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Chanukah Lights Tonight by Steven Schneider

Chanukah Lights Tonight

by Steven Schneider

published in his 2000 book, Prairie Air Show, Talking River Publications

Our annual prairie Chanukah party—

latkes, kugel, cherry blintzes.

Friends arrive from nearby towns

and dance the twist to “Chanukah Lights Tonight,”

spin like a dreidel to a klezmer hit.

The candles flicker in the window.

Outside, ponderosa pines are tied in red bows.

If you squint,

the neighbors’ Christmas lights

look like the Omaha skyline.

The smell of oil is in the air.

We drift off to childhood

where we spent our gelt

on baseball cards and matinees,

cream sodas and potato knishes.

No delis in our neighborhood,

only the wind howling over the crushed corn stalks.

Inside, we try to sweep the darkness out,

waiting for the Messiah to knock,

wanting to know if he can join the party.

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