Suns Shining at Midnight: Three Poems Excerpts from a Journal of the Plague Years: 2016-2020
Emergency 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. * * *
Bio 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.