“Through New Year’s Eve” by Rolf Rathmann

Rolf Rathmann


1999—Prince sang about it.
Media over-conflated it, remember?
Y2K—computers worldwide would
Expectations were high
and I
threw my worst party ever,
a royal dud! Few people showed
and those who did watched CNN
all night, as the world
rang in without incident
I felt responsible for the awful
night I was sure my friends had.
Growing up, it was a special 
night; instilling her Dutch heritage,
mom would prepare apple
beignets and oliebollen, a dumpling,
with a whispered dusting of 
powdered sugar. The next day—ooooh
how they tasted great 1, 2, even 3
days old—we watched on television
the Tournament of Roses Parade and then
brother and mom: college football. Pop
took us once, I’ve been told, to see it
live in Pasadena—but I don’t remember.
I’m sure I must’ve loved it—all those
floats, and flowers, and people!
One New Year’s, flying the Friendly
Skies—not a very prescient slogan—
I had a four-day layover in Paris.
At the midnight hour, autos everywhere
came to a halt, blaring their horns
and I 
alone in a taxi
continued to a club in my
most magical of cities. 
“Write what you’re afraid to say,” 
I’ve been advised by more than one. 
Okay.                 I’ve
spent too many New Year’s 
in prison.
But I alone 
am responsible. 

from Rattle #76, Summer 2022
Tribute to Prisoner Express


Rolf Rathmann: “For myself, poetry is writing stripped bare—raw, vulnerable, frightening. It also challenges me to be more concise, a trait I lack verbally. Whether it be childhood loss, the angst of coming out, or the pangs of addiction then recovery, poetry helps me release the pain, and capture the joy. This contribution is dedicated to my family—by birth and the family I choose, my friends, for seeing light in me when I so often saw dark.”

Rattle Logo