Sunday, January 2, 2011

Enter the New Year: Part One

Resolutions--can't live with them, can't live without them. I can see their value. Change is good. I fully support change: weight loss, smoking cessation, cardiovascular fitness, kindness to animals, returning control of the House to the Democrats...

My only beef with resolutions, I suppose, is that January 1 is such an arbitrary day to set them. Why can't I make a resolution on March 5th? Or any other day of the year for that matter. Why the pressure of the first of this month? All you people setting your goals--why let the calendar be your master? A calendar that some white dude long ago created, randomly declaring January 1 as the beginning of a new year. What did they do before calendars, huh? Maybe their resolutions never failed.

Which brings me to another problem I have...failing. Unless you're some sort of robot you have to know that an astronomical percentage of New Year's resolutions fail within weeks, if not days. Why set yourself up for that sort of letdown? 

Now's the part where I tell you I want nothing to do with resolutions and that my life's journey is one of continual, not just annual, self-improvement...well not quite. I've got resolutions of my own, both personal and professional. I'll spare you the details of the personal goals, which mainly involve trying to not be such a fat boy. There are some relevant professional resolutions I've set, though, including an old one--"write more"--and a new one--"blog more." Part One begins my attempt at the latter.

Here are a couple New Year's poems that I came across at the Poetry Foundation and felt compelled to share:

New Year’s Day

The rain this morning falls   
on the last of the snow

and will wash it away. I can smell   
the grass again, and the torn leaves

being eased down into the mud.   
The few loves I’ve been allowed

to keep are still sleeping
on the West Coast. Here in Virginia

I walk across the fields with only   
a few young cows for company.

Big-boned and shy,
they are like girls I remember

from junior high, who never   
spoke, who kept their heads

lowered and their arms crossed against   
their new breasts. Those girls

are nearly forty now. Like me,   
they must sometimes stand

at a window late at night, looking out   
on a silent backyard, at one

rusting lawn chair and the sheer walls   
of other people’s houses.

Read the rest at the Poetry Foundation. And please enjoy this one by the incomparable Naomi Shihab Nye, whom I resolve to feature more often at The Small Nouns during 2011:

Burning the Old Year

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,   
lists of vegetables, partial poems.   
Orange swirling flame of days,   
so little is a stone.

Please enjoy the conclusion here. And be sure to check out Part Two!

May your 2011 be safe, happy, and poetry-filled.

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