Tim Mayo: “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.

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