Detail from I Built This for You by Tim Frisch

Steve Langan

The Alarm Clock

Like the people, thank God, the wind is feigning
its revolutionary spirit.

It wants inside the house where it is warm;
It wants to be strong and a healer.

It wants under the comforter, the afghan.

I take back what I said about you, you, you and you.

Privy to decay, driving the dangerous child
in the sidecar.

Exterminators call repeatedly making offers
and guarantees.

In my head: wayward rubble, blueprints for excavations.

All day we settle for doom and deceit (repeat).

Not the clock we loath, our current bedside clock:
unceasing gravity, graceful styling, snide contempt.

And its meaninglessness, remarks our dull protégé,
because, when you think about it, what is time, really?

(Categories one inhabits without acknowledging them.)

(You know eyeballs aren’t meant for that sort of gazing.)

Among the several distinct zones of sound, the clock.

All day for weeks hammering has been going on
in one zone of sound.

Leaning out the window with my child beside me
I try to separate the sounds into their respective zones.

In one of the zones the alarm clock rings
on the table (in its own horseplay and piling on).

Any blood? No blood. Any history?

—After the trauma of waking, after the trauma
of waking,

this conversation, from the street corner, was overheard:

No, you’re a pagan. No, you’re a pagan.

You’re a pagan, all your friends are pagans

All day in our armor we keep saying,
“You’re the pagan, no you are, no it’s you…”

Among the hammering—repeat, repeat,
repeat—among the voices.