“Your Luck Is About To Change”

By Susan Elizabeth Howe b. 1949

(A fortune cookie)

Ominous inscrutable Chinese news
to get just before Christmas,
considering my reasonable health,
marriage spicy as moo-goo-gai-pan,
career running like a not-too-old Chevrolet.
Not bad, considering what can go wrong:
the bony finger of Uncle Sam
might point out my husband,
my own national guard,
and set him in Afghanistan;
my boss could take a personal interest;
the pain in my left knee could spread to my right.
Still, as the old year tips into the new,
I insist on the infant hope, gooing and kicking
his legs in the air. I won't give in
to the dark, the sub-zero weather, the fog,
or even the neighbors' Nativity.
Their four-year-old has arranged
his whole legion of dinosaurs
so they, too, worship the child,
joining the cow and sheep. Or else,
ultimate mortals, they've come to eat
ox and camel, Mary and Joseph,
then savor the newborn babe.

Source: Poetry (December 2002).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2002 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2002
 Susan Elizabeth Howe


After receiving her undergraduate degree in Spanish and French from Brigham Young University, poet, playwright, and editor Susan Elizabeth Howe turned her focus to creative writing, earning an MA from the University of Utah and a PhD from the University of Denver. Influenced by Elizabeth Bishop, Howe’s poems tend to find their source in observation rather than personal experience, and often explore women’s lives and the natural . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Midlife, Religion, Living, Christianity

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.