New Year's Day

The bright sun belies the cold bite in the air,

same as yesterday, where the freeway traffic hums


north and south, streaming busy people about

their to-do lists. In everyone


blood insists again on leaping from its chamber

only to return there bored and spent. 


The lonely mall parking stall still longs

in vain for some connection longer lasting


than the last one went, while the arbitrary

calendar flips the end-of-December switch


as the ball falls.  And nothing clicks, neither on nor off.

I can still hear him coughing away in the bedroom,


watching the parade on TV as he has done

for eighty something New Year’s days,


eighty eager forays into promised land laden

with the tease of the long-awaited finally,


none of which he now remembers, sitting

on this new year precipice in a blank and kindly bliss—


absent hope with no regret, slipping into wet

January blind as the ticking watch loose around his wrist.


I find it a curious thing that we tend to see the turning of the year as an advent of something actually new, when in fact the transition from December 31 into January 1 is no different than the transition from December 30 into December 31.  Our assigning the magical quality of newness to the first hours of the new year is nothing but a mental game that fuels resolution making and emotional hope for change but in fact has no substantive reality to it, a realization that often hits home by January 15, when most resolutions have already come crashing to the ground. True change and true hope must be grounded in something more than wishful thinking rooted in arbitrary distinctions. Something like Christmas morning.