what was that? is that all there is? who is this? this is it.

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perfect pandemic prose poem

May 13, 2020



The Phone Call  

by James Tate


I sat on the steps for a very long time. No one passed, no cars went by.

It was as if the world had stopped. Then the mailman walked by. I was

so happy to see him I nearly jumped out of my pants. ‘Hi!’ I shouted to him.

‘Hello,’ he answered back. ‘How are you today?’ I said. ‘I’m just fine. How

are you?’ he said. ‘Well, I was a bit lonely until I saw you,’ I said.

‘There’s no reason to be lonely. There’s all the world to keep you company,

he said. ‘I guess you’re right,’ I said, as he disappeared down the block.

Then school got out and the streets were flooded with youngsters. They were

sweet and friendly. A while later work ended and the grown-ups came home. They

were exhausted and not so friendly, but, still, they reminded me that there

was a world out there. I sat on the steps all that time, thinking about

what a funny place we live in. Then I got up and went in the house. I had

lost my job at the oil refinery and was waiting to hear from several other

companies. I had some savings and wasn’t too worried. Jack called and

asked if I wanted to go hunting tomorrow. I said I’d like to but I had other

plans. Then Betsy called and asked if I wanted to go drinking tonight. I

said that sounded great, but I just couldn’t. I waited for the phone to ring

after that, but there was nothing. I played some crossword puzzles, then

watched television and fell asleep on the couch. I woke up in the morning

feeling achy and lost. I wasn’t sure where I was. It took me a few minutes

to figure it out. I was home, as always. I shaved and ate breakfast.

My mother called and I said I was just fine. It was a lie, of course, but

the truth would hurt her more. I wanted to go for a walk, but I was afraid

of missing a phone call. Finally the phone rang. The voice said, ‘Hello

my name is Mark Smith and I’d like to offer you a job as president of Prudential

Banks, the largest bank in America. Are you interested?’ ‘Well, yes, but

why me?’ I said. ‘We want someone with no experience and no ideas about

banking, and you seemed ideal,’ he said. ‘Why would you want someone like

that?’ I said. ‘We want to kill him,’ he said. ‘I don’t think I’m interested,’

I said. ‘It’s a great salary, nice vacations,’ he said. ‘No thanks,’ I

said, feeling relieved and very lucky to be just where I am.





for what you wish careful be bro


read this poem in Tate's Government Lake in September then I picked it up again this morning and it hit me in a different way if you know what I mean

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. said...

copy that. coincidentally i was rolling along thinking about being a millionaire's billionaire and the hours involved in that annual 2 week vacation, the glare of the newest new way way to make your living room sparkle for that night next year you'll host a sushi dinner for the people from the club and how you'll round table your vacations and talk summer parties up to fitzgerald proportions that only happen in the mind because being a millionaires billionaire requires hours that are your soul. i said fuck that shit and set sail through the night and the day in out for weeks almost over a year to where the wild things are.

Posted May 13, 2020 08:53 PM | Reply to this comment

pilder replied to ....


Posted May 14, 2020 05:21 AM | Reply to this comment

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