Friday, December 21, 2012

The Year's Midnight

Sunset in Colorado
—Photo by Roger Langton, Louisville, CO

—John Donne

TIS the year's midnight, and it is the day's,

Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
    The sun is spent, and now his flasks
    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
             The world's whole sap is sunk;

The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk,

Whither, as to the bed's-feet, life is shrunk,

Dead and interr'd; yet all these seem to laugh,

Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be

At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
    For I am every dead thing,
    In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
             For his art did express

A quintessence even from nothingness,

From dull privations, and lean emptiness;

He ruin'd me, and I am re-begot

Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that's good,

Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
     I, by Love's limbec, am the grave
     Of all, that's nothing. Oft a flood
             Have we two wept, and so

Drown'd the whole world, us two; oft did we grow,

To be two chaoses, when we did show

Care to aught else; and often absences

Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—

Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
    Were I a man, that I were one
     I needs must know; I should prefer,
             If I were any beast,

Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,

And love; all, all some properties invest.

If I an ordinary nothing were,

As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none; nor will my sun renew.

You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
      At this time to the Goat is run
      To fetch new lust, and give it you,
             Enjoy your summer all,

Since she enjoys her long night's festival.

Let me prepare towards her, and let me call

This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this

Both the year's and the day's deep midnight is.

 Sunset in California
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

With a banker's valise
of debits and credits
he lets nothing slide

With his city bureaucratic
luggage made of leather
he looks down at you

With four degrees in hand
at his latest graduation
his chest swells

With his station master's
you hold your ticket up

With a mop in hand
he overpowers his brother
out of work.


—B.Z. Niditch

Approaching sundown
your friend paints
her fingernails green
after her last affair
with a stud
and Hollywood understudy,
the buzz downtown
expects her suffocating
break-ups to go on
like all the others,
to last a headache full
of a week's drama
queen memories
on walls of rumors
to capture her lovers
reeling in words
like diphthongs
of departures.


—B.Z. Niditch

A runaway teenager
with a pale gaze
from the lake's sunrise
hides blank pages
of his little black book
of addresses
in his jeans
back pocket
checking out
an infinite recital
of phone numbers
in a visage of words
now reflecting on
a deliberation of trees
as thunder rolls by
on newborn shadows
transfigured by
his father's
and mother's nature.


       for Newtown
—Tom Goff, Carmichael

I say Eden was abandoned the day
gunpowder sparked in Heaven and spread,
serpent-spread, here below. The day
our Parents left: what we never hear of
is the unholy racket, sanctimonious noise:
stacked grails, gold gold and white gold,
shot off the garden fence rails, Michael
at practice. We only thought, from
Milton on down, the sword of fire capped
with silencer. With wandering steps and slow
on through Eden and out, till the spray
of celestial hell, or the sight of the muzzle flash,
stanched their weeping: then they dove
& sped crawling through thorns for safety,
mimicking one living thing they’d fatally met
but never given a name.


Our poets and photographers come from all over heck-and-gone today (including John Donne, who comes to us from the 17th century!); thanks to them for gathering in the Kitchen to warm up on this chilly Solstice! For more Winter Solstice poetry, see

Rachel Hansen of The Book Collector writes: HUGE SALE at The Book Collector this weekend! This Friday, Saturday and Sunday (December 21st to 23rd) almost all our books will be 50% OFF! Only the second time in almost 18 years that we've offered such a deep discount. This is NOT a going out of business sale, just a chance to save on great reads. It will be raining but the bookstore will be warm and dry and the mall will be crowded and depressing. Where would you rather be? The Book Collector [Home of the Snake] is located at 1008 24th Street, on 24th Street between J and K Streets in Midtown Sacramento. I will be there most of the weekend if you want to stop by for a hug—I could use a few. Please tell your friends!


Today's LittleNip:

—Michael Cluff, Corona

Christmas Day is almost here
but first let us hope
the 21st does not go
strange and queer
and the sun swallows up the planet
with a fireball or hot plasma flow
or even a stray asteroid called Janet
but being alone I could not cope
with even the lightest axis trope.


—Medusa who, in her controlled folly, assumes the world will not end today...

Night Speeding In
—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove