Reading these earlier entries in order may better introduce this one: Christmas Pitstop and Christmas Snack.
Polar Poker Game © Tony Cox 2012
At Christmas time, the man and me
Talked and plotted beside the tree.
That night a good scheme we did weave,
A poker game on New Year's Eve.
A night of cards, to greet the new,
And a big pot of Santa's stew.
"A week of rest is all I want
To get over this Christmas jaunt,"
Said Santa as he chugged his brew.
"Then we'll throw down a card or two.
Just bring one friend besides yourself.
I'll get the wife and my head elf."
It happened on New Year's Eve day,
We flew north, me and Mertle Faye.
The sleigh, the deer, the whole shebang,
Even music, an elf choir sang
Christmas songs as we quickly flew
Across the States–Canada too.
Beyond the pole into the dark,
And sharply down on a tight arc.
T'was blackest of night at his place
Where crystals of frost hung like lace
'Round the entrance cut in the snow.
A gaping hole set all aglow.
Down through the cave the reindeer flew
Without a stop. We squeezed right through,
Then quickly went from fast to slow,
And landed with a spray of snow.
Ole fat man's house was dead ahead.
Straight for it, the deer took the sled.
A red cottage built craftsman-style,
With gabled roof of gray slate tile.
Across the front a porch ran wide,
Posts at the steps and on each side.
Down the walk came my ole fat pal
Cuddling close this cute blonde gal.
As we two exited the sleigh,
I heard a gasp from Myrtle Faye
He whispered in my frosted ear,
“That's a young'un, I do declare.
A looker too, I'd have to bet,
Though I ain't seen her body yet.”
I shushed Faye, but had to concur.
Beneath the coat, beneath the fur,
The girl with Santa had it all,
Good taste, good looks, she was a doll.
I raised a brow, stared Santa down.
He shrugged and said with a frown,
“My old lady got tired of snow;
Divorced me and took my dough.
I tell you it sure hurt my pride,
But now I have this Russian bride”
With an arm he hugged her tight.
“Ya know, it was love at first sight.”
“Come in the house, you must be chilled.
At mixing drinks, she's really skilled.”
Santa waved and dismissed our ride
Then he turned to take us inside
The deer and sleigh pulled out of sight
And disappeared into the night.
I called out,.“Poker's why we came.
We'll need clear heads to play the game.”
“No hard stuff please, we'll just have beer.”
Inside, we peeled our coats and gear.
Santa sighed as wife stowed our stuff.
“Ain't she pretty in that fox ruff.”
“Her name is Nika—isn't that slick.
For the partner of old Saint Nick?
Nika's from Tomsk, that's a pretty
Siberian river city.
Me and the elves call her Nickie,
It's fine with her, she's not picky.”
“Plus she's real smart,” the fat man said,
“She knows business from a to zed,
Has a degree from TSU,
With management experience too.
And the best part is, don't ya know,
That dear sweet gal loves ice and snow.”
Through the house, we trailed her and him,
While I admired the craftsman trim.
Faye turned to me and rolled his eyes.
He said, “Now that is some surprise.
I hate to sound a bit catty,
But she's made that boy plumb batty.”
“Shh, not so loud,” I whispered quiet,
As we took a turn to the right.
I couldn't help wanting to agree,
That boy seemed gone as gone could be,
But I waited with an open mind,
Since true love is so hard to find.
Santa's living room was real nice,
Sweet with scents of apples and spice.
The fireplace t'was a cheery sight,
Heating the room and blazing bright,
On the hearth there boiled Santa's stew
Beside it, a coffee pot too.
Easy chairs and sofas filled the scene,
Some big, some small, some in-between.
Elves come in all sizes, I speculated,
All the walls were decorated
With pictures, what-nots, and knick-knack.
What some would call just bric-a-brac.
In a corner, a table lay
With cards and chips, ready to play.
But Faye and me, still a tad cool
Headed straight for a fireside stool.
The fire was hot, and felt real good
But I could tell there weren't no wood
A bed of rocks, chunked and ground,
With flames rising to flicker 'round.
“Don't look for wood,” Santa confided.
“Our fuel is amply provided.
Methane seeps from the permafrost,
Gives us good gas that's free from cost.”
He and she joined us at the flames.
“Well boys, let's eat before the games.”
Santa said in a booming voice
I boomed right back, “That'll be my choice.”
Nickie knelt and stirred the stew pot
Which I could see was bubbly hot
Added Faye, “I'd vote that way quick.
“It looks real chunky, nice and thick.
Would ya'all call that reindeer stew?”
“Oh, no,” Santa said, “It's tofu.
We're vegans now, since Nickie came.”
He sadly stared into the flame.
Then Santa stirred and spoke again,
“I'm losing weight and feeling thin.
BP and cholesterol low.
Makes it all worthwhile, don't cha know.
Although I miss eating real meat
Having good health is hard to beat.”
Mertle Faye grabbed a bowl of stew.
He dipped his spoon and took a chew.
“Ya know, vegan stew ain't that bad,
Why it's the best stew I've had!”
“I will prob'ly want seconds soon,”
He said as he re-dipped his spoon.
After stew came the poker game.
Four for poker is a bit lame,
So I spoke up, “We need one more.
Where's the head elf? Five's better'n four.”
“The elves vacation just started.”
Said Santa, “And they've departed.”
“They've gone to Hawaii's north shore
Sun, surf, fish, who could ask for more.
I did ask the head elf to stay
But he won, I'm happy to say,
A trip to Sierra Leone
Playing Angry Birds on his phone.”
“Four or five is about the same,”
Said Faye, “Let's start this poker game.”
Then Nickie spoke in a soft voice.
“It's jokers wild and dealer's choice;
Do we high card for the first deal?”
She fanned the deck into a wheel.
We played the game of chance and skill,
Except for time, we'd be there still,
'Cause way too soon, we had to go,
To brave the trip out through the snow.
'Bout the game, there's not much to tell,
Let's just say we didn't fare well
So we left Santa and his bride,
Waving byes, standing side by side.
We left their place on New Years Day,
Headin' for home, me'n Mertle Faye,
Shouting with enormous delight,
“Have a great year, have a safe night!”