Overloading the Machine

The Theory of the Phone

Let me ring a few of these numbers
to see if they pick up

He turned over in his bed
I hang on the other end, distant

"Leave a message asshole"
"Now leave this asshole a message"

The painting is of the mountains
Messages frequently go unheard
there is nothing I can do

pushed back her hair
she pushed back her chair

This is imagination, an unlisted number
and this is a procedure to follow

in which the mountain's frame is forgotten
and the phone of theory is a cord dangling

from the wrist
(these greetings are paid by the hour)

He ducks to hide from the entrance
She slips on the crooked desk

This is imagined, last year's number
answering machines calling him

Keep your normal voice friendly
Keep your friendly voice normal

The phone rings but doesn't answer
sleeping under its dust cover

He lived in a mailbox
a bucket that was slowly emptied

This is sense
which merengues itself

The envelopes will be quicksand for their toes
after they are licked

You can use this plaque on my desk
to authorize anything you do

I'll try to be more helpful next call
hold my breath

which is how autumn leaves rattle
in through the door

Preconceptions are fastened
but you can't remember man or woman

Preconceptions are fastened
first to first of the first

This is the imagination of electronics
and this is a grid ranking names

I've checked the emails and they are all for you
exactly what Fridays are for

the red-robed figure is rushing down steps

the dog noses the glass door wet
and the buzz of the misplaced wasp

Sinks unnoticed down the stairs

but more congruous than a recording
representing an identity

The expression, "hold, just for a second,"
yet meaning is meant to be silent

That is the second or third floor
Where you can turn in your concerns with a foot

I do not step to it
but face an angled seating

high as the chair on its wheels
the theory of the phone, extension

or the counter-cultural building
the LEDs slowly climb

exactly what Fridays are for
there are only beneficial reasons for their truth

and the bells announcing their arrival
break cracks through foundation.

This page was last modified on 2011 December 20. "The Theory of the Phone" by John Sullivan is Copyright ©2003 - 2011, and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.