In the beginning
was the word, and that was Good.
Not like sh*t people
fling at each other today.
This year we could just talk nice.


Inspired by: Jiyoon Lee’s 2014 project, “In The Beginning,” 45 symbols that examine the connection between Chinese creation myths and the Book of Genesis.

Symbol: #24 of 45

Poetic Form: I selected one of my very favorite forms, the Japanese tanka, a five-line verse with a syllabic structure of 5,7,5,7,7. When I double-checked the history of the tanka, I learned that they were often written at seasonal parties to ring in a new year.

Process: For my last poem of 2019 as Writer In Residence, I wanted to compose a piece related to the New Year, so looked through the Phaistos Project archives for a set of symbols that celebrated growth, or perhaps something new coming into being. I couldn’t have found a project more perfect than Lee’s! I started writing it as I was riding the train on my way to attend Christmas Mass, and later almost laughed out loud when the priest began reading the Gospel during the service—Genesis 1:24, which begins with, of course, “In the beginning!!” On the train home with my friends, I shared this coincidence and found, in my excitement, I was using a lot of expletives. I apologized, and my friends said that it wasn’t bothering them—and we all agreed that words intended to harm or hurt others were worse than swearing (phew!). In that spirit the poem unfolded.

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