Dorothy Parker calls the Poetry Crisis Line

ROBERT BENCHLEY (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
DOROTHY PARKER (caller): You come right over here and
BENCHLEY: We don’t do house calls.
PARKER: Explain
BENCHLEY: I can’t go there, but I can send an emergency poet–or the grammar police.
PARKER: Why they are having another year.
BENCHLEY: Would you rather be stuck in the previous one?

 

[from a telegram Dorothy Parker sent to Robert Benchley on December 31, 1929]

A Visit from the Recycling Truck

Concept and first couplet by Susan Young; completed by David Sklar

‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the house
Empty boxes and paper were strewn all about.
I stood in the living room, steeling my nerve
To take the recycling out to the curb.

The papers were scattered all over the floor,
In drifts in the corners, and one at the door.
I gazed at the carnage, admitted defeat,
Then swept like a fiend all the way to the street.

To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Our pile of used wrappings had gotten so tall
That it shook when I swept, like a bowl full of jelly
(the same at our neighbors’, and their pile was smelly).

All the way up and down on both sides of the road
The mounds of bright papers looked fit to explode,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear?
The recycling truck! As it slowly rolled near,

There appeared to be something wrong with the suspension.
It shook as it went, like that jelly I’d mentioned.
In that gray, hazy morningtime, such was my luck
That the driver passed by without stopping the truck,

And I heard him explain as he trundled away,
The truck is all full, so I’m done for the day.”

Clement Clarke Moore calls the Poetry Crisis Line–page 4

 

ROSIE (counselor): I mean, nylon is very flammable. If there’s a fire–especially if the fireplace isn’t used often, like if you’ve just lit a fire for Christmas or Advent or–
CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE (caller): In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.
ROSIE: Now that’s just disturbing.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

W. S. Merwin calls the Poetry Crisis Line (continued)

PATIENCE (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
W.S. MERWIN (caller): Listen,
PATIENCE: That’s what I’m here for.
MERWIN: With the night falling we are saying thank you.
PATIENCE: You’re welcome. Uh…for what?
MERWIN: We are stopping on the bridges
PATIENCE: Is there traffic behind you?
MERWIN: To bow from the railings.
PATIENCE: Just don’t lean over too far, OK?
MERWIN: We are running
PATIENCE: On the railings?
MERWIN: Out of the glass rooms
PATIENCE: Please tell me you’re not throwing stones.
MERWIN: With our mouths full of food.
PATIENCE: Are you trying to make me worry?
MERWIN: To look at the sky
PATIENCE: Why? What’s happening?
MERWIN: And
PATIENCE: Please don’t tell me they’re bombing the parking lot with turkeys?

 

W. S. Merwin calls the Poetry Crisis Line (part 1)

PATIENCE (counselor): Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
W.S. MERWIN (caller): Listen,
PATIENCE: That’s what I’m here for.
MERWIN: With the night falling we are saying thank you.
PATIENCE: You’re welcome. Uh…for what?
MERWIN: We are stopping on the bridges
PATIENCE: Is there traffic behind you?
MERWIN: To bow from the railings.
PATIENCE: Just don’t lean over too far, OK?
MERWIN: We are running
PATIENCE: On the railings?
MERWIN: Out of the glass rooms
PATIENCE: Please tell me you’re not throwing stones.
MERWIN: With our mouths full of food.
PATIENCE: Are you trying to make me worry?

Flanders Fields a call from John McCrae

JOHN MCCRAE (caller): …that mark our place.
NED (counselor): Do you mean like a bookmark? Or our place on earth?
MCCRAE: And in the sky
NED: Glad to know you’re thinking about your place in Heaven, callerino.
MCCRAE: The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
NED: Those are brave birds, if the boy next door is out there with his slingshot.

Vergil Meets Cerberus

VERGIL: Here, Cerberus, with triple-throated roar, / Made all the region ring, and there he lay—
CERBERUS (1): Excuse me
CERBERUS (2): And me
CERBERUS (3): And me
CERBERUS: Our pronouns are
CERBERUS (1): They/
CERBERUS (2): Them/
CERBERUS (3): Their.
VERGIL: Here, Cerberus, with triple throated roar, / Made all the region ring, and there they lay.
CERBERUS: Good boy.