New Year’s Day

For Sean Thomas Dougherty

 

This year there were no parties.  Our friends

Were sick with flu or busy caring

For family sick with flu, but we’d

Still stayed up late talking and drinking

Prosecco, the remains of dinner,

Arroz con pollo, left on our plates.

The next day, we planned to assemble

Ikea furniture, a desk and

Chair.  I confess, the chair is still in

Pieces.  Instead, we cooked black-eyed peas

And cornbread, which made me think of my

Friend Frank who died just a year ago

Because I’d always bring him black-eyed

Peas on New Year’s.  Then, we read poems

From websites or posted on Facebook.

Sean’s poem about the editor

Who sent him a rejection on New

Year’s morning was particularly

Good.  It made me think about the things

We decide should give us hope, this day

Chosen arbitrarily by some

Roman emperor or pope to be

The beginning of—what?—not the end

Of autumn or middle of winter.

Random as the throw of dice on an

Italian afternoon, a man looks

Up from his writing and says, “Yes, I’ll

Begin it here, not at solstice or

Equinox—the sun shall receive no

Primacy.”  In January, the

Sky thickens with clouds thrown like pillows

Across an unmade bed.  Where Sean lives,

Snow’s inevitable, but here in

Florida, winter is the good time,

Nights mild and cloudless, Orion and

The Pleiades visible as soon

As it’s dark, almost as bright as the

Fireworks we watched at midnight, showers

Of red and gold, falling on rooftops

And fences, bell curves of trees, unknown

Yards, and streets where the cars slow to stare.

So, for no reason at all, we cook

A special meal, open the wine we’ve

Been saving, sip espresso sweetened

With Kahlua and turn the pages

Inside of us, mumbling once again

Words we hope will grant wishes, protect

From harm.  A new year begins today.

 

***

George Franklin’s most recent collection, Traveling for No Good Reason, won the Sheila-Na-Gig Editions competition and was published in 2018. A bilingual collection, Among the Ruins / Entre las ruinas, translated by Ximena Gomez was also published in 2018 by Katakana Editores, and individual poems have appeared in various journals, including Matter, Into the Void, The Threepenny Review, Salamander, Pedestal Magazine, and Cagibi. A broadside from Broadsided Press is forthcoming in 2019, along with new poems in Sheila-Na-Gig.  He also practices law in Miami and teaches poetry workshops in Florida state prisons.

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