The Next New Year

2020 hung on like the fabled in-laws of horror lore
whose interminable visit, born of some hitched up sufferer’s
tearful nostalgia for those days of single bliss,
when being nagged to and imposed upon to death
had never entered into the growing nightmare of marital misery,
never remotely been considered as a mode of possible extinction.

Then came 2021 and everyone breathed a sigh of relief,
although still from behind masks, because the vaccines were on the way,
those needles like stakes to pound through bloodsucking in-laws’ hearts,
rid us for good from their destruction of our mental and physical health.

But now, with the variant news growing worse by the day,
the hospitalization and deaths counts rising again,
the call for a return to mask mandates and social distancing,
it’s as though this past new year wasn’t really all that new at all,
those in-laws are still lurking, their car broken down in the driveway,
and 2022, with whatever further progress can be made
against this virus and its relatives in the next five months,
maybe might be the new year we were all looking forward to
a hundred years ago in 2020.

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