[Words and music by Paul Kotheimer. Amplified acoustic guitar and vocal by Paul Kotheimer. Recorded at home in 2011. Released on THE KILOGRAM OF GOLD.]
A rock. A rock: A clump of rock, spat out
from molten mantle to the dusty crust
or fallen from the barren void of space
to this, our squirming, fornicating Earth,
just sits there--whether frozen in some peak
or ground to sand and mixed with muds and moss,
inanimate, inert, outside of time,
in spite of eons and their vastness. Now,
from time to time, that's how it seems, to mind
and to persist while nickel after dime
go trickling past to fill the two weeks' take
one calls one's take-home pay. It's dull,
in other words. About as dull as rocks.
Some days the photocopier will change
its metered wheeze into a song--
a minimalist techno-pop lament,
like Nine Inch Nails, but pianissimo.
At times, the wear and tear on pallet jacks
backed in the corner near the loading dock
will make a little installation piece:
Still Life With Microwave. The Lost & Found
at the reception desk will overflow:
Dickensian details, compulsive lists
of human attributes fit for Flaubert:
One brown glove, deeply worn; an envelope
with post mark 1996; ear phones
with one of their foam earpad things detatched;
a plethora of hand-held gizmos; phones;
a shawl; a watch; umbrellas of all kinds;
and so on and so on, 'til Five O'clock,
but not today. Today is just a rock,
a chunk of hematite or dolomite
or granite flecked with iron from the moon.
A thousand million years of sitting still.
And then a coffee break. And then the same.
Then lunch. Another billion more. The sun
exhausts its fuel, subsumes the planet Earth
as a red giant, melting all of this.
I vaporize. Then go out for a smoke.
Then back again. Another billion years.
The galaxy thins out into the void.
Four fifty-nine. Four fifty-nine again.
Four fifty-nine again. Four fifty-nine.
Again. Again four fifty-nine. Again.
The gods relinquish Form and Formlessness.
The Cosmic Embryo aborts Itself.
The Universe Is Not. --Four fifty-nine.
It never was, began, or ceased to be.
There's no such thing as time, or space, or rocks,
or paperweights made out of plastic rocks
that keep the time sheets on the boss's desk
from floating off into the yawning void
before they're tallied up and double-checked,
submitted, filed, paid out, deposited,
and spent. And spent. And spent away. Outside
the building where I work these days, there sits
a sort of charming piece of public art:
A statue, human size, a mannequin
parked on a bench, in thought. The regulars
in my department, as you might expect,
have given it a name. They call it Bill.
Bill knows what time it is: Four fifty-nine.
It's still four fifty-nine. Still is. Still is.
Still is. Four fifty-nine. Still is. Again.
Four fifty-nine. Four fifty-nine. Again.
Again. Again. Still is. Still is. Again.
--And so on 'til it's Five. And then, the end.
Good night, Bill. Good night, plastic rock. Good night,
reception desk and Lost & Found. Good night,
lamenting, plaintive photocopying
machine. Good night, Still Life with Pallet Jacks
and Microwave on Loading Dock. The Earth
is long since dead. The sun's collapsed
into a pulsar at the trailing edge
of some uncharted spiral arm, and time
and work and jobs and money don't exist.
It's Five O'clock. I'm taking off. Good night.