[poem] On the Eve of a New Year

 by Tolu Ogunlesi

 

The streets are empty and full of longing.

 

Between occupants

potholes take deep breaths,

and wardens and traffic booths lean kindly

against each other, sharing 

silent solace.

 

On these famished roads

traffic lights blink in disbelief, 

tempted to scream. These 

are streets that mourn, 

and billboards reduced

to philosophical placards:

 

Is this city the space, 

Or the people? 

Which came first – the road? 

Or the journey?

 

Tonight’s journey will end in the house 

of God, where the pews will pant beneath 

the mounting weight of expectant celebrants

 

for whom the coming year is another new road,

hidden from sight by a treacherous bend.

 

All the surviving minutes of this dying year 

are like cars piling up on that road, 

bathed in the hopeful glow of a million headlights.

 

There is a checkpoint ahead. It is on the other side of midnight.

 

First appeared in Kunapipi, Vol XXXI, No 1 (2010), University of Wollongong, Australia

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