Watch City


Waltham, Massachusetts


Now, twice a day, it tells that timeless joke

By being right. When was it that it broke?

Some day long gone, but clearly, one-oh-one.

The frozen hands point out both moon and sun,

Both cloud and star. How long since it last struck

With its collected strength? Before it stuck,

Did people go about the morning town

Eager to hear their quarter-hours tossed down,

Or cursing their bad luck when they were late

For their appointments — even if with fate?

And did they grieve that day they lost their crier,

Silenced in the steeple’s jutting spire?

Despite the prayers of those who hope it will,

The tower bells no answers, standing still.



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Len Krisak has taught at Brandeis University, Northeastern University, and Stonehill College. In 2000, his full-length collection Even as We Speak won the Richard Wilbur Prize and was published by the University of Evansville Press. In 2004, If Anything appeared from WordTech Editions; in 2006, Carcanet published his Odes of Horace, a complete translation; and in 2010 his complete translation of Virgil’s Eclogues  was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. In 2014, his complete translation of Ovid’s Amores and Ars Amatoria will appear from the University of Pennsylvania Press, his complete Catullus from Carcanet Press, and in 2015, his complete translation of Rilke’s Neue Gedichte (New Poems) will be published by Boydell & Brewer.