“At Work”

The clock
tastes like circuitry and dust.
Hands like a drill sergeant
inspecting his ranks,
attentive only to the air
inside the glass.

Under the clock
smells like wet leather
on the first Sunday in April.
Laboratory inscriptions
bear the letters QUARTZ,
but it holds no gold,

only an idea
of what time should look like
and how it should
sound—rent rent rent
rent—striking a match too quick,
losing the flame.

Whose idea is it anyway?
Why should we rent away
our lives only to start over at midnight?

On its rough face the numbers
shine like hair, each waiting
for its part of the minute.

—first appeared in Tar River Poetry, 2009

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