From Sonnet #18
From Sonnet #18
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.
O chicken, my chicken
The fearful path is wide
But still you walked across the road
To reach the other side.
Because I could not cross the road
A chicken crossed for me
And pecked the doorbell that would ring
Apartment number three.
Iambic pentameter revolutionized English poetry. But what if, instead of importing an Italian verse form, Shakespeare had instead looked to the next island to the west?
Occasionally, the Poetry Crisis Line counselors need retraining. Below is the transcript of a meeting with counselors from the Main Desk, the Deus ex Machina department, and the Unrequited Love Desk.
SUPERVISOR: Do you know why I called this meeting?
UNREQUITED LOVE: Screening errors?
MAIN: Mixed metaphors?
SUPERVISOR: Do you remember this caller?
[plays back recording of HAMLET call]
HAMLET [recorded]: To be or not to be…
MAIN: Oh yeah. I transferred him to the Deus Ex Machina Desk.
DEUS EX MACHINA: And I sent him to Unrequited Love.
UNREQUITED: And he wadered off in the middle of the call. How is he?
MAIN: Oh no.
UNREQUITED: Did he kill himself?
SUP [nods]: And his girlfriend.
UNREQ: Oh no.
SUP: And her brother.
MAIN: That’s terrible.
SUP: And their father.
SUP: And his mother.
MAIN: Are you sure? All of these people?
SUP: And his uncle and stepfather.
MAIN: His uncle and his stepfather. On top of all the rest?
SUP: No, his uncle and stepfather. One person.
UNREQ: That’s kind of creepy.
SUP: Apparently he was the target. The rest were collateral damage.
DEUS: Dude must have lousy aim.
SUP: So when you had this caller on the phone, did he seem depressed.
MAIN: Oh yeah.
SUP: Did he talk about death?
UNREQ: Oh yeah
DEUS: Whatever he said, it always came back to death.
SUP: And you didnn’t think to call me?
UNREQ? Not really.
MAIN: Why would we?
SUP: Because he was depressed, and talking about death.
MAIN: This is the Poetry Crisis Line, you know.
UNREQ: Everyone’s depressed.
DEUS: And death obsessed.
UNREQ: And lonely.
SUP: [long sigh] OK, we’re going to do some training to recognize when a caller is in danger. But if something like this happens again, please get a supervisor on right away. Or…at least somewhere along the line.
COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
CALLER: I am dying,
COUNSELOR: Can I send an ambulance? Where are you calling from?
COUNSELOR: Egypt? What are you doing there?
COUNSELOR: Right. Is there something I can do for you?
CALLER: Give me some wine,
COUNSELOR: I thought you were in Egypt?
COUNSELOR: You’re somewhere else as well?
CALLER: let me speak a little.
COUNSELOR: Right, you’re the dying guy. I’ll shut up now.