On New Year’s Day, Times Square looks like it’s boredThe 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.
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.”
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 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.