THE GOSPEL OF NUMBERS NOT IN SERVICE
I always answer the first time they call,
and in that long hush before I hang up,
I conjure up their diaphanous faces all
milky with the sadness of the disembodied,
and I see their translucent lips opening
and closing, their jaws stiff as hooked fish
in the suffocating air where they float.
I imagine them desperately mouthing
for their forgotten voices to return, then
miming with an unmentionable veracity
their plight of not being serviced, or even
carping about their banishment to this blur
of space somewhere between oblivion
and the hum-less ha-ha of prankster calls.
In the end, I don’t know what they want.
Maybe . . . they just want to order pizza—
or commiserate about the slow disconnect
of my late love, whose small, piping voice
I’ve kept all these years in a digital urn,
waiting for its substance to return to show
and tell the good news only the dead know.
Tim Mayo’s poems and reviews have appeared in American Journal of Poetry, Avatar Review, Barrow Street, Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, Poet Lore, River Styx, Salamander, San Pedro River Review, Tar River Poetry, Verse Daily, Verse-Virtual, Web Del Sol Review of Books, and The Writer’s Almanac. His first full length collection, The Kingdom of Possibilities (Mayapple Press, 2009), was a finalist for the 2009 May Swenson Award. His second volume of poems, Thesaurus of Separation (Phoenicia Publishing 2016), was a finalist for the 2017 Montaigne Medal and a finalist for the 2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award. His chapbook, Notes to the Mental Hospital Timekeeper, will be published by Kelsay Books in early 2020.