Arts & Culture

“The Night Before Christmas in Boston’s North End” by T. Schiavoni


‘Twas Feast of the Fishes
in the old neighborhood.
Developers were prowling,
they were up to no good.
With lawyers, contractors,
and architects in tow,
variances and quick-fixes
were falling like snow.

The locals were snoozing,
overcome with exhaustion
from fighting the forces
wreacking havoc on Boston.
Petitions were drafted,
signed, stamped and mailed
in hopes that the scoundrels
soon would be nailed.

The Missus and I poured a Sambuca nightcap,
We were settling our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out in the streets
there arose a great clatter.
We sprang from our beds
to see what was the matter.
Away to the windows, I flew like a flash
tore open the shutters and bled from the gash.
The moon o’er the harbor lit up the place.
Parking was easy –  you could squeeze in a space.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear
but a supersized limo, stuck in first gear.
With a red-threaded driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

He circled the block, now stopping at stoops.
with holiday cheer, he rallied the troops.
North Enders were marching,
They were ticked off but good.
With overdevelopment –
they knew where they stood.
“Your senator, state rep, city councillor, too
along with Hizonner have explaining to do.
With late night closings and liquor permits exploding,
rat infestations – this joint is imploding!”

“Some people are sleepless, awoken from dreams
by inebriated revelers with their shouts and their screams.
Bar-lounge conversions increase day by day
while City Hall’s lackeys have nothing to say.”

“You folks are well known for your amazing persistence,
Even the shy ones have joined in resistance!
Now it’s time to get going,
other districts to rally.
I’m off to the Back Bay
where I’ll park in an alley.”

He returned to his limo
and took one last look:
A bright-colored ticket
From a meter maid’s book.

He shredded the paper,
his eyes all aglitter,
but suddenly stopped
to avoid curbside litter.

And we heard him exclaim
as he drove from the site,
“Merry Christmas to all,
and, keep up the fight!”

Thomas F. Schiavoni
(with apologies to Clement C. Moore)