Robert Browning calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR:  Poetry crisis line, what is your emergency?

CALLER:   Rats!

COUNSELOR:  I’m sorry, do you mean rodents or police informants?

CALLER:   They fought the dogs

COUNSELOR:  That doesn’t answer my question.

CALLER:   And killed the cats

COUNSELOR:  Those would have to be tough rodents.

CALLER:   And bit the babies in the cradle

COUNSELOR:  That sounds like a serious problem.

CALLER:   Drank the soup from the chef’s own ladle

COUNSELOR:  That sounds like a less serious problem.

CALLER:   Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats.

COUNSELOR:  That sounds like a downright hilarious problem.

CALLER:   They even–

COUNSELOR:  I mean, can you picture some guy putting on his hat and finding–

CALLER:   –spoiled the women’s chats

COUNSELOR:  How is that–

CALLER:   By drowning their speaking / in shrieking and squeaking / in fifty different sharps and flats.

COUNSELOR:  I was going to ask how that’s as important as killing cats and biting babies, but thanks for the clarification.

CALLER:   At last the people in a body / To the town hall came flocking.

COUNSELOR:  And how did that work out?

CALLER:   “It’s clear,” said they, “our mayor’s a noddy–“

COUNSELOR:  Do you mean a bird–or does  he just doze off a lot?

CALLER:   And as for the corporation,

COUNSELOR:  Yes, this corporate personhood thing has gone way too far.

CALLER:   Shocking!

COUNSELOR:  Absolutely.

CALLER:   To think we buy gowns lined with ermine

COUNSELOR:  Wow, really?

CALLER:   For dolts who can’t or won’t determine–

COUNSELOR:  Though I should clarify that an ermine is a mustelid, not a rodent.

CALLER:   –what’s best to rid us of our vermin.

COUNSELOR:  It’s a common mistake. The class mustelidae includes otters, minks, meerkats, and wolverines; but mice rats, beavers, and capybaras are rodents.

CALLER:   You hope because you’re old and obese

COUNSELOR:  Excuse me?

CALLER:   To find in the furry civic robes ease?

COUNSELOR:  I do not wear fur, I am a perfectly healthy weight for my body type, and the Poetry Crisis Line is largely funded by private donations–at least thirty-five percent.

CALLER:   Rouse up, sirs!

COUNSELOR:  Do I sound like a sir to you?

CALLER:   Give your brains a racking / To find the remedy we’re lacking!

COUNSELOR:  No, sir. I can help you find a solution if you are willing to be helped, but ultimately that solution has to come from you.

CALLER:   Or sure as fate we’ll send you packing

COUNSELOR:  Not if I send you first. Goodbye.

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