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Friday, March 20, 2015

Tomorrow - Dennis O'Driscoll

                          I

Tomorrow I will start to be happy.
The morning will light up like a celebratory cigar.
Sunbeams sprawling on the lawn will set
dew sparkling like a cut-glass tumbler of champagne.
Today will end the worst phase of my life.

I will put my shapeless days behind me,
fencing off the past, as a golden rind
of sand parts slipshod sea from solid land.
It is tomorrow I want to look back on, not today.
Tomorrow I start to be happy; today is almost yesterday.

                          II
Australia, how wise you are to get the day
over and done with first, out of the way.
You have eaten the fruit of knowledge, while
we are dithering about which main course to choose.
How liberated you must feel, hoe free from doubt:

the rise and fall of stocks, today's closing prices
are revealed to you before our bidding has begun.
Australia, you can gather in your accident statistics
like a harvest while our roads still have hours to kill.
When we are in the dark, you have sagely seen the light.

                          III

Cagily, presumptuously, I dare to write 2018.
A date without character or tone. 2018.
A year without interest rates or mean daily temperature.
Its hit songs have yet to be written, its new-year
babies yet to be induced, its truces to be signed.

Much too far off for prophecy, though one hazards 
a tentative guess - a so-so year most likely,
vague in retrospect, fizzling out with the usual
end-of-season sales; everything slashed:
your last chance to salvage something of its style.










Putting our hopes onto tomorrow is effectively putting them off, relegating them to an eternal tomorrow which will never come.  As we speak, it is already becoming yesterday, that magical tomorrow moving towards the far horizon, and our status quo today replacing the golden glimmering tomorrow without us even noticing.  That's what this poem says to me.  No matter how much we say we will put our shapeless days behind us, as O'Driscoll so elegantly puts it, we tell ourselves that lie, "Tomorrow I start to be happy."

I like that he coats this bitter pill in comedy.  The second section, about how Australia gets their business out of the way first (because of the time difference) is silly and enjoyable.  The last segment has taken on a bit of a sad tint, as the author passed away in 2012, long before the 2018 he dreamed about.  Thankfully though, what that last stanza is is potential.  2018 has not been decided yet, even as we approach the middle months of 2015.  Even though O'Driscoll tempers any enthusiasm with the last stanza, in which he concludes that 2018 will likely be a so-so year, you can't help but feel that maybe, just maybe, our tomorrows can be better.

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