Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2016  Vol. 15 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Time Travel Bargaining Tactics

I summon you, Lord of Time,
by setting out the inner pieces of thirteen
watches across the backyard’s picnic table,
making a body with their mechanics—
minute hand for a nose, hour hand for a mouth,
the circle shell of their bodies for eyes—

I swallow my pride, speak your name, just
loud enough to make it real, just loud enough
and you appear,
thrift store suit, leather tan face, and wrinkles
sanded down across your forehead.

When you smile, it is clear
that one of your molars is a fang.

I ask you to stop time for me,
and your teeth make an umbrella
and the long dead tree behind you
pushes out a green leaf.

We strike a deal: my right arm
to stop time, my left to reverse at my will.
And I let you take them—
they come off with a strikingly easy motion.

I look around. The leaf on the tree is actually
a moth, having crawled from behind a branch,
that spreads its wings in a struggle then twitches
then dies and falls to the ground.

And when I look back across the table,
you swing my own arms like loose baseball bats,
beating me down and laughing, every
watch piece jumping up and down on the table.

When it stops, I open my eyes through
bruises and welts and you are gone.
The watches are reassembled, and
on the ground, a thousand dead leaves,
and on the table, a single fang for a clock.  

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