A Friend Gone Bad

For months, she’s been r-i-n-g-i-n-g,
Hounding me morning, noon and late at night,
And leaving a message if I don’t answer her call.
Lately, she hauls me from my sleep at quarter to three.
In the beginning, when I answered, “Hello. Hello?? Hello!!!”
I heard only echoing nothingness, a round black void of sound.
But eventually, she started leaving me odd cryptic demands,
Weird and hollow, delivered in a slow, menacing drone.
They’re always the same, in code, I’ve no doubt.
And, today?  Today she brazenly spoke to me,
So sure she is safe in her anonymity.

Her cold and mechanical voice commands:
“Three. Three. Please hang up and try your call again.”
Her voice isn’t human. It's tinny and canned.

I’m sure my phone is stalking me.  

Don’t you just hate it when a trusted friend turns on you?

The poem that follows is by one of my favorite poets, Louis Jenkins, posted here with the gracious permission of the poet.  If you haven’t had the pleasure, you can get a small taste of his prose poetry here.  But I warn you, it’ll leave you wanting more.

The Telephone
by Louis Jenkins

In the old days telephones were made of
rhinoceros tusk and were big and heavy enough
to be used to fight off an intruder. The telephone
had a special place in the front hallway, a shrine
built into the wall, a niche previously occupied
by the blessed virgin, and when the phone
rang it was serious business. "Hello." "One if
by land and two if by sea." "What?" "Unto you
a child is born." "What?" "What did he say?"
"Something about the Chalmers' barn." The
voice was carried by a single strand of bare wire
running from coast to coast, wrapped around a
Coke bottle stuck on a tree branch, dipping low
over the swamp, it was the party line, all your
neighbors in a row, out one ear and in another.
"We have a bad connection, I'm having trouble
understanding you."                     

Nowadays telephones are made of recycled
plastic bags and have multiplied to the point
where they have become a major nuisance.
The point might ring at you from anywhere, the
car, the bathroom, under the couch cushions...
Everyone hates the telephone. No one uses the
telephone anymore so telephones, out of habit
or boredom or loneliness perhaps, call one
another. "Please leave a message at the tone."
"I'm sorry, this is a courtesy call. We'll call back at
a more convenient time. There is no message."


  1. There is simply no cure for a phone gone bad. You just have to flush it down the toilet. Uh. Don't tell Chef Jeff I did that. He'd be mad.

    Snaking the toilet is NOT his favorite.

  2. What a fabulous poem. Thanks for including it in your blog.


  3. ha. th phone gone bad...would drive me crazy...thanks for the intro to a new poet...loved it!

  4. Ti: Hmmm, the toilet. I didn't think of that.

    PG & Brian: You're welcome! I love Jenkins' poetry. It's so accessible and familiar, somehow.

  5. OMG... Three! You wrote about Three. Too funny!!


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