Daily Archives: 28 Sep 2019

Poetism Commentary: “Clockface Killed The Man”

The poem in question: Clockface Killed The Man

This is another poem that I wrote in class at BYU, this time in a Computer Science class.  As I recall, it was an 8 a.m. class, and I never have been, nor do I suspect I ever will be, an 8 a.m. person.  Also, the lecture was boring that day, and as I kept looking at the clock, a “Calvin and Hobbes” strip came to mind:

“Calvin and Hobbes,” September 8, 1993. © Calvin and Hobbes, © Andrews McMeel Syndication.

In my poem, the clock is anthropomorphized (a word I learned from another “Calvin and Hobbes” strip) as the entity Clockface.  I don’t know if he is straight-up evil, but he undoubtedly relishes in the misery of people when time is not flying.  When I envision Clockface, I picture a Mirror Universe amalgam of Cogsworth (from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”) and T.T. (from the Nintendo64 game “Diddy Kong Racing”).  He probably has a goatee.

The person in the poem just wants to live life on his or her own terms, without the constrictions of where to be, when, and for how long.  Of course Clockface insists on butting in and screwing those plans right up.

The beginning of the second verse (third stanza) is a reference to a “Dilbert” comic strip, back when it was still funny:

“Dilbert,” October 31, 1993. © Andrews McMeel Syndication.

I have no idea how my poetic salad caused a hospital admission, but it seemed funny at the time, too.

This poem was meant to be a silly poking of fun at the passage of time, but at this point in my life I find a more ironic meaning the progression of the things Clockface says:

Dance for me and prance for me or I won’t let you go

Come to me, succumb to me; you’ll see no need to go

Savor me and favor me so I don’t have to let you go

As a younger man I was always looking forward to the next thing.  I still do that now, twenty-and-more years later, but I am more keenly aware of my own mortality.  Of course time cannot forever contain us; it’s Clockface’s lie to keep us eager for the future, without actually savoring the precious moments we are currently experiencing.  We will inevitably arrive in the future regardless of our current state, so we should make the most of what we have now.

That isn’t to say the the present is always nice, and sometimes the future is all we have to look forward to when the right now is made bleak by forces beyond our control.  But by selling us his lie of making the passable, and even pleasant, present seeming unbearable, Clockface steals from us the one thing we can never recover.

He definitely has a goatee.

As far as the writing style, I don’t have much to say except that one thing bothers me.  In each of the “choruses” (stanzas 2, 4, and 6), the beginning of the third line has a little rhyme, (“dance for me and prance for me,” “come to me, succumb to me,” and “savor me and favor me”).  I think it works nicely.  However, the first verse (first stanza) also has a similar rhyme (“it’s mocking–how shocking!”), and I like it, but I did not replicate the pattern for the second and third verses (stanzas 3 and 5).  I think it sticks out a bit.

Finally, when I read Clockface’s repeated line

Life beyond this torture will be one that you’ll never know

In my head, I hear “this torture” as sung by John Linnell of They Might Be Giants in “Don’t Let’s Start”:

D, world destruction
Over an overture
N, do I need
Apostrophe T, need this torture?

Here is the original handwritten version, largely unchanged from initial scrawl to finished copy:

Poetism Commentary: “I Am Not Your Random Abuse”

The poem in question: I Am Not Your Random Abuse

This is the second poem I wrote when I (arguably) should have been paying attention in my HEPE 129 class at BYU.  As with I’m Not Sorry, written a few days before, the theme is someone who has escaped a bad relationship.  “Random Abuse” definitely seems more forceful to me, though.

It’s written from the perspective of someone who is the victim of constant gaslighting, though I don’t think I had ever heard that term back then.  (Thanks, exit from the LDS church, for teaching me!)  Narcissism also seems play a prominent role in the other party’s actions.

The title is an homage to the They Might Be Giants song “I Am Not Your Broom,” and the TMBG influence can be heavily felt in the meter and rhyming.  However, today when I read this poem, I think if it were a song it would sound something like R.E.M.’s “Mystery to Me.”  The words themselves are almost rambling in nature, and I particularly like the slant rhyme of “something” and “dumpling.”

As evidenced by the image below, the final version went through a fair amount of revision before being deemed “suitable” for publication.  It looks like the only portion that made it unscathed from the initial draft was the final stanza / “chorus.”  One other interesting tidbit is that the two lines before that final stanza were initially part of the web-published version, as my collective printout includes them:

Too bad the soda’s never there when you need it most
If a bottle broke it’s neck on you you might wake up someday

I find those lines at once disturbingly dark (domestic violence innuendo, anyone?) and hilarious: never would 18-year-old me dream of a beer bottle.  It would of course be soda.

The numbers in the margin of the handwritten text indicate the number of syllables per line.  I count those often, but this is the only instance I can find of writing them down.  And finally, here is my attempted transcription of the original text:

I am not your random abuse

You can’t blame me for what’s happened you did to yourself
If you’re distraught it’s not even close to my fault
You run around screaming and that’s why I got out
Your path was destruction never come to a halt
You looked in the mirror and thought I looked back at you
I guess now you’re so far gone that there’s no getting back
Unless of course you finally [unsure] take to heart what I said to you before
You’ve got no real chance to get back on the right track

But you’ve never listened to me before
So why should you bother to start now?
Why would you unstop your ears
You’ve tried so hard to unlearn how
You think that myself did this to yourself
And I tell yourself [unsure] deduce
That fact remains despite your flat rejection: what you may say
I am not your random abuse

You [unsure] out at me from behind bars you put there
Cry so hard that I almost feel sorry for something
But then I remember that you said somehow it’s my fault
And since it ain’t it you’re just all out of luck, my little dumpling
You are not mine, I am not yours
What does it take before you understand what I say?
Too bad the soda’s taken, guzzled years before never there when you need it most
If a bottle broke its neck on you you might wake up someday

It seems to me your brain’s impaired
Or maybe just a little loose
Whatever’s messed inside your head
I am not your random abuse

The final version is definitely more… refined, but the original quick rambling has its share of charm.  Especially

Too bad the soda’s taken, guzzled years before

I mean, if that isn’t golden verse, I don’t now what is.  (Just kidding, I do.)