I thought I could stop
time by taking apart
the clock. Minute hand. Hour hand.
Nothing can keep. Nothing
is kept. Only kept track of. I felt
accumulate like dead calves
in a thunderstorm
of the mind no longer a mind
but a page torn
from the dictionary with the definition of self
effaced. I couldn’t face it: the world moving
on as if nothing happened.
Everyone I knew got up. Got dressed.
Went to work. Went home.
There were parties. Ecstasy.
around each other. Bluntness. Blunts
rolled to keep
thought after thought
like wind across water—
coercing shapelessness into shape.
I put on my best face.
I was glamour. I was grammar.
Yet my best couldn’t best my beast.
I, too, had been taken apart.
I didn’t want to be
fixed. I wanted everything dismantled and useless
like me. Case. Wheel. Hands. Dial. Face.
Copyright © 2020 by Paul Tran. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 9, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
What matters that I stormed and swore?
Not Samson with an ass's jaw,
Not though a forest of hair he wore,
Could break death's adamantine law.
This poem is in the public domain.