Turning Back the Clocks


I look through the crystal face,
watch the hands circle
around, hands turning,

not creating time but only
simulating the irreversible movement
of past into future, quickly

past the present. I can, surely, grip
the stem between finger and thumb
and turn the ticking sticks

backward, 5-4-3-2-1, but nothing
in the past is ever recreated, nothing
damaged ever fixed, not entirely,

like the eroding beach beneath
my feet—no Golden Age to
return, no, never, no future bliss

of Kingdom Come, only this present
moment. And I don’t know what
to make of it, this experiment

of the now that resists observation
or interpretation, and is unmerciful
to any miscalculation.


here on the mountain
only the birds bear witness
only the birds are aware

close to the cliff-edge
a lonely woman staring
the red-faced birds are aware

For dVerse. Victoria has asked us to write with patterns in mind. I thought I might try to pack as many patterns as I could into a small verse form. I chose a sedoka, with it’s repeating pattern of 5/7/7. Besides repeating a few words, I also used many repeating sound patterns, such as “only” and “lonely,” and some repetitions that are more visual, such as “are” and “aware.” See how many more patterns you can find. This was fun–write a poem and come join in!


Thomas Wolfe: A Stone, a Leaf, a Door


. . . A stone, a leaf, an unfound door;
Of a stone, a leaf, a door.
And of all the forgotten faces.

Naked and alone we came into exile.
In her dark womb
We did not know our mother’s face;
From the prison of her flesh have we come
Into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison
Of this earth.

Which of us has known his brother?
Which of us has looked into his father’s heart?
Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent?
Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?

O waste of loss, in the hot mazes, lost,
Among bright stars
On this most weary unbright cinder, lost!
Remembering speechlessly
We seek the great forgotten language,
The lost lane-end into heaven,
A stone, a leaf, an unfound door.

–Thomas Wolfe, from Look Homeward, Angel.
Arranged in verse by John S. Barnes.