Suns Shining at Midnight three poems by Tim Vivian

Tim Vivian
Suns Shining at Midnight: Three Poems

Excerpts from a Journal of
the Plague Years: 2016-2020

April 1, 2017

Exsanguinated prose.
Inveterate lies. Now
we stand on tiptoes
to gated windows that
display deboned meat.

A passerby craves flesh;
hungry, she’s admiring
the storefront window:
chorizo; menudo here
sábados y domingos.

But no one in this our
administration will ever
confess that this meat
comes, desaparecido,
from those now hiding

illegal, indocumentados.
A child, her family doll
en su diminuta mano rota,
begins to cry. Our good
citizen has her phone

in her hand. As she dials
911, La Migra, and ICE,
she feels, unexpected,
wetness between her
legs. She stops. Hello?

the disembodied voice
requests. Is this moisture
hemorrhagic or orgasm?
Her phone drops. Hello?
What is your emergency?


Beelzebub to His Son

Matthew 11:14-19

Whatever they say to you belongs
to me, but not vice-versa. That’s
just the way it is. Get over it.
But Dad, that’s not fair! No,
it isn’t, forever and ever. Amen.

As you pout now on each street
corner, remember what I said
a few centuries ago when you
were just a mite and my dear
friends had not yet invented

nuclear weapons. Ashes to ashes,
dust to chemical dust. All fall
down. The clowns of Auschwitz
celebrated Mass far superior
to any priest or pontiff. Even

cremated children laughed and
spat out the body and blood.
And here we are again. Aren’t
we always here again? Yes,
my son, my murderer. Do you

see that streetlight over there?
It’s powered not by flesh and
blood but by gristle, by each
indifference of each individual.
That light will shine even when

the grid implodes. No, it’s not
punishment but success. Every
thought you have must run
counterclockwise to what they
think here. Only then will you

understand that twenty below
zero is better than Hawai’i. Ah,
do you hear their petitions, each
articulated in language they
do not otherwise use? No? But

draw nearer. See the ovens in
my eyes, each Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, each frozen Gulag?
I was always at ground zero. I’ve
even claimed to press the button

when it needed pressing. But past
will never be prologue. You think
past is always prologue. But
don’t you see? Parliaments and
legislatures have nothing of what

you and I, and even God’s angels,
call memory. Memory for them
is a viper’s den, a game reserve
where servants of the rich hunt
animals to extinction. Only then

do monuments return to dust and
yesterday’s lies, spoken enough,
become truth. Truth—that’s the
carrot and the stick, my son, that
you will hold out to them. When

stick and carrot join, then you
can call each person’s Congress
into session. Point to the mess
on the floor, call in God’s janitors.
Only then will ambulances come

and, when the sirens no longer
breathe but die laughing, then,
and only then, advertise the truth
on TV and the internet. Capillaries
will then constrict, blood flow
will stop and each canary in
each mine will find freedom.
Watch the flags tailing behind.
When the sun atrophies them,
then you will have lost and won.

* * * * *
Epithalamion II

Count the scattered applause.
Now betoken each finger as
it lies at rest in the darkening
silence. Isn’t marriage just

like this? In the beginning
the applause, redundant,
sounds like the clapping in
those old black-and-white

reels where the captives sign
unanimity at a Communist
Party conference. Not one
of them demurs. Since now

there are few original first
nights, the audience of two,
even lying together naked,
has already begun to see

importance in reruns. When
the tenth episode concludes or
the series ends, as we know it
will, they have long looked to

what brought them here. Here
there can be suns shining at
midnight but, more often than
not, not. What would we, long

married, wonder, if in fact
hibernal solstice now shone
like summer? We would,
we hope, rip all our clothes

off and run into vernal surf
as though it were virgin and
pregnant. And so, now, we
wish them our very best as

agony, sorrow and, yes, regret
pitch their tents just as, long
ago, the Logos did in peasant
Galilee, at once smelling blood.

* * *

Tim Vivian has published numerous books, article, and book reviews in his academic field of study, early Christian monasticism. He has lately turned more attention to literary efforts, publishing articles on the poetry of Denise Levertov and Rowan Williams and on the novels of Marilynne Robinson. You may reach him at 


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