Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye and Good Riddance, 2009

The year 2009 started with hope, change and a brainy new president with big ideas and a desire for bipartisanship. It quickly descended into bull-headed party-line obstinacy in Washington, financial gamesmanship on Wall Street, back-room deals in the insurance world and, in the streets, the howling rage of mindless mobs following the braying directives of toxic TV personalities.

In this dreadful annus horibilis, millions lost their jobs, their savings and their homes, and all of us lived with heightened anxiety. At the end, an angry young man from Nigeria tried to blow up a plane with an incendiary device in his underwear.

A year this bad is best rung out with poetry. So good riddance, 2009. Divinipotent Daily burns your calendar.

Burning the Old Year

by Naomi Shihab Nye

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 (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye.

The poem above and others by this poet and many more can be found on the Web site of the Poetry Foundation.

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