“New Year”

When I saw the pictures, later,
it looked like we were pretty giddy
 
( I mean, this red-in-the-face,
arm-linking, hand-holding,
footsie-playing, warm-all-over,
six-minutes-to-midnight
kind of giddy )
 
I’m in this slinky black number
that is made just for girls with boyfriends,
because the zipper up the back
can’t zip itself
You stand next to me,
clutching a coffee cup like a trophy
and smiling into my hair,
silent and perfect –
at least for the photo
 
But once the flash faded,
you had started talking
You said that I can’t commit:
that I have trust issues,
and daddy issues, and intimacy issues,
and I had to work that shit out of my system –
and, babe, when’s a better time
than five minutes to a new year?
 
Well, I said,
maybe you’re right
Maybe I am damaged goods
like some spooked horse,
and certainly none too forgiving –
because yeah, I’m crass,
and kind of rude,
but I’m damn graceful with a pen because
I am a poet and I –
I want to write about you.
Isn’t that love enough?
 
It’s 11:57, you’re silent, and I’m not stopping.
I say:
 
See, I know you don’t understand
and don’t want to, but
poetry is in my blood
The words have been diced so small
that they sidle through my pores like dancers
My red cells and white cells and tiny newborn cells
are dwarfed by fragments of Times New Roman in my plasma
And though I’d rather forget it,
you are in my blood, too,
the way champagne is on this eve of something new:
effervescent, with two minutes to midnight
 
I said:
You know what?
I didn’t want to have this party at all.
I wanted to sit in my pajamas on the hardwood floor
with the windows wide open and bolts on the doors,
scrawling beautiful words on sheets of recycled paper —
Recycled because, come on.  We’re hipsters
in a loft in Brooklyn, wearing hemp and moccasins
and, now, counting down from sixty.
 
I could have written about you,
or dropping out of college, or curry, or my mother,
or how my blood bubbles with promise and champagne
and boxed-up leftovers and January rain and poetry —
 
Or stand here with you,
still posed for the camera as midnight happens,
complete with the noisemakers and glitter and kisses,
as I realize:
 
You have stolen my poetry.
Now I am watching your friends spill drinks in my apartment,
in a dress that I can’t zip myself
 
But, baby, this is my new year

Author’s Note:

“New Year” is a conglomerate of work produced in my first ever creative writing class, from late 2008 to early 2009. I combined several small poems into this piece over the course of 2009, and performed it for the first time at a variety night in December 2009. It was met well by an audience of my peers, theater parents, and high schoolers. I performed it again in the spring of 2010 at a poetry slam, and though people laughed and snapped in different places, it felt great to perform and was again met with hearty applause.

I think it is an audience favorite because of its tension, strong narrator, and plays on words. I tend to deliver it with high energy and intensity, growing earnest in the seventh and eighth stanzas, and finishing with quiet conviction.

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