Peter H. Michaels: None Burn Out

A Blow Mold Christmas

I pack away my grandfather’s

Christmas lights while they’re warm

and each incandescent kiss


from that vintage strand

as I twist it over a custom-cut

piece of cardboard


is like talking to the man

who raised two girls while

his wife drank delusions gone


giggling on the couch. He knew

there were bad Christmases

the kind that make God disappear.


I can’t ask him what I need to now

and these lights feel unique, but like my life

they were patterned on an assembly line


of the past. Each glass teardrop

in my palm has an average rated life

but half of them will never reach it.


Every year I pack away the bulbs

that lasted and I pluck the dead ones

like spoiled grapes from a bunch.


Each time the strand needs fewer

and fewer new bulbs. Grandpa’s lights

might have a year where none burn out

Peter H. Michaels’ wrote his first poem in 2018. His poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Nimrod, The Operating System, Cagibi, and other places. His poetry book reviews have been published by PANK magazine’s blog and Sugar House Review. His website is and he tweets from @dethmtlcardigan.