Upload problems led to weird text. My bad. Fixed.

So – let's get this clear – you're an artisan, not a poet. You can just make poetry out of anything, or, at least, you try. That's not to say you should, mind you, and goddamn if it's not funny to hear, but goddamn if you don't commit to it. Sometimes it works. Usually doesn't. But you don't care about that. So you say.

Shit, you're a salesman, not an artisan, but sure, let's start with the artisanship. You can speak to the art of watchmaking (from your mother, peerless eccentric you adored), and you can speak just a little bit to the science of watchmaking (self-taught, that). Your domain is gears and springs, and your mental color palette is just vivid enough to display your big dorkiness for the world to see, overeager clockboy.

You put yourself in everything you do. And you do one thing. You make artistic watches. By yourself! In the 20th Century! You yourself – you would readily concede that there are more efficient ways to make watches. There are assembly lines! They're definitely way more streamlined – you're familiar with the assembly line, and yeah, sure, you really can't rebut any of the tenets – and moreover, the quality isn't really much worse at all.

It's a concession you make readily – you are a salesman. You can make watches, sure. Lots of people could make watches. But your dearly-departed mother, and your departed father – they were noveaux riche, as were many others – and look how those noveaux riche sought to prove it. They chased after these curiosities, these markers, and you – eccentric, capable, earnest – were more than happy to provide gears that turn to show it. Lots of people could sell watches – you can, because the people who would want to buy them know of you and your mother's weird luxury hobby, because they knew you were good enough to make them, because of your birth.

And the ideal that these noveaux riche imitated – this itself spawned imitators. They didn't need to be finished, coated silver – you could make it out of steel, and it really does look the same.

You liked the steel ones more, you think. Silver gave you your living, but the steel ones had better acoustics for your weird love songs to watchmaking.

Right. We can't really avoid that.

Why are you so earnest about that?

I – yes, right, I know the poems? Why the poems?

No, I'm not ignoring your saccharine odes because I'm trying to hurt you, I promise that I'm trying to spare you. You sound like a snake oi salesman. You are selling status, and perceived status. You're selling feelings – and really, I can't overemphasize the snake oil comparison.

And you want these carmina to watchmaking to reach the air anyway.

You do. Why. Fine. Whatever. Your call.


… you're still smiling, serenely. How do people grow up like you, not only believing this without shame, but writing poetry to this? God. Fine. Whatever.

BETWEEN PRESENT AND FUTURE, you apparently actually believe. A pragmatic device, to be sure, but one that can also be artistic. If you merely want a timepiece that works, you can buy one from an assembly line. It'll be less expensive, certainly, and if you choose to go that route, you'll get a perfectly functional, probably fairly pretty, and a good quality watch. There's nothing wrong with getting that sort of watch. Not everyone ascribes significance to a watch.

Some do believe in the significance of a timepiece, as you apparently do. Symbols are how we communicate. The way our brains are wired, symbols are how we understand things that are difficult to understand – fire as those things which are lively and chaotic, water as fluid, wind as ephemeral. Things which are difficult to understand, we reduce to the literal. We all have common symbols that we use to communicate. Poetry relies on the evocations of images from these symbols to make us feel something familiar – sometimes it makes us feel happy, sometimes it makes us feel sad, but poetry will always make us feel more than what we were feeling before we read it.

And you think that the symbols for time are the most powerful, because, you say, the most powerful force any one of us will face, as a person or species, is time. We can hide from a storm; we can fight disease; we can never fight time. Our bodies will erode. One by one, things we love will disappear. We bid them farewell as their bodies break, as our bodies break. It's terribly sad, time.

It's terribly happy, time. When two people love each other, a child can be born. When they are born, they are totally dependent on that love – they depend entirely on their parents, they have predictable wants and needs. They are human in form, and they are loved because they are born from humans and love – but they are not capable of thought.

And then, one by one, with each tick of the years, these humans in form become human in truth. It's not a linear progression – there are moments when your child will surprise you. The ability to surprise, you say, is what makes us human. These are moments, you emphasize, landmarks in time – see, again with the symbols. We're using space to describe time – we use the easy things to understand the difficult things. Time requires an anchor to understand it. We use the concrete to understand this terribly incomprehensible idea; we use the concrete to help us keep track of the landmarks that occur in it.

Here is where you come in – the concrete poem to track time between and within minds. Your timepieces will survive for generations – you give, as you say, the gift of poetry in object form. Poetic metaphors exist on the page – this metaphor you hold on your person. This timepiece you craft, this one, made of steel gears – it will not be bejeweled, but it last. It will survive the owner – the owner buys this knowing they will die, and that the poem will live on, a love song to the next generation to live and to love and to be – vividly, all of it. The one who crafts it sells it to the living in memoriam of the living. You are selling poetry in concrete form, and because you are selling poetry, you are not concerned with the object, you are concerned with the message it sends to those who will hold it next – and the message to the living as a reminder to the living that there will be those who hold it next.

That's why, however acceptable the quality of a watch made from the assembly line, your hand-crafted watches will always be better. They must be. A poet's work is ardent. These time pieces must survive, as love letters that must reach the ones who follow, as a reminder to those who follow that there are those who precede them cheering them on. The one who holds this silver pocket watch, a hundred years in the future – the one who bought this watch did not foresee the place or the personality of the holder. They do not know what that world will look like. But they knew one thing: they would love the person who held it, 100 years from now. Whatever the holder's troubles, in the long-distant future, they can look at this watch, a poem of metallurgy and time, and know that someone in the long-distant past is pulling for them, pulling for the future that they hoped this watch would mark the moments of, however indirectly, however circuitous.

The goal is that this simple steel pocket watch be ageless, as good a hundred or two hundred years from now as it is today – that this steel poem serve as time capsule so the memories of the past, in all the acid and beauty that is time, be carried forward in this container of the lands marked. The poet's task is to make you feel more – of something, good or bad – and whether one is the original owner or it was passed down, this watch, steeped as it is in life's vividness, you say that the hope is that it makes someone live just an ounce more vividly in this world – for themselves, for their successors, for their predecessors.

I'm really ashamed at how well I pulled that off. You've said this so many times, so I mean, it makes sense that I'd know it. Obviously I'd know it, so I'm not mad that I can say it. I'm mad that I was able to get through it with a straight face. Like, that shouldn't happen. This is the most embarrassing thing. You're baffling – totally baffling – to be able to just say things like this – to sell things, no less!

I, yes, I know, you don't make any money off the steel ones, granted. You… believe this shit you're saying about metal baubles. I know you do. You really do believe that.

You really are a terrible poet. And you're still just grinning, like you didn't just say something terribly embarrassing, shameless, at that, as though you didn't just make me say something terribly embarrassing. I hate you so much.

Oh, no, I just wound you, don't tell me you're broken :( so unfair :(