01 January 2020

New Year's Poem 2020

Each year, I write a poem on New Year's Day. I've been doing this a long time. For four years now, Conan Tobias of Taddle Creek has asked me to record the poem on January 1 so he can post it on the mag's website.


A tour guide appears in your living room,
followed by a cluster of tourists
brandishing wooden spoons. You are sitting
in the old wing chair, reading a hardcover copy
of Marjorie Morningstar. The spirit of your dog
lies curled at your feet, doesn’t even lift
her adorable head to acknowledge
the visitors. You ask these people
not to get fingerprints on your walls,
not to clack their spoons so much, please,
not to draw swastikas on the synagogue,
to help themselves to some fruit, to
maybe have a cup of tea, to file out the back door
and never come back. You tell the tour guide
you are not a monument, a historical plaque,
a famous painting, a notable grave, a landmark.
You pull a couple of twenties from your pocket
and push them into his fist. “I will never forget you,”
you say. Outside, the winter fires are crackling.
A northern cardinal darts out from the smoke,
flourishes its wings, swoops toward the lake
to admire its own reflection. The horizon
undulates. The full moon bounces along it,
like the ball bouncing along the song lyrics
in one of those old cartoons, a technique
invented in the 1920s by Max Fleischer.
You dog-ear your page in the book, pull on
your grandfather’s galoshes, and hobble
after the moon, singing her perfect song,
becoming smaller and smaller yes smaller
as you disappear into the impossible
luminosity of tomorrow.

January 1, 2020
Stuart Ross


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