Poem for the New Year
by J.A. Staisey
Crack the champagne Yesterday already happened
once and for the first time Now it’s almost morning
The resolutions will be made diamond-hard
on the pale slates of memories So when we forget
it will be intentional and when we say we didn’t know
it will be because we did We will pick up dust
and soldier on through fields that aren’t ours
past the eyes that know our names Eyes that know
our footfalls and the lies trapped by teeth Evident
and obvious to skeptics Those enquiring minds Wondering
when will the clock sound and where did all the champagne go?
120 Lincoln Ave.
Through the door and into
the puddle of mail—
A bag in the corner means
‘junk,’ means ‘sorry
they don’t live here now.’
We sift and sort
our way to the stairs,
fishing for our keys.
Neighbors come and go
so fast no one notifies
the banks or next-of-kin.
Since neither of us has been able to exterminate the other,
the roaches and I have learned to live together.
Our initial bloody battles—the screaming, the poison—
none of it got us anywhere. This is their home just as it is mine.
They were here before me and will be here after me; I have learned
to respect this. They have history and numbers. I have size
and a lease. Determination is shared. So this—cohabitation—is
the only available solution. We try to keep to ourselves,
go about our business, interact as little as possible. And we’ve managed
to lay a few ground rules, our own peace accord:
drains and windows are acceptable, drawers are not,
the bedroom is reserved for me alone. Though occasionally
a renegade breaks free, to explore uncharted territory.
Being of greater stature I seldom venture into their terrain.
I did once reach behind the heating pipes—am still sorry.
notes on a scene
1. Six-thirty in the morning and I can’t sleep
like this. Knocking on the veranda door,
a misinterpretation: I only want help.
Fingers pulling pins and flowers from my hair.
Gathering on your bed all you’ll keep
once I’m gone. In the morning
it will be too late; the bags will be packed.
So, this is all there is. Your fingers, my hair.
2. She returned a month later wearing
the same clothes as the day she left. By coincidence
or design, it drew all his attention.
He kept trying to think of something else
to say as she poked the ice in her glass. Twice
he opened his mouth. She blinked nervous
and thought of smiling, smiled, the glass at her lip.
A coaster moved into place.
3. Midday wakes alone, but not me. A girl still sleeping
in the bed as I dress, leave. I find you
at the harbor where we sit, drink beer, try to eat.
Again and again I look at you; again and again
linger on your lips where words come out.
Here we are, in chairs separated by a table
killing time: you pull at your hair, watching
the water. Waiting to stand and turn.
J.A. Staisey lives in Los Angeles. They work in an office by day and write by night.