Introducing a new series of poems by Julian Matthews. Julian is a writer and Pushcart-nominated poet published in The American Journal of Poetry, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Borderless Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Dream Catcher Magazine, Live Encounters Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and The New Verse News, among others. He is a mixed-race minority from Malaysia and lived in Ipoh for seven years. Currently based in Petaling Jaya, he is a media trainer and consultant for senior management of multinationals on Effective Media Relations, Social Media and Crisis Communications. He was formerly a journalist with The Star and Nikkei Business Publications Inc
By Julian Matthews
There is a clock in the room at Studio 5. It has
stopped. It reads 4.49. I peek up every now
and then to see if it may suddenly tick again.
I never wear a watch. If I need to know the time
I can always look at a phone. Time travels with me.
It isn’t stationary on a wall, even though the time
in this room seems to pass too quickly.
I’m in a writing class to find my voice. But I never lost it.
I just misplaced it. I put it down here somewhere,
in Studio 5. I’ll find it soon enough.
My fellow voice locators are also time-locked
in this room every Sunday. Our tables are arranged
in a large C. No one expects to ace Miss B’s class.
There are 11 or 10, sometimes 9 souls present. It’s a
minor congregation at a private mass. We come
with emoji hands in prayer, hoping to receive the word,
like manna from heaven. Even if the gods are silent
and the choir is absent.
We are typesetter’s orphans, lost at the bottom of a page,
like hungry Olivers, with bowls in hand, asking
for seconds: Please, ma’am, I want some more…
You have to be nice to get some.
Every week there’s a plot twist or two.
Or, a howling. If our time in here is frozen
then the word trapped in our tongues and minds
will have to be released. We have to let it go.
Sometimes, the word freed from a thawing heart
is like palms being rubbed together. They warm us
on the outside and, momentarily, on the inside.
Sometimes the word is a lump of clay on a potter’s wheel,
malleable, awaiting to be shaped by tentative hands.
Sometimes, we fire them too early in the kiln, they come out
half-baked. We sit back and glaze over them. There’s a thin line
between the potterer and the potty. We spin the wheel. And begin again.
I glance up at the clock once more. They say a stopped
clock is still right twice a day. It has 1,440 minutes to give away.
I count 1,439 things in this old clock’s life that have gone astray
but at least, in this class, in Studio 5, in this warm place,
over this potter’s wheel, I hope to get one or maybe two
minutes of something right today.
First published in As Above So Below, Issue 9, Editor: Bethany Rivers, U.K.