REGULATOR A: love song to an analogue clock

REGULATOR: love song to an analogue clock

I have such a tick tock
pendulum clock on the kitchen wall.
Though it came with you, I’ve called it mine
(after all, it sat in my lap,
my fat, pregnant belly shielding it from the shock
of a stone paved road, gone to seed)
since it was brought from where you were
to count your. my. our. time.

Like my grandfather’s banjo clock
but older and cheaper,


with face of printed paper,
case-wood painted
to look like wood,
tiny gilded flowers faded.
A late addition atop it sits:
(India slender not China round)
a small, golden Buddha
from a town just north of BEE. Be. Being. Was.

I’ve grown so accustomed to the sound
I notice it only, when paying attention
(like now).
Reliable ghost of the town bells,
which ring the mass and the hour / half hour
(though my clock, by choice, does not).

I am like my grandfather these days
(awake at 5 by 9 asleep);
I don’t, like he,
get out a shortwave radio and
listen for Greenwich’s distant beep,
add six to arrive in Central Texas,
then wind and set my clock
on a given day each week.

I can hear the beep on the BBC’s
un-crackling web-cast
but I rather look past,

where my clock’s hands have stopped time
on its foxed paper face,
to the prescient clock on the town’s bell tower.

I open the round glass,
open the pendulum case,
remove the dark and heavy, little key,
turn ten times counter clockwise in its given notch,
remove the key and hear the
hollow clonk
as it touches the bottom of the case
in point.
Not closing it,
I raise my finger and catch
time’s arrow-tipped minute
hand and turn it clockwise until it twins
the tower time.
I try to keep my index fingertip
from touching the foxed paper of the stopped face
not wanting it to scar,
over time.

I close the glass
over paper
over scissor-like hands and

set the round, bronze
pendulum swinging
on its slender, stem of lacquered lath.
Check for a tick equidistant from the tock,
close the case and turn the lock.
Time springs
into action,

copyright Bonnie M. Broussard, all rights reserved.

By bonniemcclellan

Mother, poet, american ex-pat from Texas living in Northern Italy.



    Regulation is an inner world
    That doesn’t need any kind of clock
    To separate the one and only
    Instant where life is standing still

    Far beyond oblivion
    Or close to it
    Depends on the ravens
    Staying on your shoulders

    Regulation is a breath
    Grand open like a smile
    Crossing the rainbow
    In full flavour harmonies

  2. Time is a fascinating creature. This is a beautiful love song. It struck me this morning that if analogue clocks are regulators; digital clocks are distributors.

    1. Thank you for stopping by to read. It is wonderful how the analogue refers always back to itself and its recursive mechanical function while the digital, dispersive, spreads ever outward from a constantly emitting centre. After reading your comment I enjoyed thinking about the applications of the image – and ended up with the thought of a pipe organ with a digital relay vs. one with a foot pump. Thank you for that gift :).


    La danse du coeur
    Observe immobile
    Le mouvement des paupières
    Sur des tempos d’argile

    Il n’est qu’un pendule
    Pour rythmer le battement
    Qui défie l’équilibre
    Sans espoir de succès

    Pulse le temps
    Le long de mes tempes
    Rien ne siffle ailleurs
    Que sur l’eau qui bout

  4. This is delightful. I love that tick-tock-here-we-go beginning; the sideways references to ‘you’, the expected baby, the grandfather; the varied sounds of town bells, radio time checks & the intimate sounds of the clock itself; and all that geography from Japan to Texas via India, China and somewhere else (where are we?). And here the thing itself is: a Regulator, with a little buddha on top. Delightful!

    1. So glad that you enjoyed it. We’re in Northern Italy and the clock was given to my husband in exchange for some work he did for an antiques dealer. Like the bells that go off every day, most often I don’t even notice the sound until it isn’t there.

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