I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone by writing a sonnet for Sonnet Sunday that would also work on our Christmas cards. However, despite the seasonal references, the poem didn't turn out card-friendly. Here it is anyway.
Bethlehem (early draft)
The soldiers staggered from the Empire’s fringes
with reindeers, sleighs, and lager crates, the sour
perfume of the town’s christingle oranges
drawing them forward, closer by the hour.
Between killings, they raved through crazy days.
Drunk on cheap booze and the adrenaline
of violence, they partied nights, and those delays
cost vital hours. But when they reached the inn,
they sensed their power. People followed on,
guided by starlight, each of them afraid
of emptiness, of flight, of being alone,
of God being gone, or lost, or left for dead.
Most claimed the shape of God remained, impressed
on hay. The soldiers shook in heavenly rest.