Christmas Cards

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Before you send me up that card
  With rime and diction far from subtle,
Hear what a now rebellious bard
  Says in a quasi-pre-rebuttal.

"A nickel in a poor boy's hat!"
  You, minion of a grubbing grocer,
You dare, indeed, to ask me that?
  Bold and relentless, say I, "No, sir!"

You who bring some one else's tea
  To us, while ours goes to the neighbours,
And yet you dare demand from me
  Reward for inefficient labours!

You who but lately made me hit
  My head upon the dum-dum waiter--
From me you get no silver bit.
  Fie, out upon you, youthful traitor!

Hard is my heart and tight my purse;
  Deaf is my ear to all your suing.
Except this little bit of verse,
  There's absolutely nothing doing.



Sullen, surly Scandinave,
  Smoking on a pipe,
Valiantly I cast the glave
  At thee and thy type.

Person of the shakeless grouch
  Tamperer with the cream,
Idler, lounger, sloven, slouch
  Despot of the steam--

Thou who bangest garbage cans
  In the hollow court,
Thou whose children spin tin pans
  Deeming it is sport--

Tyrant of the tenement,
  Take thy card and flee!
Not a nickel, not a cent
  Dost thou get from me.



O waiter, will you tell me why
  You think to get at Christmas time
A five-case note, for do not I
  Slip you each day a dime?

When as I crave Prime Ribs au Jus [Footnote: Well, how do you pronounce it,
  And beg that you will bring them rare,
They are well done. I fume and fuss
  And yet you do not care.

Haply I order apple pie,
  But NOT your counsel or advice;
You rub your hands and tell me: "Why,
  The mince is very nice."

You hide my hat, you hide my coat.
  Let others, if they care to, give,
But as to this here gentle pote--
  Be glad he lets you live.



Proud, imperious female person
  That presideth o'er my 'phone,
Hearken while I do some verse on
  Thee, and thee alone.

Puffed and pompadoured and ratted,
  Reading _Munsey's_ all the day,
Pony-coated, otter-hatted--
  Listen to my lay:

When I beg in desperation,
  "Eight O Seven Riverside,"
Why do I get "Information"?
  Is it justified?

Why--I ask it with insistence--
  Why--prepare to be appalled--
Why "$2.85 Long Distance"
  That I never called?

When I call thee, "They don't answer"
  Tells me Central. (Oh, the crime!)
Then thou sayest, thou Romancer,
  "Been here all the time!"

Tyrant trim and telephonic,
  Christmas offerings to thee?
Pardon if I seem laconic:
  Not a single c.



Prince of the parlour tonsorial,
  Knight of the razor and shears,
Who have from time immemorial
  Snipped it too short round the ears--

You with your long academical
  Causes for "thinning on top,"
Selling me gallons of chemical
  Tonic, a brush, and a strop;

You with your sad comicality,
  You with your bum badinage--
Confound your congeniality!
  Confound your "Facial Massage?"

Still, though you shave contragrainious,[Footnote: Well, there ought to be.]
  Healing the cut with a lime,
Don't I, quite nice and spontaneous,
  Daily contribute a dime?

Mountain of foreign servility,
  Butcher of chin and of lip.
Maugre your marked inability,
  Do I not fall for the tip?

Hope you at Christmas for currency,
  Fiend of tonsorial tricks?
Never was greater aberrancy--
  Coarsely I say to you, "Nix!"



Lo, the West Indian! whose untutored mind
To Christmas giving makes me disinclined,
Who tellest callers I have moved away
And mixest up the morning mail each day.
When for thine elevator car I ring
Thou telephonest or some other thing;
While, when I ask for Byrant Eighty-four,
Thou'rt busy somewhere on the seventh floor--
I wish thee from my soul all Christmas joy,
But not a cent, O Elevator Boy!

© Franklin Pierce Adams