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Call Waiting by Leonard S. Edgerly
published in Volume 1, Issue 5 on November 20th, 1994

apparently that poem
by Philip Levine
was not ready to be read
downstairs

my mother this morning
got a phone call from her roofer
then a call waiting call
from someone else
so she was talking
waiting bouncing between
the two phone calls while
I waited to read Levine's poem
not long enough though
	a silly sullen boy
I left her stranded
on her own politeness

I left her on the phone
telling the call waiting call
"I have to go now"
in that little voice of hers
she uses when everything
is falling apart

so I left the poem                [begin new stanza]
for them to read
on their own damn time
in between call waiting
and any roofer who might
have pressing business in the morning

was I this much a tyrant
forty years ago wanting
to show what I found
all on my own
and wanted to share with her
before call waiting was invented?

my father naturally
calls up to the third floor phone
to say how great the poem was
he read it to her
when she got off the phone

I can imagine
a kid as bright as I was
always wanting to show
what he had discovered
and the poor tired mother
saying yes, yes - that's
wonderful dear
but needing to write
a grocery list call a sister
and pay attention
to everyone else too
so he never got as much
as he wanted
in the Attention Department
which may explain
how interested he became
in that odd shiver
through his whole body
after enough attention
to his emerging flesh
or the high solace
of a pine tree where
he looked out from the top                  [no new stanza]
and watched the other boys
play baseball
in the far field

and now
the sad sight of her life
pulled in so many directions
dictated to by telephones
and roofers
and details of other people's lives
her own priorities
a swirl of ones and zeros
in other people's computers
her stretched desire
to be three places at once
not willing to piss off
anyone - her small voice
saying "I have to go now"
and my ability to make her feel bad

What gives me the right?

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