On the New Year’s Eve Puzzle


We picked the new year puzzle yesterday:
a comic illustration of a bar
with aliens at drink, at fight, at play.
The thing won’t interlock – most pieces are
designed to lean together and abut.
There’s nothing definite about the fit.
We don’t applaud the way the die has cut,
but we can’t argue with the shapes of it.

The object is to piece the scene together
without the box top, fast as we are able,
for this predicts the months ahead, and whether
we’ll have the use tomorrow of our table.
Of course we don’t know what the year will bring;
we solve and hope it’s surer than this thing.



The holidays are hard upon us now,
and winter darkness pushes us inside,
where media productions show me how
inadequate I am. The joy implied
repeatedly about familial pleasure,
the instances of love I see portrayed,
all dare me to take my domestic measure,
suggesting that I’m selfish or afraid.

The days die early now, and we are pressed
too close together in our living rooms.
The jingles jar – the parties leave me stressed –
compounding as the end of Advent looms.
The only remedy’s a winter trance
till Saturnalia beckons me to dance.



The man-child misbehaves again at school;
his sister strives to look a little worse.
December is too busy, festive, cruel –
until the solstice self must be immersed
in working and performing for a role
I challenge and resent with all my heart.
I wobble nearly out of self-control.
It feels like I can’t savor any part.

So here am I, full-occupied today
with shopping, entertaining, office chores.
I sprayed the dog and then she ran away.
My glasses lost their temple screw once more.
I feel so overloaded I could shout,
so stress and feet and syllables pour out.