Wednesday, November 28, 2012

tickTock man


outside the holocaust museum, Washington, DC


Second drawer down on the right, in the wood top desk, which sat beneath the window of my childhood room, held the universe of lost & found things.

The post cards, of course, with pictures of places I’d never been well outside the boundaries of our neighborhood, addressed to someone else & held by an ever hardening red rubber band. Evidence of life in the great beyond.

Marbles. Unmatched queens and a five of clubs. Empty matchbooks with archaic numbers scribbled on their covers. Round bits of metal & springs, screws. Pieces of contoured glass. A uniform patch, that read Layman Brothers. String. A Mother board. Mess of wires.

Relics of a previous future, unmet, yet.

After a day exploring the woods as we played war or built outposts along the border, my brother, cousins and I emptied our pockets in the center of the floor. Loose dirt and rust spraying off our findings into the carpet. We'd run fingers along grooves, pitted surfaces and hard places---a puzzle in how they all fit.

‘Do we know what it is yet?’ my cousin would ask, always the first & last question.

‘No, there is more,’ was ever the answer.

We’d sit, rolling them in our palms and tell the story, each day adding details. A washer from an elbow or shoulder joint. A receipt carried the activation code for something called Marlb. An action, or maybe the name of what we were re-constructing.

When called to supper we would slip them in the drawer, with a clink, clank, ring-a-ling. The drawer became heavy in its track, hard to slide out and release its contents.

At night, after everyone left I would take everything out and assemble it in the obvious patterns. Arms. Legs. An eye. The inner workings of the body. Then I lay within, cuddled in a ball, my ear pressed to the heart---an old railman’s pocketwatch, which belonged to my grandfather--- and wait for it to whisper, once more.

tick.

written for Poetry Jam & Theme Thursday

73 comments:

Dave King said...

I was breathless throughout this, wondering what wonders would come next, all of it completely authentic and carrying echoes from my past. This, particularly, rang clear:-

After a day exploring the woods as we played war or built outposts along the border, my brother, cousins and I emptied our pockets in the center of the floor. Loose dirt and rust spraying off our findings into the carpet. We'd run fingers along grooves, pitted surfaces and hard places---a puzzle in how they all fit.

So true the way in childhood everything must fit -- and does! Oh, if only that could come back to me now!

Brilliant!

Mary said...

Very nice, Brian. I too loved collecting the treasures found along the path of a day or broken things that my dad was going to throw out but I rescued. I enjoyed the ending greatly, could see the boy Brian there putting all together, each treasure in its place, bringing the being to life. And I could hear the beat of its heart. Tick.

Daniel said...

Wow, this took me away this morning. Loved it. A piece close to my own heart.

She Writes said...

"Relics of a previous future, unmet, yet." Brilliant

Oh my gosh, I still have a drawer like this. But as a child, I loved the royal cards, and the colors in marbles, like a kaleidoscope pattern frozen in glass. I wish i could recall what I kept in drawers. I know I have always kept one like you had.

Daydreamertoo said...

Ah... the magic created from found ...'things'
I was enchanted reading all of this but that last stanza...ear pressed to the heart... your grandfather's watch, magic and...priceless.

Laurie said...

Brilliant, gosh I'm glad I found your blog,

Tabor said...

Brought back the magic of those collecting days. Rich children don't get those. My grandchildren have the magic arrive in a box.

izzy said...

Cigar boxes and drawers! It used to drive the adults crazy the things we collected and scattered about! I love the 'Ponderings' and the end is fabulous, thanks!

Pat Hatt said...

Such a magic it can be
When one comes to your sea
Creating such a pleasure
That one can't measure
With each gained small treasure
That we could play with at our leisure

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I really love the imagery in your writing. I particularly loved this passage: "pictures of places I’d never been well outside the boundaries of our neighborhood, addressed to someone else & held by an ever hardening red rubber band". For some reason that really stood out to me.

Mr. Charleston said...

Really nice. Lots of color and warmth.

Suz said...

this was so universal
yet so personal
such a great poem
....:)

ReBelle said...

Tears in my eyes.

Anne said...

The inscription in your picture set the tone for this and made the reading of it more poignant. An homage to the life of a child filled with wonder and mystery. Nicely done Brian.

Helen said...

Playing make believe ... I did it, I watched as my children did, my grandchildren. Your poem touched me deeply ... As I know it will for everyone fortunate to read it. These are the poems we read more than one time.

farawayinthesunshine said...

The universe of a child is often held in a magic drawer...You remembered
:-)

Tatius T. Darksong said...

This made me think of some of the things I still hold on to from those adventurous treasure hunts......hmmm...think I'll go check them out now, thanks for sharing.

Monkey said...

mller, you just know how to take us there with your words..you are brilliant man, brilliant :)

Eva Gallant said...

we have a drawer much like that.

Claudia said...

what i love most is that all these treasures that do not have an obvious connection are a part of the bigger thing... do we know what it is yet...? the trying to find out what it is to the point where you assemble them on the floor and listen closely to its "heartbeat" - also a great metaphor for the things in life that we collect and that doesn't seem to fit together - dunno - moved me deeply

Gail said...

You know how to stack words.

You take me places I've forgotten and bring memories and dreams to life.

Margaret said...

tick tock, I LOVE this, Brian. SERIOUSLY, Brian, I would love to have your poetry book upon my bookshelf!!!!

and !!!

?

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh my God, this is STELLAR! You took us right there, with the children, sorting through their treasures. I could feel the drawer, almost too heavy to open and close.......and the image of the small boy lying within the framework of the constructed parts, listening to the heart - his grandfather's watch - POW! Knocked me right out.

lori mcclure said...

Brian, this is beautiful. It's as if the story swells with wonder and then the end, wow. I can picture the scene so clearly, that little boy (sigh). Well done, friend :) Don't ever stop imagining.

Luke Prater said...

the recollections are vivid and involving. I wondered about the Holocaust memoriam picture - wondered if there was some allusion to those children who didn't get the childhood we did.. or any childhood really... beautifully worked piece Bri

Luke Prater said...

the recollections are vivid and involving. I wondered about the Holocaust memoriam picture - wondered if there was some allusion to those children who didn't get the childhood we did.. or any childhood really... beautifully worked piece Bri

Jenny Woolf said...

What a fantastic mysterious piece. The feeling of fluid boundaries... amazing. For me, archaic numbers would be sums in pounds, shillings and pence, which used to be the British currency but was changed sometime around 1970. I once created a book based on a Victorian bank account, and after adding up pounds shillings and pence for hours I felt quite dislocated.

Jenny said...

Brian! A well written piece....every word comes to "life" in my mind as I read.

nicolewian said...

This is great. Love this line: " Relics of a previous future, unmet, yet."

Annmarie Pipa said...

this is beautiful writing!! And I get it, because my boys do the same things now. but all that stuff ends up in the washing machine because they leave it in their pockets.

Hilary said...

Everyone has a similar drawer with its interesting contents. Not everyone has your gift of words to give it life like this.

Zouxzoux said...

Such a sweet post. Thanks for sharing.

AmyLK said...

Every little thing can be made into something alive with the right imagination. And your words of course. Beautiful!

Tracie Skarbo said...

What a wonderful treasure drawer full of possibilities! I hope as an adult you have kept up the tradition... :)

hedgewitch said...

Your photo up top is haunting, and to every childhood there clings some moments of utter despair, of lostness, such as that child must have felt to the nth degree--so we make meaning where we can, and curl up in what will harbor us. A fine bit of writing, bri, from that land we forget too easily, the past.

rallentanda said...


The simplicity of collectings bits and pieces gave you such delight rather than having expensive toys and cultivated your imagination at the same time. I bet you still have a drawer maybe an entire cupboard like that now:)
I am glad how you were mindful of the fact that holocaust children never had a real childhood.

Tara Miller said...

I love it! The simple things from our childhood that brought such fun, anticipation, adventure and joy. Makes me think of the shoe box under Cole's bed with all of his treasures for makings of a robot.

Lisa said...

I have to steal all of Pat Hatt's, word for word. So beautiful, and touching, magical. This is the beautiful way to tell a story, to reverie in memories.

JANU said...

Memories of childhood! So precious. And this is such a awesome write. Made me remember my childhood days. :)

Peggy said...

This is an impressive poem. I could kind of feel it grow and develop as I read, just like you all trying to put "it" together. Good work.

RMP said...

it is amazing how children's imaginations can take the simplest of things and turn them into gold. I would would think that running your fingers along those objects now would allow you to tap into that magic and mystery. I admit I'm also curious if the cards (the mismatched queens and five of clubs) don't hold a story all there own and what it might be.

Poet Laundry said...

This is quite possibly my favorite of yours Brian. Or my newest favorite. Maybe it's the mood you set...or I identify because I have little boys, or because I had my own little "collection" drawer, or because I too have had my grandfather's pocketwatch since I was six...or maybe all of these...but this piece wrecked me.

Jyoti Mishra said...

hey brian..
hope u r doing fine :)
loved those opening lines in Pic.
small small things that we collect everyday at the end take the form of treasure :)

Dana Dampier said...

There's magic within those found treasures. I use to do the same... I'd dig holes in the yard and pretend I was finding dinosaur bones and gold. haha

Joanna Jenkins said...

You captured my attention from the very first (brilliant) sentence. I really loved this one Brian, from start to finish.

And the dinner we're hosting tomorrow night is for the museum! What a coincidence.

jj

Leovi said...

Magnificent poem, yes, I think I have more than one drawer of those at home.

Valerie said...

You have just brought back so many memories, Brian. Oh for a taste of those days again. This post shot to the top of my favourites list. Happy Thursday.

SueAnn Lommler said...

How we long to hear...past voices...lives...what's it all about?
How we long to hear...
Hugs
SueAnn

Lorraine said...

children should have secrets in their pockets
not blood, agony, suffocation
You write it so...so we don't cry

Fred Rutherford said...

what a write Brian. So good. The prose is impeccable. The third stanza alone is just wow good. What a read. Thanks

Steve E said...

Brian I could not begin to tell you how I love this. As any who read here, it took me back--I was/am sitting with you Peeps on the floor with our treasured findings, then later alone...but happy!

And tonight I am going to open that drawer (really!) except I now have the choice of many drawers, the memory of many years of living here and there, with whoever, whatever, experiencing the eternal thoughts of re-living , well, SOME of it all.

Or is that "SUM OF IT ALL"?

As ones above have written: BRILLIANT!

PEACE, brian,
Steve

ladyfi said...

Oh, this was so beautifully written!

kaykuala said...

Brian,
It's universal! Reminds me of a box where we kept knick-knacks. Mo(who's now in London)and I used to fill this box with things 'we shared'. We would occasionally take them out and played together when we were kids. Thanks for the memory.

Hank

Syd said...

It sounds like you were assembling the Human Body model. The marbles made me smile. Still have hundreds of mine that I collected.

the walking man said...

When we played war I was always killed first so I napped a lot under the sun.

Lisa notes... said...

I recently cleaned out my kitchen junk drawer. Wish I'd had the same curious spirit as a child to create the pieces into a piece of art--before I chunked much of it. Hmm....lessons in that. Thanks, Brian.

MooNi said...

A German saying

"Two souls, a thought"


Thanks for your comment!

Tina

Robyn Greenhouse said...

Love these kind of draws! My parents house is full of draws like this in my childhood bedroom. So many things I collected.

Francesca Edesia said...

So interesting, yes brings back memories of childhood. The ending is beautiful, where is putting everything together. Haven't been around for quite a while, it was nice to read your posts again.

Alice Audrey said...

Reconstructing a life from the stopwatch out. The last stanza really makes this one.

Katherine said...

Brian...this was beautiful! Thanks for sharing such a special childhood memory.

Geraldine said...

What an imagination and way with words you have Brian. This was stunning!

Loredana Donovan said...

So much history and emotion can be in a little drawer. I really like the last stanza where the grandfather's clock becomes like a beating heart, giving life to the child's creation. Lovely, Brian :) smiles

Loredana Donovan said...

oops, I meant pocketwatch, not clock. I also like the line about the relics being a previous future. So true, our past can determine our future, or if we learn from the past, we can have a better future :) Well, I'm reading so much into your poem, Brian, thanks :)

Joyce Lansky said...

Beautiful memories. Such a contrast from the stone at the top.

http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2012/11/theme-thursday-whispers.html

missing moments said...

Oh, brought back all those childhood memories of discoveries! Loved it!

Lady In Read said...

so beautiful! every word in this post is a treasure to be stored carefully in that drawer - that 'universe of lost & found things.'

I had one such space for myself as a kid and now my little ones have their own universes!

Loved it, as always!

Sue said...

This one is a treasure...

about treasures.

Kinda perfect.

=)

Mrsupole said...

Hi Brian,

I think these are my favorite stories that you tell. You always have a way of taking us to where you are and I love your childhood stories, especially the cemetery ones. Do the boys let you see their secret drawer?

I am slowly getting better. Thanks for helping, always appreciated.

Happy Theme Thursday.

SaraV said...

Thank you for taking me into that time travel-sitting on the floor, feeling the grooves, creating the stories--and that ending, wow. Brilliant Brian :-)

wood said...

hey, brian, sorry i havent been around much, i dont have much time for reading or writing at the moment. i read awhile back, didnt really have time to to reply, but i really like it, great storyline, and very well told, really liked the ending. add this to your "best poems" list. just wanted to let you know

Syd said...

Your words and the photo spoke to me. The things that I would find and keep--treasures really--are still in many of the drawers here. And the children from the Holocaust--what can be said other than the worst kind of sadness for our human species.

oldegg said...

Childhood is a very precious thing...every child should have one. This is a poignant post of great memories for me and sadness for others.