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

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A:

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.

Poetry Crisis Line training: Hamlet

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.

(If you’ve missed the run-up, you can follow these links to read part 1, part 2, and part 3)

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?

SUP: Dead.

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.

UNREQ: Damn.

SUP:  And his mother.

DEUS: Crap.

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.

MAIN: Really?

DEUS: Dude must have lousy aim.

SUP: So when you had this caller on the phone, did he seem depressed.

MAIN: Oh yeah.

DEUS: Clearly.

UNREQ: Totally.

SUP: Did he talk about death?

UNREQ: Oh yeah

MAIN: Constantly.

DEUS: Whatever he said, it always came back to death.

SUP: And you didnn’t think to call me?

DEUS: No.

UNREQ? Not really.

MAIN: Why would we?

SUP: Because he was depressed, and talking about death.

DEUS: And?

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.

Mark Antony calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: I am dying,

COUNSELOR: Can I send an ambulance? Where are you calling from?

CALLER: Egypt,

COUNSELOR: Egypt? What are you doing there?

CALLER: dying;

COUNSELOR: Right. Is there something I can do for you?

CALLER: Give me some wine,

COUNSELOR: I thought you were in Egypt?

CALLER: and

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.