Poetically Yours - Ep. 21 - Happy Holidays

Dec 24, 2020

Welcome to this week's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week's episode features Christopher D. Sims. 

Christopher D. Sims.
Credit Connie Kuntz

Sims is from the West Side of Rockford and first shared his poetic gifts onstage at Haskell Elementary School thanks to Dorothy Paige-Turner. 

Rooted in Black joy and celebration, his poems wind through the landscapes of this country's past and present. He hopes they will inform, engage and entertain. Sims, who originally wrote rap and hip-hop lyrics, said his poetry has a bebop cadence.

Here’s his poem "Kwanzaa."

Kwanzaa is near, almost here.
December 26th thru January 1st
we burst into its purposeful
activities. In this season we
feel the presence of the Ancestors;
we remember their journeys, their struggles. We light seven candles during Kwanzaa's seven days to obey and adhere to each principle. Kwanzaa is not Christmas. Kwanzaa is not to focus on the outer but the inner. The black, red, green and gold holds the principle, the purpose together. Kwanzaa is an African inspired celebration to pause the nation so we honor what is whole, empowering. Black families gather in delight when it is Kwanzaa time. We build in the heart, we use the powers of the mind. We find our highest selves in Kwanzaa. This December 26th as we light the candles let's remember also the lost lives that won't be here to say “Hibara Gani?” As we struggle still for Black liberation let us know that Kwanzaa is for the building up of the African American nation. Teach Black children about Kwanzaa. Help them learn of its need. Let Kwanzaa's glorious energy speak through your actions, your deeds. Enter the new year with pride in your heart. Be thankful of the creativity, the unity, the self-preservation that Kwanzaa sparks!

WNIJ is also sharing a couple Christmas poems. They are Paula Morhardt's  “Family Christmas” and Cindy Guentherman's “The Words That Spoke.”

FAMILY CHRISTMAS

It’s Christmastime

And here we are,

Gathered once again

‘neath the Christmas star.

We are family here

One and all;

Through thick and thin-

Through rise and fall.

We help each other

When someone’s down;

Some play the hero,

Some play the clown.

One thing has stayed constant

All through the years;

Amidst the love,

The laughter and tears.

As we stand to pray,

And sit to eat,

We remember what’s to come-

The yearly treat.

So, sit and anticipate

Among the candles light.

For soon it will be time

For the Christmas paper fight!

THE WORDS THAT SPOKE

One Christmastime the North Pole wind

screeched in with a fast-moving

reindeer team

whistled down chimneys

whooshed through the howls

of alley cats

until I thought every irritating sound

of too much Christmas hubbub

had been sucked right down

through the chimney.

But when the clatter finally stopped

Santa stamped his foot in the fireplace

until every noise snapped into silence

with one blazing pop.

Gone were the shrill voices

of impatient people,

gone the car horns

and the ceaseless tv ads,

gone the radio war news,

gone the annoying telephone rings.

Gone, all gone.

Then into the silence crept gentler sounds –

the sentiments of a million Christmas cards

as they thumped in the carrier’s bag

whispered into mailboxes

almost like angel music

woven from too many frayed holiday nerves.

I could hear those printed words

on all those cards

line up into a triumphant parade

of alleluias

tinkle into a bell symphony of joy,

rock that Baby’s cradle

with holy   holy   holy.

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.