I’m on my second glass of New Year’s Eve,
and not as young as I used to be,
but old enough for old friends.
The nymphs course through the living room,
shrieking the wordless songs of ecstasy,
while we, the newly ancient ones,
fixed stars from the last century,
wonder aloud if ten o’ clock is a suitably indecent hour
to call it a night.
I grow old, I grow old:
probably older than Ryan Seacrest by now,
and old enough to imagine being
And yet my friends are older, too.
Been a hard year, in places.
A diagnosis here and there,
dragons penned in the charts of loved ones’ journeys.
Glimpses of the world beyond glimpses.
And the children, the sweet little joys casting long shadows
over the bow.
A good year to end with whisky.
It is there, drifting merry on the river
of forgetfulness (daughter of pain),
that the universe rasps her dirty little secret into my ear:
Not a one of us wins.
Not the rock star waiting on his heroin,
offering his liver to the mountain birds
who feast on those who love too recklessly.
Not the oncologist whose life gets a little larger,
moves into the suburbs, and is done.
Nobody wins. Not a one.
Confederated by failure,
we have only the dreaming tide to pull us wayward,
and cast us each to the island of our reckoning.
What a slapdash old steamer,
what a flimflam manifest!
Evolution’s petty hustlers,
we fell from the trees and began at once
to make up stories above our heads.
How the captains in the drawing room
much shake with laughter,
when we put on airs!
An hematic warmth rises in me –
life, surely, or its reaction,
playing its jig in these dull bones.
It is New Year’s Eve. A new day, a new year,
will break upon all certainties,
absolving the murky depths.
The dragons will be dispatched,
the sirens put away,
as the whole earth gets plastered
with a warm and bubbly fizz.
And so I pray, oh damn-defying mystery,
let the day roll on
over kin and ken,
protect my friends in the hold of love,
and make of this leaky vessel
a cup of kindness.