Maya Angelou calls the Poetry Crisis Line

STAFFER: Poetry Crisis Line, how may I help you?

CALLER: You may write me down in history

STAFFER: I’m sorry, ma’am, that’s not a service we offer. Have you tried the Library of Congress?

CALLER: With your bitter, twisted lies,

STAFFER: No, I said the Library of Congress.

CALLER: You may tread me in the very dirt

STAFFER: That’s also not a service we offer. You might try a dominatrix? Or a literary critic?

CALLER: But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

STAFFER: Like dust? Have you considered rising like bread? Bread rises.

CALLER: Does my sassiness upset you?

STAFFER: Not at all. But cakes rise. Maybe you could rise like cake?

CALLER: Why are you beset with gloom?

STAFFER: I’m not. But parfaits–no, parfaits don’t rise. But balloons do. Why not rise like a baloon?

CALLER: ‘Cause I walk

STAFFER: That’s true–balloons don’t walk. Are you going uphill? Upstairs? If you’re walking, how do you rise?

CALLER: like I’ve got oil wells / Pumping in my living room.

STAFFER: That must be tough on your carpets.

CALLER: Just like moons and like suns,

STAFFER: Yes, the sun also rises. And it can fade your carpet.

CALLER: With the certainty of tides,

STAFFER: There’s flood damage? You might consider replacing the carpet altogether.

CALLER: Just like hopes springing high,

STAFFER: Well, I’m glad to hear you’re still hopeful. But–

CALLER: Still I’ll rise.

STAFFER: I’m glad to hear it. But is the carpet worth keeping?

CALLER: Did you want to see me broken?

STAFFER: Not at all. I just–

CALLER: Bowed head and lowered eyes?

STAFFER: No, it’s just, a carpet isn’t that hard to replace. Do you have homeowner’s insurance?

CALLER: Shoulders falling down like teardrops.

STAFFER: I’ll take that as a no.

CALLER: Weakened by my soulful cries.

STAFFER: I don’t think your tears will weaken the carpet fibers much.

CALLER: Does my haughtiness offend you?

STAFFER: Not at all. I’m just trying to–

CALLER: Don’t you take it awful hard

STAFFER: Why do you keep trying to make this about me?

CALLER: ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines / Diggin’ in my own back yard.

STAFFER: How does your gold mine make it my problem? Sometimes prospecting just doesn’t pan out.

CALLER: You may shoot me with your words,

STAFFER: I’m not trying to hurt you.

CALLER: You may cut me with your eyes,

STAFFER: [fixes hair] Are you calling on Skype? Because I’m not getting any video feed on this end.

CALLER: You may kill me with your hatefulness,

STAFFER: Look, lady, if the carpet’s that precious then keep it; I’m just trying to help.

CALLER: But still, like air, I’ll rise.

STAFFER: See, that’s much better. Like air.

CALLER: Does my sexiness upset you?

STAFFER: Not at all. Though I’m not supposed to respond to it. [flirtatious laugh] I’ve gotten in trouble for that in the past.

CALLER: Does it come as a surprise / That I dance like I’ve got diamonds / At the meeting of my thighs?

STAFFER: That does surprise me. And it sounds uncomfortable. Have you tried wearing them on the soles of your shoes?

CALLER: Out of the huts

STAFFER: Is that hut with one T, like a tiny house, or with two T’s like Jabba?

CALLER: of history’s shame

STAFFER: Was he in the prequels? I thought he was just in Return of the Jedi.

CALLER: I rise

STAFFER: Good idea. Best not to dwell on those movies. I hear Rogue One is good.

CALLER: Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

STAFFER: It’s supposed to be dark.

CALLER: I rise

STAFFER: That’s OK, if you want to get up and leave. You don’t have to like every movie.

CALLER: I’m a black ocean,

STAFFER: Was that in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise?

CALLER: leaping and wide,

STAFFER: Uh, Pirates of Penzance?

CALLER: Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

STAFFER: I mentioned I’m not allowed to flirt back, right?

CALLER: Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

STAFFER: It’s not that, it’s just the policy here. Callers are often vulnerable and we’re not supposed to take advantage.

CALLER: I rise

STAFFER: I get that, I’m just not allowed to–

CALLER: Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

STAFFER: Wonderful! Get out and face the day!

CALLER: I rise

STAFFER: Yes, get out of bed first.

CALLER: Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

STAFFER: I’m not allowed to accept gifts.

CALLER: I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

STAFFER: I certainly can’t accept that.

CALLER: I rise

STAFFER: Like a bird?

CALLER: I rise

STAFFER: Like a plane?

CALLER: I rise.

STAFFER: Like…I don’t know, a helicopter or something?