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Midnight Special (The Donut Inn)




It’s late, so the late

Karen Carpenter comes off

the radio at 1 a.m. The diners

complain; she’s passé, she’s so

post-mortem. You see,

it’s Night of the Living.

Outside the sirens rise up

and home in. Now I’m upstairs

asleep, lost to this din,

but downstairs the Usuals

stake out a square

of linoleum, sit down and

fit in.


Like the jailed I bet

they get the same damn thing.

Some special—Styrofoam.

They sip the rim. I bet

at this hour the donuts

lie face up, half

human. The walls are glass

there, so those guys can see

the fix they’re in:  a block

of illegally parked cars,

laundries, liquor stores with

something for everyone who still

can’t win.


At a time like this who

drinks caffeine with cream

or black? They must have given

up. They must know

they won’t sleep again. I bet

when Macbeth set out

to kill it he thought, well,

here’s someplace to begin.

I may be asleep, but my insomniac

heart rides out to join up

with them, those late,

late bloomers at

The Donut Inn.


Source:  In Danger (1999), published by The Roundhouse Press.

Suzanne Lummis is an executive board member of Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, the California correspondent for New Mexico’s Malpais Review, and a longtime award-winning teacher for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.  Recent poems have appeared in The Rattling Wall, Hotel Amerika, and are forthcoming in Solo Novo and an important new literary magazine which will debut this fall, Miramar


Five Poems the Next Mayor Should Read

These poems by some of L.A.’s finest poets are intended to help Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti look closely at our city and listen with care to its diverse voices,  from janitors to sidewalk fruit sellers to donut shop insomniacs. They are also an antidote to the platitudes of the campaign trail, and a reminder that the best political speech—and acts—can tap into people’s deepest emotions and aspirations.

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