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A Poem For Those Who Dropped The Ball On New Year's Resolutions

Malte Mueller
Getty Images/fStop

With the New Year comes new promises, new goals and new rules. There are the inevitable promises to eat better, go to the gym, be more organized, read more books and save more money.

But some rules are destined to be broken.

At the start of 2020, we asked you to send us couplets of your abandoned New Year's resolutions. We collected more than 500 entries, and Kwame Alexander, NPR's poet-in-residence, combined some of these lines into an epic (and guilt-free) community poem.

Ode To The Things I'll Get To Tomorrow

Here's to my treadmill, incomplete
without the sound of slapping feet.

Eating healthy, getting abs
But chips and chocolate up for grabs

Oh, banana pudding from the deli
How did you get inside my belly?

I was a vegetarian
All the way to 10 AM

My goals quickly turned to apathy
At least I eat happily

People acting all highfalutin
'Cause they said they've sworn off gluten

Why do my resolutions fail?
Why can't I just eat that kale?

What makes me want to poke my fork
Into that plate of spiced pulled pork.

Why do I shun vegan potpourri,
After I resolve to go fat free.

I think I shall, come next new year,
Vow no more pizza, no more beer.

Then perhaps I might instead,
Choose green tea and pita bread.

To the pounds I vow each year to lose,
Each time a few more from which to choose.

To stop feeding my Krispy Kreme addiction.
To watch less news. Read more fiction.

To the running shoes gathering dust by the back door.
To the unfinished dissertation I habitually ignore.

To all the papers I did not grade,
To all the beds I never made.

Though I promised to timely fold,
Laundry in the dryer lays there cold.

I resolve to not procrastinate.
I'll start tomorrow. Is that too late?

Junk mail towers, a teetering stack.
The will to sort it I clearly lack.

New resume, that's what I want!
Alas, can't find the perfect font.

O! Sweet tenor ukulele, last year's Holiday treasure
You filled my heart with Sunshine songs, in spite of ill wind weather

A year gone by, on wistful sigh, no lessons and no learning
A lifetime worth of unsung Soul, such longing and such yearning

Every year I vow to change the world before I die.
Every year the world changes and I didn't even try

Every year, since giving birth I vow, "no longer will I curse."
But dammit, I'm a parent!

From all the speeding I do that is not legal,
To the sister-in-law I still love to needle

I resolved to be ever so nice and kind
On January 2nd I changed my mind.

Promised myself I would write this couplet.
Sorry to say, it just isn't done yet.

Sure, my 2020 goals are going just fine —
I'd get'em all done....if I could just find the time.

The long walks I promised to my dog.
The men at bars I would not snog.

Long morning runs in lifting fog.
Calorie counting in this food log.

Candidates for office I should uplift
With walks and calls and poll place shifts

Grocery shopping with more thrift
The long lost friends, your misplaced gifts

Bills, please pay yourself on time!
To all of you I send these rhymes.

Worry not, I have a notion:
I can fix this with a potion

Gather the coals, the cauldron set
Add in three fresh drops of sweat

A chicken egg not yet hatched
Prescription pills finally fetched

Sprig of flowers not yet bloomed
More home cooking fills the room

And lastly here, the secret seed
That dead goldfish I didn't feed

I free you from your frozen disposition
The uncleaned refrigerator in my kitchen

And one day soon I'll drink this stout
After I take my sweet dog out.

This community poem was created using submissions by:

Chloe Allison, Chesapeake, Va.

Sheri Cox, Tallahassee, Fla.

Rosemary Randolph, Norfolk, Va.

Matt Sanders, St. Louis Park, Minn.

Gage Bausman, Austin, Texas

Dale Chapman, Lexington, Ky.

Joshua Davis, Mill Valley, Calif.

Robyn Michalove Ft. Worth, Texas

Mea Knapp, Northport, N.Y.

Richard Latimer, Falmouth, Mass.

Lorena Masterson, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Gigi Salij, Venice, Calif.

Marjori Hallett, Harrison Township, Mich.

Kumar, Newton, Mass.

Angela Grossman, Austin, Texas

Maura Harrigan, Acton, Mass.

Alyson Heimer, Hamden, Conn.

Jonathan Culler, Lexington, Ky.

Steve Rodgers, Knoxville, Tenn.

Kimberley Peabody, Blytheville, Ark.

Cathy Gilbert, Carrollton, Ky.

Karen R., Talent, Ore.

Jessica Mazzenga, London, England

Lisa Weiner and Ashley Westerman produced and edited this story for broadcast, with contributions by Reena Advani and Casey Noenickx. Heidi Glenn adapted it for the Web.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.