My friends Michael & Phoebe called me up New Year's Day with a shove: write a sonnet before the end of the day titled "January First" and use the following words:
Old Dan Tucker
Somehow I failed to work "umbrella" in there, but here's my attempt (influenced a bit by Gerald Stern, whose latest collection, In Beauty Bright, has been at my bedside all week)
How when family or the flu comes knocking
Humming a tune, say, Old Dan Tucker or Auld Lang Syne,
Pay no never mind. January First comes and wipes its salty
Boots on your stoop, waltzing through with lips puckered,
With visions of clementines, smoked meats, melons,
Pineapples, pinstriped candies, intent on unscrewing
Your last stopper in a reckless holiday rejoinder feast.
But the mugs of cheer have been drained, the pantry laid waste.
What’s a new year but old snow made to look fresh
From wind drifts? Another number to hang on the wall
Or a pink baby to slap on the ass then bed down in a breath
Of lullabies. Nor could you avoid or escape it if you wished.
Take a good-will draught of winter chill. You’re likely hung-over.
Besides, we’ve cleaned the fridge. It’s too late now to get your supper.