The Last O’Clock





There will be no parades. No day of mourning,

No solemn, stolid marches, no young boys

Roped in to carrying a coloured banner for you.


In truth, when it happens, you will wonder

That the last time you see the clock, it will read

13:24, the precise second lost forever


Between a gasp and a stutter: you will mutter

No great last words, have no last laugh;

But inside, a gentle loss of blood


Will flood an inconspicuous organ until

It floods no more. You will find that it is

Just one Tuesday of many, only as strange


As the loss of sensation in your right arm.

It will be as ordinary as any breath, that

Last one: and you will be sat, or laying down,


Just like the majority of every hour thus far;

Holding a pen, or wishing that you were holding

A pen, at last, to make that final mark.



The picture is from Breughel’s Icarus, referenced in W. H. Auden’s tragicomic Musee Des Beaux Arts:


“…how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”


2 thoughts on “The Last O’Clock

  1. I really like this. Very thought provoking. As is the Breughel. A good match. Thanks!

    Last week I went to a poetry reading in a little woodsman’s cottage in a wooded area in Barham, a village just outside Bridge, organised by a group of friends. I read a poem written by a tree grower in Somerset about a house made of wood. Also one of Peter’s poems. Next time may I please read a couple of your’s?

    Much love from us both, Gran

    Sent from my iPad


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