Thursday, May 31, 2012


"An endless freight train on an endless flat."

Dial-a-Poem, courtesy of MoMA.

MoMA! Why don't you go with Howard Nemerov's "The Dial Tone"?

A moment of silence first, then there it is;
But not as though it only now began
Because of my attention; rather, this:
That I began at one point on its span
Brief kinship with its endless going on

14 Comments / Post A Comment


I don't really have anything to say, but I want to comment on poetry just because I don't want there to stop being poetry posts. I'm gonna go click all the ads on this one now, keep it up w/ the poetry anything.

Slight Joy
Slight Joy

@leon.saintjean Yes.

But I would like to add that this looks awesome and therefore I'm going this weekend.


Other top-notch telephone poems: "Grief Calls Us to the Things of the World" by the fantastico Sherman Alexie and ... wait, there should be more, but that's the only one I can think of right now! Also yes more poetry posts.


@charmcity The only other one that I can think of is Elizabeth Bishop's "While Someone Telephones". Being Bishop, though, it's wonderful.

Wasted, wasted minutes that couldn't be worse,
minutes of a barbaric condescension.
--Stare out the bathroom window at the fir-trees,
at their dark needles, accretions to no purpose
woodenly crystallized, and where two fireflies
are only lost.
Hear nothing but a train that goes by, must go by, like tension;
nothing. And wait:
maybe even now these minutes' host
emerges, some relaxed uncondescending stranger,
the heart's release.
And while the fireflies
are failing to illuminate these nightmare trees
might they not be his green gay eyes.


@charmcity I love all of these poems, and also "The Farm on the Great Plains" by William Stafford.


Love the Dial Tone poem -- thanks for sharing!

Also, Laurie Anderson, love her.

Mr. B

This may or may not be too insidery, but:

"Phone Call of Destiny," by Rick Wright (of Kenya by way of Australia)

The phone, whose ringer is not turned off,

I answer. You say,
"Rick? Rick? Rick?"

And then again, "Rick?"
"Yes," I say,

"I am Rick."


Oh my gosh! Dial a Poet recordings got me into Frank O'Hara for the first time (and lots of other rad folks). They've got a permanent home here: http://www.ubu.com/sound/gps.html

Cat named Virtute

@tales Mad Men got me into Frank O`Hara. Oh Frank O`Hara. *hugs self, rereads Mayakovsky*


What about Lou Reed? Does "New York Telephone Conversation" count as a poem or is it too much of a stretch?


I also immediately thought of WH Auden:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone...

(I am not showing off, I want more poetry posts too.)


This is great, not only as a new form of productive time-wasting (like listening to This American Life instead of doing homework), but another useful option in case you need to escape a social situation with an "important phone call".


My first thought was Tony Harrison's Long Distance II.

Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.

You couldn't just drop in. You had to phone.
He'd put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.

He couldn't risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he'd hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she'd just popped out to get the tea.

I believe life ends with death, and that is all.
You haven't both gone shopping; just the same,
in my new black leather phone book there's your name
and the disconnected number I still call.

Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account