By Clarissa Richee
Evie Shockley’s poem “On New Year’s Eve” takes a behind-the-scenes look into the commonplace hypocrisy that goes on throughout “civilized” western society. Shockley examines this counterfeit persona through the familiar guise of a new year’s eve party, claiming the deception as both self-afflicted and publically enforced.
The poem starts using an alternating rhyme scheme and strong imagery to set the
proverbial scene: “we make midnight of maquette of the year / frostlight glinting off snow to solemnize / the vows we offer to ourselves in near / silence: the competition shimmerwise / of champagne and chandeliers to attract / laughter and cheers: the glow from the fireplace.” The atmosphere Shockley presents here appears to be one of joy and contentment.
As always, diction is pivotal in Shockley’s poetry. The first stanzas convey a sense of extravagance, employing words such as “marquette” and “chandeliers,” “frostlight,” and “cosset.” Images of the shimmering champagne, the laugh-filled cheers, and the glowing fireplace conjure a sense of comfort, wonder, and a certain amount of decadence.
By the third stanza, however, the theme begins to turn, shifting to reveal the falseness of the previous image. Shockley now describes this meeting as “edacious,” “rash,” and “fugacious,” as everyone knows it will end. In the final stanzas, the narrator admits, “the mind wends / toward what’s to come: a callithump of fashions…a bloodless cut / that severs soul from bone: a long aching.” As stillness suspends vitality, smiles are "ersatz," and resolutions are already falling apart, the outward revelry, expected from this social holiday, is revealed as a cover for each person’s own struggling reality.
Evie Shockley Week
Clarissa Richee, an avid support of literature and the arts, was born and raised St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated from Drury University with duel degrees in English and Creative Writing. She is currently working toward her Master’s degree in Creative Writing and teaching composition at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.