Mr. Ellis

My friend Reed died last Tuesday. He was my first teacher friend, and he became a mentor. I loved him. I’ll tell you more about him later, but he was a really great guy. Readers of this blog may know him as Cheeto.

I just wrote this – it’s a first draft, so it might change.


The Christmas Cactus

For Reed

“ The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Just like every year

The Christmas Cactus blooms

Right on schedule

Whether or not you believe

In Christmas

Or shiny, glittery miracles

World peace and unity

The golden gift wrap of the season

Velociraptor ripped, wadded, kicked under the couch


This year you don’t see the glory

The coming of the cactus.

You had your second going,

You died again,

This time, for real.

You have officially

Left the building.


You said you never saw the

Tunnel-and-bright-light the first time

But I can’t help but wonder, if,

In the end, from the foxhole,

Did you find God?

Did Jesus extend moonbeam hands

“Come to my party! It’s my birthday!

We have cake and balloons, a fine rosé,

We’ll get drunk and sing all the classics

Come all ye faithful,

Come on, come in, come over!”


I doubt it. Anyway, you wouldn’t budge.

You were a seeker, not a believer.


But you had faith

Ultimate confidence

In beauty

The impossible thin delicateness of the petals

Fuschia frills erupting from

Bright green succulent stems

Segmented like a grasshopper’s thorax


Without cynicism you trusted

The timing of the cacti

Its ability to read

Sunrise, sunset

Ticking clock




Merry Christmas, baby

And to all, a good night


2 thoughts on “Mr. Ellis

  1. I received a Christmas cactus from a student who said he hoped that I could keep it alive . The fact that he knows me all too well is the real gift!

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