Sunday, January 1, 2017

Tempus Fugit: Quinque Poematis


We divide the clock
Into pie segments
To show, self-indulgently,
We are masters of time.

Serving up plates, we
Apportion hours a la carte,
Spearing minutes with a fork.
Wistfully, we sip on seconds.

We park our legs high
On a chair, lean back,
Saying, this year I will do this,
Next year that.

But time yields to no master:
Heedless brute, it is an
Inexorable mule,
Spinning sun, ruthless.

Only a cosmic force,
Colossal as stars collapsing,
Warping space like plastic
Has the arm to rein in time,

Rearing neighing stallion,
Bull kept at bay.
Time answers to no one.
We answer to time.

Already it holds us
On a leash, shortening:
We strain forward;
It pulls us in.

Helpless fish,
We must forsake fruit
Just beyond our reach.
And we are bound to tell time

Our narrative when it ends.
Now the clock strikes:
Bells ring, sonorous,
Pure as childhood,

Shining as youth,
Florid as love,
Perfect as wisdom
…the spring runs out.

Grandfather clock face


Gloaming is gradually pushing night away.
Casting a magician’s spell, day sweeps
His arm in a wide arc, left to right.
The sky submits to his behest.
Darkness retreats faster than low tide pulling back its forces,
Fading until morning is a garment washed many times.

Dawn is a gray wolf’s coat streaked with white clouds.
Blue and pink light diffuse, a river entering a delta.
Moon and stars now gleam faintly, soft as kindness.
Daylight is spilling, gentle waterfall, over the window sill.

The house begins to stir, a living animal.
I hear tinkling utensils, clattering plates, sloshing glasses.
Coffee is percolating, a gurgling snorkel.
Birds let loose warbles, sinuous wrist movements of a dancer.
Clearing throats repeatedly, roosters do not understand
Only once is necessary to remind everyone day is here.

Din rises, tittering audience before a performance.
Turning squeakily, a faucet drills water into a pail.
Commuters gun their engines. Motorcycles roar, punching holes in paper.
Chaos breaks out, a bull bounding free from a maze.

Bull-leaping fresco, 1450 BCE, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete


Night begins in disquiet, pacing back and forth,
Disturbed by spoons crossing swords with forks
Banging on plates as against shields,
Clinking glasses like missiles pinging helmets.
Rumbling low, a water stream is drumming
An aluminum sink, bottom of a boat.

Beyond the wall, cars whoosh by like subway trains.
Passersby in threes or fours are chortling birds.
Two houses down, a woman hollers faintly at a bawling child.
Cats scrambling after prey kick boxes bumping together as they fall.

A small animal is making tiny scraping noises inside the ceiling.
The wind rises, shakes leaves, dislodging one fruit,
Thudding on the roof, bouncing twice,
Rolling audibly…one, two more follow.
The house folds his hands, sitting silently for a while.
Everything is slowing down, floating brushwood.

The clock is ticking but not on the wall. Time machine
Oscillating to a gradually disappearing frequency,
I listen for the pop of ratchet and spring pulling the hammer backward
To strike the bell once, twice, then push off, sleep pulling at the oars.

Le Sommeil (1937) by Salvador Dali

December 21, 1989

I am prisoner to conversation with an old man with a broken nose, mute with catarrh, sedentary and limping.
The window is squealing like a small animal, trapped.
Outside in the empty parking lot sits an abandoned car, dried out extinct turtle.

Dryness scrapes skin off the flaking season lying lifeless, electricity gone dead.
Clouds cast to the ground feeble eyes of a pallid man.
Trees written in charcoal thrust into the sky, exclaiming, “I am turned into a pillar of salt!”

Winter breaks its stony face against the hammering wind,
Dust and rocks mix with air,
Grass grinds like pebbles underfoot.

A warm room withers faster than a disconnected leaf.
Memories scatter, twigs across the carpet.
Deaf to clapping, hooded thoughts wander.
Only blue sparks crackle in recognition.

Winter sunrise

June 21, 2011

Early today, the sun leaps over the horizon, legs and arms spinning, slow motion, gliding, a bird of prey.

Rising light casts elongated shadows running up and down hills and dales. Atop a summit warming rays outspread.

Colors explode, life bursting in dread of death. Stunning dyes ink the sky, veins and washes.

Bright droplets of flowers splash across a palette of meadows. Floating trees at their base join to luminous shades.

Silver rivers transmute into gold. Forest regiments guard eyes hiding beneath shadowy green canopies, shading hands.

Fulsome clouds tumble, hay rolls in a royal blue field. The wind, freshly laving, puffs memories, ardent.

The longest day is glorious, a shining bracelet of hours—agate streaked orange and blue at dawn, dazzling quartz at noon, orange sapphire at dusk. Night fastens the end with a snap.

Summer sunset


  1. Grandfather clock face courtesy of Unsplash

    Photo link:

    Winter sunrise photo courtesy of bstrupp

    Photo link:

    Summer sunset photo courtesy of Skitterphoto

    Photo link:


  2. Images of works of art are posted on this website according to principles of fair use, specifically, they are posted for the purposes of information, education, and especially, contemplation.


  3. Credits - original publications:

    “The Clock,” The Furious Gazelle (September 19, 2014) (original version)

    “Prologue,” Pine+Basil, Volume 1, Issue 1, page 20

    “Epilogue,” aaduna, Volume V, Issue 1 (Spring 2015)

    “Summer Solstice,” New Asian Writing (May 7, 2015) (original version)

    “Winter Solstice,” Turk’s Head Review (November 11, 2014) (original version)