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The Clock

by Zettel 

Posted: 17 June 2017
Word Count: 185

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The Clock
We are born live die
work love aspire
by the clock
The then of things
the now of desire
the soon of hope
measured out
in seconds minutes hours
on the clock
Implacable indifferent
it’s face
tick tock
Precise unfeeling
it’s hands
tick tock
Childhood’s joys
tick tock
endless summers
tick tock
First love
tick tock
New life new mind
tick tock
I love you daddy
tick tock
Becoming has become
tick tock
Withstanding pain
tick tock tick tock tick tock
I love you
I hate you
Hold me please hold me
tick tock
I need you
Let me go
I want
tick tock
I wish
tick tock
I have time
It’s too late now
If only I had
If only I hadn’t
I wonder where
the time goes
It’s not dark yet
tick tock
but it’s getting there
tick tock
Things I now
will never do
Wrongs I’ll
never right
Ashes to ashes
dust to dust
no tomorrows
no todays

no regrets
tick tock tick tock………

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 20:26 on 25 June 2017  Report this post
Apologies for this late response. At first I felt the poem was too long, but now not so sure. Each section has something different to say, contrasting of course with the sameness of the clock. And that monotony needs to go on at some length, even until the reader is getting tired of it – because that’s the point. All 54 ticks and tocks (if I’ve counted them correctly) are needed. Only at the end I would suggest omitting a few; end with just a single line perhaps:
Tick tock tick tock

- enough to suggest it goes on indefinitely.

A stanza that works especially well is the one beginning ‘Childhood’s joys’. It seems, if I read it correctly, to take us very swiftly, and with the greatest economy of language, through a whole generation, from childhood to ‘first love’ to ‘new life’ (the next generation) to ‘I love you daddy’.

The following are suggestions only. You might add another section without stretching the poem too far, or else replace an existing section with a new one. One that just might be a candidate for replacement would be the ‘I want…I wish’ stanza. A new section might evoke a specific life event such as a wedding:
Do you
tick tock
take this
tick tock
tick tock

or even a death:
He stares ahead
tick tock
collapses to the floor
tick tock
oxygen mask
tick tock
Dad’s gone

Every time I give examples of possible additions or revisions to someone else’s poem, I look at them and think they’re indifferent at best. You will no doubt have better ideas. The general notion is to evoke a real life event, an event from your own life perhaps, your clearest memories of it, and make that  soulless clock  tick-tock through it all.

This seems to me a new departure for you: a poem in ‘slim’ free verse and an extended series of juxtapositions. I think you’ve made it work.


Zettel at 00:43 on 27 June 2017  Report this post

Thanks for the comments.  I've cut the redundant extra line at the end.  You're quite right.

Don't think I can do the 'death' suggestion because the whole poem is 1st person, looking back with all the mixed emotions that entails. 'Death' needs ot be registered but it can't really I think be objectified through the 3rd person. So I put in through the 'Ashes to ashes' lines which all introduce the idea but through my reaction to it, my attitude to it, my emotion about it. I guess there is a kind of fatalistic tone thoughout the poem which in a sense the implacable, indifferent clock represents. Even in life as they say "time and tide...."

On your other suggestion: I was conscious of the danger of boring or irritating the reader and realised it was a fine balance to strike to get th epower of repetition without blunting it by overuse. LIke you therefor I was concerned about length. What milestones one selects to represent the chronology of a life will vary person to person and the danger of too many above forces one to to be selective. I decided to concentrate not on key events and facts but rather emotionally powerful or evocative moments.  I will review these and see whether any I have put in lack force; and consider others that might add or be more powerful.

Thanks as ever for the comments.  I'd like to write more free verse but I'm not sure I have the talent of a real poet to capture the pure rhythm of a poetic use of language without the pattern and form that rhyme and half-rhyme
gives me.  The nearest I get is to let the pattern, the flow, of ideas/feelings determine the placing of rhymes and half-rhymes rather than always following a strict formal pattern. My way looks easier: but paradoxically I find it harder: because one has to so-to-speak 'listen' to the poem to 'hear' its tone and rhythm; rather than frcing language into a formalised structure.

My way probaly doesn't work too well as no one has ever seemed interested in publishing my stuff. But some positive reaction from yourself and WW members is an encouraging next best.


Cliff Hanger at 12:52 on 27 June 2017  Report this post
Hi Zettel

I nearly missed this one somehow. That would have been a real shame because I think it's really effective. You capture the monotony of life mixed with its pleasures and anguish really well. James is right to highlight how you make free verse 'work' here. I think his suggestions might add a lot you know, if you experimented with them. Say with the aside form that Oonah and James's recent work has followed (I'm experimenting with this a bit myself just now). You could have some life events adjacent to the clock ticking, representing how we don't notice the clock when we're living life and then suddenly it's upon us.  I love the way you weave your expertise in philosophy throughout this, showing rather than telling. It makes you think. The repetition does bring a multi-sensory element into it. You can feel and hear the clock which gives concrete form to intellectual concepts.

Good one.


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