Bruce Cohen Hour Glasses

Normally I math up my days= four pills every three hours,
Count freight cars at railroad crossings, periodically check the flashing digital readout
On the elliptical, finger tabulate under restaurant tables before ordering dessert,
Calculate the number of steps it takes from my parking space to office;
Yet there is a kind of uncertainty, stagnation, like a stuck zipper
Which has no agenda, going up & down in its egalitarian fashion.
My car idling at the railroad track has a curved window
Which we know as a windshield.
I’ve never seen a house without windows.
Although my birdhouse nailed to the tree does not have windows only a circular opening.
There was a hurricane: trees toppled power lines.
For a few days I lived in room temperature & room temperature was outside temperature.
Confused blue jays flew in the house. Into windows.
Not unbreakable windows. That morning, people gossiped about the weather in the supermarket
But it was intersecting monologues. I don’t consider that conversation.
Before I lost power I responded to the weatherman on television
The way I howl (vulgarly) at football referees even though
I know they can’t hear me through the television screen.
I suppose I don’t need to say a television screen is glass just like a window
But doesn’t function as a window.
Nor did it shield the wind from the hurricane.
You can see an entire world dramatically played out behind that glass.
A day does not go by where I don’t fret over the time that exists & the time that will never exist.
In some way, a day does not happen where uncertainty doesn’t blurt out
An answer. An answer is not always a solution
As thinking doesn’t always happen exclusively in your head.
Fun True Fact: since the advent of cell phones, 42% fewer people wear watches
& those who do are no longer satisfied with watches exclusively telling time.
People now like watches to tell them how many steps they take. Or play music.
People have regimented rituals before they go to bed.
Sometimes people get hammered & pass out on their bedspreads with their shoes & clothes on
Without even remembering to brush their pearly whites orremove their makeup. Often
They wake up having forgotten where they are, how they got there.
Arithmetic can also be linear or abstract & time is measured but illusive.
A person might look at his watch.
He might look out the window to see if he recognizes his world behind glass.
People stare at landscapes all the time in the hopes it might inspire them.
Bring them back to a primitive self.
Nobody wants people from the outside
Looking in their windows though windows are non-judgmental, designed to look both in & out
The way zippers are designed to go up & down.
Note: a good invention might be one-way unbreakable windows for houses.
In my favorite show, Law & Order SVU, one way mirrors exist in the interrogation room while
The other wall has a regular window with bars.
Nobody ever looks out. Even criminals understand the concept of the one-way glass:
People in authority watch vulnerable people answer questions. Confessing-
Justifying-Making up stories-Reciting horrible memories from their childhoods-
Blaming-Apologizing-Reliving. Lying always. Sometimes they fall apart & you feel for them.
In real life, it’s called eavesdropping.
We like to hear others’ secrets: water glasses pressed against shared hotel walls.
But the question becomes how to get people to tell the truth!
Dehumanize them. Humiliate. Take away eating utensils. Make them shovel snow off sidewalks
With gloveless hands. The world is a kind of snow globe anyway. Enclosed in glass?
Stomp on their reading glasses before handing over the instruction manual. The practice math
Tests that don’t prepare us for anything in actual life.
Describe in detail the fundamental mathematical difference between certainty & uncertainty.
There will always be replacements & remainders.
Everyone will have grocery lists
But supermarket shelves will be empty as they are just before a hurricane.
People will always wake up having forgotten where they are,
How they got home. A friend once told me he woke up in his neighbors’
Bathtub fully dressed. The water, at that point, was tepid.
His first waking act was to look at his wristwatch.
Other people look at the tiny windows on their watches to calculate their position in respect to
Some people pretend to look at their watches, though they have only a naked wrist,
To signify they no longer want to engage in the conversation
Or more precisely two monologues intersecting.
Some people point to the imaginary watch on their wrist to indicate
The other person should stop talking, that it’s getting late.
To look vibrant take this tube of waxy red & smear it on your lips.
If you’re a man, take white foam
& lather it on your face to remove follicles that grew while you were dreaming or passed out.
With a razor of course which could also kill you. Naturally your underwear should be the Invisible kind,
Like the cleanest imaginable glass.
The trick to leaving the city before the hurricane: do your makeup in the rearview
But wait for a red traffic light.
At that intersection, when the train is passing, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the word
Caboose, to feel the solitude of the passenger looking out the train window in the penultimate
Car who seems to be writing some message of hope on the fogged glass

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