I’m superstitious about resolutions. I always make one for New Year’s and keep it, but I am deeply certain that if I told anyone what it was, or even wrote it down, I would break it right away. So I can’t tell you what mine are, but I will tell you what they are not: they are not about diet or exercise. Ever. The obvious trick to making a resolution you will keep, is to make one you will enjoy keeping. Tedious and unpleasant subjects impose themselves on a new year without any help; no need to encourage them.
Sometimes I leverage a resolution with my annual urge to clean and organize. I get this urge every year, so it’s strange that I continue to find things I can’t believe I didn’t already throw out. Apparently uselessness takes a few cycles to register.
New Year’s Eve was very big in the Pasadena area, where I used to live. There was no post-Christmas let-down, because everyone was busy all week sticking roses into tiny vials, gluing chrysanthemums onto faux cartwheels, and giving directions to lost visitors.
On New Year’s morning we often went out to watch the parade live, but sometimes we were too tired. One of those New Years led me to write this poem.
January First, From Pasadena
On New Year’s morning we wake
to the sound of airplanes over the house.
The children run outdoors
and read the sky for us: Happy New Year
From 31 Flavors. We yawn and stretch.
They watch the parade on television.
Network coverage ends in time
for us to hear the groan of real drums
muffling up the canyon from the park,
where sixty flower-covered fantasies
of a thousand high-school girls
who couldn’t babysit for me last night
are pulling into numbered spots,
the end of the line, to lose their flowers
slowly to the crowd.
The logo of a finance company
tangles in our trees;
lost messages smudge the sky
like last year’s resolutions.
I feel my yearly impulse to clean house.
Raising all the windowshades,
I start with the sky.
(first published in Seneca Review)