Mark Lee Webb Child Larger
Christmas Smelled Like a Wet Donkey
a prose poem by Mark Lee Webb

Mom took me with her over Christmas break to the beauty parlor. I didn’t want to go—it was a lot different than the barber shop, and being a guy, well, you know, all them women. So I snuck out, and I saw this old man sometimes came down our street in June selling strawberries. Back then he had a beard that was mostly yellow around his mouth on account of he smoked. Kept a pack of Pall Malls in his shirt pocket, and if you asked him real nice he’d blow smoke rings. Had a cart pulled by a donkey. Showed up on our street in summer shouting strawberries straw-bear-rees but I never saw no one’s mom come out to buy. Anyway, out back the beauty parlor I saw the same old man, but he’s in a Santa suit and his beard turned all white on account of ice covering his whiskers. The donkey’s got fake antlers, and the old man’s giving kids twenty-five cent rides down the corner and back. I went inside and asked Mom if I could have a quarter, but she said no, which was OK what with that donkey being all wet and smelling so bad, and the old man he couldn’t even blow no smoke rings on account of his beard being so cold.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The photo was taken when my family lived on Rosemont Court in Louisville, Kentucky, around 1963. The setting for the poem is that same time period and is based on actual events —  the “old man” used to sell strawberries from a donkey-drawn cart during the summer, and during the holidays he gave “reindeer” rides down an alley behind a beauty parlor just a few blocks away.

Mark Lee Webb HiRes1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Lee Webb resides in Kentucky. He’s Editor and Publisher of A NARROW FELLOW Journal of Poetry. Mark presented his newest poetry book, WHATEVERITS, at the 2014 University of Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture. Finishing Line Press published it in 2014. His other book of poems, The Weight of Paper (ELJ Publications), was also published in 2014.