Final “Reprieve”: Time runs out for celebrated poet
The siren whoops at twelve oclock;
after the initial shock,
you know you’ve made it up the day
and now it’s downhill all the way.
Two times twelve around the face
one hand has gone, and one hand twice,
for nothing wound by worried men
has not come unwound again.
You lift a thoughtless hand to twist
the ticking insect on your wrist,
and think before you turn your back
that time will creep through every crack
and men instead of watches run
the day the siren whoops at one.
— Donald Finkel, from the September 1963 edition of FOCUS/Midwest. Finkel, poet-in-residence at Washington University in St. Louis, served as poetry editor of FOCUS/Midwest from 1968-73. Finkel died Nov. 15, 2008, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 79.