04 January 2021

New Year's Poem

Each year, I write a poem on New Year's Day. I've been doing this a long time. For five 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. That was a link just now, a link to me reading the poem below.

Although the poem was written on New Year's Day, I'm a little late in posting it. Everything has moved for me like molasses since Michael Dennis's death on the afternoon of December 31. This poem isn't for him, and it isn't about him, but I know that he is in it, because my beautiful friend has occupied my brain and heart this past fall. I hope you'll read his poems and carry them with you.

When I sat down to write on January 1, all I could think of was air.

Wishing you all a better year, good health, the warmth of friends, even if distant.



There are creatures in the walls.

We hear them scurry and scratch,

gnaw on the insulation

and maybe the electrical wiring.

At night they write poems

on tiny typewriters

about how they hear creatures

outside the walls. They

hear us using our blenders

and pencil sharpeners and various

other contraptions whose purpose

they could never conceive of

and neither could we if no one

had invented them. Another


thing there is is air. There’s so much

of it. You find it between the leaves

of poplars and in the tunnels of ant hills

and bobbing on top of lakes and rivers.

Let’s go breathe some air. Let’s paint

a picture of it. If you don’t get the angles

just right, it doesn’t judge you. The creatures

in the walls mistake the word “poplar”

for “popular” but the “u” doesn’t judge them.

Everything makes mistakes. I have made

twenty or twenty-one of them. Tom Clark

wrote a book called Air. Page 20 has

“A small / black worker ant / moving


diagonally” and Page 21’s got

“A moon in the blue morning.”

The moon is surrounded by 

infinite sky, which we’re

connected to by dollops of air.

Perhaps if I wrote a book called Sky

I’d become more poplar.

Stuart Ross
1 January 2021


Over and out. 


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