Sunday, April 10, 2005

Existential RPW Poem

The Little Black Heart of the Telephone

That telephone keeps screaming its little black heart out:
Nobody there? Oh, nobody's there!—and the blank room bleeds
For the poor little black bleeding heart of the telephone.
I, too, have suffered. I know how it feels
When you scream and scream and nobody's there.
I am feeling that way this goddam minute,
If for no particular reason.

Tell the goddam thing to shut up! Only
It's not ringing now at all, but I
Can scrutinize and tell that it's thinking about
Ringing, and just any minute, I know.
So, you demand, the room's not empty, you're there?
Yes, I'm here, but it might start screaming just after
I've gone out the door, in my private silence.

Or if I stayed here I mightn't answer, might pretend
Not to be here at all, or just be part of the blankness
The room is, as the blankness
Bleeds for the little bleeding black heart
Of the telephone. If, in fact, it should scream,
My heart would bleed too, for I know how pain can't find words.
Or sometimes is afraid to find them.

I tell you because I know you will understand.
I know you have screamed: Nobody's there? Oh, nobody's there!
You've looked up at stars lost in blankness that bleeds
Its metaphysical blood, but not for redemption.
Have you ever stopped by the roadside at night, and couldn't
Remember your name, and breath
Came short? Or at night waked up with a telephone screaming,
And covered your head, afraid to answer?

Anyway, in broad daylight, I'm now in the street,
And now telephone anywhere near, or even
Thinking about me. But tonight, back in bed, I may dream
Of a telephone screaming its little black heart out,
In an empty room, toward sunset,
While a year-old newspaper, yellowing, lies on the floor, and velvety
Dust thick over everything, especially
On the black telephone, on which no thumbprint has,
For a long time now, been visible.

In my dream I wonder why, long since, it's not been disconnected.

(from Robert Penn Warren's Now and Then: Poems 1976-1978)


At 5:25 PM, Blogger cowgirl bebop said...

Oooh.. have you read Ted Hughes' "Do not Pick Up the Telephone"?


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