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.

62 responses »

    • It’s my birth month, too, Karen. Those who follow the philosophy of Plato might say we chose when to come to life on earth….they also say we forget everything we once knew before we arrived….so I still wonder why I chose January! Happy new year, inside and out!

      • I smile warmly to think we share January, with absolutely no surprise! Wishing you a wonderful New Year Cynthia 😘

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

    Oh, ho! I muttered as I read this line – there she goes again. You are GOOD Cynthia Jobin!

    For those of you who chose January there is indeed a double edged sword – the pressure of two new beginnings in one month – or if really foolhardy, in one day πŸ™‚ This stanza, I think, might apply to any moment of new beginning conjoined by past endings. But then again I guess, there is always Hope!

    • Oh, ho! It is sometimes confusing as to which day is really the first day of a new year. Add to that the fact that I was always involved with schools and the new school year in September was psychologically very much another kind of annual beginning…a calendar for the wall, a new journal, a new academic planner. It helps if one realizes that there’s no such thing as real time….only figments of mathematical imagination that allow us to synchronize the practical and social things in life. I’m glad you especially liked that stanza, Pauline; if I were to have a favorite, that would probably be it! πŸ™‚

      • See here in the SH we are very much more sensible about all that stuff. Here a New Year is a New Year. Schools take annual summer vacations from early/mid December, returning in February. Everything ends with Christmas…… it’s very civilised and can you imagine the absolute craziness for teachers – festivals, eoy reports, graduations, goodbyes, the whole shebang in one week!

        • That does sound more sensible….. but if we did the December to February thing, that would mean vacation was during the winter, the darkest, coldest season of the year. The schools do get a vacation at Christmas, and in February, (which, I think was originally a fuel saving maneuver) but only for a week or so at the time. Then summer vacation goes from about mid June to the end of August. So…September is the beginning of a new school year! I like that idea, though, of all the wrap-up in one week….no wonder it’s called the silly season!

          • I used to arrive at Christmas Day in a state of pure exhaustion – sometimes unable to sit straight on a chair! I taught in the UK and experienced the change of seasons, the alteration in a timetable and really appreciated that difference – pros and cons to both!

  2. You presented January as hope, but with a dose of reality. Ah yes – a sense of the double-edged sword … but the little wink of possibility is what grabbed me the most.

  3. I love the clean slate, the wink of possibility. This poem so resonates, the ‘ah, yes!’ of a stanza. I think so often we stumble through the winter alone, when a few other souls and a drink by the fire (not to mention some good poetry) would restore to us our oneness with the rest of humanity.

    • That drink by the fire sounds nice, Lisa. Too bad my fireplace isn’t a working one just now, and you live too far away to drop in for an evening, or together we could enjoy that lovely scene you’ve drawn. We’re not going to stumble through the winter totally alone, though….there’s your blog, my blog, and all the other lovely ones we both know, to keep us laughing, commiserating, and learning things in very congenial company!

  4. As one who finds it so difficult to live in the moment, I have always been fascinated by Janus. Your poem tells me what it is that is unsettling me now. The gate has swung open here, but we have not yet had our winter. Do we dare to look forward, or have we not yet finished with the old season?

    • We are having an unusually mild January here, with some snow, but nowhere near the usual blast and burying. I have been amazed that you have daffodils! The climate is changing, at least this year, in the northern hemisphere, toward greater mildness. This is most curious, though in my case not unsettling. (Life is much easier with a milder winter!) “Live in the moment,” is such a good thing to try. Unfortunately it is exactly one of the most difficult things for our time-besotted human brains to do!

  5. I’m wondering if January is the only Janus-faced month or does the whole cabal dissemble and act duplicitously–in one fashion or another. The latter I say. No month is to be trusted. Now, might we consider the days of the week? I contend that Wednesday is two-faced. It’s neither the start nor the end of the week. What’s this? You want to know about hours. Three thirteen in the morning is the hour of the wolf and should be treated with great caution.

    The little hiss turns velvety… so memorable. Intoxicating.

    • I heard from some younger persons who work in dreary cubicles of bureaucracy that they call Wednesday “hump day.” I’ don’t know if it means “over the hump,” or slowly bowing under it, like Quasimodo. I have enough trouble reconciling the colors of the months with those of the weeks and days….which means I have to do things like stay away from that restaurant called Ruby Tuesday’s because they haven’t realized that Tuesday is actually teal. As to the the wolf who haunts the sleepless in the wee hours, this Blue Riding Hood is happy to say she has turned him back into a peacefully sleeping grandmother.

      Thank you, as always, for your kind words, Prospero.

          • This conversation is growing by leaps and bounds… (into the dark, murky, infelicitous world of interpersonal relations).

            • Yes…sigh…that world can be, and so often is, infelicitous, although much depends on who the interpersons are.

              β€œThe inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

              ― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

              • Italo Calvino–duly noted.

                Naturally the original text in Italian probably said something entirely different. We must therefore praise the translator.

                When my ‘work’ (you will no doubt notice that work is in quotations) is translated into, let’s say Spanish–or Sinhala or Kinga, or any of the Bantu languages, it will say something entirely different than the original and impertinently mangled English text. Phew.

                • I think we need to start a dictionary of aphorisms (such as, ‘poetry is untranslatable, particularly to or from any of the Bantu languages’ and available in the foyer for $10.99 ) to catalog our witticisms on art (as we know nothing of the tangible world) and indited along the lines of Ambrose Bierce’s dictionary. Are you in? Your readers will want to know!

  6. Having always enjoyed greatly the smell of dirt–fresh in a garden, when you’re down next to it, or just after a rain–maybe that is why my favorite image was that ground slipping backward underfoot, as it will do–not only in January, of course–while people still keep on. (I couldn’t figure out how to say what I wanted after “people”. Good enough.)

    • Ah, yes the smell of earth, fresh garden or after a rain…nothing like it! Of course it’s frozen under the snow right now, in these parts….but people still keep on, walking, skiing, snow-shoeing through the trees, or counting steps on their indoor treadmills…..

    • Well, MoSY I think I’m getting a little more worldly thanks to the lovely people from so many different countries— and especially those of the Southern Hemisphere— I have met since I have been blogging. Now, even though I am moved to write about snow and all those other wintry things at Christmas or in January and February, I have undergone my own Copernican revolution and can’t go back to thinking that where I am is the center of the universe. πŸ™‚ Many thanks for coming by. I hope you are mending well and wish you another most “interesting” year! (without any freak accidents, of course.)

  7. This resonates with me Cynthia – the gates swinging open, another chance, a clean slate – perfect. Happy New Year my friend – love hearing you welcome the new.

    • Don’t laugh, but when you get to be my age, the New Year doesn’t feel all that new. πŸ™‚ It’s more like: here comes another one, just like the other ones! But seriously, I wish you all good things after the recent tough times. It looks to me like you’re on some new tracks with your artwork, and I expect to see some wonderful drawings and paintings from you this year!

  8. A beautiful and true poem – double-faced Janus indeed. Turning around every single day, or even hour. Winter and spring in the same month! I love January because the days are getting longer, and for the sense of anticipation and hope.

  9. The way you offer up duality in the final lines of the first 3 stanzas is neat. (Remember that expression?) And then this line: “The little hiss turns velvety,
    whispers: amen, encore…”. Oh I love a velvety whisper that says “it’s over. Let’s start again.” You have so remarkably captured the yin/yang of life and January.

    • It’s so good to read your words, here, Natalie. I have been thinking about you and hoping all is copacetic. Time seems to be going by, ever faster, and I go slower and slower. I hope this year now unfolding will prove kinder to you than the last, and full of good things. Thanks for coming by to read, old friend. I always appreciate hearing from you.

  10. ….wry and wise! –we dance and chase after time, while time calls the tune, overtaking our claims of new and improved and being ahead of life’s game. The joy of aging is the joy of having already been. Thank heaven all is no longer new to these milky eyes we cherish and wouldn’t trade for any Dorian portrait or drinks from famed fountains. You’ve given me permission to stop using the elliptical trainer we bought last month (smile)

    • I sit here laughing uncontrollably at that last remark, Lance. Now, besides all my other poetical sins, I have contributed to the delinquency of a seasoned citizen! And I do believe your “joy of aging is the joy of having already been”…..is a quotable aphorism.

      I have been ambitious at times, but once, when I read the etymology of the word “ambition,” it gave me pause….it’s from the Latin, via French and was originally a pejorative, meaning “going around to solicit votes…” a kind of courting of flattery, honor and popularity, like pride, and vainglory. I always think of that when I am tempted to over-do any self-improvement business, and though I’m well aware that not all seems right with the world, I have ceased using the words “flawed” and “fallen” to describe us humans.

      Thank you, as usual, for a great comment.

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