The National Poetry Review

Jeffrey Morgan


On New Year’s Eve my family burns things
about ourselves we want to leave behind
by writing them on thin red slips of paper
and feeding them to candles.
The slips are translucent, delicate as membranes
but also rectangular like fire engines.
I would describe the tone of the ceremony
as: twee emergency.
I wonder if the gods are appeased
or aggrieved. The gods are hard to read.
This year I resolved to stop nodding
in the direction of other people’s talking.
I resolved to stop personifying winter sky
as “knuckle white” and “the whites of their eyes.”
I don’t know if this is one of those instances
where if you tell people your wishes
they won’t come true
like maybe those who lose weight
and keep it off
are now full of secrets.
I’m willing to risk it.
Mostly, I think this year we’ll still be people
who would introduce a virgin
to the bad breath of a volcano
if it meant better harvest,
or even just that the zealots would shut up for a minute.
Anyway, I put a whole fistful of faults into the flame.
I love how they curl libidinously in the heat
like sin putting the moves on hope.
This year I will try again to be a better person.

JEFFREY MORGAN is the author of Crying Shame (BlazeVOX Books, 2011). More recently, his poems have appeared in Copper Nickel, The Kenyon Review Online, Pleiades, Poetry Northwest, and West Branch, among others. You can some-times find him at