New Year Poems
I could never get my Chanukah and/or Christmas cards out in time, so I started sending cards for the new year instead. Then I decided I liked it better—non-partisan, metaphorically rich. In 1980, I drew this picture, and used it as my card. The next year, I wrote a poem, illustrated it, and that became the card. Over the years, these yearly missives have become very precious to me, the emotional read-outs of my year in poetry and picture—the closest I’ll ever get to one of those xeroxed "what I did this year" letters.
New Year Poems
Poem #41 - New Year Poem 2021-2022
The No-New-Normal New Normal
Little is as was. And this—this masked expanse of now—
Is no short-term stop-gap measure.
It's not an easy time, love, but it is
The times we have: Certain
We can't go back to our Before-lives; Uncertain
What our Future-lives may be;
Still grieving, still at monumental risk—multiple risks—
A New Normal moment to moment
A New Normal we try to accept
As long as it isn’t
The New Normal, the Forever New Normal.
It’s not an easy time, love, but it is
The times we have:
This odd hybrid, this transition,
So different from the total shutdown,
Rules and parameters shifting in an instant, neither
Up nor down, not here or there, not staying anywhere.
Many consider it the worst place to be--
Unsure, unsafe, unstable, unsteady—and, yes, it is
All those things. And yet …
This is what I study, teach, create for, collaborate for,
Advocate for. I’m here for it. I’m here
We can do this.
This is not an easy time
But tell me—tell me here, with all we know upended:
What has real meaning and value for you? Right now?
What is worth your time and love, your self-investment,
No matter what the morrow brings?
Is it cracking in pieces, evolving, crystallizing,
As the ground shifts beneath? As the very air transforms?
Definitions give structure, but structure limits as it defines.
And when those definitions are prescribed for us--
Idealizing normalcy--the peak of the bell curve—
Taking them on may lead to a life that is
Rigid and stifling. When it works.
When it doesn't work, those definitions offer little
Support, compassion, guidance, direction, and virtually no
Openness to the great whatever.
This is not an easy time, love, and yet …
In order to leap and land, you must leap,
And in that moment of leaping, there may be
No solid ground, no safety rail,
But in that moment you fly.
It’s not an easy time, love, but it’s the time we have.
I’m here for it, here with you, ‘tho cannot hold your hand.
There is no railing, no concrete ground. So wander
Into the uncharted, allowing all the feelings
But not letting them hold you back. Step out
With them, dance with them,
In the liminal space between our Before-world and our
Future-world … the ellipses … the dot dot dot …
The myriad notes between any two pitches …
The distance between all that is finite …
The infinite ∞
Fly, even if for just a moment.
You may land somewhere different.
You may land somewhat different.