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The Nature of Time

Author: Lost Sheep
ASL Info:    41 M Vancouver, WA
Elite Ratio:    6.25 - 913 /773 /73
Words: 274
Class/Type: Poetry /
Total Views: 1489
Average Vote:    No vote yet.
Bytes: 1812


There is a hugely interesting point about time that has somehow returned to my overworked machine of a brain. I can’t remember which of twin sages in my life (Tom Robbins & Douglas Adams) made the somewhat tongue-in-cheek observation, but somewhere along the path of human development a huge change occurred with the development of digital watches.

You see, prior to digital watches, time worked in circles. Day gave way to night, then to day; the stars and planets revolved around the earth; the seasons came and went in a cyclical fashion. Time was measured by hands moving in circles on a watch. After 11 came 12, then 1, then 2. It was Christmas Time, the Monsoon Season, or the Month when the Geese Return to Nest.

After digital watches, things changed. Time became linear. It was three days until the deadline, fifteen minutes before bedtime, two years since Mom left us. Time is now measured in the passing of the seconds, days, and years of our lives. 1 no longer follows 12, it was 40 years ago for me, never to return.

This is one of those times when I have no idea what I’m going to write. There will be direction changes and a lot of backspacing. This just seems worth somehow saying……

…. Well it’s later, however you measure time and I’m done. Somewhere the thing took a sad turn. Words can do that, you know.

The Nature of Time

The playground
Filled with the sound of children
Squeaks of swings filled with happy kids
Laughter, smiles, little competitions
Balls bounce on the sidewalk
Latest fads, latest gossip, “Did you hear?"
The boy throws a baseball to his friends

Time passes

The night
The playground is silent, the four square lit by the cold moon
On a picnic table chained to a tree sits a boy
The wind pushes a piece of trash over his old shoes
The sound of a train passes a mile away
He’d better get home
Mom will claim she was worried sick
As Dad makes sure he comes home later tomorrow

But time is a circle

The children return
The playground filled with happy screams
The sound of boys’ feet racing on the track
Teeter-totters move up and down
Jump ropes thump the ground to the rhythm of girls’ chants
More laughter, more smiles
The boy chases down the longest fly ball anyone's seen.

Time passes

The playground is cold
The field overgrown, the school windows shuttered
Wind blows a single note on a discarded beer bottle
Snow masks the litter and the loss
The man crawls from his home
Beneath the battered playground platforms
Between the rope bridge and the mobius corkscrew
He once slid down the slide in glee
Now he’s cautious not to bump his head on the underside
He rubs the marks of a baseball mit pillow from his cheek

They say you can’t go home
For time is a line and there’s no going back.

Submitted on 2005-12-13 18:57:44     Terms of Service / Copyright Rules
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  It's amazing, but it's the common truth: Time is at once a line and a circle. This poem reminded me of the craziness of time and how much changes along its flow. It gave me a pang of sorrow to see this boy's mood change so rapidly over the time line. Then again, isn't that what children do, jump from excitement to depression and back again? But no one remains a kid forever, and that's when where you end up can be a lot harder to get out of.
Memory and time are intertwined, and both of them came out in this poem.
Thank you for this sobering walk through the nature of time.
-The Prince of Tales
| Posted on 2006-03-23 00:00:00 | by Prince of Tales | [ Reply to This ]
  We really can never go back can we? If we could, then wouldn't we all? Relive a certain moment or change something for the better.

I know that I long for the past, sometimes I think just to escape age. Long for the normal childhood that seems so long ago.

We walk that straight line with no choice but to move ahead. We have hopes of turning back but know that the impossibility of it is a reality that we must face. Time changes us all, it never stops until we, as individuals, get to the end of the line.

This is a very thought provoking piece and after reading it there is a heaviness in my chest that I think comes from holding back the tears.

Excellent and a favorite.

Brightest Blessings,
| Posted on 2006-01-08 00:00:00 | by lenotoire | [ Reply to This ]
  An interesting point. Time, it's so different from all other dementions. Does it even move at all - I wonder if that is just a human illution, and when time seems to melt into itself, perhaps it truely does? Who is to say time is any more or less than perspective?

Perhaps in one lifetime time is a line - in a way that a large circle's side upon too close of inspection seems linear. In the bigger picture, time is indeed a circle. Your poem underlines both views, adding to the distorting effects of time.

The use of the last line is of often underestimated importance - I am pleased to see that you wield it well.

Ah, again, a useless comment, I do you no good, do I? But I can't stop reading your wrok with a certain facination :)
| Posted on 2006-01-03 00:00:00 | by Starless Knight | [ Reply to This ]
  Hey Steve,

I really liked this. Loved your descriptions of the playground and the children.

This was said and seemed to illustrate entropy over time, the gradual loss of orginization, a kind of decompensation not only to the playground ( for that reason, the litter masked by snow worked well) and school but more importantly to the man and his life.

This was sad and reminds me of a line the "The Boxer" - " After changes upon changes we are very much the same" and so the frightened boy becomes the frightened man with all the life beaten out of him! very sad but all to often true!!

Nice write Steve!!

| Posted on 2005-12-18 00:00:00 | by SHRINKSDR | [ Reply to This ]
  I think that I would be tempted to write

The playground
Fills with the sound of children

Because that would give it a sense of flowing into the next stanza and a contrast with the swings filled with children. Mind, I note that you love using repetition for emphasis and use it throughout all your poems.

The use of contrast between the day and night is great and I love the twist you give to ‘time is a circle’ as the children return and yet conclude:

They say you can’t go home
For time is a line and there’s no going back.

Of your lost people poems this is my favourite, albeit, I think they are all really good.
| Posted on 2005-12-16 00:00:00 | by comradenessie | [ Reply to This ]
  This poem is really good. You have captured the essence of time with your words here. Your descriptions give way to wonderful imagery throughout this poem. I like how you compare the playground and how drastically it changes from day to night and back to the daytime again. I thought this really captured the "time is a circle" theme nicely. And it is ironic how time was always measured in a circle like you said, when it really is true that time is a straight line and there is no going back to where you once were. I like how you talk of the homeless man and how he once was a happy child on this playground. How things change with time! And you are so right...not always for the better. This is a very thought provoking and well written poem. I have nothing to criticize here. Really good job! Take care.

| Posted on 2005-12-15 00:00:00 | by lmz | [ Reply to This ]
  I think in the next-to-last stanza, some of the “the”s could be eliminated: “Field overgrown, school windows...”etc. Similarly, “Snow masks litter and loss”. You eliminate the beginning article in the second line, and I think the poem, already interesting, would be made more powerful by eliminating some others. Also, I think the last line should be reconsidered: “Time is a line without return”, “Time is a line that draws itself in one direction” or something similar. I think using “go” and “going” in the same sentence doesn’t end the poem well.
Your imagery is very strong, and the theme is universal. The result is a deep and moving impression.
| Posted on 2005-12-15 00:00:00 | by fredmelden | [ Reply to This ]
  I like your concept of time, being a philosopher and all that the two ideals of circular infinity and actualy length infinity is really cool. Honestly i liked your description more than the actual Literature you came up with off the top of your head, great imagery though. nice choice of words, notes of wind and discarded beer bottle. . Oh, by the way you got good tastes man.
| Posted on 2005-12-13 00:00:00 | by PoetPhilosopher | [ Reply to This ]
  I don't wear anything apart from a maori bone necklace of a manaia (water-spirit) that someone gave me. I used to wear a watch years ago but I hated knowing what the time was... I don't like to be reminded of the clinical progression of time (a man-made concept to my eyes).

I agree with you that time is circular and often like a pastiche of celluloid frames - memories are single frames from this movie of our lives entwined with everyone else we come into contact with.

But I digress. Your poem was very strong in playground imagery - your metaphor was well-crafted and slantingly stated which I admire. Bald-faced writes that state it simply can be read once and often dismissed, as it doesn't soak in like multi-faceted writes like this do to me.

Really, I have no nitpicks. Is this boy you or a collection of other boys you have met on this playground? Either way, it makes no difference for the appeal is intriguing.

Your last two lines really did make a great lasting impression.

Great write Steve.

| Posted on 2005-12-13 00:00:00 | by alteredlife | [ Reply to This ]
  Interesting write on the nature of time being both cyclical and linear; the playground is stationary (perhaps even linear, as far as time is measured) but the young man ages and seasons recede and return in a manner as orderly as tidal motion. Obviously the young man can't return to his youth physically because of the capricious nature of time, but memory/nostalgia can return him (although imperfectly) to the source of youth. Actually, this poem feels as if it were edited from footage taken of the same location over a period of years, similar to a lifelong documentary. Nicely done.
| Posted on 2005-12-13 00:00:00 | by rws | [ Reply to This ]

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