It is a two-faced god
who keeps this gate,
eyes to see what’s gone, what comes

what works through northern nights
as snoring plows clear drifted
passages from there to here

or exhales into humid southern days
the cranky thunderstorms declaring
it is early, it is late.

Beginning is beginning once again—
the gate swings open, Janus grants
another chance, a cleaner slate.

The little wink of possibility
presents itself: all could be more.
The little hiss turns velvety,
whispers: amen, encore…

Downtown, the promise of
perfection has turned heads;
there is a running towards it

on the woodsy paths at dawn
and all along the streets; some
even now, in sweaty rooms, tread

somewhere, doggedly, ahead
ahead, as ground slips
backward underneath their feet.

51 responses »

  1. I suppose I’m on that treadmill, already, and I feel it more so now after a short retreat from “life”…but I do hope I’m going somewhere…not a hamster : ) Happy New Year.

  2. I researched Janus Cynthia, and then I read you gorgeous poem fully. Another wow from me. Im going to have to come up with a new exclamation. 😊. Supperb Cynthia, just superb. Happy New Year, I hope it is full of sunshine for you even on cloudy days.

    • Just this morning after I posted “January” I noticed the aphorism on my little zen calendar:
      “A beginning ends what an ending begins.” I thought you would like that! At this juncture I want to thank you for all of your kind words about my poems, and the surrounding friendliness. That is indeed the sunshine, even on cloudy days. I wish you a new year filled with joy, Chris.

  3. Eloquent as always and as always formally interesting. The poem itself has an AB structure not unlike the subject of the poem! This makes the poem MORE than an eloquent act of rhetoric.

    • I like the word “eloquence”. Many years ago when I had my calligraphy studio and was designing some bookmarks using definitions from Ambrose Bierce”s “The Devil’s Dictionary”, I recall that one of the definitions was of eloquence…..”Eloquence, n. the art of orally persuading fools that white is the color it appears to be. It includes the gift of making any color appear white.” Good old Ambrose! Thanks, Tom.

    • Hello Frank, glad you found food for thought. Janus is an interesting idea the ancients personified. Sorry I didn’t get to your January post before you posted another on top of it, but I’ll mosey over, eventually. I have to balance my blogging time with time for writing, reading, meditating and moving along in life at a pace slower than that of our culture at large, so please know I’m keeping tabs, even if I don’t comment every time. πŸ™‚ Cheers!

        • I really value your opinion, Caddo. I know you understand the struggle and the exhiliration of living as a writer, as someone of “a certain age” and a porter of much heavy baggage. I am growing tired of it all…don’t know if it’s the blogging, and all the need to post and comment, or just the season, but do know it’s not the poetry…that is lifeblood. May we both stick with it. Thanks for your very nice comment.

          • I’d guess it’s a combo of things, Cynthia–winter is a challenge, regardless of the weather conditions. And the post-holiday emotions–the roller coaster effect. And the short days, lots of darkness have made me physically exhausted–and exacerbated pain issues; so when I finally allow myself to sleep, I don’t want to get up. But like you say, the poetry lifeblood remains quickened rather than sluggish–there is always more inspiration, or demand to write out what’s inside. I was frankly shocked today, to look out my window and see a few cherry blossoms–whiplash!! So of course they ended up in a poem…. Hang in there, take good care of yourself, we’ll make it through.

  4. Hi Cynthia, a lovely start to end the year πŸ™‚ Janus and his twofaced ways seem to be the perfect metaphor for the start of a new year, looking back and forward. I hope this year will be a good one to you! ❀

  5. This is spare and gorgeously written with powerful images. Wonderful.
    I just read your comment on memories in Salva Venia’s post and thought your comments were brilliant and so on the mark. After all, who is to sure that the man/woman with Alzhheimers who forgets who their spouse is aren’t better off for it?????? πŸ˜‰
    Seriously though, our minds our amazing both in terms of what we forget, what we retain, what we perceive, and what we choose to make up!
    I have found it remarkable and wonderful really in my career to talk with lots of people very near death, whose minds have taken them to amazing places, seeing dead relatives, going to the circus, talking with angels, on and on, it comforted me and obviously took them to wonderful places.

    • Cindy…thank you! I was puzzled that you saw my comment on the Salva Venia blog, but hey..this is the internet! My viewpoint is only of a lone, poetical old lady, but it is fierce in not caving to easy conventional answers….I love that you bring actual, professional experience to the question, and find something more than the dead, sad answers to life as we know it, on our planet, these days….at the holler, and hollerin’ everywhere else!, Again, thank you! πŸ™‚

  6. Here I am in my sweaty room, the ground slipping backwards … and wondering how I got along before I had the gift of your occasional, wonderful bursts of beauty.

    • I can’t possibly believe you are, or ever have been, on anything faintly resembling a treadmill, M-R,, not literally, or even figuratively. In fact, (though I have only made your acquaintance recently), I refuse to believe it!

      • You’re as stroppy as I am !!!
        What fun to be able to converse with a stroppy person, Cynthia: I was afeared I was alooooooone …
        In truth, I would dearly like to have a treadmill of my own: it would mean I could walk whenever I felt like it, and not have to get up before 5 am …

        • Well, darlin’ then I will pray to the gods you should get one…you could set it up right next to your tower-of-cat-amusement! Actually, I envy your good legs that can go for walks in the early morn…I cannot walk without my stick, and even that not without pain, so my walks are from A to B on a very short line….a treadmill would be worse than useless, as it would render me supine in a flash….

  7. Hi Cynthia great description of the still January that brings cold and freezing temperature for the North and Midwest ,hope this year won’t be severe ..l was watching the news and saw what is happening in Chicago.Best wishes for the new year.

  8. I love it, just love it, that I can hear you read your poem as you post it and ever after, as many times as I wish. This is brilliant! Thank you from zero degrees in Cinti. January!

  9. January, the cruellest month–that’s what Eliot meant to say when he made that now famous slip of the pen. But what do I know, exiled somewhere where seasons are androgynous–another ploy to induce forgetfulness, I suppose. There is no escape.

      • One might have thought that ‘wherever I go, there I am’ would be comforting to some; though, in contrast, ‘wherever I go, I can’t find neither hide nor hair of myself’ is another matter entirely and something that may cause consternation, be it in the august, benignant light of August, the imperious chill of January, or the meretricious greennesses of April.

  10. Yes, yes, yes! Being such a summer person, I often think winter is one of those trials we must bear to truly appreciate the rest. πŸ˜‰

    Thank you for choosing to follow my other blog as well! πŸ™‚

      • Ah you are too kind. I really never thought of myself as American with one parent Swedish the other British and the writing relationship with my Welsh grandmother living in Canada. From the age of 9 months my visits to Canada were added to the mix. Imagine beginning kindergarten and being asked who knows the National Anthem. One of the few times I ever raised my hand was to quickly respond why it’s God Save The Queen. Silly teacher contradicted my grandmother. I can hear you laughing… πŸ™‚

        • Interesting how easily I and my compatriots’ use the word “American”, when we really should say North American, South American, USA, etc…more specifically. I am not laughing
          ( though your story is amusing). I have a mixed heritage too, and I could sing all the words to “O Canada”, in French, when I was in kindergarten….

  11. Been very busy with family visits and associated childhood infections. Enjoyed this poem on Jan 4th or thereabouts. I knew then that it merited many reads and so here I am back again. It is a good one to start the year. The family have all gone on their 2015 ways and Dan and I are back to our simple routine. Your lovely poetry and ensuing blog dialogue helps – thank you! Jane

    • Hello Jane, and happy New year! I did notice that you weren’t appearing here with your usual spot-on, regular commentary, and was almost beginning to start to commence wondering if all was ok in your neck of the woods….a few more weeks and I would have tracked you down to inquire! So good to see you back, and I’m glad things are settling. Thank you for reading and putting my mind at ease.

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