Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On New Year's Day


On New Year’s Day, Times Square looks like it’s bored
   The way a hangman’s bored by executions.
Blue horses used to coop up last night’s horde?
   Discarded now, like last year’s resolutions.
Horns and hats from midnight’s immortal bash
   Lie all abandoned in this morning’s gutter
Till the streets can be trimmed, like a moustache,
   Of sad stray scraps of wilted, cheerful clutter.
On New Year’s Day, it’s like we all just popped
   Champagne atop Mt Everest, and then
Woke up at base camp when the party stopped,
   Condemned to start the long slow climb again.
      Our hist'ry lies in an untidy heap:
      Times good enough to have, but not to keep.

On New Year’s Day, even the sun’s hung over.
   It squints and says, “Could you please keep it down?”
‘Cause it can hear the cells divide in clover
   Just like the rest of us in this cold town.
The city’s steely voice has lost its bite
   Like someone who went to a football game
And, rooting, screamed himself so hoarse last night
   That he can barely whisper his own name.
On New Year’s Day, we all move very slowly,
   Explorers in that strange, exotic land:
The future--pregnant, virginal and holy--
   A cake of clay under our shaping hand
      From which we swear we’ll make an unsurpassed year
      Just like we swore the same thing same day last year.

On New Year’s Day, like all of humankind,
   We say it counts when year gives way to year,
And face the future, hopeful that we’ll find
   A lasting gift, not just a souvenir.
We watch the clock convinced that next year must
   Fulfill in us the promise of the new,
As if success, or love, or fame is just
   Something that happens—not something we do.
All eyes look for a sign to glorify;
   All hearts yearn for a life that’s rearranged
While a young sun shines down from a new sky
   On just how little everything has changed.
      Millennium or century or year
      Should mean much more than just “We’re all still here.”

On New Year’s Day, my inner ingénue
   Enters the year expecting true romance
And thinks the only thing she has to do
   Is stand there, till Love’s Prince asks her to dance.
And stand she will, until next New Year’s Eve
   Because Time loves to play the waiting game—
You have to grab Life tightly by the sleeve
   And make Time dance to your tune till it’s lame.
So if I don’t impress my will upon
   My days, I’m guilty of Life’s greatest crime:
Wasting my brief hour here until it’s gone—
   Until the time which should have been my time
      No longer Has the power to begin
      Or end or even pass, but only spin.

And I’ll be ruled by what should be my slave,
   And find my joy in petty satisfactions,
And go down to my one and only grave
   Having lived not a life, but Life’s distractions.
So let me promise that for once, this day,
   This New Year’s Day, will be a horse I ride
To get somewhere, and not a getaway—
   To find the time that Time will try to hide
And make from Life what only my two hands
   Can make, and always finish what I start,
And see the challenge in Life’s reprimands,
   And greet the world with an unguarded heart
      And let my gifts be greater than my sins
      And all my days be more than might-have-beens.

Copyright 2014 Matthew J Wells