest.
Love the people that you expect to
and others that you don’t.
They don’t have to know you’re loving them for it to help
because training your empathy is love in itself.
Christ was born. When? I don’t know. And I do not believe that he was God.
Or in God.
Or in any power other than you.
But I can’t imagine him in a queue
outside Asda
at 5 am.
Being exploited by the richest
who make them need – poorer – want –  poorer – work – poorer.
On some shit Friday.

Or worse. As the richer
hiding behind their screens
The real value/worth of – the only reason for – christmas
is love.

At the end of the day
when all said and done
and the cows have come home
And I have left the air ruffled but empty.
then. and only then.
Unless you are engaging in a Christmas Eve tradition of getting
pissed with pals and exchanging jokes
that mop up the distance spilt between you
by… I can’t remember, but it seems important.
then. and only then.
or maybe (aged 10) after you’ve drunk the
rum left out for santa and eaten the mince pie
and bitten the carrot (why the fuck not).
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace.


Harry performs at our Poetry Special event earlier this year

Extra stuff

Read the rest of our festive blogs this year here

Sign up to perform at our next event: In Retrospect, on Monday 16 February

If you’ve performed at First Draft and have something creative to sell/share/promote this Christmas or New Year, let us know so we can feature it on the blog

Follow Harry and First Draft on Twitter


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