Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Philosophical Clockmaker

I was a clockmaker who hated clocks.
I never did a lick of work,
Yet my business was thriving.
Oh, how I’d cringe when some little prick
Would bring in his dying grandfather:
That ivory dial with those vein-like cracks,
Those dark twitching murderous hands.
There is nothing I despise more.
The young fool might say something like:
Please save my clock; I’ve had it forever.
I’m sorry; I don’t fix clocks, I’d say.
But the sign says repair, he’d plead.
Yes, but if you knew what I do about them…
Let them die, is what I say –
You’re young; why let it torment you?
Then through pity I’d reluctantly
Take a look at the dying old bastard:
Its veneer was cracking, its glass was cataracted.
I’m sorry this has to happen, I whisper,
And gently place my hand on its crown.
You were probably Stalin’s right-hand man;
How many innocents have you driven to death?
Still, I pity you, as one pity’s a cow at a steakhouse.
And I say this very quiet, like in a lover’s ear,
I’m going to enjoy watching you die.
I tell the kid, who’s forty if he’s fourteen,
That it’s best he leave the clock with me.
I can do only what I can do, nothing more.
My shop is packed with clocks; there’s only room
On the ceiling for another, so I begin hoisting
The lousy criminal up there with a noose.
That’s all there is to it. I stare at the empty street.
Study my brass tools, of which I don’t know
The names. And of course the ticking,
The infernal ticking, so loud that I can think
Of nothing but their impeding demise.

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