There is a new poem of mine up at Verse-Virtual called “New Year’s Eve”. It’s the first poem I wrote in 2019, and I wrote in on New Year’s morning. I figured if I could crank out a poem with a slight hangover, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad year after all.
The poem was suggested to me while watching my daughter and her friend playing among the smoking ruins of neighborhood fireworks. Where we live, people set off their own outside their homes, in the streets, cheap and awful-smelling contraptions that create a haze and sting the eyes. But the girls’ curiosity was as if an alien spacecraft had just crash-landed in the backyard. That interested me more than the bright lights.
New Year’s Eve
Tonight we watched the lanterns rise
up through the black and flinty air
as neon blossoms lit the skies.
We squinted in the smoky glare
of cheap contraptions struck & burned
like matchsticks in the littered street.
A pinwheel sputtered, lifted, turned
about, a pyrotechnic feat
of ancient alchemy – it flew
a foot or two, then comically
crashed in a plot of grass, where two
children approached it cautiously
as if it were a UFO
portending unknown auguries
or sizzling in the afterglow
of unavoidable demise.
I have a recent sonnet up at the The Road Not Taken – A Journal of Formal Poetry. It’s a sonnet about my cat, Katniss. Many years ago I wrote a sonnet to my first cat, Ninotchka. Something about cats inspires sonnets in me – it seems an appropriate form to celebrate feline magnificence.
The poem has nothing at all to do with the story by the same name, published in the New Yorker. In fact, I’ve never read the story, which even has its own Wikipedia page for some reason. It’s just an appreciation of my furry friend, as if anything more were needed or required of a poem.
One of the main reasons I write poetry is to fix a moment, event, or feeling in time so it doesn’t disappear forever. I write against forgetting, against forgetfulness, against oblivion. This is the driving force behind my writing. I hope that something may endure after time has ravaged all the rest. Shakespeare had this in mind when he wrote his Sonnet 55. “Not marble, nor the guilded monuments / of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme.” It’s always been one of my favorites.
It‘s not that I love cats. I love my cat,
the way she pierces me with her clear eyes
and bites when she‘s excited, how her belly
fat feels in my hands & her domestic size
so perfectly selected for my palm
my fingers engineered to navigate her
haunches that lift and shiver, sway and roam
free as the trip-hop cadence of her purr.
I love the way she disappears for hours
materializing when we sprinkle food
into her dish. I love her haughty, proud
imperious demeanor as she glowers
slighted by some lack in our attention –
real or perceived – requiring intervention.