A Clock Makers Convention

comments 31

At the clock makers convention
we arranged ourselves neatly
around a life-sized cutaway
of a gravitational escapement,
observing the pendulum
bearing the maker’s seal
that swung to and fro
behind a nest of hypnotic linkages,
together recalling
amidst polite chuckles
and knowing nods
the virtuous marriage
of metallurgy and time-keeping.
Not too many really understood
what we did…
Not too many could even fathom
the significance of what was on display…

Pretty cool, eh?
said the gentleman beside me,
nudging my elbow with his own.

The nude mechanism before us
enumerated the passing slices of our fate
with its ratcheting, circular logic,
and I found myself back
where I had been nearly a year before,
watching flames of cloud
fly sideways across the face of the moon
from a creaking porch swing,
unable to be certain whether
it was the moon’s movement
or the cloud’s that was giving me vertigo,
or if it wasn’t the sensation
that the whole sky was engulfed by holy fire–
an abyss of colliding powers
of which I had seen but a glimpse.
What else could have left me feeling
so weakened and foreign
to my own gathering potentials?

How to say, exactly,
to this one beside me
that the merits of time-keeping
now eluded me?
That jeweled mechanisms
seemed more of a misunderstanding
than a sophistication?
That the graceful swaying
of maple limbs in a spring breeze
seemed a clockworks device
for a polymorphous sort of time
we hadn’t yet considered,
and to whose workings
I had just last week pledged
my heart’s allegiance?

Birds don’t introduce themselves
without making reference to the sky,
you see.
They don’t think they
have anything
figured out
because they are the ones who can fly.
Likewise, my memories
have no meaning of their own.

Yeah… pretty cool… I said.

That night I drove to the sea
and collapsed near the edge–
famished and running slow.
I listened to the waves
and their shifting rhythms
as one by one, they wound
the spring of my heart.

It’s okay if you are most nearly
a slender line of light
in a forgotten corner of the barn,
or a stone under the ground
resting near to a great tree’s root–
a sweeping hand of indeterminate measure.
We are each a cosmic escapement–
a daily yielding to something beautiful,
a glimpse into an endless fire.

We forget sometimes that we
are what’s on display in this
planetary convention hall–
each of us a perfectly weighted movement,
and that our gentle nudging of elbows
is the very mechanism by which
the countless rhythms of eternity
are safely kept.


    • Thanks, Brad! Yes, life has all sorts of rhythms, and none of them quite so regular as the ticking of the clock… Writing this made me wonder about the extent to which our perceptions of time cloud our experience. Time passing is perhaps universal, but it can have so many different ways of doing so. Clock time is but one sampling from countless possibilities…


      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is magnificent imagery Michael, each of us standing in rapt appreciation of what we in half-certainty tell each other is deserved of such; all looking at reflections of one another in the world and marvelling in our unconvincingly sanguine ways. How to forget it all and discover what truly is vital and worthy of our enrapture? Perhaps we must allow the clockwork ticks of thought to unwind in time before we truly are able to pass our days in timelessness? Many congratulations on yet another masterful work. H ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Hariod. You’ve grasped the fundamental feeling of my writing here… the half-certainties of conventions and reflections. I have no universal answers on the how, I just sense that it is more about carrying within us our rapture of what is worthy of our attention, even as we wander through the glass houses and mirages of the external world. I realize so often when I have this experience of being almost distant from what is happening, that somehow I have chosen distance myself… Distance from an other, and are we not ultimately desiring to carry our deepest understandings into the world, and to dissolve this deeply ingrained assertion of the other? It’s not an abandoning of what we’ve discovered that is true and worthy of our enrapture, but nor is it an abandoning of those who don’t quite see it… I don’t know if I’m making sense… You will fill in the many blanks I’ve left with the proper meaning, I’m sure…!


      Liked by 1 person

    • Another poem taking me into another dimension. I’ve come to expect it of you. This one has so many gorgeous images and word pictures. You are a visual artist, using words instead of paint. I read it four time. I delight in its pictures painted on the canvas of the mind.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Ellen,

        I’m glad you enjoyed it, and went on a journey through images that enlivened your own inner world… I appreciate the kind words… I do write visually– this I know to be true. For a while I thought it was a fault, but I’ve decided to just run with it… 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Michael,
    So many sensations in this world of movement and fluidity. Gentle nudging of elbows…camaraderie 🙂
    What’s a poor clock to do in this existence? But tick on…? Not to anthropomorphize everything all the time, but I’m having fun looking at different perspectives. I’m amazed by how often we (humans) want to escape time, and by how much of “keeping time” is a constructive, creative activity.

    Love the way you express here:

    “How to say, exactly,
    to this one beside me
    that the merits of time-keeping
    now eluded me?
    That jeweled mechanisms
    seemed more of a misunderstanding
    than a sophistication?”

    Excellent. I love it.
    Also to echo Tac who commented about your
    passage on the birds…

    “They don’t think they
    have anything
    figured out
    because they are the ones who can fly.”

    You have a real way of sharing. So beautiful.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Ka. I like the idea of playing with perspectives… thinking of oneself as a clock… Time can be a prison of sorts, but also you’re right, there is something really creative and ingenious about our keeping of time. I see it also as an opportunity to connect deeply to the cycles of the natural world, though that is not often the manner in which time is expressed… I see great beauty, however, in this type of time-keeping… the cycles of our own lives, of the seasons, of the day… I’ve read a little about the field of chronobiology, and the ideas of music therapy, and how healing can come simply from correcting the rhythms of our own bodies– synching them to the larger flow of creation around us… All fascinating topics!


      Liked by 3 people

      • Hi Michael,
        All fascinating topics, indeed. With your words here I am reminded about my reluctance to upset my own schedule of health for the program of learning which only offers a schedule that is in conflict with the rhythms I’ve finally established, and ironically, with those that are in alignment with Circadian Clocks and Qi flow. I remind myself that in the bigger picture, there may be some unknown silver lining. Health is still magical.
        Peace & Enjoyment,


        • Hi Ka,

          I love this observation you have made here, of the way a program of learning dedicated to healing is at odds with your inner organic rhythms. Sounds like the way things go sometimes… Perhaps it is a deeper lesson about the way health arises fundamentally from connecting with and acknowledging the intelligence alive within us. Or perhaps the computer had to schedule sixty two professors in one hundred and three courses in twenty-five lecture halls for two hundred and seven students, and that’s how the algorithm broke it down… 🙂 Silly algorithm…

          Chrono-medicine or chrono-biology or whatever the field is called blows my mind every time I reflect upon it. We are symphonies within symphonies…

          Much Love

          Liked by 1 person

          • Interested in this field also. Was obsessed by it when I found out that in most altered states of consciousness (such as meditation, hypnosis, religiousstates) the alpha brain wave, 8- 10 cycles per second, is dominant. And that the magnetic rhythms of the earth are 8-12 cycles per second. So when we tune in to alpha we are tuning into the rhythms of the earth and thus come the feelings of oneness and unity and higher consciousness.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a beautiful piece.
    I like how you describe how the perception of time shifts and that there is a difficulty to communicate this to others.
    The metaphors are wonderful.
    Timeless peace,

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Karin. Yes, you’ve noticed it, too! The difficulty in sharing some types of experiences with others… We humans are at so many diverse stages of perception and willingness… I find the effort to see the universal root of experience that we all share to be very rewarding, even if it seems at times it isn’t fully shared… These gifts flower in a time all their own, don’t they!?

      Thank you again.
      Timeless peace to you also–

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Its the time of the season for loving..
    And it is never the wrong time as time is never right or wrong, fast or slow, diagonal or fleeting, fixed or suspended in animation. We project all those attributes to a dimension that eludes human logic.
    Having a great “time” soaking up your poetic musings.

    peace, Linda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Linda,

      I agree with you that time is one of those “dimensions” that is nebulous, and we paint onto it our perceptions and projections. Time can feel limiting on the one hand, and limitless on the other. Time can feel scarce or abundant, fast or slow. It can feel like a beautiful shelter in which events unfold, or something rushing us all along… Somehow I think these are all experiences we bring to the world on our own, and collectively. And it does elude human logic so often…

      Thanks for reading and sharing as always!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Perfect, David. I too hope there is still time… though it feels to me that a great part of what truly is lies outside of time, or is timeless, and is always poking its smiling face into the waters of time to take a peek at what is happening. I think it may just be a matter of letting that One in…!



  5. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    What an amazing poem. I love this. I love the metaphors and images, and how clock time is so irrelevant really. “I listened to the waves and their shifting rhythms as one by one, they wound
    the spring of my heart.” Such a great image. Our own rhythms, the rhythms of Nature, all part of the One. Thank you for this very inspiring art.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Mary! Yes, I remember when our family would go to the Mall and we’d have to synchronize our watches before we split up… Ha! Clock time is a great organizer of human activity, but I do take such delight in Nature’s own interwoven time scales. Our very bodies, as Ka has pointed out, ride upon the waves of Nature’s great symphony, and healing can come from reconnecting with those lovely rhythms. If we could see Nature’s patterns in time the way we can see snowflakes drawn on paper, I think we would be truly astonished… 🙂



    • All these rhythms and vantage points, big and small, provide so many insights… You have me thinking of time as a kaleidoscope experience… so many parallel portals, like those insect eyes… Wishing you a great summer’s eve… Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful display of the spectrum that light can take when it shines on the wonderment of us all, even if what we may see or even if all we may feel like in the moment are just glimpses. Peace and more, Harlon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Harlon. It’s a paradox I think– the fleeting nature of the glimpses, and the depth of the beauty that is revealed… Thanks for sharing a glimpse into the mystery that is you…


      Liked by 1 person

  7. “unable to be certain whether
    it was the moon’s movement
    or the cloud’s” – it was the Cloud, I am reliably informed.

    “The nude mechanism before us
    enumerated the passing slices of our fate” – Oh but this is good Michael. The whole poem is brilliant. Seriously, you are a very good writer. I hope you have a book in mind at some point? Forgive me if I have already read that you have a book in mind, for I am old and my clockwork brain has well worn cogs. *smiles*.

    – sonmi.u.t.C


    • Dear Sonmi,

      Thank you very much for the clarification. I can see now that it was indeed the cloud that brought on my vertiginous spell. But what do you suspect might have set them on fire???

      And thank you for the kind words, Sonmi. I have a volume of poems nearly ready to go in both paper and e-book format, that is largely composed of pieces that appeared here first. I have managed to include about 25% new and previously unreleased material. At present I’ve been working with the folks stationed in close proximity to the printing press to understand why the cover was out of alignment in the proof copy, but we have just about straightened that out… So, very soon. And a second collection is largely complete I think, when I think about it. I’m really touched by your sentiments here, Sonmi. I admire and look up to your creative breadth and depth, so your words mean a lot to me.

      Vertigo, again…
      brought on by the Cloud…


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