The Night Before Christmas
By Stacy Smith - College Grove, Tennessee - USA

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all thru the shop
Not a project was finished
With no time to stop.

The varnished spars dried
By the woodstove all day,
But the darned stuff, still sticky,
Just got in the way.

With me in my coveralls
And the cat on the floor…
(Duct tape blocked the wind
Through the crack in the door)

Had both agreed early
Though we’d fought the good fight,
We knew it was going
To be a long night.

When under the hull
There arose such a clamor
I flattened the end of my thumb
With the hammer.

I searched for a weapon
In vain, and I swore,
“Come out from there now,
Or I’ll use this oar!”

Then what to my bloodshot
Eyes should appear
But a crusty old salt
Picking dust from his ear.

His whiskers, how wiry;
His clothes, what a sight,
Wondered I, “Had the old
Fool been there all night?”

But the tools in his ditty-
Bag on the floor
Soon led me to know that
He’d seen boats before

He spoke not a word -
With a grunt and a jerk,
He snatched up his tools
And went right to work.

Oh the Dutchman was flying,
‘Twas poetry, almost.
What manner of Messer-
About was this ghost?

The old codger made the
Shop tremble and quake
For and aft and abeam,
Raising dust in his wake.

He ripped and he planed,
And he sanded and shaved
Till the hull was so fair
I quipped, “Christmas is saved!”

Not amused, he then slathered
The fine hull with a goop
That dried hard in no time,
What a beautiful sloop!

Then as quick as he’d started
He bagged up his gear,
And knocking the fresh lump of
Dust from his ear,

He brought forth a flask
That he kept in his vest,
Then he sprinkled the bow,
And knocked back the rest.

We stood back and toasted
All sailors and sails,
We cursed calms and anchors
And stale harbor smells.

With a wink and a nod,
And then, moving the cat,
He propped up the bow of the
Boat as he sat.

“Keep sailing!” he said,
Crawling under the hull,
“Tho’ we all must grow old,
We don’t have to grow dull”.

Then exclaimed from beneath
As he turned hard alee,
“Fair winds to all,
And a foll’wing sea!”

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