“Christmas Canner” by Chris Green

Chris Green


I sat somewhere in the ’70s
at a mall booth between Hot Dog on a Stick
and Spencer Gifts. Instead of boxing presents,
I canned them: the packaging equivalent of a poem.

For most bourgeois hearts, I would press
a rugby shirt or bell bottom
jumpsuit or elephant pants
into a coffee can.
Nothing epic until a man asked me
to condense a fur coat for his wife.

I was so fourteen years old,
a boy performing something utterly weird
without irony,
cramming against unforgivingness, the weighing
down and dull
balling into a depression.
It is how one troubles one’s way through puberty alone,
boy to man, all those tried-on selves like
thirty-five former minks
reshaped into a gallon. I miss

my childhood’s
burnt-orange room with bamboo beads—
the happy sound of rain
every time I’d enter or leave.

from Rattle #40, Summer 2013


Chris Green: “It is winter. My daughter refuses sleep. Looking out her window, she says, ‘The night is dark and shabby.’ Age four, the poet pondering the ways of melancholy. My kids wake me every day with their bright poems, and I do my best with my older, lower wisdom.”

Rattle Logo