Jewish and curious, Deborah always
wanted to attend a midnight mass
on that night of old, beautiful songs.
So she trekked through snow
to a local church, the priest leading
the congregation, altar boys holding
high their white candles.
While they sang "Good King Wenceslaus,"
a homeless man coughed down the aisle,
and hugged the priest like a long-lost brother.
Three men ran up; everyone sighed
relief when the man was tossed
into the weather, after demanding,
"Didn't Christ come for the least of us?
And here am I, without a warm bed,
a hot meal, a generous woman,
and whiskey on this cold and gloomy night!"
Outside, he huddled on the church steps.
Ready to jump back as if from a mastiff,
Deborah handed him some coins,
and tortoised into her parka, for home:
the cold and wind bold as a wolfpack.
John Ricotta reads "Midnight Mass":
Cooperman confesses: "The events chronicled in this poem (with some slight embellishment) actually happened to our friend Brooklyn Eleanor (to distinguish her from our friend Denver Eleanor). Eleanor and her then lover John (who is Catholic) decided to go to Midnight Mass one Christmas Eve, because, as a Jew, she'd never gone and was curious. Unfortunately for her and John, and fortunately for this poem, all hell broke loose in the person of the homeless guy."