STAFFER: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
CALLER: dogs and angels are not / very different
STAFFER: Uh, OK. And you know this because…?
CALLER: I often go to this place to eat.
STAFFER: Right. Do they allow dogs there? Or angels? Do they … serve angels?
CALLER: about 2:30 in the afternoon
STAFFER: So it’s, like, a tea time special?
CALLER: because all the people who eat / there are particularly addled
STAFFER: Does it help calm them down, eating angels?
CALLER: simply glad to be alive and / eating baked beans
STAFFER: Oh good. You had me worried there. Or…are the beans just a side dish?
CALLER: near a plate glass window / which holds the heat
STAFFER: Yeah, nothing worse than cold beans and angels
CALLER: and doesn’t let the cars and / sidewalks inside
STAFFER: Um…is there a risk of the sidewalk coming inside? Don’t they end somewhere?
CALLER: we are allowed as much free / coffee as we can drink
STAFFER: As long as you have someplace safe to be. With a bathroom.
CALLER: and we sit and quietly drink
STAFFER: Is that what you like to do, then? You drink and you know things?
CALLER: the strong black coffee.
STAFFER: That’s a good thing to know. And a good thing to drink. Especially after the sidewalk comes knocking.
CALLER: it is good to be sitting someplace / in a world at 2:30 in the afternoon / without having the flesh ripped from your bones.
STAFFER: Yes, I enjoy that too. Two thirty, three o’clock, anytime–I’m always up for not having the flesh ripped from my bones.
CALLER: even / being addled, we know this.
STAFFER: It’d be hard to forget.
CALLER: nobody bothers us
STAFFER: I hope not. I mean, that would be a kind of a hard sell. “Excuse me, sir, do you mind if I come over and rip the flesh off your bones?”
CALLER: we bother nobody.
STAFFER: I think you’d know better.
CALLER: angels and dogs are not / very different
STAFFER: At all?
CALLER: at 2:30 in the afternoon.
STAFFER: So, um, are they more different at other times of day?
CALLER: I have my favorite table
STAFFER: Can you bring your dog there? … Would you want to?
STAFFER: Wait–can you bring an angel?
CALLER: after I have finished
STAFFER: What–so you’re supposed to leave your angel outside, chained to a fire hydrant while you eat? Can you just smuggle him (or her) in on the head of a pin?
CALLER: I stack the plates, saucers,
STAFFER: So, lots of little places an angel can hide in.
CALLER: the cup,
STAFFER: A great place to hide something small. Just cover it with your hand when the waiter comes past, so the angel doesn’t get scalded by the free coffee.
CALLER: the silverware
STAFFER: That’s not so great–you’d have to eat the baked beans with your hands.
STAFFER: Is that even possible?
CALLER: my offering to the luck–
STAFFER: That would take a lot of luck, eating baked beans without silverware. Then again, if you’ve got an angel hiding under your spoon…
CALLER: and that sun / working good / all up and / down / inside the / darkness / here
STAFFER: It sounds like you’ve got the crisis under control, sir. Just stay sober, and you should be fine.
From the poem “A Plate Glass Window” in Love Is a Dog from Hell