Litkicks Message Board Archive

NEW YEAR&#8217!S

Posted to Poetry

On New Year’s Eve Audrey Hepburn went to a bash
thrown by one of her Belmont Abbey friends—
I sat around at home reading for a while,
trying to make my loneliness into a savory fleshy meal,
but it was only an exercise in brutality,
a boxing match on a big-screen television,
a pencil-mustached Mexican in red trunks
versus a peach-fuzzed Puerto Rican in white,
every blow below the belt—

So I went for a walk down Ideal Way,
its sidewalks blocked now and then by a pickup truck
or ending abruptly in dirt and pathetic blades of grass
pushing up through the frosty earth—
I walked between the dark of night
and the houses hoping up with light as guests arrived
to celebrate the expiration of the calendar—
There would be five empty driveways in front of darkened houses,
then one house with music blaring from inside
and light burning through the windows
and cars jammed together out front like a mobile junkyard—
The traffic lights seemed frozen on red
and there seemed to be no one else on the streets tonight,
no pedestrians, no cars being driven,
but then I caught sight of someone blocks ahead hurrying to his eggnog—
Then he turned a corner and was gone
and I was alone again in the black gelid night—

I turned up the collar of my Army surplus mountain survival jacket,
tightened and thickened the woolen scarf around my neck and over my mouth,
and pulled my knit cap down low on my head till it warmed the tops of my ears—
The sidewalk ended and I trudged through a flush of grass
that crunched underfoot from a light layer of evening frost—
I strode past a Methodist church and a bar and hit Park Road,
where I hung a right and walked south
past Egg Roll House, which was closed, and Bi-Lo, which was open,
its skeleton shift selling last-minute bottles of wine and champagne
to lubricate the night’s conviviality—
I saw leaning against a fence a rusting metal ladder of meaningless steps
that led neither up nor down—

I walked down Park Road where it curves and should become a new street but doesn’t,
looking up a steep hillside to see a row of empty churches—
I walked on the opposite sidewalk where the street was solemn as Ptolemy
and overhung with shadows from the trees
and a blackness broken up only the fugitive beams of porch lights—
I walked one mile, two miles, maybe further,
past Saint Ann’s Catholic Church,
on down to the intersection of Park and Woodlawn roads—
Park Road Shopping Center was desolate at quarter to ten,
its parking lot abandoned to the cold night,
everything was closed up tight and dreary
except Harris Teeter was open for the same reasons as Bi-Lo (but much cleaner inside)—
Only the movie theater was aglow with activity—
A small party was buying tickets for the last showing of “Chocolat”—
I had no interest in the film or its star, the dark and creamy Juliette Binoche,
but I parted with five dollars in hopes of a temporary escape from my loneliness,
my subcutaneous melancholy—

Scarf loosened, knit cap on my knee,
I watched a bright trite fantasy unfold in a quaint false French village,
but sitting alone among two elderly couples in the hollows of the theater
with an entire row to myself
I found my loneliness heightened—
The end credits rolled two hours later and I left the theater to walk home—
Back on Park Road the sky suddenly burst into a star shower of color,
red, white, yellow, blue, green,
as fireworks exploded in the near distance,
crackling and rumbling, sounding like a war—
It was midnight—
The New Year had begun,
but the night was still as cold and empty as the year just deceased
so I pulled my woolen scarf close for warmth and kept walking—
Laughter and cheers spilled out of the glowing houses as I passed,
but I was not part of it—
Instead I tortured myself wondering what Audrey Hepburn was getting up to
at the Belmont Abbey party—
Probably she was drinking too much and getting too familiar with her fellow alumni—
They were boring people; they were probably watching Dick Clark’s countdown—
I knew I didn’t want to know if she had been kissed at the stroke of midnight—

I went home and peeled a big fat overjuiced yellow Florida orange,
never so tasty as the California variety,
and drank a tall glass of water and went to bed—
The velvet curtains of mind drew closed
and I fell asleep comforted by the knowledge that in just a few days
I was moving back to California,
three thousand miles from Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly
and everything else that I was so tired of.