Friday, November 20, 2009


tick... tock... tick...

Like my Polish grandfather, I find
myself preoccupied with watches.
Wristwatches, to be precise;
pocket watches, too. Silver oysters.

Clocks, on the other hand... twice
strike me with deeper forebodings.
The bronchial tick and tock, and dust,
the pendulum swing. The chime.

I have never been much of a one, all
round, for keeping time. Punching in.
Well-oiled or not. Sober or shiftless.

And even though I do my best to
keep up to date, from time to time,
I miss those Swiss mechanisms
once so fashionable and ubiquitous;
the delusion that somehow my
actions make an impact on the smooth
running through one day to the next.

My grandfather may once have held
ambitions to become a watchmaker,
I do not know. After the war he worked
the trams for a spell, sticking to the rails.
A year or so of this. He found his niche
behind a bar serving time-served men
on leave from the glow of welded rivets.

Setting down half gills and pitching out
drunks. Pulling pints and punches under
the huge brewery clock in his corner.


@eloh said...

Clocks.. you made me realize that there is more than one "clock" in my life that has maybe more meaning than it should.

One with the most forebodding chime, that as a child it made my blood run cold.

It has been "my" clock now, this short time since mothers passing. It was there on the dresser when she passed, it is where I read the time to the funeral home when I called for them to come and take mother on her final journey.

It still sits on the dresser, I moved it, just a little, to make room for momma.

Silent companions.

Reminds me, I should probably go do a little dusting today. Mother would get really pissed if her little box gets dusty.

ib said...

I am making an educated guess that you inherited a carriage clock from your mother. Or something tidier. Well, alright. I can handle that.

Not for nothing, though, were those terrible upright coffins referred to as grandfather clocks. Grandmother clocks.

Our family never actually owned one, so far as I remember. I don't know if they secretly yearned to. It would not surprise me in the least. Their sonorous ticking is like a constant reminder of encroaching doom.

Mellifluous dusting, though. I find myself sometimes thinking of the dead these days more than is seemly.

Löst Jimmy said...

There is no escaping the call (or chime) of the clock, I should be its master but it keeps me as its slave...

My parents hankered for a Grandfather clock - which if they had succeeded in acquiring a woodworm riddled auctioned example goodness knows where they would have found room in the 2 bed council semi already cramped due to their other 1970s must have - a chest freezer

ib said...

You could keep beer nicely chilled in a grandfather clock, I suppose, without central heating. Kill two birds with one stone. Frozen chicken and vegetables would be another matter.

Speaking of 'birds', by far the worst development in clocks must be the cuckoo clock; a despicable mechanism.

My granny owned one of these. As a two-year-old I thought it quite entertaining. By the age of nine I longed for a gun loaded with birdshot. A slingshot. Anything to blast that peekaboo motherfucker right off its perch.

Watching it jauntily sticking its beak out and waiting for the electric meter to run out of coin.