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Clarence Billheimer. Click the Next or Previous links below the poem to navigate between poems. Remember, Poetrysoup is an environment of encouragement and growth. Thank you.
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The Night Before Christmas Military Version
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the bay
Not a soldier was stirring in the hall or the way.
The clothes were all hung in the lockers with care
In hopes that the I. G. soon would be there.
Our gear was all placed on the top of our beds,
And visions of Christmas leave danced in our heads.
My friend with his mess kit all shiny and gray
Was just finishing up fixing all his display.
When out on the road there arose such a clatter
We sprang from our spots to see what was the matter.
Away to the doorway we like a flash flew
Expecting and wondering just what we would view.
The moon on the breast of the snow, falling white,
Gave us a good view of this noise-making sight.
When up to the sidewalk and stairs came a-charging
Was the I. G., lieutenant, and eight well-dressed sergeants.
And another man showing them all where to go--
We knew from the sight that it was our C. O.
So into the barracks the inspection team came,
And one whistled and shouted and called out our names,
“Now Baker and Bartley and Benson and Bones
And Jackson and Jenkins and Johnson and Jones,
Go back to your bunks and stand up straight and tall,
Now move it, men, move it, men, move one and all!”
As fast as we could we went back to our bunks,
Being quite careful not to mess up the junk.
Then into the bay the officers walked,
And a hush filled the room as no one dared to talk.
And then in a moment we thought we heard gigs
As by each display walked the I. G. so big.
As I drew in my breath and was looking that way,
There stood the I. G. looking at my display!
He was dressed all in green from his head to his toes,
And I saw all his ribbons and badges and bows.
A couple of pencils he had on his pad,
And he looked like a roughneck, so somber and sad.
His eyes--how they glittered as though set on fire,
His lips had expression that hinted of ire.
His nose held his glasses that I swear magnified;
It seemed that each error he so quickly spied!
The pencil he used he held tight in his hand,
And the scribbling he did as I tried hard to stand!
He spoke not a word, but went on with his work,
Inspected each place, then turned with a jerk.
Then laying his finger alongside of his pad,
And giving a grunt, we knew we were bad!
He walked to the door, to the sergeants he beckoned,
And we stood there and waited, and he spoke in a second,
“This is the best bay that I’ve ever seen!
The floor is so shiny, and so’s the latrine!
You all deserve passes, so go on your flights;
We’ll see you next year--Merry Christmas, good night!”