KIM (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE (caller): Is this the face that launched a thousand ships?
KIM: No, this is the Poetry Crisis Line. But I do fly model planes on weekends.
From Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe. Read an excerpt here.
Does anyone else find it od
That Tygers come from the same God
Who also made Sheepe
& Sm. thinges that creepe
& Eagles & Beagles & Scrod?
The air’s only there where I’m not,
and that is the reason I’ve got
for moving around
(traversing the ground),
so I tend to do that a lot.
Read the original here.
JERRY (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
ANDREW MARVELL (caller): My vegetable love
JERRY: Are you into carrots? Cucumbers? I’m not judging.
MARVELL: shall grow
JERRY: Prize-winning zucchini?
MARVELL: vaster than empires
MARVELL: and more slow.
JERRY: That giant subterranean fungus in Oregon?
In honor of his best-known poem, artists often depict Edgar Allan Poe with a raven on his shoulder.
They tend not to do this with William Blake.
Read Part 1 here.
SFX (coconuts): clop clop clop clop clop clop clop clop
POETRY CRISIS LIME: Aaaaaagh!
JUICED ORANGE HALVES: It’s only a flesh wound!
HARRY NILSSON: And call me in the mo-orning.
Listen to “Coconut” by Harry Nilsson here.
Did you know that Harry Nilsson supplied the actual coconuts used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Read more here.
Happy Passover from the Poetry Crisis Line!
Excerpted from “Maggid” by Marge Piercy
PATIENCE (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
MARGE PIERCY (caller): The courage to abandon the graves dug into the hill.
PATIENCE: So, um…brave little zombies?
In memoriam: Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021). May his memory be a blessing.
I have to say a little here about “Try to Praise the Mutilated World,” which I find amazing, though I hadn’t heard of Adam Zagajewski before he passed away, for the way it juxtaposes the terrors of the world (viewed distantly) with the beauty (viewed up close). But my wife and son read this cartoon without having read the original poem, and they saw the refugees and the executioners as interacting with one another, rather than two separate examples of the harshness of the world. So to them it was a depiction of a single massacre. And I had thought this was a particularly dark Poetry Crisis Line call, but, uh…not quite that dark.
ROSIE (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
ADAM ZAGAJEWSKI (caller): You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere
ROSIE: On the news, yes.
ZAGAJEWSKI: You’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
ROSIE: I can’t talk to you about what happens on other calls.
Happy birthday to Billy Collins, who is 80 today!
The dead are above us, afloat.
When we put on our shoes they take note.
They care a whole bunch,
and when we eat lunch
they watch from a glass-bottomed boat.
A rabbit, a lamb, and a duck
were trying to flag down a truck
full of colorful eggs—
the lamb stuck out her leg
and barely missed being lamb chuck.
A duck asked a lamb and a rabbit
while dyeing eggs, “Golly dagnabit,
why on earth do we task
ourselves with filling bask-
ets each year?” and the rabbit said, “Habit.”
A rabbit, a duck, and a lamb
met a pig, and they started to jam.
“Don’t try to outdo him,”
a spider who knew him
said. “He’s an INCREDIBLE ham.”