Rhyme of the Ancient Decade

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Rhyme of the Ancient Decade
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

To all who have made "Decade's Best" lists with preambles that claim the decade officially ends at the end of 2010...

It’s a time to celebrate the best from the past decade.
Tops in baseball, swimming, golf, and more deserving of parade.
A decennial party to commemorate 10 years' past.
A time to recall all the things time sent by so fast.

But, a bijou, boisterous, bawdy band suddenly appears.
A contingent of contrarians, constantly contesting our counting of the years.
They stroll in on their stallions, confident, and overdressed.
Every 10 years, they crash our party, an audacious, uninvited guest.

On their high horses the all-knowing nitpicks can surely scoff.
They pose a rhetorical question, veiled by only a sarcastic cough.
“You think '09 the end of the decade?” they shall steadily say.
In answer, like their horses, they can only cry out, “Nay.”

Atop their sturdy steeds, these haughty horsemen’s noses’ heighten.
Raised so lofty they smell perfumes from the sirens of Titan.
From their saddles they set gaze upon many they find a dupe.
To us, down on the earth, we smell only their ponies’ poop.

Our decade seemed clean to us, from 2000 to 2009.
Not so for these jingo janitors, they just can not see the shine.
They dismount from their broncos, still sniffing the sirens’ scent.
They’re about to tell us exactly what these years have truly meant.

They pull out almanacs, encyclopedias, and history books, quite an alluring show.
The eggheads’ think their shells are solid because of all they know.

“No, no, no,” they say, “a year zero there never was.”
“No, no, no,” they say, “sorry to kill your buzz.”
“Nine years does not a decade make. These files of yours are all a fake.”
“No, no, no,” they say, “the decade is not done.”
“No, no, no,” they say, “it began in 2001.”
“Your lists are all premature. Sorry, for our mares’ manure.”
“No, no, no,” they say, “the decade’s yet to pass.”
“No, no, no,” they say, “you come across as crass.”

They remount their rides and scuff their shoes upon the finely finished floor.
Heads held high, a deed well done, they head back toward the door.
“But wait,” a young boy yells, “you’ve left your books behind.”
“Don’t worry,” the purists’ leader says, “yours to keep to enhance you mind.”

The young boy looks them over, as the sophists venture from sight.
Almanacs, encyclopedias, and history books, but something just isn’t right.
A year zero there never was, of that he is now sure.
But, the meaning of a decade seems to him still obscure.

To a dictionary, the young boy goes, to seek the term’s true essence.
There he finds “A period of 10 years” is the only sentence.
A corollary to the rule, expounded on his wonder.
“Beginning with a year ending in zero,” puts the sophist’s argument in sunder.

He races to catch the horsemen, surely they must hear.
He yells out to the scholars, “Wait, there isn’t one more year!”
The scholars can barely discern the lad, their noses dodging crows.
The boy yells out one more time, finally the cavalry slows.

They dismount their equine ferries and sigh with great dismay.
On the ground, their ferries’ odor fills their noses and will not go away.
“What is it boy? We don’t have time, the true decade is passing by.
Must we show our proof again?" The leader says with mocking wry.

“No, thanks,” the young boy says, “but what do you make of this?”
He points his book up to the pedant who wipes his monocle with bliss.
Humor the boy he will, his single glass lucid and returned to place.
“I’ll give a moment’s time to pick apart your fruitless little case.”

“A period of 10 years” he sees and comes up with a shrug.
“What’s your point, dear boy?” the scholar says sounding supremely smug.
“A period of 10 years, it says” the boy cleverly retorts.
“Any 10 years, from any date” he says, as the scholar picks his wart.

“A decade’s just 10 years, you see, any years at all.
It could start with a four and end with a three, begin in spring or fall.
It’s an arbitrary term, you see, so why sour all our cheers?
A decade’s just a time line describing a simple set of years.
Our files are not fake, nor our lists premature.
So while you’re off of your high horses, how bout cleaning that manure?”

Having cracked a yolk of knowledge on those with humbled looks,
the young boy retreated to his party and left the scholars with their books.
The eggheads wiped their faces clean, and stood without a word.
The boy was right, their jig was up, tough beat for many a nerd.

The leader of the party crashers broke the silence within his troop.
“Sorry, all,” he said with nose slanting downward, “it’s time to clean up poop.”

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