Poetry | June 01, 2004

Featuring the poems:

  • 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
         lingerie purchases.
                   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
                   that, right?
         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
  • The Telemarketer Means to Call Baker About Erectile Dysfunction but, in a Misdial, Winds Up With Simic
  • The Telemarketer Calls Bashō 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 Café, Waiting to Pick Her Up

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