the hour we lost.
It was April,
and the hundred-year-old trees were being born for the first time again.
like I had control over time,
although of course I was only doing what I was told, like everyone else.
I remember a shameful sense of loss
at the time that didn’t really exist,
and an annoyance at the feeling, and at the fact that I had forgotten the date again.
Just like today,
I had to look up the instructions,
be told whether the occasion marks a gain
or a loss.
And it was a loss.
We lost an hour,
or pretended we did.
And today, we got it back.
What will you do with yours?
I cannot do what I wanted to do with this same hour then,
when the birds thought they could speak to us and the sky was wider than the horizon.
I cannot make good on the plans of spring when the parchment leaves lie dying in the gutter.
My hour has depreciated;
it is no longer worth what it was.
Damned inflation, it gets you everywhere.
But what I don’t know is
whether my time is losing its value,
or time is.
There is a factor of absent potentiality, to be sure.
In April, I could have,
through the unremarkable sorcery of effort,
turned that hour into a deed,
or a friend,
or (if I could bear not to toss them back like I do the hours), a fish,
or a poem.
But the hours since have robbed the hours to come,
and capital has been lost
and in friends, and sleep.
Now that I have my hour back,
it bears the scars of its six month captivity.
It is thin, and pale, and it has lost as much faith in me as I have in it.
The hour we lost we spent together.
It has come back to us separately.
Adventurer, Take This TV Repair Manual on Thy Quest and It Will Serve Thee Well
Take thou thy silver socket wrench,
That which thy fathers hadst entrusted,
And thy fathers’ fathers’ before them,
And the Stevens Street Ace Hardware Outlet before them.
Take thou up thy wrench,
Battered and battle-weary with the rust of a thousand fixtures
Pied across its noble face,
Take thou thy strong and ancient socket wrench,
And tighten the nuts, every one, across the skin of the particleboard.
With the reverence of a lover,
Turn the knob and pray.
And yet do the spokesmen hock?
And yet do today’s big, big winners cheer?
And yet do the penguins march?
Black and white, though the set is color, across the frozen wastes
To the war cry of Morgan Freeman?
They do not, and the felted speakers lie dead anon.
Hero, your quest has failed,
Although many trials you have yet to face.
Let not the scars of hopelessness mar the visage of your determination!
Lay thou aside thy trusted and tired socket wrench, and
Take thou now thy magnetized ratcheted Phillips-head screwdriver.
It is dull and black-handled, but it bears the proud and undaunted blazon
That is a polymer-molded ergonomic grip.
It rests in thy workman’s hand like the hand of a friend,
And it has known thy hand before,
In tougher times,
And lived to tell the bloody tale.
The selfsame Phillips-head screwdriver,
Which the elders call Craftsman,
Or sometimes Fuck the thing’s slipped again,
Was your tool when the Batteries of Elmo perished
And served well in its task.
On that day the Triple As fell and the counter their grave,
But you snatched them up from the grim maw of oblivion,
And ensured that they should not that day see the feasting halls of the battle-slain and out-of-juice.
And, yea, even when the bicycle betrayed thee,
And tossed thy heir to his merciless punishment upon the cobbles of Anderson Park,
Broken of spirit and skinned of knee,
To be met only with the solace of a popsicle from the ice cream truck,
Which wept its garish purple blood and bile upon his arms and new shirt.
Then thou campaigned,
All afternoon before the toils of variously scaled hexes and WikiHow guides,
And fought, and fell,
But emerged, lifetimes later, bloodied yet victorious,
Having at great cost to house and home bought another bicycle.
This day is the day of thy destiny,
Thy prophesied triumph over the flickering window of snow,
Rabbit-eared and rubber-footed.
Take thou thy screwdriver,
O driver of screws,
And as the physician with his sutures,
Reattach all of the connections.
Alarum! A hit! Zounds! Pull back, for thou hast been struck,
A blow as mortal as infamy,
The bolts of Jove slung from the screws of Zenith.
Thy hand has been bitten by the beast you tend to,
An ungrateful pet in the house of an overgenerous lord.
And tend to thy wounds with cold water and unguents and much cursing of vacuum tubes.
The days of darkness have begun, long ere the days have started to grow shorter,
For this is not a darkness of the divine sun,
Its reliable luminescence even as the 60-Watt CrystalBright halogen bulb,
But a darkness of the spirit,
And also of the television screen.
But a sole recourse remains for the doomed adventurer,
Steadfast and unhesitating
In his assurance of defeat.
Hero, lay thou down thy ratcheted magnetized black-handled Phillips-head screwdriver,
Lay thou down thy silver socket wrench,
Which has failed for the first time,
Lay thou down thy manuals and thy scrolls of lore,
For they are snake-tongued and in a savage scrawl,
And hold no loyalty to you.
Hero, lay thou down thy self, upon the shaded bower of thy sofa,
The soft sepulcher that swallows and does not release except coins and crumbs,
And take thou up thy telephone receiver,
And call Best Buy.