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Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004 11:54 am

Knoepfle 12-30-04

Readers, it is a good time for saying goodbye. I have enjoyed being here these many months, but I have so many other things I want to do and who knows the time may be short for doing them. So I leave you with lines from Chinkapin Oak about First Night in 1995. -- John Knoepfle

first night

good times here braving the weather
the wind with a bite in it
but we are gathered downtown
east of the state capitol mostly
for our first night celebration
on this the last day of the year

you can listen to the spring quartet
so formal in the great hall of the library
or the rowdy irish band from chicago
this side the sanctuary
still caroled with christmas evergreens
where the lutherans worship
or go to the armory for the stolid pipers
with their drones and chanters backing reels
for the kilted young girls
dancing on their toes their arms
overhead like shafted beams through clouds

or wander in the capitol rotunda
where the big swing band in the tall dark
plays those dear cheap songs
as graham greene used to name them
for dancers in their street clothes
partners in the slow affection of so many years

I hear sentimental journey
almost to the hour I first heard it
a solitary once in a quiet bar
this was in san francisco and I
wounded home between all my life
and this december moment toward midnight

this is the happy time
time for the brainchild readers
presiding in the supreme court building
or that old gray haired central illinois
master of the proverb intoning his
suck an egg today scramble one tomorrow

or you can wander to the armory again
where prince julius adeniyi all welcoming
prays down a blessing on the house
and his big drums from west africa
come slapped into a life that shocks
the high rafters awake
and listen as he tells the crowd
I will show you how I learned these drums
when I was just a child
and he volunteers a towheaded
three year old boy from the audience
sits the child in his lap sets the childs hands
riding his own hard wrists as the drum
sings a continent under his palms
and suddenly he slips his hands
from beneath the childs and the boy drums
without missing a miracled beat
and adeniyi will make us believers
does this again with a girl in braids
she is so confident her heart
pounding in the drum
while that audience
those parents and grandparents
respond laughing and slapping their knees
and some of them in tears

and the moment of the last hour comes
and the p.a. system gives us handel
and the fireworks blossom in the sky
and we come into the new year with bobby burns
for the kindness of it and I take
the soft sweet kiss of all promises
because it is that time again
yes it is that time

© John Knoepfle 2004

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