New Year Greeting Redux Ad Infinitum


being for, and after, W. H. Auden


We still insist on keeping traditions,

in defiance of all logic.

Southerners, for example,

eating black-eyed peas and greens,

not doing even one load of laundry

for fear of washing fortunes away.

Elsewhere as well, no one dares

to dispense with “just in case.”


Wystan would love the Internet,

for its structure more than function,

though leaking secrets would fit right in

with his penchant for the underground.

He would marry Edward Snowden

to get him British citizenship

and complicate the legal process,

take up exile in Reykjavik.


But their elopement would be a near miss

because of Auden’s inexpedient

insistence on an Anglican ceremony

with candles and incense and a rebel priest.

Would have lobbied for Bradley Manning

to go to rehab rather than prison,

though his interest might have waned

when Chelsea appeared on the scene.


He would have wanted to visit Russia

to see whether the meteor hit,

inspect any craters left behind.

Deplored the Boston bombings of course,

but sounded the alarm about our response,

what’s been lost in our attempts

to halt violence; said of war

truth learned in Spain: All sides are wrong.


Hardly a papist, but might have smelt hope

in the air that Francis stirred.

Nor a royalist, but might have seen

progress in the heralded birth

of Britain’s half-common Prince George,

who thanks to infusion of maternal genes,

might become a handsome young man,

reminding Wystan of German boys.

He still would question how the priests

account for Philippine typhoons,

for wind, and fire, and flood, and crashing

planes and trains and cars, all tragic.

Probably make secret donations

for the campaign to take out Fred Phelps,

insisting if someone called him on it,

that his position was purely rhetorical.


In the dawning apocalypse,

his belief would still hold firm,

though perhaps he would argue

that it has already come,

seeing as, despite our progress

toward a more tolerant society,

we have taken some steps back,

become more anxious, lost our warmth.


Note: Modeled on “A New Year Greeting” by W. H. Auden.


Copyright 2013

T. Allen Culpepper



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