Poetry Sunday: Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye

If ever there were a year that was ripe for burning, it might be 2020. What a thoroughly disastrous year this has been in so many ways. The pandemic, of course, but climate change that has contributed to making Nature's storms so much worse, as well as fueling wildfires and raising ocean levels to threaten many coastal areas - all of that plus, in this country, an attempted coup by a disgruntled reality television personality, an attempt supported by the spineless and seditious members of one of our major political parties. We look forward to 2021 with the hope that the coronavirus vaccines will begin to do their work and that at noon on January 20, the government will again be in the hands of people who believe in the role of government in making people's lives better.

As for 2020, burn it down! Happy New Year.

Burning the Old Year

by 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.


  1. You just wonder what additional shenanigans will take place between now and inauguration day. I am sure it is not going to be prett.

    1. The next twenty-four days will continue to be a time of uncertainty, waiting for the next outrage to occur.

  2. Replies
    1. That was my feeling when I read it. Yes, let's burn 2020!


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