Walt Whitman calls the Poetry Crisis Line—Part II

(Read Part I here.)

CALLER: Do you see O my brothers and sisters?
COUNSELOR: No, sir, we’re on the phone. I don’t see anything where you are.
CALLER: It is not chaos or death —
COUNSELOR: I’m glad to hear it—but I’d still like you to let me call you an ambulance.
CALLER: it is form,
COUNSELOR: Are you sure? Your scansion is all over the place.
CALLER: union,
COUNSELOR: I’m glad someone is protecting your rights. But–
CALLER: plan —
COUNSELOR: Wait—you meant for this to happen?
CALLER: it is eternal life — it is Happiness.
COUNSELOR: Please, sir—don’t go to the light. Stay with me now.
CALLER: The past and present wilt —
COUNSELOR: The past doesn’t matter. But please hang on in the present. Remember to breathe. Feel the air in your lungs.
CALLER: I have fill’d them, emptied them,
COUNSELOR: Good! Breathe in, breathe out.
CALLER: And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
COUNSELOR: Exactly. The future is yours to make.
CALLER: Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
COUNSELOR: No, sir. That’s not how it works. I’m here to listen.
CALLER: Look in my face
COUNSELOR: I can’t do that sir. This is an anonymous call.
CALLER: while I snuff the sidle of evening,
COUNSELOR: Now hold in—that doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to go around snuffing people.
CALLER: (Talk honestly,
COUNSELOR: I mean it!
CALLER: no one else hears you,
COUNSELOR: I know it’s just us, but I’ll still stand by what I said.
CALLER: and I stay only a minute longer.)
COUNSELOR: Please hang in there, sir.
CALLER: Do I contradict myself?
COUNSELOR: I don’t think so.
CALLER: Very well then I contradict myself,
COUNSELOR: In what way, sir?
CALLER: (I am large,
COUNSELOR: It’s OK sir. You don’t need to worry about your weight.
CALLER: I contain multitudes.)
COUNSELOR: Or what people say about it.
CALLER: I concentrate toward them that are nigh,
COUNSELOR: That’s good. You can’t expect to please everyone. Start with those who are closest.
CALLER: I wait on the door-slab.
COUNSELOR: I haven’t sent the ambulance yet, sir.
CALLER: Who has done his day’s work?
COUNSELOR: I’m trying, but you haven’t told me where you are.
CALLER: who will soonest be through with his supper?
COUNSELOR: I don’t know who’s on call, sir.
CALLER: Who wishes to walk with me?
COUNSELOR: I don’t know, but they will come if you tell me where you are.
CALLER: Will you speak before I am gone?
COUNSELOR: That’s what I’m trying to do, sir.
CALLER: will you prove already too late?
COUNSELOR: I hope not. Please stay with me.

Walt Whitman calls the Poetry Crisis Line – Part I

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
CALLER: There is that in me —
COUNSELOR: Could you be more specific?
CALLER: I do not know what it is —
COUNSELOR: Could you give me a general category? Like a gallstone, or a foreign object, or a hankering for pad thai?
CALLER: but I know it is in me.
COUNSELOR: Right. How?
CALLER:Wrench’d and sweaty — calm and cool then my body becomes,
COUNSELOR: That sounds like you may be going into shock, sir. Could you tell me where–
CALLER: I sleep —
COUNSELOR: Please don’t go to sleep, sir. Not until I can dispatch an ambulance to your location.
CALLER:I sleep long.
COUNSELOR: Before you sleep, could you tell me your location?
CALLER: I do not know it —
COUNSELOR: Maybe we could start with a cross-street?
CALLER: it is without name —
COUNSELOR: Uh, does your phone have a locator? Can you share your location?
CALLER: it is a word unsaid,
COUNSELOR: That’s right—you don’t need to say anything, just click on Share Location.
CALLER: It is not in any dictionary,
COUNSELOR: No, don’t open the dictionary—Share Location. It’s–
CALLER: utterance,
COUNSELOR: Good idea—ask Siri.
CALLER: symbol.
COUNSELOR: No, emojis won’t help.
CALLER: Something it swings on
COUNSELOR: Tindr really won’t help.
CALLER: more than the earth I swing on,
COUNSELOR: So you’ve opened the GPS? Good. Can you tell it–
COUNSELOR: No, don’t drive anywhere—not in your condition. Just tell it to share your location.
CALLER: the creation
CALLER: is the friend whose embracing awakes me.
COUNSELOR: There’s a friend with you? Can you put him on?
CALLER: Perhaps I might tell more.
COUNSELOR: That’s fine if you want to talk, but I need to know where to send the ambulance.
CALLER: Outlines!
COUNSELOR: Black outlines? Or more like auras?
CALLER: I plead for my brothers and sisters.
COUNSELOR: I think you need to worry about yourself now, sir.