The Old Year's gone away To nothingness and night: We cannot find him all the day Nor hear him in the night: He left no footstep, mark or place In either shade or sun: The last year he'd a neighbour's face, In this he's known by none. All nothing everywhere: Mists we on mornings see Have more of substance when they're here And more of form than he. He was a friend by every fire, In every cot and hall-- A guest to every heart's desire, And now he's nought at all. Old papers thrown away, Old garments cast aside, The talk of yesterday, Are things identified; But time once torn away No voices can recall: The eve of New Year's Day Left the Old Year lost to all.
This poem is in the public domain.
When I rise up above the earth,
And look down on the things that fetter me,
I beat my wings upon the air,
Or tranquil lie,
Surge after surge of potent strength
Like incense comes to me
When I rise up above the earth
And look down upon the things that fetter me.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 10, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
Wild seas of tossing, writhing waves,
A wreck half-sinking in the tortuous gloom;
One man clings desperately, while Boreas raves,
And helps to blot the rays of moon and star,
Then comes a sudden flash of light, which gleams on shores afar.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 19, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
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.
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.
Naomi Shihab Nye, “Burning the Old Year” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Sometimes you don’t die
when you’re supposed to
& now I have a choice
repair a world or build
a new one inside my body
a white door opens
into a place queerly brimming
gold light so velvet-gold
it is like the world
when I call out
all my friends are there
everyone we love
is still alive gathered
at the lakeside
my honeyed kin
beneath the sky
a garden blue stalks
white buds the moon’s
marble glow the fire
distant & flickering
the body whole bright-
with the hours
of the day beautiful
nameless planet. Oh
friends, my friends—
bloom how you must, wild
until we are free.
Copyright © 2018 by Cameron Awkward-Rich. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 30, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
We tell beginnings: for the flesh and the answer,
or the look, the lake in the eye that knows,
for the despair that flows down in widest rivers,
cloud of home; and also the green tree of grace,
all in the leaf, in the love that gives us ourselves.
The word of nourishment passes through the women,
soldiers and orchards rooted in constellations,
white towers, eyes of children:
saying in time of war What shall we feed?
I cannot say the end.
Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.
Not all things are blest, but the
seeds of all things are blest.
The blessing is in the seed.
This moment, this seed, this wave of the sea, this look, this instant of love.
Years over wars and an imagining of peace. Or the expiation journey
toward peace which is many wishes flaming together,
fierce pure life, the many-living home.
Love that gives us ourselves, in the world known to all
new techniques for the healing of the wound,
and the unknown world. One life, or the faring stars.
From Birds, Beasts, and Seas, edited by Jeffrey Yang, published by New Directions. Copyright © 2011. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Alarmed, today is a new dawn,
and that affair recurs daily like clockwork,
undone at dusk, when a new restaurant
emerges in the malnourished night.
We said it would be this way, once this became
the way it was. So in a way we were
waiting for it. I still haven’t eaten, says the cook
in the kitchen. A compliant complaint.
I never eat, says the slender diner. It’s slander,
and she’s scared, like a bully pushing
lettuce around. The cook can’t look, blind with hunger
and anger. I told a waiter to wait
for me and I haven’t seen him since. O it has been forty
minutes it has been forty years.
Late is a synonym for dead which is a euphemism
for ever. Ever is a double-edged word,
at once itself and its own opposite: always
and always some other time.
In the category of cleave, then. To cut and to cling to,
That C won’t let leave alone. Even so, forever’s
now’s never, and remember is just
the future occluded or dreaming. The day has come:
a dusty gust of disgusting August,
functioning as a people-mover. Maybe we’re going
nowhere, but wherever I go
I see us everywhere. On occasions of fancyness,
or out to eat. As if people, stark, now-ish
people themselves were the forever of nothing,
the everything of nobody,
the very same self of us all, after all, at long
last the first.
Copyright © 2015 by Brenda Shaughnessy. Used with permission of the author.