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Sandy Claws, Avenger From The Ocean Of Goodwill - Poem by Michael Shepherd

The tale I have to tell, children,
is not a pretty one – so,
though on the other hand,
as moral tales should, it has
a happy Dickensian ending,
where, as moral tales should tell,
the last state is infinitely better than the first;
and perhaps, who knows, your parents
may even benefit from the telling
though, naturally, without mentioning the fact.

’Twas Christmas Eve. The Smugg family
were sitting around their fine dining table
made from wood from sustainable forests
in their photographable and photographed
Bahamas beach bungalow in its
gated enclave with 24-hour porterage and security,
about to tuck in to their Christmas Eve locally sourced
corn-fed free range hand-reared organic
turkey –
Dad, Mom, and their 2.4 children;
Point Four was attended by his personally recommended
Filipino nanny who it was understood
did not take part in the general conversation.

The Smugg family were feeling good in themselves
and let’s leave out the obvious wordplay here.
Since October 1, when the calendar in the main
restroom had been annotated ‘Start Thinking
About Christmas Presents! ’, they had each
in company with their Family LifeStyle Consultant devised
exactly the right present for each other
and their family (Dec 15 5-9 pm)
and friends (Dec 15,12 noon-3 pm) .

* * *

Christmas night (the turkey was rich in vitamins and essential oils)
was a disturbed one for the Smugg family -
snug and smug as a bug in a rug yet
afflicted by nightmares which despite
24-hour security and panic button with
guaranteed five-minute guard attendance
all shared the same dreadful sound –
the sound of sandy claws… scraping… scraping…
at the locally constructed handcrafted
front door… scraping… scraping…
a sound so terrible that not a hand
reached out from the bugsnug Smuggs
to press the panic button… for how unSmugg
a false alarm on Christmas night…

I need not tell you how
there were no marks on the handcrafted
front door – just the most horrible smell -
and… and… footprints of a hideous size
leading from the so-innocent blue morning Bahamian sea
with hand-raked foreshore sand (Christmas Day: afternoon only)
to the front door.. and back again…

The Smuggs, after their fairtrade morning coffee
and non-biologically-enhanced cereals,
sat around, opening their predictable, expensive
presents with feigned surprise and delight but with
an overpowering sense of anti-climax,
despondency, and all that post-Christmas
jaded exhaustion without the Christmas bit before it..

However, their Family LifeStyle Consultant,
paid to be bright, and fearing for her job,
had the solution on hand – a Roman Style
Anti-Event in ancient traditional style,
a re-run where however the presents were to be
the worst and cheapest and most inappropriate;
the games, the ones they all dreaded..

never had shopping been more fun,
or games so merrily acted out.
New Year’s Eve that year at the Smuggs’
is still talked about; a riot of laughter, fun;
indeed, you could hardly distinguish
between the Smuggs, their family, and
their friends – and that, I needn’t tell you,
is Quite Something at this merry time..

There’s a moral here, somewhere buried in the sands of time;
the Smuggs’ Chrismas parties are renowned,
the gated enclave comes together, invites
the under privileged (from 2-6 pm, approx.)
but in their hearts – for in their hearts – they don’t forget,
know each, the deep significance, of
the footsteps in the sand, and at the door,
the scraping…scraping…scraping… of those sandy claws…

* * *

(For Max Reif, who introduced me to Sandy Claws…)

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