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Submitted on
October 18, 2012
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20 (who?)
Your clockwork appendages
were cold to the touch.
The industrial complex of your mind
was grating gear against gear
where the unoiled works
kept clacking away; your atrium
was a tick-tocking machine
that counted the hours while the rust settled in.

The mainspring spiraled round
your mechanical heart tensed
so tightly it showed in your face,
in your quivering hands,
your troubled eyes.
The unlubricated escapement never
released, oxidized into place
from ages of neglect.

Your lonely footsteps echoed
under orange gaslamps submitting
to the glare of red lanterns.
Used parts are yours for the taking;
here, a hairspring; there, slender
legs under shredded petticoats.

The joints of your fingers corroded
with arthritis and green rust,
curled around curls
of Caryatids uncalibrated
to your pendulum swing.
Your flinted eyes filed flaws away,
groomed for the fluxing process.

Oscillating gears locked into place
before your backlash recoil
forced the dual mechanism apart
with shallow breaths emerging
from beneath the beck iron,
until dawn glances from the window
and your mainspring rewinds itself,
awaiting the next night uncoiled.

I asked (who else?) Dr. Minnick to look over this for me a few days ago. One of our conversations revolved around clarity, which reminded me of this piece; I've always been kinda nervous about my Technical Romance series, because I'm never quite sure the terminology does what I want it to - I always worry that the vocabulary obscures what's happening. That said, here a glossary of terms so you can put the puzzle together for yourself:

The mainspring is the power source of a mechanical watch - this is the part you wind up. When the tension runs out, the mainspring has to be rewound.

The escapement controls the motion of the gears - the contained energy of the mainspring "escapes" here. Responsible for the ticking noise a watch makes. An unlubricated escapement cannot tick, therefore cannot release the tension.

A hairspring controls the motion of the balance wheel, which itself controls the speed of the escapement.

Caryatids are decorative female figures that are often carved into the pilaster or column of a clock.

Files were once an integral part of clock making, used to shape nearly every part of a clock.

I'll let explain this one: "Flux: A substance applied to metals which are being brazed or soldered. The flux is designed to help the liquid brazing and soldering metal properly to 'wet' the parent metal or metals being joined by reducing the risk of an oxide film forming on the work."

The beck iron is an archaic term for the stake or anvil where metal is bent or hammered upon.

Annealing is a heat treatment that removes the effects of previous hardening. Insert your metaphor here.

Sometimes I also worry that I'm a huge nerd, but I never worry about that for long :B

:iconthewrittenrevolution: - [link]


1. Is the terminology too much? I realize I've kinda provided my readers with an entire dictionary, but do you get it even without knowing the specifics? Or does that fact that you have to put it together yourself help reinforce the metaphor of a well-made clock?
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MineralAccident Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Student Writer
I adore the terminology. The flow is definitely a bit better and there are parts you linger on in this one that enhance my own enjoyment of it. Mechanical, and yet entirely savory.
SilverInkblot Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! That's pretty much what I was aiming for right there :D
travelgirlxx Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
Hi! Your poem has been featured as a fave on my 1st ever Sunday Feature journal!
SilverInkblot Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :)
travelgirlxx Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
intricately-ordinary Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm a little bit of a bad reader here... but often, unless I am very confused, I don't look up words I don't know :giggle: That said, even without knowing the vocabulary (I read the description before but skipped the words to see if I would still understand it) I still found it clear and very technical and mechanical in the sense I think you wanted. Since you are comparing it to a human, it made it easier to have a rough idea of what part represented what and what it all meant in the bigger picture. I do believe some people would be put off by not understanding; but me, ignorant to technology as I am, adored the metaphor and read along easily.

A couple suggestions:
This piece is prose-like in the clear and concise grammar and sentence structure it has. So, these lines
"The mainspring spiraled round
your mechanical heart tensed
so tightly it showed in your face,"
really felt off. I believe, if I read the phrasing right, it would help to have a comma after round.

Also, and this is a personal opinion so I understand entirely if you don't want to include it, I think the piece would benefit from a small break in the mechanics to talk about the person on a human level. I think continuing the metaphor is great, but if for a second you managed to halt the flow and add a sense of vulnerability to the person you are describing, it would enhance the lasting impact of the poem.

I think it works excellently for a Technical Romance series, wonderful job utilizing this terminology so well!
SilverInkblot Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I think that a comma after round would separate it too much from the next line; the spring is supposed to be winding around his heart and that causes the tension in his face. A comma after round sets that line too far apart and makes it sound like a different piece of his mechanism altogether.

I don't want a sense of vulnerability to the watchmaker - he's intentionally unlikeable, or is supposed to be. That's why he reduces people to spare parts for his use :) He may be my protagonist of sorts, but he's no romantic hero.
intricately-ordinary Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Oops! I did read the first phrase wrong then, I think? I wasn't sure where the pause was because there are two verb phrases. Perhaps, then,
"The mainspring spiraled round
your mechanical heart, tensed
so tightly it showed in your face,"

Alright! I certainly understand why you would want to keep it that way, it's wonderful as is.
SilverInkblot Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
No; no commas anywhere in that section please. I might be able to reword it differently, but as it is now, it needs to be whole.
RaccoonNinja Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
this is so beautiful
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