The ivory tusk was born at six o’ clock,

aspiring through the pink and grime, and

already Jeff could sense the slipping time,

feel his pelvis gripped in the fist of the hour-

glass’ isthmus. By seven there was already

the pain of the triangle, this aching, engineered

geometry, a suspension bridge over which

he could only run his tongue. Jeff’s face grew

drawn and haggard at eight, the suspicion of

the clock face’s unstoppable progression now

confirmed, these women, these women, can

they ever meet your eyes? Nine was perpendicular,

pointing out at the dance partner, accusing, a moist

and glistening shelf. Ten defied gravity, defied

the ricocheting photons with hidden eyes and

hidden smirks. The next hour’s electronic tear

drops whisked through the steel hands that

clutched at them in vain, holding the rose to

the chest as the petals fell away. Jeff knows

what must come next, for midnight is vertical,

crawling back to the world’s center from which

it was born. Will it even hurt, this razor chiclet,

this bullet in the brain, shot forth from the muzzle

of every backdoor conversation, every ghostly eye

that drops, every laughing middle schooler?