png-fortune-tellerThe beginning of a new year is traditionally a time for predictions. But, as we have recently seen, predicting future events can be a risky business. The following poem speaks to the matter. It is a variation of “Da bienes Fortuna” by Luis Gongora, a Spanish contemporary of Shakespeare. I call it a version rather than a translation because I have brought it up to date. I write of boys stealing cars, for instance, where Gongora writes of boys stealing “egges” but the message is the same.

 

YOU NEVER KNOW

Life will never go

according to the epistles,

Expecting whistles, flutes,

Expecting flutes, it’s whistles.

 

There seems to be no plan

but merely new digressions.

The state awards a man

both honors and possessions.

So then he spouts confessions

and joins the destitute.

Expecting a flute, a whistle.

Expecting a whistle, a flute.

 

Sometimes the way it goes,

a guy begins to tell . . .

His wife breaks in and crows,

“I’m pregnant!” “Hey, that’s swell!”

They celebrate, what the hell,

Ignoring his dismissal.

Expecting a whistle, a flute.

Expecting a flute, a whistle.

 

You see kids go to jail

because they stole a ride,

while men who work wholesale

in fields like homicide

are feted far and wide

and wear expensive suits.

Expecting flutes, it’s whistles

Expecting whistles, flutes.

hwk

Since predictions are so unreliable, I offer instead a hope: May 2017 be a year of pleasant surprises.

 Poem from Did You See This? Poems to Provoke the Politically Correct by Herbert Knapp