Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Years poem from "Damnatio Memoriae"


There he goes, toddling off-stage

with that gnarled scythe resting

crosswise a sash in last year’s fashion,

his dripstone beard, his great

nose like a pilgrim’s plough-blade.

And here comes his successor—

a drooling infant dressed in a top hat

and star-spangled diaper,

blissfully unaware how he will age

three months each day in office.

Father Time could say something.

He could warn the poor toddler

of the need to arm himself,

to get a handle on more than his bowels

if he wants to hold this mess together.

But Baby New Year just grins

like a pacifist and the old man departs,

yielding at last his gothic hourglass

of sand made from the bones

of dinosaurs, sea cows, Babylonians—

all that expires under Time’s watch.

Meanwhile, the Dutch launch fireworks,

the Greeks bake coins in cakes,

Japanese monks ring temple bells

and the Scots gift coal and shortbread.

But here, we Americans just kiss

and kiss while that old drama plays out

on confetti-fogged billboards,

the tips of noisemakers blaring up one

strangled, universal note to the sky.

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