Poetry | June 01, 2004
Poetry Feature: Gabriel Welsch
Featuring the following poems:
- The Telemarketer Basically Enjoys Talking with Goldbarth, Though it Ends Too Soon for Her Preference
- The Telemarketer Calls a Poet She’s Actually Heard Once on NPR to Talk to Him About Relief From the Burden of High-Interest
- The Telemarketer Means to Call Baker About Erectile Dysfuntion but, in a Misdial, Winds Up With Simic
- The Telemarketer Calls Basho About a Cure for the Winter Blues
- After Calling Too Many Poets, the Telemarketer Gives Up
- The Telemarketer’s Husband, Unemployed, Kills Time in a Cafe, Waiting to Pick Her Up
The Telemarketer Basically Enjoys Talking With Goldbarth, Though It Ends Too Soon for Her Preference
Is the man of the house at home?
I can’t believe you just said that, your throwback euphemism
drags up a past to lament and praise, supernova twice, bigness
a narcoleptic paradox running down the lice-ridden rungs of time-
-so you’re the man, er, the head of the household.
You could say that.
Excellent. I have some questions?
Is it excellent? Do you know what you’re saying? Or are you like
the loquacious cockatiel, your exuberance a feathered haste,
chit-chat scattershot like rejected millet flecking a shag carpet.
We discuss you, you know, over dinner, over grilled fish or
a burger flame-plump and greasy, while the moon, at once pale
and thick, opaque as sperm, like turned milk, looks nailed
to a frail horizon, and we complain, bitch about the everyday
invasions, grudge and shrug to admit some utility in the cubicled
greeting mills …
[This is easily the best call I’ve had all day.]
put up with coy asides and pomegranate
scatters of salesmanship, of salespersonship, of the multiple
mutations of commerce, while some of us raise the specter
of a forgotten conquistador whose arrival on palm-sotted shores
in 1570, rifle-pricked and steel-cowled, cowed the first native
he saw with a plea for water, for anything other than salt,
anything other than the lexicon of distance and its flat
horizons, and in effect exercised the great prerogative
of free markets, or free enterprise anyway, sans the lovely
parting gifts of affected tele-purchasing by simply getting
to the fucking point and asking, right out there, crackerjack
simple, for exactly the thing he wanted and nothing more.
Okay. We’re running a special on appliances.
Don’t need any. See ya.
The Telemarketer Calls a Poet She’s Actually Heard Once on NPR to Talk to Him About Relief From the Burden of High-Interest Credit Cards
Mr. Collins, I am calling today about an important opportunity for you to start paying down those
high- interest credit cards and get on the road to good credit.
I don’t have credit card debt. Thank you.
Now wait. I’ve read your poems,
of your affinity for wine
and bread’s pleasures, for candlesticks
and clutches of freesias, your taste for brocade,
your love of solid furniture, your likely
You know, don’t you, not to take poems
as biography, right? You can’t just
strap them down and beat from them
the details of a poet’s life. You know
So they say. But you also write
what you know, right? Clean out
your attic, describe and collect
what you find there?
That’s part of it.
Then isn’t it reasonable market
research to have a look at your work
and deduce you’ve had contact
with lots of stuff at one point?
Fair enough. You can assume my valise,
too, is tooled leather, my books gilt-edged
and leather as well, my dinners tidy opulences,
but if I told you, in a slight stutter, sotto
voce, that I now had just finished a Big Mac
and was preparing to watch Hannity and
Colmes, to ignore the trifling sky
and the corduroy hours of evening, would you
frown, want to tousle my hair, tell me I’m
being silly, ship me to bed? Or, are you
the moth drawn to this flame, the spoon
yearning to lie with the knife, the bureau
drawer yawning to be filled with folds
of colored socks and accidental change?
You have a point, there.
I usually do. I don’t care how many
condescending titters I hear.
Not from me you don’t.
No. True. Never from you.
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