, Salem, MA

December 21, 2012

Benton: The fright before Christmas

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore and Citizens for Limited Taxation’s Barbara Anderson; and best wishes for the holidays to all.

’Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the Statehouse

Not a creature was stirring, not a lobbyist or other species of louse.

The stockings were hung in the chambers with care,

In hopes that the pork delivery would soon be there.

The members were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of patronage danced in their heads.

Deval in his ’kerchief, and DeLeo in his cap,

Had just settled their brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the Common there arose such a clatter,

they sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window they flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of new tax revenue to objects below.

When, what to their wondering eyes should appear,

But CLT’s Anderson and what looked like eight tiny reindeer.

This not-so-old driver, so lively and quick,

was, to be sure, no St. Nick.

But more rapid than eagles her coursers they came,

As she whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Keenan! Now, Ehrlich! Now, Ted and Fred Berry!

On, Tommy! On, Brucie and Beverly’s Jerry!

To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!

Now bash those taxes! Dash them all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

So up to that golden dome the coursers they flew,

With a sleigh full of no-votes and an override too.

And then, in a twinkling, was heard on the roof

The braying and caterwauling of voter reproof.

As they drew in their heads and were turning around,

Down the chimney St. Barbara came with a bound.

She was dressed in tea-party garb from head to foot,

And close by her side was her latest book.

A bundle of petitions she had flung on her back,

And she looked like a Marblehead peddler opening his pack.

Her eyes how they twinkled! Her dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, but her demeanor was pretty scary!

Her crooked smile was aimed like a bow,

At those Democrat tax-and-spenders partying below.

DeLeo’s stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He has a broad face and a little round belly,

That shakes when he laughs, like a bowlful of jelly!

He seems chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

But cross him once and you’d best watch yourself!

A twist of his head and wink of his eye,

And that chairmanship you coveted would well be nigh.

Barbara spoke not a word, but went straight to her work.

She filled all the House mail slots, even those of the jerks.

Then laying her finger aside of her nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney she rose!

She sprang to her sleigh, and to her team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard her exclaim, ’ere she drove out of sight,

“Lower taxes for all, and to all a good-night!”


Nelson Benton spent 40 years covering politics on the North Shore before retiring from The Salem News. Contact him at