Lady Liberty calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: Not like the brazen giant

COUNSELOR: I do not like him either. Though I don’t think he’s as big a deal as he claims. And he seems to have lost a lot of stature since the election.

CALLER: of Greek fame,

COUNSELOR: They had frats at his fake university?

CALLER: With conquering limbs

COUNSELOR: (snicker) –and tiny hands–

CALLER: astride from land to land;

COUNSELOR: Yep. I think Mueller’s about to prove that.

CALLER: Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates

COUNSELOR: Is that it then? Do you think it’s nightfall? Or do you think America–

CALLER: shall stand

COUNSELOR: I’m so glad to hear it. So who do you pick for 2020?

CALLER: A mighty woman

COUNSELOR: Gillibrand? Harris? Duckworth?

CALLER: with a torch,

COUNSELOR: Agent Scully? In the US we call them flashlights. But I think she’s Canadian.

CALLER: whose flame / Is the imprisoned lightning,

COUNSELOR: The new Thor from the comics?

CALLER: and her name

COUNSELOR: I don’t remember it either, but yeah, Thor is a woman now.

CALLER: Mother of Exiles.

COUNSELOR: I’m not up on that comic, but I think Rogue is the mother of Mimic, and Scarlet Witch is the mother of Nocturne.

CALLER: From her beacon-hand

COUNSELOR: [sings] Call me Beacon Hand. Any relation to Judge Learned Hand? Of course, the Crimson Tide went blue on Tuesday.

CALLER: Glows world-wide welcome;

COUNSELOR: That was welcome news. Did you see what Maxine Waters said?

CALLER: her mild eyes

COUNSELOR: I’ll take that as a no.

CALLER: command / The air-bridged harbor

COUNSELOR: Wait…are we talking about Wonder Woman now?

CALLER: that twin cities

COUNSELOR: Al Franken? I was kind of upset when I heard that he was–

CALLER: frame.

COUNSELOR: You think he was framed? I mean, it’s clear that there was a smear campaign, but that doesn’t mean–

CALLER: “Keep

COUNSELOR: I know, my opinions out of it, or I’ll have to go to retraining again. I’m just so jazzed after Tuesday. So what issues are important to you?

CALLER: ancient lands,

COUNSELOR: So, protecting native heritage and national parks…

CALLER: your storied pomp!”

COUNSELOR: …free speech…

CALLER: cries she

COUNSELOR: …women’s issues…

CALLER: With silent lips.

COUNSELOR: …a voice for survivors…

CALLER: “Give me your tired,

COUNSELOR: …a shorter work day…

CALLER: your poor,

COUNSELOR: … and a living wage …

CALLER: Your huddled masses

COUNSELOR: … health care for cancer patients…

CALLER: yearning to breathe free,

COUNSELOR: …air quality…

CALLER: The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

COUNSELOR: And superfund cleanup. Got it. But what shall we do with all the garbage garbage garbage garbage.

CALLER: Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

COUNSELOR: You’re very generous to offer, but–

CALLER: I lift my lamp

COUNSELOR: Shine on, you crazy diamond. But is it really your job to enlighten the world?

CALLER: beside the golden door!”

COUNSELOR: Oh, I get it–it’s a civil disobedience thing. We should send our trash to Dump Tower, like sending used tampons to Creepy Veep. I love it!

 

[click here to read the original by Emma Lazarus]

J. Alfred Prufrock re-calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: Do I dare / Disturb the universe?

COUNSELOR: That’s a big question. And a bit vague. Can you be more specific?

CALLER: In a minute

COUNSELOR: Take your time.

CALLER: there is time

COUNSELOR: Yes, there is. Or, um, are we talking higher physics? What time is and whether it exists? Because I just meant you don’t have to rush.

CALLER: For decisions

COUNSELOR: Exactly. Take all the time you need to decide.

CALLER: and revisions

COUNSELOR: And yes, you can change your mind.

CALLER: which a minute will reverse.

COUNSELOR: Yes, you can change it back, too. But be careful of changing your mind too often, or you might confuse yourself.

CALLER: For I have known them all already,

COUNSELOR: You mean all the choices?

CALLER: known them all:

COUNSELOR: Or all the people who might be affected?

CALLER: Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

COUNSELOR: Just to make one decision?

CALLER: I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

COUNSELOR: I’m familiar with that method. Many people find it helpful.

CALLER: I know

COUNSELOR: So how many spoons do you feel like you have left?

CALLER: the voices dying with a dying fall

COUNSELOR: So, not many. Do you think–

CALLER: Beneath the music from a farther room.

COUNSELOR: Yes, it can help to step out of the room, and remove yourself from the situation.

CALLER: So how

COUNSELOR: Well, you might consider–

CALLER: should I presume?

COUNSELOR: I’m not trying to be presumptuous, sir. But I do think you might have more spoons left if you could streamline your decision-making process.

Richard Brautigan calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: He wants to build you a house

COUNSELOR: He does? Who does? What kind of house? Wood? Brick? 3D printed?

CALLER: out of your own bones

COUNSELOR: What? But–

CALLER: but / that’s where you’re living / any way!

COUNSELOR: Exactly. I mean–

CALLER: The next time he calls

COUNSELOR: Wait–you mean he’s called here before?

CALLER: you answer the telephone

COUNSELOR: Of course. That’s the job.

CALLER: with the / sound of your grandmother being / born.

COUNSELOR: Uh, I don’t think I was there for that. I mean, how–

CALLER: It was a twenty-three hour / labor

COUNSELOR: I think I’d remember a call that long.

CALLER: in 1894.

COUNSELOR: He must have me confused with somebody else. I only started here in August.

CALLER: He hangs / up.

COUNSELOR: Well, that’s his right, if that’s what he wants to do. Goodbye.

Percy Bysshe Shelley calls the Poetry Crisis Line

STAFFER: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: I met a traveller

STAFFER: Are you calling on his or her behalf? Did the traveler cause the problem?

CALLER: from an

COUNSELOR: Is this an unrequited love sort of call?

CALLER: antique land,

STAFFER: Is that the used furniture store on Route 10?

CALLER: Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone / Stand in the desert. . . .

STAFFER: I don’t know. Was it Led Zeppelin? It sounds like something they might say.

CALLER: Near them,

STAFFER: Pink Floyd?

CALLER: on the sand,

STAFFER: The Beach Boys?

CALLER: Half sunk

STAFFER: Was it from Yellow Submarine?

CALLER: a shattered visage

STAFFER: Lyle Lovett?

CALLER: lies,

STAFFER: No, I’m doing my best here.

CALLER: whose frown,

STAFFER: I don’t know whose frown. Could you give me a hint?

CALLER: And wrinkled lip,

STAFFER: Billy Idol?

CALLER: and sneer of cold command,

STAFFER: David Bowie!

CALLER: Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

STAFFER: [sings] “And in the cracks along the sidewalk…” Was it that song Elton John wrote after John Lennon died?

CALLER: Which yet survive,

STAFFER: Paul McCartney? Ringo?

CALLER: stamped on these lifeless things,

STAFFER: Dead Can Dance?

CALLER: The hand that mocked them,

STAFFER: Weird Al?

CALLER: and the heart that fed;

STAFFER: Wait–is that ACDC?

CALLER: And on the pedestal,

STAFFER: Anne Murray?

CALLER: these words appear:

STAFFER: Another quote? But I haven’t figured out the first one!

CALLER: My name is Ozymandias,

STAFFER: Oh, that’s easy–Alan Moore. “Who watches the watchmen?”

CALLER: King of Kings;

STAFFER: Isn’t that who the watchmen would watch when they’re watching the Watchmaker? Um, I mean Handel’s Messiah.

CALLER: Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

STAFFER: I think that’s Galadriel the Elf Queen from Lord of the Rings. Did you just call me to ask about quotes?

CALLER: Nothing beside remains.

STAFFER: Glad to be of help, then. Where are you calling from?

CALLER: Round the decay / Of that colossal Wreck,

STAFFER: What? You should’ve said something! Do you want me to send a fire truck? Are you OK?

CALLER: boundless and bare

STAFFER: Do you need me to send clothes?

CALLER: The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

STAFFER: Uh…do you need me to send a camel?

 

_____

Read the original here:  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46565/ozymandias

Any poems or poets you want to see on the Poetry Crisis Line? Leave a suggestion in the comments

The Queen of Cheese Presents: The Tygger

Tygger! Tygger! Bouncing high,

Bumping Hundred Acre Sky,

What intrepid toymaker

Did Stytch thy Joyntes & Stuff thy Furr?

 

And what Rubber, & what Sprynggs

Formed thy soft Internal Things?

When thy legs began to Pogo,

Whence thy Get-Up? Whence thy Go-Go?

 

Does thy Boundless energy

Bounce out? Or is it Bound to thee?

When thou Bounced the Baby Roo

Into the pond, didst thou splash, too?

 

Who did place thy fluff-stuffed head

In a sleeping child’s bed?

While he sleepest, might thou Pounce?

Who can sleep while Tyggers Bounce?

 

And in all thy wondrous fun,

Art thou indeed the only one?

Frame thy playful symmetry:

Did he who made the Pooh make thee?

 

Tygger! Tygger! Bouncing high,

Bumping Hundred Acre Sky–

Softly doth the Bear reply,

Cottleston, Cotlleston, Cottleston pie.

William E. Stafford calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: Traveling through the dark I found a deer

COUNSELOR: Do you need to contact Animal Control?

CALLER: dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.

COUNSELOR: I’m sorry to hear that. How are you handling that?

CALLER: It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:

COUNSELOR: Why is that?

CALLER: that road is narrow;

COUNSELOR: I see.

CALLER: to swerve might make more dead.

COUNSELOR: Wait, you are parked, right?

CALLER: By glow of the tail-light

COUNSELOR: Good to know.

CALLER: I stumbled back of the car

COUNSELOR: You are sober, right?

CALLER: and stood by the heap,

COUNSELOR: The deer?

CALLER: a doe,

COUNSELOR: A female deer?

CALLER: a re-

COUNSELOR: A drop of golden sun?

CALLER: cent killing;

COUNSELOR: Oh. Right.

CALLER: she had stiffened already, almost cold.

COUNSELOR: I’m sorry.

CALLER: I dragged her

COUNSELOR: Far?

CALLER: off;

COUNSELOR: A long, long way?

CALLER: she was large

COUNSELOR: So–

CALLER: in the belly.

COUNSELOR: Where is this thread going, exactly?

CALLER: My fingers

COUNSELOR: Not that I’m trying to needle you.

CALLER: touching her side brought me the reason—

COUNSELOR: You mean why she was so la–

CALLER: her side was warm;

COUNSELOR: Like tea?

CALLER: her fawn lay there waiting,

COUNSELOR: That could really jam your breath.

CALLER: alive, still, never to be born.

COUNSELOR: I know–that follows. So–

CALLER: Beside that mountain road

COUNSELOR: And that would bring us back to the doe.

CALLER: I hesitated.

COUNSELOR: Oh, dear.

 

 

Suggested by Eric Hammerstron. If you want have a favorite poem or poet you’d like to see at the Poetry Crisis Line, please leave a suggestion in the comments.

read the original here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42775/traveling-through-the-dark

W.S. Merwin calls the Poetry Crisis Line

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?

CALLER: Listen

COUNSELOR: That’s what I’m here for.

CALLER: with the night falling we are saying thank you

COUNSELOR: You’re welcome. For what?

CALLER: we are stopping on the bridges

COUNSELOR: Is there traffic behind you?

CALLER: to bow from the railings

COUNSELOR: Just don’t lean over too far, OK?

CALLER: we are running

COUNSELOR: On the railings?

CALLER: out of the glass rooms

COUNSELOR: Umm…

CALLER: with our mouths full of food

COUNSELOR: Are you trying to make me worry?

CALLER: to look at the sky

COUNSELOR: Why? What’s happening???

CALLER: and

COUNSELOR: They’re not bombing the parking lot with turkeys, are they?

CALLER: say

COUNSELOR: Because I’ve been through that once, and it was…uh…

CALLER: thank you

COUNSELOR: You’re welcome. But please understand. I can help talk you through a problem, but I can’t protect you from ev–

CALLER: we are standing by the water thanking it

COUNSELOR: Not too close, I hope?

CALLER: standing by the windows

COUNSELOR: Again, not too close?

CALLER: looking out / in our directions

COUNSELOR: Right. But not leaning out. Right?

CALLER: back from a series of hospitals

COUNSELOR: Umm…I’m not here to say I told you so, but…

CALLER: back from a mugging

COUNSELOR: What???

CALLER: after funerals

COUNSELOR: You got mugged at a funeral?

CALLER: we are saying

COUNSELOR: I know, but it’s a lot to take in.

CALLER: thank you

COUNSELOR: You’re welcome?

CALLER: after the news of the dead

COUNSELOR: You got mugged, at a funeral, for a newspaper?

CALLER: whether or not we knew them

COUNSELOR: You got mugged, at a funeral, for a newspaper, by someone you know?

CALLER: we are saying thank you

COUNSELOR: You’re welcome, but it really isn’t necessary. It’s my job to help.

CALLER: over telephones

COUNSELOR: Yes, that’s in the job description.

CALLER: we are saying thank you

COUNSELOR: You’re welcome! But is there anything I can do for you?

CALLER: in doorways

COUNSELOR: Wherever you are.

CALLER: and in the backs of cars

COUNSELOR: That’s starting to sound inappropriate.

CALLER: and in elevators

COUNSELOR: OK, really inappropriate.

CALLER: remembering wars

COUNSELOR: Are you having flashbacks? Did you serve?

CALLER: and the police at the door

COUNSELOR: Did you get served?

CALLER: and the beatings

COUNSELOR: What?

CALLER: on stairs

COUNSELOR: Wait—who beat you? Police? Enemy combatants? The mugger at the funeral?

CALLER: we are saying

COUNSELOR: You’re not. I mean maybe you are, but you’re saying so much that it’s hard to keep the story straight.

CALLER: thank you

COUNSELOR: You’re welcome. But–

CALLER: in the banks we are saying thank you / in the faces of the officials and the rich / and of all who will never change / we go on saying thank you thank you

COUNSELOR: Don’t you think maybe you’re taking this gratitude thing a little too far?

CALLER: with the animals dying around us / taking our feelings we are saying thank you

COUNSELOR: Or a lot too far?

CALLER: with the forests falling faster than the minutes / of our lives we are saying thank you

COUNSELOR: And yet…

CALLER: with the words going out like cells of a brain

COUNSELOR: Now we’re getting somewhere. What is killing those brain cells?

CALLER: with the cities growing over us / we are saying thank you faster and faster

COUNSELOR: Yes, I hear you. But–

CALLER: with nobody listening

COUNSELOR: I’m listening!

CALLER: we are saying thank you

COUNSELOR: Yes, I’m hearing you say that.

CALLER: thank you

COUNSELOR: I’m hearing you say it a lot.

CALLER: we are saying

COUNSELOR: I know.

CALLER: and waving

COUNSELOR: I didn’t know that. We’re on the phone.

CALLER: dark though it is

COUNSELOR: That is really dark, dude.

If All Poems Were Limericks: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A man shot a bird on a boat,
Then helplessly drifted afloat
Until he learned mercy,
But he’d earned this curse–he
Must keep on repeating, by rote:

“A man shot a bird on a boat,
Then…

Hamlet calls the Poetry Crisis Line–part 2

[find part 1 here]

 

COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line. This is the Deus ex Machina Desk. What can I do for you?

CALLER: To die:

COUNSELOR: That’s a rather tall order, sir, don’t you think?

CALLER: to sleep;

COUNSELOR: That sounds a bit more reasonable. But I’m on duty now, and I can’t just pop off for a nap whenever–

CALLER: No more;

COUNSELOR: Well, no. Once my shift is over, I can sleep whenever I want.

CALLER: and by a sleep to say we end / The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks / That flesh is heir to,

COUNSELOR: I see.

CALLER: ’tis a consummation / Devoutly to be wish’d.

COUNSELOR: And that’s what the Deus ex Machina Desk is for.

CALLER: To die,

COUNSELOR: That again. No, you can’t just ask our counselors to–

CALLER: to sleep;

COUNSELOR: No, that either. We have a schedule.

CALLER: To sleep:

COUNSELOR: No, sir, not a sleep schedule, a work schedule. We can sleep whenever we want, when we’re off duty.

CALLER: perchance to dream:

COUNSELOR: Probably.

CALLER: ay, there’s the rub;

COUNSELOR: The rub?  What kind of dreams are you talking about, exactly?

CALLER: For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

COUNSELOR: Again with the death talk. What’s with that?

CALLER: When we have shuffled off–

COUNSELOR: To Buffalo?

CALLER: –this mortal coil,

COUNSELOR: Look, the whole point of the Deus ex Machina Desk is to save your sorry ass when there’s no hope. But if you’ve fixated on death, then we have an office for that as well. This is the Poetry Crisis Line, after all.

CALLER: Must give us pause.

COUNSELOR: Paws? Like in reincarnation?

CALLER:: there’s the respect

COUNSELOR: It’s not about respect, it’s just—there’s no guarantee that you’ll come back as something with paws. You could have hooves, or fins, or tentacles, or

CALLER: That makes calamity of so long life;

COUNSELOR: Exactly! You could be a tortoise.

CALLER: For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

COUNSELOR: I suppose a tortoise shell would be good if you’re being whipped.

CALLER: The oppressor’s wrong,

COUNSELOR: They usually are.

CALLER: the proud man’s contumely,

COUNSELOR: Riiiight. What’s a contumely?

CALLER: The pangs of despised love,

COUNSELOR: Oh, we have a whole suite of offices for that.

CALLER: the law’s delay,

COUNSELOR: Which office do you want? You keep changing your mind.

CALLER: The insolence of office

COUNSELOR: Right, the Insolence Office. I’ll patch you–

CALLER:  and the spurns

COUNSELOR: Why didn’t you say so? Transferring you to Unrequited Love.