Just past two, when the cleanest neon
can’t hold back the insistent dark,
the horologe returns to a city
that never knew he’d left. He crashes
on fresh sheets and while he sleeps the hands
on his glowing watch face move silently
in circles round and round.
The Time Gatherer has eggs and toast for lunch,
and feels without needing to see, the sun
crawl up the slope of the sky. One day
he knows, the swollen orb won’t complete the trip.
One day. And when the waitress asks
if everything’s okay, though she couldn’t give a damn,
he takes a few moments of her time.
Wrong words fly back to him in all the wrong places,
“All you ever give me is your time.”
His fork clatters to his plate because he can’t shake the stare
of a cat-faced clock above the door. “I’ll take it all back then.”
Only now he can’t get full.
The other diners politely ignore him
since he has taken mere seconds of their time.
At night the horologe paces city sidewalks
with the more conventional vampires
who wear designer shades in moonlight,
giggle and sprint through plastic shadows,
and will not approach him because they sense
he’ll reel in the one precious thing they have.
All they have is time.
Throbbing, frenzied syncopations pull the horologe down
into a dark, damp club. He nurses a watery beer,
taps sticky rhythms on his table
as others dance in circles on the lighted floor.
He likes that phrase; life is a sticky rhythm.
No one asks him to dance.
And he thinks this is not so bad.
I could spend the rest of my life just keeping time.