the 25th hour

Posted: September 17, 2008 in Poetry

You’re sitting at your desk, lying in your bed, walking with a friend, speaking on the phone, and the clock strikes 24:01.

The hour has come, and you’re never prepared. You never plan. Sometimes you count the seconds, but you can never keep track of when the change happens, when the time does not fit the season, and the remedy the problem. When you reach that hour, nothing makes sense. You sit at your desk, but your feet try to walk with a friend. You walk with a friend, but your ears listen to someone on the phone. You lie in your bed, but your brain sits at your desk.

You can never keep track of when the change happens.

You sit at your desk, and you read the text. You’re reading and you realize you want to write, and if you write, your writing will change the world. You pick up the pen, and then you think about what you could write instead. You could write terror into peace just in case. You can write poverty into wealth just in case the plan falls through. Then the person on the phone asks, “Where did that come from? Cut it out!”

You can never keep track of when the change happens.

You walk with a friend, and you’re talking about plans for the next day. And your friend goes on a tangent about some excellent plan for an excellent day you’ve never seen, and your mind drifts to wondering how to create your personal Bergen-Belsen, where you ship all the good inside of you to burn away. You’re not a good person. At 27:34, you tried to write pedophilia and poverty into a fabric of society. You’re no better than a worm. You’re a worm split in half. And then you wake up in a cold sweat on your bed, wondering why you weren’t sitting at your desk reading your book.

You can never keep track of when the change happens.

It’s suddenly 34:87. You don’t know where 34:87 came from, but it’s flashing on a clock. Or maybe it’s a cash register. Or am I reading a receipt? Anyway, you’re carrying a bag of regret because something was not supposed to happen at 34:85, and it did, and it’s affecting you now at 34:87. Did you say something improperly? Is it in the bag? You walk cradling this bag, and you stop, finally noticing that you’ve been circling a desk with a bloodied inkwell. And the writing on the desk says (there’s no paper), “wondering how to create your personal Bergen-Belsen, where you ship all the good inside of you to burn away. You’re not a good person.” And there’s a face on this page (there’s no paper), and it’s a mirror and you’re screaming.

You can never keep track of when the change happens.

There’s a dark resignation in you that since it’s now 36:91, and you can’t remember why you can’t remember the last time 1 a.m. happened, that you should end the ticking. The ticking is coming from your fingers because you’re writing a paper, but that doesn’t matter. (There’s no paper.) You hear the ticking and it rattles your nerves; your body trembles as your fingers type, and the tears burn through your breasts. End the ticking. You wonder what termination sequence to use. Did you ever have a termination sequence or the experience of someone else’s sequence? You remember the last time you saw 1 a.m. was the first time you saw someone’s termination sequence fail. You punch in a random code: access denied.

Time no longer makes sense.

It’s still 100:34, and you don’t have any money. It’s been 100:34 for what feels like decades, and what the calendar says was only a week. You fumble with your wallet; it’s in arm’s reach because you’re lying face down on your bed. It’s morning. You want breakfast. You try to get up, limbs burr0wing into the mattress, loose sweat escaping onto the pillow and staining the pattern. You try to move, nails tearing into the sheets, feet slipping on the fabric as you twist and lift, writhe and squirm. You succeed in nothing but adjusting your position, and you wonder if you were trying to lift your body up from the bed or to push the mattress down and away from your body. Either way, the person walking next to you doesn’t understand why you did not hear her question. You shrug that you’re okay, and you mutter, “All that really happened in one excellent day?”

Time makes no sense.

You see 2 a.m., but it’s a mirage because the sun’s shining full, and there’s snow on the ground. You want to wear shorts (or nothing at all) and play in the snow. You feel no concrete slab pressing you to the bed, and the phone is off the hook. You hear a voice saying your name (or nothing at all), but you ignore it. Finally, you’re naked and in the snow, but no one is watching. What’s the point of being naked when no one is watching? Suddenly, the light cuts off. Click. And you’re holding a phone someone has abandoned on the other end (or nothing at all).

Time makes no sense.

This time makes sense. You test appliances for posterity. You add a familiar touch to a conversation, and no one recoils. You loathe specialty provisions, you raid the camps and rescue your integrity, and there’s nothing left to lose. You alter your desk and look for spilled blood. You make up your bed to daydream about sullying it later. You try to lay down tracking powder or a sensor, something, anything, and you do not want foreign regulation of YOUR PORTS. But you know once it hits 23:59, it was all for nothing. You can never keep track of when the change happens. Time makes no sense.


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