“Christmas Stars” by Knute Skinner


Knute Skinner’s “Christmas Stars” was published in the fall issue of Prairie Schooner in 1957. The “stepped-on snow” in Lincoln was especially heavy that year; with a total 38.8 inches of snow, the snowfall season (September-May) still ranks 18th out of Lincoln’s recorded 114 winters. Over just two days in November, a total of 11 inches fell! With all that snow, the fall’s average temperature was just 51.5°F, placing in the cooler fifth of Lincoln’s autumns. In Lincoln on November 30th, the soon-to-be-infamous Charles Starkweather committed his first murder; on January 21st, 1958, his killing spree with his girlfriend-cum-accomplice Caril Ann Fugate began. They murdered 10 people before surrendering to police on January 28th. –Tory Clower

Knute Skinner
Christmas Stars

The stars are out again; uncertainly
they drip from corners to the street below.
Seasonally they glance the passing face
and spot the edges of the stepped-on snow.

A certain image fashioned of strong flesh
in bulby spectacle is sanctified,
caught, cleaned, and carved to nothing more than flash,
dislustred in a miracle of pride.

O Jesus, Jesus, Jesus—see the show,
a many-miniature of a guide to thee.
Note how devotion shadows in this light,
pools and reflects its measureability.

These tinsel days we move to disappear
bubble the seemingness of what we know,
as men revolt their sense of deity
and fire the manger with a Christmas glow.