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Grandfathers Clock Revisited

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Below is the poem entitled Grandfathers Clock Revisited which was written by poet James Tate. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Grandfathers Clock Revisited

The wrinkled gent woke up suddenly in the middle of the night. Staring into the 
darkness he saw nothing. Gloom and fear ganged up against his mind. Had he 
heard something? What was it? Something falling with a bang? What? 
He had heard things fall in the night such as glass picture frames—old strings giving 
way. The picture would crash to the floor, shattering the glass. He would recognize 
this. But he did not hear shattering glass. 
Was it a thief in the night? He lay listening, not daring to move. The night was dark, 
cloudy, gloomy—and scary! Desperately replaying the sound, he heard a bong in his 
mind’s ear.
A bong! That would have come from the old grandfather’s clock. Yes, it had to be his 
grandfather’s clock. He knew it. His stomach released its tension.
His eyes popped open again. How could it be the clock? The clock stopped running 
when his grandfather died – forty years ago, this very night!
Suddenly the clock started striking. Twelve strokes at midnight. With bolt-upright 
attention, he sat in self-detention, and pondered.
His grandfather was a strong man who lived to be ninety years old. Then the clock 
stopped to run no more. One of his kin wrote a song about it, and it was sung for 
generations.
	“My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf, so it stood ninety 
years on the floor. 	It was taller by half than the old man himself, though it weighed 
not a penny weight more . . .”
He would find out why the clock was striking. Slipped quietly to the room near the 
clock’s encasement, he saw the clock standing with its door open.
His eyes adjusted a little, and there in the floor he saw a dark object. What was it? 
He had left nothing there on which to stumble in the night. You learn a few things, 
he thought, in a long life like his. And you keep things picked up so you won’t fall 
over them.
Moving with stealth, he saw something hunched and furry, standing vigil with eyes 
reflecting light. His cat! Apparently, the cat had chased a mouse up the clock 
seeking safety. Its weight tripped the spring wound tightly, causing it to strike.
In his delusion the old gentleman grabbed his shotgun from the mantle. With the 
menace looming bigger, he quickly pulled the trigger. Now the old grandfather’s 
clock is no more. And the cat and mouse are a taxidermy chore.

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Written for John Heck's "Choose your forte!" contest

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  1. Date: 2/27/2011 11:37:00 AM

    James, I heard a story about a grandfather's clock that started working again the night the grandfather died. That's what I was expecting here, but you gave me a great laugh with your ending. Very clever Love, Carolyn

  1. Date: 2/27/2011 12:41:00 AM

    hahaha, love that cat and mouse line. What a fate for them! Oh, the memory this stirred in me of The grandfather clock song, tick tock tick tock.... (what movie was that from anyway?) Nice seeing your comment today. Luv, Andrea

  1. Date: 2/25/2011 12:40:00 PM

    Well expressed memories recollected in trnaquility about visiting grandpa's clock, James