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Wednesday, January 01, 2020


by Aaron Poochigian


For several decades I have been one cold,
one fall, one monthly bill, away from living
derelict under cardboard on the street.
Why is it, now that I am halfway old,
my mug a mug of damage and defeat,
that New Year’s has become its own Thanksgiving?
Why do I sit here typing words of praise
about the world’s largess? Why do I sing
heart-felt ballads about each silly fling
and psalms of hope about the coming days?


From California I can see Times Square,
one of the chakras of America.
The ball has dropped. I’m sorry I’m not there
to add my whoop to the hysteria.

Tourists and buskers mob the streets, and you,
my friends, are wild among them. Pop the cork,
loose the confetti, sound the shrill kazoo.
I heart the mess of you, New York, New York.

Midnight has come to Minneapolis.
While, here and there, a raucous air-horn blares,
my friends from school, as wives and husbands, kiss
on couches, with their kids asleep upstairs.

Oh Uptown rife with music, theater
and Madeleine—the things I love the most.
In memory of a twenty-something blur
of poetry and wine, I raise a toast.

Cheers have gone up all over Salt Lake City.
Futurity has driven out December!
I wrote my first book there and kissed a pretty
red-haired girl (whose name I don’t remember).

I see her, hunched and fearless, on the slopes
of Alta, snowboard-footed, goggles on.
I hope that she has Rocky-Mountain hopes
for 2020 and is up till dawn.

Finally, in Pacific Standard Time,
I feel fireworks erupt at Disneyland,
and I can see my niece in Anaheim
agog in bed, stuffed elephant in hand.

Just so I journey westward, zone by zone,
while sipping whiskey at my laptop here
in Fresno, at my mother’s house, alone.
How should I resolve to spend the year?


This year I will bottle
my animal candor
the way Aristotle
honed Alexander.

The redolence of
this martial spirit
will vanquish like love
all who come near it,

and a sip will lay
the taster out.
This year, I say,
will know no doubt.

Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His first book of poetry, The Cosmic Purr (Able Muse Press), was published in 2012, and his second book Manhattanite, which won the Able Muse Poetry Prize, came out in 2017. His third book, American Divine, won the Richard Wilbur Award and will come out in 2020. His thriller in verse, Mr. Either/Or, was released by Etruscan Press in the fall of 2017. His work has appeared and is forthcoming in such publications as Best American Poetry, The Paris Review and POETRY.