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

Pick A Poem:

Poem #39 - New Year Poem 2019-20

I have longtime said / sighed / written / screamed that
We must always question
What's been taught to us /
What's accepted / expected / societally extolled
Including the assumptions of the questions themselves
Continuing the journey deeper and deeper
Unpeeling falsehoods / fallacies
Like inexhaustible layers of an onion.

That notion is being tested these days
In myriad ways
As we all are challenged to recognize / re-consider
So much we have assumed about ourselves / the world --
How we have benefited from unearned privilege
How we have been denied and disrespected
How we have denied and disrespected ourselves / each other / the other.

We must be willing to look / see / own
The complex reality which is
Our history / our current lives
Individually / collectively.
A continual state of unmasking.
A constant humbling.

It is not enough that some god forgives us /
That we forgive each other / that we forgive ourselves.
We must heal wounds / repair damage / extend effort
To make things right / better / different
In this dance marathon
This constant shimmy between
Changing / adapting / pushing / pushing back.

Right now there's mostly push and shove /
Conflict in all directions / pushing forward / pushing back.
Accepting it doesn't mean it's right / good / all right / all good
Just that it is.
But whether or not the conflict is always necessary,
Dealing with it in some way is.

What do you do?
Do you make light in the world?
Do you light a spark? / a candle? / a fire?
Do you light up a room? / a stage? / a town?
Are you accountable for the light you make?
Do you take responsibility for the expected / unexpected
Blowouts / backfires / burns?

If we are satisfied with anything / everything / the way it is
Or avoiding conflict by any means
We will be stuck / stunted forever.
If we are always angry / wailing with dissatisfaction
We will be interminably miserable.
But if we grok / get deeply in our bones
That dissatisfaction and conflict are necessary
To bring discovery / growth / progress
We can continue to slash through the jungle /
Grapple with conflict / chew its cud
Finding / making light along the way
Finding / making some kind of purpose / peace / glory
In that paradox / contradictory co-existing reality:
Satisfaction-in-Dissatisfaction / Hope-in-Chaos.

Shellen Lubin
December, 2019