“Nobody” calls the Poetry Crisis Line

For International Women’s Day, we’re rerunning Emily Dickinson, in sepia, in honor of all the women and marginalized people who’ve had to suffer being conditioned not to think of themselves.

ROSIE (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
NOBODY (emily dickinson): I’m Nobody!
ROSIE: It’s OK–at the Poetry Crisis Line, we respect your privacy.
NOBODY: Who are you?
ROSIE: We also respect my privacy.
NOBODY: Are you Nobody, too?
ROSIE: If it helps to think of it that way.

Emily Dickinson calls the Poetry Crisis Line

ROSIE (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
EMILY (caller): Hope is the thing with feathers.
ROSIE: That’s a lovely name. What kind of bird is Hope?
EMILY: That perches in the soul
ROSIE: In the solarium? That sounds nice.
EMILY: That sings the song without the words
ROSIE: Is she a breed that can learn to talk?
EMILY: And never stops at all.
ROSIE: Have you tried putting a blanket over her cage at night?

Poets Answer an Age-Old Question: Why did the chicken cross the road? [Part 1]

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?


William Shakespeare

To cross or not to cross—that is the question!
Whether ‘tis nobler in the coop to suffer
The pecks and scratches of aggressive chickens
Or set foot upon a dusty roadway
And so, with your toes spread, cross it.

Walt Whitman

O chicken, my chicken
The fearful path is wide
But still you walked across the road
To reach the other side.

Emily Dickinson

Because I could not cross the road
A chicken crossed for me
And pecked the doorbell that would ring
Apartment number three.

Nobody calls the Poetry Crisis Line

[original by Emily Dickinson]

STAFFER: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
CALLER: I’m Nobody!
STAFFER: It’s OK–at the Poetry Crisis Line, we respect your privacy.
CALLER: Who are you?
STAFFER: We respect my privacy also.
CALLER: Are you – Nobody – too?
STAFFER: If that’s how you’d like to think of it.
CALLER: Then there’s a pair of us!
STAFFER: No, we respect everyone’s privacy.
CALLER: Don’t tell!
STAFFER: Exactly.
CALLER: they’d advertise –
STAFFER: Who would?
CALLER: you know!
STAFFER: Right. Are they listening in already?
CALLER: How dreary – to be – Somebody!
STAFFER: Did you take diction lessons from William Shatner?
CALLER: How public –
STAFFER: No, we respect your privacy. I was just–
CALLER: like a Frog –
STAFFER: No, I mean it!
CALLER: To tell one’s name –
STAFFER: Again, you don’t have to.
CALLER: the livelong June –
STAFFER: Well hello, June. Nice to meet you.
CALLER: To an admiring Bog!
STAFFER: That’s not the best place for privacy. No one will bother you while you’re there, but if you fall in you could end up preserved for thousands of years, then put on display in a museum.


Emily Dickinson calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
CALLER: Because I could not stop for Death – 
COUNSELOR: Are your brakes failing? Are you in the vehicle now?
CALLER: He kindly stopped for me – 
COUNSELOR: That's a relief. Is your car still moving?
CALLER: The Carriage held but just Ourselves – 
COUNSELOR: There's someone in the car with you?
CALLER: And Immortality.
COUNSELOR: Is that like OnStar? Can the rescue workers use it to pinpoint your location?
CALLER: We slowly drove –
COUNSELOR: Good, so you're slowing down. Is there a hill or embankment near you?
CALLER: He knew no haste
COUNSELOR: That's good. Best not to panic in this situation.
CALLER: And I had put away My labor 
COUNSELOR: What? You're having a baby?
CALLER: and my leisure too,
COUNSELOR: That's good. Relax. Try to breathe.
CALLER: For His Civility – 
COUNSELOR: Yes, it can be good to have a calm person in the--
CALLER: We passed the School
CALLER: where Children strove At Recess – 
CALLER: in the Ring – 
COUNSELOR: What, like the horror movie?
CALLER: We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – 
COUNSELOR: Much better
CALLER: We passed the Setting Sun – 
COUNSELOR: Um, where are you calling from? Over here, it's midafternoon.
CALLER: Or rather – He passed us – 
COUNSELOR: That's good to know. The sun travels at 720,000 kilometers per hour. I can't imagine how much that ticket would cost you.
CALLER: The Dews 
COUNSELOR: Yes, in a situation like this it's not unusual to think about the things you want to do, or need to do, or wish you could have done. But you'll have time to do those things later; right now I need you to stay in the moment, to keep yourself safe.
CALLER: drew quivering 
COUNSELOR: That's a normal physiological reaction. Just let it be and focus on getting yourself to safety. 
CALLER: and chill – 
COUNSELOR: Also a normal reaction.
CALLER: For only Gossamer, my Gown – 
COUNSELOR: Or it could be cold in the vehicle. Are the windows open?
CALLER: My Tippet – 
COUNSELOR: Oh no! Is anybody hurt?
CALLER: only Tulle – 
COUNSELOR: Don't worry about that, ma'am. I need you to focus on exiting the vehicle. You won't have any tool in the car that will be much use to you after you tip it.