The Tick of a Second Hand

Posted by ractrose on 14 Apr 2017 in Art, Poems

My Titanic poem. Harry Widener, one of the victims, had purchased while abroad a 1598 edition of Francis Bacon’s essays. It was in his possession when he went down with the ship.


A life-boat of titanic survivors poem the tick of a second hand


The Tick of a Second Hand


The landing gear came down

And a long becalming slick

Smothered the water in a broadening swath

That rose at the interstice of sun and sea

Vaporing in blue

Fell from the rigored bird beast

That in its throes shuddered and upraised its nose

And sought to climb

At length it showered many things

Among them screens and screens

That for a time flashed blue then died


“I have never known the rules,” said the half-buried knight

The china cup handle and the brittle stars

The spider crab and the worms

The tin box that had been the knight’s home, and the rusticles that had grown

Pinioning him when at the first upheaval

A maelstrom had spirited him to the immortal shadow realm

And the shadow was a lie

If Bacon told the truth

They relied on the teachings of the spider crab

who had devoured the essays

Then laid them in a thousand eggs

The knight, the pawn, and the bishop had fallen

Each to his resting place

The bishop white, the knight black, and the pawn

Still trapped within the tin box could

tell nothing of himself

“Superstition hath been the confusion of many states”

The spider crab touched

Her eyestalk close to the half-buried knight’s face

And for malice’s sake, swung the rostrum towards the little worms

Who recessed themselves in terror at the memory of her words


How like a gift drifting

Rarest species of lumbering jellyfish

The chessmen first untethered from the board

and then this glimpse

Into the mysteries of the Hand

The brittle stars slice with their ponderous grace

One, two, three they gather with hard labor

in the gelid plasmatic depth

“Of truth, of death, of unity”

Some shrouded thing surrounded by a halo descends

It lands

And the china cup handle, the half-buried knight, feel

After a sleep of a hundred years which is to them

The tick of a second hand

Miraculous movement




The Tick of a Second HandGravity Hold the Moon




(copyright 2015 Stephanie Foster)


“Tick” can be found in The Poor Belabored Beast


Congratulations! You’ve found a bonus poem!


easil with painting in progress to illustrate poem the culture


The Culture II


The Kreutz Sungrazer

Should it return

Centuries ahead


Trail its nebulous vapor of ammonia



The devil’s alloy

Nickel-plated offerings


Commodify your tears

Make your work efficient

Import your tears in boxcars

Be done with it

A question harms you

A word destroys you

Step from the shadows

We will hear your voice


Then hear mine


Pearls to swine

Cede to the shake-down

Know yourself, protect yourself

Donate early and often

To the community coffers


Pull down the rafters

Pry up the shingles

Break the foundation

Menace with symbols


Your road-blocking

Your smoldering debris

May burn like lime

But the times

Have your back to the ledge

You hold

Within a shaking hand

Your fortune told

Doomed to wander, or to linger

Once the card is drawn


Your pyramid is the inverse

Top-weight crushes the future

Leverage, secrets, access

Entrée to other classes



(copyright 2014 Stephanie Foster)


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