A Riddle
(in the style of Poe)

Mad?  I am not mad—
I did nothing to offend—
I but asked a riddle
They could not comprehend.

You wish to hear the riddle
That gave them such a stir?
Sit and stay awhile, my friend—
Let's see if you concur.

Thus is my simple riddle,
Which they took to be a crime:
What has the faces of a clock
Yet hands that transcend time?

Think you know the answer?
Venture you a guess?
It is a very simple riddle,
As I must confess.

Still not know the answer?
Need you take some time?
I have quite enough of that
Amidst this dust and grime.

"A clock," you muse, "a clock," you say,
"With hands that transcend time;
What is the hidden meaning
In this melancholy rhyme?"

I cannot give the answer;
I mustn't let it slip—
You must guess the answer;
If it is in your grip.

"Why 'faces' there, not 'face'?," you ask,
"A clock has but one face;
Unless he means some other
Means—I hate this wild goose-chase!"

Stay!  Stay!  Calm, my friend—
Do not give in so quickly;
Surely your will has not grown quite
So feeble and so sickly.

You try the riddle yet again,
Yet answer you find not;
Is it true?  Could it be?
Your reason—is it shot?

What has the faces of a clock
Yet hands that transcend time?
'Tis but a simple riddle
To those yet in their prime!

"Transcend,"  you mutter—inclined to stutter—
"What could that statement mean?"
You look to me with pleading eyes
Yet no answer shall you glean.

Soon, you are frustrated
As you rack your brain for clues;
Such is the consternation
Of this mad-inspiring muse.

"I do not care!" you soon declare;
"Don't waste my time," you say,
Yet I know that the riddle's rhyme
Will plague you all the day.

"Then just tell me the answer!
I want to know it now!"
All in good time, my friend,
Be calm—do not yet have a cow.

This poem's rhyme is fluid;
Its structure crystal-clear.
The rhythm's regularity
Is soothing to the ear.

So why the trepidation?
Why the latent fear?
Why these strong emotions
To these phrases which you hear?

I threaten not with malice
Nor with an upturned gun:
You are so keen on answers!
And therein lies the fun.

For, you see, my friend—
An answer there is none!

"Cheat!"  you cry, "It is not fair!"
"An answer there must be!"
All more the satisfaction
This game doth bring to me

For, you see, I've won.

You thought me mad—you thought me sick
You thought me quite cuckoo!
Yet your mind proved as eas'ly moved—
The madman, then, is you.

There!  You see, it is done—
I am not mad, my friend.
I merely asked a riddle
Whose meaning has no end.


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©1997 By Luke Swartz.  All Rights Reserved.