Alan Morrison


i. The Bin of Time

Browbeaten by routine’s tyranny
the ravages of wasted time
cuttlefish your luminous brow,
sleeping-pill white, marble eyes:
pay with daytime drowsiness
for nocturnal sedated bliss
numbing your mind, cushioning thoughts:
well-punched pillows supportable for once.

ii. Time Bites

Hours hover, mothballing minutes
in static dust-clots, stick in the throat
as pills without enough water
to dissolve to flakes; time,
the irritable master it is, spits ticks
of rhetoric in a gust of stale breath
humming from a scoured tongue –
time bites like sharp radish,
a taste relished by the toothsome
while wisdom mints it out with gum.

iii. Closing Time

In cigarette-mist of a smoke-filled pub
he sat hand on head, wrist on chin,
I’m trying to keep my brains in, he said.
Tears of snakebite streaming down
in lagered trace, misty eyes
disguised his tears, wasn’t the place –
frozen, beered up, numbly waiting
for another round, dreading last orders
beckoning through tobacco smog –
could see his life half full, half empty,
clinging to his pint till closing time.

iv. White

Luminous cuttlefish sky stares pearly eye,
vast blank page, junket white winter sun
cocking a snook through parted clouds;
ghostly pale agoraphobic pate
parted by net-curtains’ communion veil;
page of skin clinging, clinging;
sockets for eyes; cod-fish white glinting,
grinding nerves to powder, grinding
like the famished teeth of time.

v. Out of Clock Time

The soul knows no limits – I sense
this in my silent times – the ticking
digits count only bodily lives –
but the soul, the self, the spirit lives in
its own domain outside clock-time –
ghosts, some think, cross to our side,
sometimes – a bit like obsessives popping
back to check they’ve remembered everything:
the gas; the keys; watering of ashtrays;
or simply to remember to collect what they
forgot to the plodding tock of days.

vi. Old Father Time

Time is a bitter, morbid old man
who can’t hear what you’re saying
or just can’t understand.

vii. Time Anxiety

Life without the anxiety of Time
Might prop us up in our tripping prime,
If we could cut down clocks like trees
We’d put the branches at their ease.

vii. The Clock That Forgot the Time

What Time is it? asked the clock who’d forgot it.
Well if you don’t know, how should I? replied
The Memory that couldn’t remember. What’s the Time?
Piped the poor Clock once again, then sighed.
That’s like asking. . . said the Memory – . . .no, I forget it.
I would have asked Death
, said the Clock, but he’s died,
And Life’s far too busy regretting it.

ix. Little Father Time

Pallid offspring of future-minded parents,
torn too soon from nursery rhymes
thrown into a dingy itinerancy
of rented tenements, uncertain tenancy,
a rag doll dragged through Christminster streets
by the scruff of the cockerel's neck,
son of two fugitives in limited times,
protector of wind-bitten little siblings,
windfall babies, daren’t rock-a-by
them lest crimped cradles fall –
pale twisted innocent, twisted by love,
hair sweat-greased from compassion’s high fever,
all the world’s troubles rub his marble brow
as if to polish off all infant fortitude –
Is there nothing to do? Is there nothing to do?
sounds out like a terrible blow
to his callow, cramped conscience, perilously raw;
nothing to do but sacrifice the lambs
then atone with immature martyrdom –
hung by shoe-straps, hands pillow-soft,
a crime of compassion in a child’s despair;
a scribbled note slid under stool-wedged door:
becos we are too menny. How many more?