At some point across the Date Line

(cutting out the small archipelagos where seabirds don’t care)

the New Year somehow begins.

Other than on paper, it doesn’t exist

its not an admonition in the flesh

or a pure astronomical event

its just a reinforced reminder of how we measure the flow of time.

The New Year is the same flowing gutter of the old one

just with a little extra water to flush out the dirty rivulets of the past.

We look at the calendar and count 2,023 years since the birth of Christ

1,990 years that we’ve waited for his return. But perhaps we got that wrong.

We got a lot of things wrong.

We missed chances of peace to promulgate war

we barred windows and doors of empty homes

so that the homeless can live along the freeways

and knit communities of asphalt and car exhaust

we tattooed beats on drums that held heartless men,

men who rattled on as whispering ghosts

who say prayers of praise to the rapist and the thief.

We bundled our babies in oil-soaked clothes

and wept tears to put out the fires our thoughtlessness kindled.

We pile up regrets until the whole mess topples down on us

buried in “what more could I have done?”

“did I say I love you enough?”

“I wish, I wish, I wish…”

It takes major effort to make even a small list

of the things we got right.

Invariably it comes down to I DID THE BEST I COULD

and a long, sustained sigh.