The Ravin'
        by Elena Santangelo

To Edgar, for all the inspiration

(Poe, The Raven, 1845)

Once upon an Advent dreary,

While I wandered bleak and bleary

Over many a crude and crowded mile

Of department store,

As I wrest a roll of wrapping,

Energy within me sapping,

Tired of fighting all their trapping

Trapping me to spend some more.

"I won't buy but this," I muttered,

"Wrapping at this blasted store

Only this and nothing more."


Only then did I remember

'Twas the fourth week of December,

And each separate day did number

To my horror twenty‑four;

No time could I beg or borrow,

Christmas day would come tomorrow,

Think how great would be my sorrow

Sorrow if the toys I bore

Failed to awe my radiant children

Would they think my gifts were poor

And so hate me evermore?


Suddenly my guilt grew stronger;

I could shop a little longer,

Though to add debt to my credit cards

Already I'd foreswore;

Yet, I'd buy more than this wrapping:

PC games, opponents strapping;

Robot dog with ears a‑flapping,

Lapping water from the floor;

And a doll that does the mambo,

For my youngest to adore.

That was it, though, nothing more.


Back into the maelstrom turning,

All my guilt within me burning,

Soon again I heard the tapping

As the sales clerk tallied more,

"Surely," I said, "surely this is...

Something in your store amiss is,

For, you see, each price that's here is

Twice as much as 'twas before."

But the sales clerk simply shrugged

And waited for me to fork o'er;

Stood and shrugged, and nothing more.


Open there I flung my card fold,

Then retrieved my Master Charge Gold,

Warm still from my day of shopping,

Buying Christmas gifts galore,

Swiped my card the clerk then did he,

Shook his head, but not in pity,

Said my card was maxed out,

That I couldn't use it, furthermore,

Stood and said, "I need another card

Or cash...or there's the door."

Told me that, and nothing more.


Startled by the words he'd spoken

(Could my credit line be broken?)

"Doubtless just a glitch of software

In the network of this store."

This I said to stem disaster,

Then to show him I was master,

Handed over Visa card

Its limit was a little more

Thinking, after holidays,

I'd no more shop this horrid store.

No, never, nevermore.


Then the clerk commenced his swiping,

As my brow I was a‑wiping,

Hoping that consumer confidence

To me he would restore,

But the Visa was no charmed card

Sales clerk, summoning an armed guard,

Told him to politely discard

Me at nearest exit door;

Told him to remove my derriere

From this department store;

I could come back nevermore.


Only now am I admitting,

As bill payments I'm remitting,

Possibly my Christmas shopping

Went a little overboard;

With my credit, I'm not clever

I'll be paying this forever,

Learned my lesson now, however,

And will charge things nevermore;

(Yet the After‑Christmas sales

Are so good, how can I ignore?

Just this once�then nevermore.)

Copyright 2006, Elena Santangelo

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