Saturday, December 31, 2016

Poem: 2016 is over, and what have we learned?

I wrote this poem after I got to the Be Daring Open Mic at Adezzo in Scranton on Wednesday, December 28, 2016. The first two verses were already in my head, as well as the fourth and fifth. The third was put together while listening to Fresh Air on the way up to Scranton. The sixth needed to be there. The ending was totally stolen from Tiffany Ryan Bates, formerly of the blogs SuperTiff and If I Were Queen of the World.

Update, 1/1/17: This isn't the poem I originally intended to write. That one would have been much angrier. But I've done angry poems before, as recently as last month, and I didn't want to dwell in the anger. The theme would have been "Screw You, 2016," which was too similar to stuff I've done before. It would have featured this bit, which is about as far as I got with it:

You took David Bowie
Leonard Cohen
three of my cats
two of my friends...

Then I thought about it a bit. The losses of Scooter, Nikki, and Baby Boy were devastating, as were the losses of a woman I had known who finally succumbed to the traumatic brain injury she had sustained in a car crash months before, or the death of another friend, a hilarious and brilliant and infuriating and generous and materialistic pork-loving Jew whose big heart finally gave out. All these losses and more, much more. Losses sustained by me, unknown losses by listeners and readers, losses opening up realms of grief and pain...I decided that wasn't what I wanted to say about the year. I didn't want to dwell in grief and pain and so much sorrow, either.

So I asked myself: Is there anything positive I could say about this year? Any particular that could be related as a universal, any universal that could be related as a particular, that would be in some way encouraging and uplifting?

This is  what I came up with.

2016 is over, and what have we learned?

David Bowie taught us that it's OK to be ourselves
whoever or whatever we are
and when we get tired of being ourselves
it's OK to become someone else
and be that person, too

Leonard Cohen taught us that it's never too late

he didn't get started in music for his first third of a century
and spent the next five decades becoming
the most loved and respected musician of his time

Carrie Fisher let us know

that we don't have to hide our illness
or our battles
We can be open and honest and damned funny about it
That princesses can kick ass and shoot straight
strangle the bad guy
and sometimes kiss their brothers

Bernie-or-Bust folks taught us

that if you work real hard you can achieve your goals
even if you have no plan for what to do when you get there

Donald Trump taught us a lot of things

that it's not enough just to be right
you have to be able to convince others that you're right, too
(I expect he'll keep teaching us lessons
for the next four years or so.)

The Ghost Ship taught us to always know where the exits are

know how to get out of whatever you've gotten into
that if the place where you've come to party looks like a deathtrap
maybe it is

2016 taught us many things

time is fleeting
tomorrow is not guaranteed
love the ones you love while you have them here
and keep on loving them after they're gone
use your breath to tell them you love them
tell them now
not one bad thing can come from that


Betz said...

I just read this to Ricky. Very thought provoking!

Joy Lederman said...

I know just who you were talking about...and you described him perfectly.