All the new inexperienced clocks,
all the round-faced watches
still telling analogous moments–
the ones in the display case
awaiting the jeweler’s hand
to come out and be seen for sale–
all the photos, even, of timekeep,
Sunday paper ads, rolex to timex
are set at ten past ten.

On rare occasions you might
see one of these stopped watches
at four o’clock or maybe five past nine.
But hardly ever.  The young clerk
whose job it is to keep the shop
well tuned, knows only ten past ten.
That is the rule.  Those other
settings, though the same, would need
a knowledge of the reason underneath.

The reason is an old belief
that certain geometric ratios
please our eyes, speak Beauty
in and of themselves; they tempt
a complement in us, and make us
follow, listen, buy.  We love
a golden section, so we set the watches
ten past ten.  Thus we obey
though we do not know why.

2 responses »

  1. Such interesting lines! Reading your earlier poems yesterday and today I have come across a few that speak of loss – painfully and eloquently. I have not wanted to comment on those; it would seem gauche. This poem, less emotionally rooted, allows me the chance to say how much I enjoy following the path your thoughts tread through these poems. I’m never sure where they go next, but looking back there is always an apparent inevitability about the route chosen; the path is made lightly, but precisely. I’ll read more later.

  2. I understand your reticence about the grief poems, and thank you. I don’t know why I publish them since they are not about comfort of any sort, but truth…..now I sound like Eudora Welty (one of my favorites on the topic of writing, whom I happen to be ‘re-reading these days.) I came across a quotation of hers that reminds me of the people in your life/work series: “People are mostly layers of violence and tenderness wrapped like bulbs and it is difficult to say what makes them onions or hyacinths.”
    I am honored that you read my poems.

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