Published on Academy of American Poets (

The New Decade

I keep thinking there’s a piano nearby.
I keep thinking it’s my favorite song. It’s my favorite song!

Below the marquee, I arrange the marquee:
Happy New Year, buddy. Happy ’nother one, sweetheart.

Out of ways to call you dead, I decide to call you busy,
call you at midnight from West Oakland.

These days I raise a glass to make sure it’s empty.
Even when I was a drunk, I thought champagne was pointless.

In my two-story civility, I stick my head out
each window & scream. S’cuse me, s’cuse me,

I’m trying to remember a story about gold,
about a giant falling from the sky.

Someone once asked who I prayed to.
I said a boy with a missing front tooth.

In this order, I ask, first, for water,
which might mean mercy,

which might mean swing by in an hour
& I’ll tell you the rest.

If you were here we’d dance, I think.
If you were here, you’d know what to do

what to do with all this time


Copyright © 2021 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 4, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is obsessed with beginnings. The beginning of a song, of a day, of a year. The beginning as a human invention—a human desire. I wrote this poem thinking about how every year I make the same resolutions, and how every year, I forget them. I think about the countless chances I’ve been given to live the life I said I wanted, and how each beginning distracts from how long I’ve been trying.”
Hieu Minh Nguyen


Hieu Minh Nguyen

Hieu Minh Nguyen is the author of Not Here (Coffee House Press, forthcoming in 2018). 

Date Published: 2020-01-04

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