Clocking Out

by Alan Perry

The metal gray time-clock
seemed to monitor every movement.

Its glassy face never blinked
as it belled interruptions through the day.

It knew when I began to work
went home, ate lunch

visited the restroom.
I had to punch it–not really a punch

more like a nudge with a card
inked with my name and clock number–

until it snapped down on a precise day
hour, minute–bracketed pieces of shifts

book-ended by morning’s dark arrival
more darkness in evening departure.

I wondered who ran the timepiece–
pictured a little man in a back office

rationalizing the worth of each worker
as he collected employee records

on errors, outputs, goodbyes.
Or maybe nothing was behind the clock

except a wall plug and cord
keeping it alive with voltage–

doling out daily stamps for temporal work
until the electricity is cut

and hands no longer matter.

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