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A Poem for 2020

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]

At the end of every year, I write a poem for the year that is coming to a close. 2020 was unlike any year, but any year is unlike any year. And a year is nothing more than an arbitrary measure of time, anyway. May all your years be filled with enough joy to make them worthwhile and enough pain to keep you humble. As we turn the page to 2021, let's remember that our problems are "sitting shotgun" and there is no good way to outrun them. Let's be kind to ourselves and everyone else. Let's put our phones down and laugh with the people who matter. Let's be grateful for small things while also striving toward bigger ones. Let's shun complacency and embrace gratitude. Let's hold ourselves accountable and give second chances. Let's all be and do better. That's the entire point of this thing called life.

I hope you enjoy my poem.


the year we all sat on our hands

grew fat with rage

covered our faces and

shunned each other through screens

learned sometimes

it’s best to not say anything

the year of too many mouths

talking too loudly

quarantine times three

and it’s not over yet

the year of civil unrest

police violence

mail in ballots

another old white man elected to office

Kamala Harris

so many deaths:


Alex Trebeck

Sean Connery

Eddie Van Halen

Naya Rivera

330,000 Americans

and counting

2020 was the year

we all woke up

counting out rations

counting down days

counting the number of freshly dug graves

counting the rates of infection

having the same conversations

the year we danced in the streets

five days post-election

made banners for doctors and nurses

stood in lines for grocery stores

the year I let go of perfection

found my religion in mountains

beneath trees

watching the sunrise bleed over earth

kept my friends close

and discarded my enemies

2020 was a strange and exhausting place

but this life was never meant to be easy

I promised myself that I’d try something new

bought a pair of nice shoes

ran into water and sunk

luck is a construct we all tend to believe in

none of us win when the earth is on fire

and our cities are spinning in debt

the system we’re in is too complex

to be untied by a poet like me

most of the time

I just want to feel something

2020 was the year

we stopped walking like zombies

woke up from complacency

some of us dove right back in

numbed ourselves with alcohol

and too much TV

fell over backward believing

what we’ve been told

but nobody knows

what we’re doing

cancel culture

Black lives matter

defund the police

legalize weed

legalize heroin

legalize walking outside again

legalize gyms or common sense

the year cynicism swallowed me whole

woke up floating in the belly of a whale

who spit me out on the shores of doom

it is too soon to predict

where we go from here

2020 was a year

of bad luck wrapped up in a blessing

reminding me

never to take my breath for granted

to stand up and scream when I need to

more often, to sit down and listen

wishing for change

is different than making it

different than praying

we’ve been waiting all year for a new one

but our problems are sitting shotgun

luck is a construct we all tend to believe in

none of us win

when half of us lose

I’m closing this year with gratitude

a new pair of shoes

a drop of humility beneath my tongue

and handfuls of love

P.S. Watch a video version here:


Sarah Rose

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