The Christmas Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a long and labored-over list of retail stores,
Searching for that perfect token of a friendship long unbroken
That would speak my yet unspoken feelings that I’d felt before;
Hopeful feelings that this friendship might evolve to something more.

But the choices were so many! and I hadn’t spent a penny
For there wasn’t any gift I’d found that she would not abhor;
So with credit card clutched tightly I would search the mall twice nightly,
Each store looking more unsightly than the one I’d seen before—
And each separate note of Muzak would disgust me to the core,
Yes, each separate note of Muzak would disgust me to the core.

So I wandered through the aisles with my face bereft of smiles
Looking for that perfect gift that would my sentiments outpour
Till with grief I tore my Visa, crying out, “Forgive me, Lisa—
I shall never find that present which you’ll cherish and adore!”
Then I crumpled to my knees beneath the pressure of the chore.

Then, from Dillard’s Christmas banner I perceived a croaking stammer,
In a grating, halting manner like a voice I’d known before…
With my bloodshot eyes uplifting I espied a Raven, flitting,
From the changebox by the register to just above the door.
“Are you from Information?” quoth I. “Where within this nation
Might I find a gift for Lisa which she’ll cherish and adore?”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“What’s your problem?” I demanded. “Why, you should be reprimanded
For such crude and callous comment to a customer of yours.
Now, what is your suggestion? What’s your answer to my question?
Surely hid within your stockroom you have merchandise galore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Then, with a heartfelt wailing I fell back against the railing,
And it broke, and sent me flailing to the shopping mall’s first floor,
And the Raven followed, flying to the spot where I lay dying
And from my prone position lying there I questioned him once more:
“Did I have a chance?” I asked. “Was there meaning in my task?
Would I have in the future, basked next to her side on sunny shores?”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Then at once I felt this feeling as though some unknown healing
Power filled me, and I stood, and didn’t even feel sore.
“Then why kill myself?” I wondered. “Though my very heart be sundered
I will waste no further time or money on this worthless chore.
Why expire in her pleasing if her attitude be freezing?
I will go and buy a wreath to hang above my bedroom door;
And my twisted mind that bade me to go shopping for this lady
Shall be twisted—nevermore!”