The 1st Book of Moses and other things
copyright;2010 Poetry page of L.J.Keslin's www.theusmat.com/ Ejournal,Blog,of Poetry,and Satire,reflecting on seasonal topics as observed in a southside Chicago neighborhood during WWII and beyond in a scroll down format

SPECIAL SEASONAL POEMS AND SATIRE ..Also poems about Chicago and the Bridgeport neighborhood and WWII Reflections of living in a Chicago ethnic neighborhood known as Bridgeport 1930's to 1953 during the great depression and the two wars which followed
.Likewise link to Satirical essays

The Christmas Trilogy
Christmas Eve, The Tree,and Epiphany (Little Christmas) JAN 6TH

The Christmas Tree

You can't decorate or light the tree till Chirstmas eve mother would exclaim
"Jesus wasn't born till holy Christmas day"
So it was as we strung ,the popcorn and cranberries, on threaded line
But first the lights,testing all the bulbs, to see if they worked fine
Only then could we decorate our tree
With lead icicles that dad would toss with glee
and Silvery garlands and ornaments that grandma gave to me
A sentinel for the season a witness for all to see
Announcing the birth of Christ,
Observing the days of saga yet to be
Circumcision,Epiphany ,the Egypt flight
liturgically recalled
In home's creche site where figurines
with solemnity installed
Those who were missed were seen throughout
or remembered on "Little Christmas"
So the paperboy,the mailman,and others
conclude Epiphany without a doubt
As Three kings passed by a week,
and nobles well upon their way
The tree was still there,
And up till The Holy Family day*
When young Jesus found in temple speaking ,
celebration fleeting ,now.On to some
very serious teaching
as the tree was taken down

Epiphany On This "Little Christmas"
Once Upon a Time and not too long ago
The Twelfth Night Of Christmas
was celebrated with a ball
From the Day of Babe's Birth
and the 11 thereafter
kith and kin were paid a visit
and friends from far and near
once were paid a call
So on this day I pray
in the spirit that this date recalls
The gifts of kings let thee gain
Be in spirit of joyous days
let the season in bosom to remain
while the days ore year
and beyond it wane
Be thine Blessings Great and misfortunes
thee none befall

What is surprizing is that merchants haven't caught on to using the day to furthur sales.Taking advantage of post "Christmas" sales this writer uses that day to give gifts. For background on Epiphany read Greek Orthodox Archdiocease piece by Rev George Mastrantonis Orthodox Epiphany Festival of Lights

*Note In the old Tridentine Catholic calandar the second Sunday of January was observed as the feast of The Holy Family.

NOTE:It may seem a stretch to blame American Catholic bishops for the increase in the loss of indentification and increasing commercialization of the Christmas season. But when a major segment of the Christian religious community decides to reduce a traditional observance in this case the observance of Epiphany seemingly bowing to the cafeteria culture prevelant in certain Catholic circles that may have been the unintended result. Placing the observance of "Christmas" as a one day event rather than a series of reflections of what the faith is spanning over a longer period of time. In the US that feast day (Epiphany, 12 days after Christmas) which was formally observed on Jan 6th is now observed the first Sunday falling between Jan 2nd and Jan 8th.

The following is an explaination of how the RC's observed Christmas prior to 1960. Prior to the Roman Catholic Reformed Liturgical rite promulgated by the Vatican Council which seems to make a hodge-podge of the early life of Jesus.
   The calandar of liturgical observances (mass) was a recollection which through the gospels followed the life of Christ and goes like this.

Christmas Mass (gospel; birth of Jesus).

The Sunday following Christmas the old liturgy proscribed was "The Sunday within the octave of Christmas" that gospel related the visit to relatives and a prophets warning to Mary .

Today that Sunday is the feast of the Holy Family who's gospel recalls Jesus at age 12 and is out of chronological and liturgical sequence with Epiphany which recalls shortly after the birth of Jesus and the visits of the 3 kings .

New Years was the feast first called Circumcision (term,practice,being dumped) then later named the feast of The Presentation.{NOTE: During WWII there was a popular misconception that the way the Nazis could tell if a male person was a Jew was if that person was circumcized, Catholics (not all) were also circumcized }. This gospel was of the Holy Family following Jewish traditions and practice,then if a Sunday came between Circumcision and Epiphany it was The Feast of The Holy Name of Jesus.

On Jan 6th was The Feast of Epiphany ,( or 12th day of Christmas,or 3 Kings Day) no matter what day it fell on and was a holy day of obligation .

That observance is the basis for the exchanging of gifts on Xmas and when in many countries gifts are exchanged.

The Sunday following Epiphany would be the first Sunday after Epiphany,also known as The feast of the Holy Family; gospel Jesus at age 12 and his visit to the temple.

Today Epiphany is the Sunday following New Years .Now it is the feast of the baptism of Jesus,with the gospel of Luke relating the story of John the Baptist baptising Jesus.

The Solemn Latin Midnight Mass Prologue

There was a time we would all face east toward the land where the babe was borne,
then crucified
Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Our tie to days of yore
We would bow and kneel and the bells would ring,
and the censor with would be swung back and forth with its incense
a cleansing odor it would bring
another tie to another time as the host was lifted
for us to wounder and adore
A gift few yet few understand
A symbol of,committment of God made man
not of man eating man as some disclaim
Partaking is a statement of dedication
to serve God and man
An affirmation of committment this rite would bring
Begining with a confession of how we sinned rite begins
as priests and servers prostrate themselves before the altar their sins proclaim
Then references to the prophets before the gospel is read,
Cleanse my heart and lips as thou didst cleanse the lips of Isaias with a burning coal
and why that curious custom of making the sign of the cross with thumb and forefinger is always made
upon the forehead,lips and heart
At the lavabo offering of the gifts, the washing of the hands a prayer is read
I will wash my hands among the innocent as thy high priest Melchisedec blessing of Abraham is said
Such were the ways in those days when Advent was a verb and not a noun

St.Joseph's Day March 19th is celebrated much like St Patricks (Mar 17th)
The Great St Joseph's Day Affair (poem about partys in Chicago's Bridgeport)

(March 19 St Joseph's Day)
Whats that music I hear ? Its comming from over there
From the hall that adjoins the tavern drawn by an exhaust fan
A waltz in polka time played by a four piece band
Its music drifts past the houses and comes acallin down the block
Its The St Joseph's Day Party didn't you hear the talk ?
Inside high above crepe festoons of red and white
bedecked sheet metal ceiling squares thats yellowed by the air
The mood is marked by red carnations the symbol of the fair
made in boutonnieres for each guest to wear
placed on the St Joseph's table stocked with food
And all against the walls on either side
are set wooden folding chairs.
The men sit left the women right but they'll be mixed
like the drinks and pivo(beer) that flows tonight .
Hey! Booms the owners voice that penetrates the fare
Did Vaju get his red carnation ? Adam asks his guest.
Maruska brought O'Brien who wore some green in jest
Hey !Gumba vot you make ? As Adam pumps Carmine's hand
Red carnation, Polish sausage dere, potato salad,ham
Adam and his "Missus" Sophie never treated any coldly.
Casha dance with Mike it seems A romance in sight Sophie beams
As reams of music and of laughter ,and many storys after
warm the memories of the chilled March air
It was a very great Saint Joseph's Day affair

When I wrote this poem I could have placed it in a "Irish" setting but America is diverse. What is not popularly known ,is that St Joseph's Day is probably celebrated by more people than St Patrick's Day. It is a national holyday/holiday for Spain,Poland,France,Italy,Czech Republic,almost all the slavic speaking countries,latin and central America Costa Rica,and every South American country as well as Christian communities in asia who also celebrate the day in similar fashion.
    Whatever your origins are or heritage is a celebration is a celebration where you join in. Such was the case in Bridgeport if its still observed there today is not known but its observance we encourage.
     While it uses accent thats the way the people were .This poem was first self published in a phamplet called Chicago Scene ? 1986 L.J.Keslin and again in the south west side suburban publication The Village View, Chicago edition and again 2/03 in the UK publication of short storys and poetry ABC Tales. For other poems about Bridgeport including "A Bridgeport Ode" what it was like living in the place during WWII soon to be posted,Bridgeport hauntings, WWII,etc please scroll to last pages in this site.

Bridgeport, Depression, September 39, WWII,

  How an "American" neighborhood became "Irish"
" A Proud Queen Courted By Fifty Duchys And Chicago is Her Name."Chicago Couplet...?2003 L.J.Keslin

How a Chicago community various ethnic groups reacted to WWII begining with the effect Hitler's invasion of Poland had on the area. Bridgeport prior to (and even after) WW I probably had one of the highest concentrations of various ethnic churches and parochial schools mainly Catholic and Lutheran in the US. To celebrate this diversity and to challange the Mayor( Richard J) Daley myth of a Irish Neighborhood being created at that time which has persisted into urban legend

A Bridgeport Ode" was published in The New World Catholic newspaper in 1965. One could walk three blocks in any given direction and find one particularly on the areas west end. There were 3 German, one Catholic, two Lutheran,one Catholic Lithuanian, and two very large Catholic Polish edifices and one large Irish On its east end three large Italian, two Croation (Hervati)*,on its south end two large Irish Catholic plus Swedish and German Lutheran into the mix, all operating their own parrish  grammar school and two operating high schools.*Hervat is what "Croations" call themselves in their language

It was here that progenitors came to see
Their hopes their seeds
from small four room cold water flats
with one suit closets
and shared one toilet on every floor
when the oderous to public baths would go
Seeds grow into crowded dreams
blooming in back yard lots
or blossoming on a stoop looking ore the stree
Children by the score screaming down a gangway
as tennants try to sleep
Where T's turned into D's when preceeded by an "h"
or silent when proceeded by an "n" a distinctive English speak
Here ethnic's homes
laid in distinctive zones benchmarked by churches
set in a island of faith and every church
herein mentioned also ran a school
On the north set a "river "running south and west
on the east railroad tracks
On the south paved blocks and yards of Carl's fame
Thus the borders of a homeland where people laid their claim
they set their name in cornice stones
with dates to show achievenemts goal their castle and their dream
Now of beaten brick or weathered wood
a flat of five, or one of nine planked next to a cottage
Bridgeport where Zoning gone awry
urban planning just a scheme and not yet tried
Yet in this place a style, a grace,a neighborhood

There's a family in a city where each knew another in some twenny blocks square
Here timber was felled in an ashphalt place
from a ground swelled in spirit weld to a humble face
A spirit in spires
Exclamation points in American sounds,
Jeweled guideposts set in a pungent crown
Punctuating royalty residing
their treasures abiding in a dutchess confiding to an urban fare
Offering fleets of impressions met kept recalling
by street locations
The Hillock gang and shanty clubs
hydrant showers cascading first loves
Weed battles at "Bubbly Creeek"
Forta July on Aberdeen street
Softball played at tirdysevent street
Hide n go seek twenny sixed n Lowe
Streets, streets, an age of discovery facing dangers flashing yellow glow
Borne within ashphalt halls bred by the Angelus calls
wed in by nine or the strap befalls
Lifes lumber by mighty people culled
Their living ode to the old neighborhood.

A bakery, a Bar, a store, or a shop
One or more on most any block
Ice cream cones a nickle,
candy bars too, a soda, a kite,
a bag of marbles, a balsa glider,
Daddy's beer, a school tablet,
five pencils, or 2 "Jaw Breakers"
and 4 licorice whips,and 3 "Bulls Eyes" or
4 "Hearts" and 3 "Bulls Eyes" or Bubble gum with a baseball card
and 5 penny Valentines is what one nickle bought

Rags O Lying
When times were bad and money was little
A horse and wagon was rented and through the alleys "junkmen" plied
calling "Rags O Lyin" "Rags O lyin" was the cry
A grey old mare
towing a wagon
her master slumps his head a waggen,
Heavy stuff pleanty a draggen
Stuck in street car tracks they lead a parade
while motorman clanks and passengers rave
Clang Clang the trolly demands
but neither notice for horse and man are making plans
The slumping figure in an old golf cap
with flap turned over his cold wind stop
his head's a noddin with horses clop clop
Ponders his pickens blanket for Mary
meat on the table then he smiles
as the mare is heading toward the end of the line
pondering oats everythings fine
A black Ford with red n green lights pulls astride
and the cop shouts out "Pull the damm thing on the side"
But the slumped figure hears not
But for hymns, for his journeys over
The old man who cried Rags O Lying Rags O lyin
Heard no more in the alleyways,
Or down the streets
or in some bay who parked the grey to a fire plug.
And the news is greeted with a pall
for many will miss that special call "Rags O Lyin"

Dumped into vaulted sidewalks
called "zuhdas" beneath the street
once used to be for toilets
for streets were raised six feet
complete poem in the book

Krap games on the sidewalk by alleys corner
neath the old street light
held in that position so you'd know which way to run
when Duke would get a hot streak is when they'd allways come
complete poem in the book