Editor's note: This piece originally appeared in TheThe Poetry, and was republished last year in the old/previous Luna Luna
On the thirteenth day of Christmas, your true love returns the partridge in a pear tree,
buys cashmere, hires the Cajun she’s philandering to murder you. No two turtle doves coo alike. No two entertain you so, nightly, before dawn enters.
No three French hens sleep as sensitive as you. Anyhoo, his orders are to corner you before four calling birds can dial 911, a feat they’re trained to accomplish in seconds. You see five golden rings emerge from a sink of dishwashing soap. Your marital status makes six geese a laying seem like six geese not getting laid.
You try personalizing all seven swans a swimming--still can’t tell why they tread in unison. You’d file Chapter 7 if eight maids a milking didn’t churn enough product to fill every cereal bowl in town.
All your nine pipers piping produce is hemoglobin and ash. The cost of replacing leotards for your ten ladies dancing staggers Art, your lawyer/krump dancer. He intends to defend your eleven lords a leaping as soon as they settle down.
A soundproof shed holds your twelve drummers drumming.
It snows Wednesday. The Cajun plans to shiv you Friday while your six geese a laying honk in despair. Your true love orders him to retrieve the twelve drummers drumming that she may enlist their aid on private karaokes of herself doing Cher, five golden rings coiled like an asp in Wisteria around her waist.
She desires your eleven lords a leaping to make an appearance in a music video. By the way, your true love is four calling birds short a singing voice. Ice Caps can melt before you give up lords, or ten ladies dancing for that matter. Art’s stopping over later with ballyhoo, mahi-mahi. Nine pipers piping, nitrogen oxide aside, do toss a mean garden salad.
You would marinade two turtle doves for the main course, but it offends the two already living with you. Eight maids a milking whip up vanilla shakes. Your confidant Wes, living the life of a partridge in a pear tree on a fortieth floor, brings desert.
"Wes, please ignore these seven swans a swimming and welcome." Wes cares nothing for swans--says, "good lamb, do ten ladies dancing perform topless?" 56: the hypothetical maximum egg-clutch of seven swans a swimming, all female. (You checked the sexes.)
Art arrived an hour late. Your four calling birds gave him the wrong apartment number. Athena saved Perdix: a partridge in a pear tree, after Uncle Daedalus pushed him off a cliff. Art mock-dispositions eleven lords a leaping.
Wes says, "you sure seem calm for somebody about to perish." Eight maids a milking add cherries to the shakes and serve. "Wes, this morning I witnessed five golden rings emerge from a sink of dishwashing soap. I felt like an apostle."
Your two turtle doves play a game of freeze tag on the balcony.
"I can manage my twelve drummers drumming all week without going pagan/postal, I think I can handle my death." Nine pipers piping light Wes a clove before you say drive safe. All night you dream of your six geese a laying brick inside your sepulcher-shaped bathtub.
The sole commiserate: three French hens.
It snows Thursday. Your mail is late, but so what. Tomorrow, your eight maids a milking will be jacking cow nipples for somebody else. You’ll be dead, and those three French hens who seemed so concerned in dream will be pecking your nose raw. Eleven lords a leaping might be victims de facto. The Cajun doesn’t warm to dancing men or six geese a laying.
Tomorrow, he will celebrate your death with the refund from your partridge in a pear tree. Why does going for a little walk mean spending money in true love?
Nine pipers piping stink less than this situation. The postman arrives as if stamped. Your four calling birds dictate your bills. Impending doom makes you languid. Of twelve drummers drumming, twelve stayed. The bassists heard your true love pays, made like seven swans a swimming for her sound studio. Normally, holiday gifts are of no consequence, but two turtle doves and things of this ilk grow on you like roller coasters or manslaughter. Ten ladies dancing do not perform topless. Half of them are engaged.
Look to their fingers: five golden rings.
Now is the hour to say what needs to be said. The heart is more than nine pipers piping blood to organs you’ll never see unless you’re a surgeon or a maniac. A five golden ring around-the-collar is no justification to suckle a Cajun’s penis. Partridge in a pear tree sounds like an Uncle Tupelo song, but it isn’t.
What is marriage? Are ten ladies dancing nothing more than twenty legs a moving to basic rhythm? What does six geese a laying prove? They aren’t proving reproductivity. You can’t imagine a heaven: two turtle doves feeding you stir-fried rice from beak to mouth. A blue trampoline. Eleven lords a leaping into grape vats.
Art hanging from a leaf, cross-examining them. Seven swans a swimming setting a record for the 500-meter freestyle. Paint-ball wars between three French hens and three Spanish chickens. Max Roach denouncing the twelve drummers drumming in front of Saint Paul.
What is marriage? A polygamist requires eight maids a milking, a multiple-furrow plow. You require a mate who doesn’t flap away like four calling birds when she finds you meditating naked.
There comes a point when your two turtle doves wish they were test canaries. Likewise, there comes a larger point in every man’s life when the best idea is to give up, but so long as three French hens or six geese a laying urinate throughout your apartment, that point has yet to evolve.
Eight maids a milking sing a glorious song concerning varying degrees of love and fatigue. Ten ladies dancing, or five rather, agree to shimmy bottomless in hopes the twelve drummers drumming might stop pan-beating long enough to take notice. There is one partridge in a pear tree advertised on eBay.
At breakfast, you considered bidding, until the three French hens reminded you it’s Friday and time to expire, like an image from Hamlet. Five golden rings appear in a glass of pulpless OJ. There are varying degrees of seven swans a swimming and love and fatigue, but of murder? There are no healthy murders or nine pipers piping, you decide.
A samurai or the U.S. State Department may disagree. Eleven lords a leaping lose five pounds each day. Wes visits around brunch. Five of twelve drummers drumming offer him gin, but he abhors juniper berries during the fiscal year.
"Eleven lords a leaping desperately need refills," Wes jokes. Wes is a true, selfless friend. Five of ten ladies’ dancing labias don’t faze him. He’s here on your behalf.
"Krampus Navidad," nine pipers piping choke. Wes implores you to move, or buy a shotgun. He gestures to eight maids a milking and calls you a humanitarian." Just look at all the weirdos and seven swans a swimming you’ve taken in," he says, "I don’t care if they are gifts."
He motions to six geese a laying when you see his grief. "If I move," you say, "I’m drying cement." "I saw five golden rings in my Simply Orange this morning." Wes asks you why so symbolic? Your four calling birds order a pizza. "I don’t know, Wes, I can’t stop reading Shakespeare. My three French hens are freaking me out. I think they may personify my momento mori.
My two turtle doves wish they were lovers in a poison cave. Hey Wes, you should buy a partridge in a pear tree on eBay." He tears up, but leaves krumping. (Art taught him.) Seven swans a swimming surface for air. Pizza comes but the driver smells oddly like a partridge in a pear tree.
His moustache is slimy. Where’s Ian Fleming? The man ogles all eight maids a milking. You slip his tip back into your pants. His name tag reads Ozgar. No two turtle doves coo alike. Ozgar sounds totally made up, but Ozgar is very real.
The nine pipers piping adjourn to the balcony. Your only witnesses left in the room are the three French hens.
He invades living space like a brass family member. The topless five of ten ladies dancing always distracts you at inopportune moments. Ozgar reveals a blade. Four calling birds try 911, but the two doves changed the speed dial to poison control. Eleven lords a leaping perform a series of jujutsu kicks, but it’s all too homosexual.
Five golden rings abstract the air like refulgent Lady Macbeths. Twelve of twelve drummers drumming watch Scooby-Doo, high-five whenever Daphne flashes on screen. Six geese a laying seem more like six spaces a wasting. Now is the hour to say that three French hens are too prima donna. Now is the hour to say what needs to be said. Six geese a laying are animal equivalents to doilies.
Does infidelity start with a vow?
Nine pipers piping think it starts with a vowel. During a commercial, five of twelve drummers drumming say they think it starts with a kiss, which is cute but quite moronic. Two turtle doves await poison control. They still make-believe they’re in a cave.
Your five golden rings vanish like a frightened stagecoach. Why hasn’t he killed you? Eight maids a milking blush. They know how cyclical churning spellbinds men, except eleven lords a leaping.
Ozgar dodges the wet spots in the rug, and rages, "she blew my partridge in a pear tree money on a cashmere bunnyhug! I should be dicing in Reno!" Your four calling birds hang up the phone. You open the pizza box and eat a jalapeno. Seven swans a swimming submerge in unison. "True loves," you tell him, "love bunnyhugs."
Ten ladies dancing swing to their partner and bellow ‘yeehaw’ in agreement. Five of their five golden rings sparkle. It’s Friday. He sheaths the blade. He staggers over to your ten ladies dancing, smooches each one behind the earlobes. You hand him his tip. Your two turtle doves pretend to be swashbuckling. Doves are peculiar that way.
Seven swans a swimming squawk for cleaner wading water. Art’s back? Had he heard twelve drummers drumming watching cartoons and entered? He’s wearing a Life’s a Beach shirt. Four calling birds appreciate Art’s serenity. He yearns to represent a film noir studio of nine pipers piping.
He doesn’t trust you if you’ve considered suing motion pictures. Cartridge in a Pear Tree, his first independent project, drew a massive audience of krumpers. Six geese a laying, you think, could have sat through it. It was that constructive. Eleven lords a leaping don’t possess patience for cinema. "Life is artful enough," they tell eight maids a milking who would normally smile like any nice face multiplied by eight, only four calling birds now flutter around you as if to remind you it’s still Friday.
Your eight maids a milking are too nervous to smile. Ozgar sizes up Art and one of the twelve drummers drumming then stabs the solo musician during Daphne’s last monologue. No three French hens sleep as terrible as you. Art yells 'cut,' and exits stage left. Seven swans a swimming dry off and follow him out. He pops back in to collect his clients, eleven lords a leaping.
"Ozgar, why did you kill that drummer?" you ask. Ozgar’s eyes stare off: two turtle doves. Now is the hour to say what needs to be said. The room is not clean. Six geese a laying pretend to sweep. Ozgar should leave. You are tired of him. The ten ladies dancing worked with Jimmy Durante. You are tired of everything. A partridge in a pear tree is a terrible Christmas present.
It doesn’t take you long to realize the five golden rings were the same bands you gave your true love over a ten year span. Nine pipers piping call that epiphany. You call that crappy, and start to regard those eleven lords a leaping as true-love payback for your refusal to hang her plastic mistletoe. Nine pipers piping, nine wooden chimneys.
What is marriage? "Good riddance seven swans a swimming."
Ozgar exits eyeing your nonpareils and other decorative sugar balls. Five golden rings emerge from a pyrite paperweight. Where’s Ian Lancaster Fleming?
Three French hens. Three French hens. Three French hens. Ozgar smelled like the partridge in a pear tree.
He should collect trash of trash collectors. The hour to say twelve drummers drumming is noise pollution passed. No one refreshed the wading water. Your ten ladies dancing will run out of steps or maybe they’ll keep dancing who cares. Your eight maids a milking return to Amish life. A single photograph of their smiles is worth the fine.
Six geese a laying look like shower nozzles. The hour has passed to say nothing beats your four calling birds, especially during the MLB playoffs. Who blow-dried half your snowman?
No two turtle doves coo alike. A partridge in a pear tree smells like nothing else. Two turtle doves or four calling birds make super stocking-stuffers. You miss your true love most during the fiscal year.
Five golden rings and six geese a laying make abhorrent Christmas gifts. Seven swans a swimming and eight maids a milking represent assembly line mentality. Nine pipers piping and ten ladies dancing barely know each other’s import. You live 3500 extra Fridays. Eleven lords a leaping prepare to eulogize a lone casualty of twelve drummers drumming drumming drumming.
Jeffrey Hecker was born in 1977 in Norfolk, Virginia. He’s the author of Rumble Seat (San Francisco Bay Press, 2011) & the chapbooksHornbook (Horse Less Press, 2012), Instructions for the Orgy (Sunnyoutside Press, 2013), & Before He Let Them Guide Sleigh (ShirtPocket Press, 2013). Recent work has appeared inMascara Literary Review, Atticus Review, La Fovea, Zocalo Public Square, The Burning Bush 2, LEVELER, Spittoon, & similar:peaks. He holds a degree from Old Dominion University. He resides with his wife Robin.