Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Poetry Break: Burning the Old Year

Black Limbs (M.A. Reilly, 2014)

Burning the Old YearBy Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,   
lists of vegetables, partial poems.   
Orange swirling flame of days,   
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   
only the things I didn’t do   
crackle after the blazing dies.
Naomi Shihab Nye, “Burning the Old Year” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with the permission of the author.


  1. I had a lot of fun interpreting this poem: Glad to come across another appreciator of Naomi Shihab Nye.

    1. Loved what you did, especially with the mashup. I couldn't get the annotation page to work.