Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Bronco John was homeless, a man of the street.
He'd raced rats for years, and always got beat.

Then one day he'd had it with all of the rules,
And dismissed from his life the material tools,
To get by on handouts, like french fries and tea,
He'd yell out to no one, "At last, I am free!"

Bronco bought his clothes from a second-hand store,
Leather shoes for a five bucks, a wool coat for more.
And when he grew lonely, way deep in his mind,
He imagined a girlfriend no one could find.

Her name was Puff, the invisible friend,
Poor Bronco, some said, had gone round the bend.

In late spring and all summer Bronco slept in the park,
A hollow tree on wet nights, kept dry by the bark.

Cold autumn nights were, for Bronco, the worst.
And then came upon him, December the first.

The first snow was brutal, almost did him in,
When he tried to keep warm in a large garbage bin.
It was so cold outside there was no one around,
No people with coins, no one to hound.

So food was a problem, as well as the frost,
One mean old scrooge said to Bronco, "Get lost!"
When he tried to walk into a cozy cafe,
To keep both his hunger and frostbite at bay.

For Bronco not only never paid for his tea,
But he'd take a chair for Puff, who no one could see.
And if someone ungraciously sat down upon her,
He'd jump up, arms flailing, and yell "Bloody Murder!"

Money was tight, goodwill at a low,
So the news that came next was, for Bronco, a blow.
The local soup kitchen had run out of cash,
And so, for the homeless, no Christmas Day bash.

No turkey, no stuffing, no pudding or cake.
There was no give this year, just a whole bunch of take.

For the first time in years, poor Bronco was scared.
He was freezing and starving, and nobody cared.

Then arrived Christmas Eve, as cold as they come,
With nowhere to go, Bronco felt like a bum.

Peering through a shop window, all his favorite things,
Sweet biscuits and chocolate -- God, how the wind stings!
Yuletide decorations and pretty colored lights,
Dates, nuts and mincemeat--such marvelous sights.

Bronco pushed through the door, and out of the storm,
Shopkeepers be damned, he just had to keep warm.
He looked back to the window and out at the snow,
It would only be seconds till they told him to go.

A Christmas staff party was well under way,
With eggnog and rum punch to brighten their day.
Bronco crouched in a corner, biding his time,
Then a stop clerk passed by -- and tossed him a dime!

The shop clerks were merry, and plastered by drink,
One fat lady even gave Bronco a wink.
The staff disappeared one by one out the door,
Leaving poor Bronco alone in the store.

Counters stacked high, with goodies and treats,
Being locked in this shop sure beat walking the streets.
Bronco munched some milk chocolate, what heaven, he mused,
It was time to make up for a season abused.

He plugged in a heater, basked in its glow,
All fuzzy and warm, he was ready to go,
Off to the record stand, for something to play,
Bing Crosby's White Christmas, there was little to say,
As tears ran down Bronco's rough unshaven cheeks,
He went back two thousand and eighty-seven weeks,
To a Christmas he'd had when he was a boy,
With a loving mom and dad, and a Santa Claus toy.

He remembered their fir tree, its ornaments of glass,
Carolers singing and a cheery midnight mass.
Bronco stood up, looked around the large store,
Eyed the fake trees standing near the back door.
"This one will do," Bronco reached for a tree,
He tallest and fullest he ever did see.

He decked it with candy canes and garland of gold,
With red bulbs and colored lights, and then, feeling bold,
Closed his eyes, made a wish, and reached for the top,
Crowned the tree with an angel, it took only a hop.

"Just like I remember," Bronco said to no one,
The tree was aglow, not a branch left un-done.

He went searching for presents, cigars and fine candy,
Some perfume for Puff and a bottle of brandy.

For his feet, leather slippers, and two stockings to hang,
And he paused while outside the old church bells rang.

"Puff, it's midnight!" he cried. "Merry Christmas we two."
Said Puff, "Thank you Bronco, Merry Christmas to you!"