Freethought Almanac

Lighting a candle in toxic air.


by Ronald Bruce Meyer

(aka Uptight, Late-Night, Stage Fright Ronald, the Duke of Doggerel)

9 December 2001*


ron-2004Between the hours of daylight and the fully settled sun

Comes a time that's not yet nightfall, when the day is not yet done.

Yet the darkness isn't ready yet to hang the noose on night,

For the sleek Cimmerian shadows slip so slowly into sight.

It's a time that's not true daylight, semi-darkness dims your view,

And though you turn the lights on, all the colors lose their hue.

When red turns gray and yellow white, and moon begins to climb,

The day is fading, dusk advances; twilight is the time.

Yes, twilight is the time when day distills to its decline,

But night will pause a beat or two before it drinks day's wine.


You can wish for longer lighting, longer shadows are your prize;

For twilight comes, regardless of your wishes, to the skies.

It comes to lives unbidden like the turning of the leaf,

The twilight years, unhidden, mark decline and end in grief.

So if you rage like Thomas 'gainst the dying of the light,

You stand a chance of standing up to face down that good night.

The twilight is a gloaming and a gloomy time at best,

And though it always ends in darkness, darkness gives a rest,

For hours at least, so twilight can eventually begone,

And daytime can in time for matins bring the Dusky Dawn.


For those who find it difficult to make a reasoned choice,

Just look at twilight's indecisive bid to find a voice

For speaking of the daytime that is sure about to leave--

Or else the night -- which? -- is it afternoon or eve?

Can it be another dimension, not of sight or sound but mind--

A land of imagination where to see is to be blind?

A Twilight Zone 'tween science fact and superstitious fear?

A timeless fifth dimension and a middle ground, I hear--

A mythical creation that was quintessentially Rod's.

(It "Rings" of Götterdämmerung, the Twilight of the Gods.)


Now twilight comes when the setting sun is less than 18 degrees

Below the far horizon, as it's hiding 'hind the trees,

And the sun's illuminating rays reflect from Earth and sky.

It isn't rational to fear, but I know reasons why.

The twilight is a doubtful or half light -- a dim eclipse,

And anything obscuring light can cause us trips and slips.

So I suggest the fear of falling furnishes those hours

Of twilit time a greater share than warranted of powers.

And you can wish millennia of fearing eventide

Can with a wisp of logic and sure steps be swept aside,

But twilight has a magic that is tragic for your pride,

So wish away! The semi-darkness will not be denied!


* Written and performed for the Ever-So-Secret Order of the Lamprey, Chicago, IL—a Sunday evening soirée, so-named because artistic types are blood-suckers. Or so I’m told.

NB: I revive this poem because it reminds me that I was young once (47). And witty. And I recall the creation with following words, written about that time:

“After a month of resting the doggerel deltoids, the Duke was ready to flex the fingers and poke the muse in the shins once again! Now, to dispel any rumors to the contrary, the Duke was not lazy: the words of late just didn't come down to the Duke's standards. …

“And what a challenge it was! A full three hours after he set his laptop to it, the printer churned out the next contribution to the decline of American poetry. With a little help from Dylan Thomas, the Moody Blues, Rod Serling, and Richard Wagner, the Duke was set to deliver a mortal blow to Art.

“But Art ducked in time.

“And the Duke, by popular demand, and in view of his numbered days in Chicago, was this evening appointed Adjudicator! Yes, the very Most High Office in the Ever-So-Secret Order of the Lamprey, bestowing absolute power on its holder, was conferred on the Duke. He performed admirably as a benevolent despot, handing out to "twilight" pieces awards such as the Trouser Trout, the Suck-Face Worm, the Silent Alarm, the Seeds of the King of Spain, the Scanner of Simulation, Oh Spare Me!, the Music of the (Hemi)Spheres, the Matted Hair of Revulsion, the Love Glove, the Keys of Desire, the Hat of Good Intentions, the False Gem of Hope, the Faceless Muppet of Anonymity, the Crown of Chaos, and Are You Just Happy to See Me?

“But that meant that the Duke's own contribution would have to go unrewarded (isn't being Adjudicator reward enough?) So, with full stomach and loaded gums, the Duke declaimed...”

And there followed the poem above. Ain’t I something?

Ronald Bruce Meyer

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