African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Clifford L. Miller, "Midnight Thoughts" (1928)

Midnight thoughts are the mouse that gnaws all night;
Starts up strange sounds, when all stilly sounds subside;
Ever bolder, bolder grows his gnawing by night
To bore into oak wood a tight passage
To lead to some eery darker nook.

I gnaw tonight on life's deep mystery
While slumberers sleep, a sound, a sweet sleep.
My life is wood I strive to split, to splinter
To gnaw through all stubborn resistance a way
To the next room, darker and more mysterious.

I must whip up my heart while thoughts gnaw on,-
Thoughts that never weary of gnawing gnawing·
Mouse-like, they may eat through to find some food
In a spacious, sweet-smelling chamber.
Midnight thoughts are the mouse that gnaws all night.
I would from them scurry and flee away
So weary I of thoughts that gnaw all night.

Published in Saturday Evening Quill, 1928

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