‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – On the Reef

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the reef
Every creature was swimming, with fervent belief
That an afternoon feeding would surely appear,
Every seahorse was on Santa’s “good list” this year.

Emo the clown nestled snug in his host,
An Anthelia coral grown larger than most.
And Flappy and Jet called a Christmas-Eve truce,
While Cygnus cast eyes on “his” Christmassy spruce.

From the back of the tank there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the desk to see what was the matter.
I flew to the tank, started looking around,
To determine what made such a clattering sound.

The bluish-white lights gave a wintery glow
To the reef and the myriad corals below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a three-inch gold goby with no sense of fear.

A bold little watchman, this Emperor Max,
With a thousand-yard stare and a liking for snacks.
He hung in mid-water and glared at each fish –
Keeping this reef in line is his Christmas Eve wish!

“Now Cygnus! Now, Ghillie! Now, Ceti and Flappy!
Hey, Emo! Hey, Jett! Quit looking so happy!
From the top of the rocks to the top of the glass
This MY REEF, I tell you! It’s mine to harass!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So all of the fish out of Max’s way flew,
giving him a wide berth, and his attitude too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard little clatters
like plinko balls falling, or plastic that shatters.
I drew back and once again looked all around –
As Banzai fell down off the reef with a bound.

He was dressed in a shell, as a hermit crab should,
He’d been climbing the sea fan (to prove that he could).
But he fell from a height and went flat on his back,
He looked pretty foolish, (and that is a fact).

The fall made Max angry! His temper was up!
“I said no shenanigans, you foolish pup!”
The watchman’s long mouth was drawn down like a bow,
“Nobody messes with me, don’t you know?”

But then, from the opposite side of the box,
came a large cloud of sand and a clatter of rocks.
Scooter Jett taunted Flappy just one time too many:
Their Christmas Eve truce? Gone as if there weren’t any!

Flappy’s chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh when I see him, in spite of myself.
But a wink of Jett’s eye or a twist of her head,
Has poor Flappy the Mandarin seeing some red.

Max spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
sneaking up behind Flappy (who’s being a jerk)
and, with his best thousand-watt Angryfish stare,
Max imposes a Christmas Eve peace everywhere!

Max returns to his post, floating over the reef,
And gives me what might be a look of relief.
For the moment at least there’s no trouble in sight.
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

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