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Tad Cornell

Honorable Mention: 2015 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $100

About this Poet:
Tad Cornell grew up in West Germany, a CIA-brat during the Cold War. He was a child opera star at the Frankfurt Playhouse, a featured personality written up in the Boy Scouts magazine Trailblazer. His adult spiritual and artistic explorations include living in Hong Kong finishing a long poem called "Hong Kong Elegies" while teaching English in a Chinese middle-school, a novitiate in a Trappist monastery, studying theology in Rome, on the mean streets of Manhattan and Houston helping homeless youth, and now retired after thirty years of social work. His current book of poems is In Whom Is My Delight. See website tadcornell.com.

About this Poem:
The poem "My Clock Died" is one of nine poems of equal length comprising a poem sequence or cycle titled "Stooped In My Brain's Amygdala," and it tells a William Blake-like tale with characters like Sorrowful Jones and Madame Kairos, referred to in the poem, visiting the narrator in spectral form. The work as a whole, all nine poems, is intended as a fresh look at our fallen human condition and the redemption in Christ that lurks everywhere and always.

My Clock Died

My clock died right around the time they fixed my starter.
The fact that speed has a limit in that possessed by light,
it turns out that time has a limit, a quantifiable minimum unit
and a maximum edge along which only God can see
the follicles growing on its rounded surface waving hosannas.

My breaks are starting to slip and the radio's on the blink.
Sorrowful Jones thinks he can hear the rustle of time's surface
as it bends with the curve of space, a kind of midair mating
of duration and distance while I dodge potholes in Norristown.
He always gets the best assignments. I get to call the tow truck.

And so it has always been for such as I, no northern lights
to while away the nights, no phantom deer to feed from my hand,
no secret code to break lest civilization crumple like a box.
I talk with Sorrowful less frequently now, but his transmissions
persist. He is the man most likely broken by Madame Kairos.

His data is flawless. His interpretation is matchless. A marked man.
She prefers covert operations that have tangible democratic results.
She'd call it leadership. He, ever the king-maker, cannot lead.
If he leads, it is by his sheer pitifulness that the tribes somehow unite.
This is no Cochise waiting in ambush, living at altitude,

living and breeding among the ancestral rocks that tell tales.
She has put a contract out on him whose candor had cost lives.
Now Sorrowful is going to have to learn how to be Cochise,
this time on the lam for real, asphalt jungle and sudden
taxi rides to out of state, the usual film noir, if you please.

It won't take long for him to get cornered. His radio waves
leave doubt that what we read is not on an automatic loop.
Which means that he might already be dead, or held somewhere
enduring water-boarding and sensory deprivation, or may
be in God's own witness protection program called Church.

Copyright ©2015 Tad Cornell