Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poem A Day Challenge for April 28

April 28: “For today's prompt, write an end of the line poem. Maybe the narrator of your poem is at the end of his or her line. Other possible lines that have an end: assembly lines, phone lines, power lines, rail lines, graph lines, dotted lines, waiting lines, lines of poetry, etc.“

This one seemed to come more easily, maybe because "end of the line" is a phrase I often use myself in the context of telephone (and now e-mail) conversations. It's interesting how certain phrases take on the mantel of artistic expression, conjuring up clear images of times past even in their present day use. Two tin cans and a string anyone?

Language As Art—The End Of The Line
By Bill Kirk

“I hope all are well
On your end of the line.
Everyone’s swell here—
We’re doing just fine.”

Brief conversations
In another place and time,
When mutual assurance of wellness
Was all that was needed.
Especially when the two ends of the line
Were long distances apart.

How was it that threes
Were so important back then?
If it couldn’t be said in three minutes or less,
That’s what a three cent stamp was for.
And three or more houses connected
By the same phone line was a party—
A party line, that is.

Perhaps folks were busier back then
And didn’t have time for long conversations.
Knowledge beyond wellbeing
Was mostly considered frivolous and unnecessary.
And just getting by took
Almost more time and energy
Than most folks had.

Emergencies were a different matter, of course.
Even the party lines had rules—
Everyone had better get off
Their ends of the line
To open it up for a call to the doctor.

But it had better be a real emergency
That couldn’t be handled with a little
Coal oil, snuff, fireplace ashes and
A piece of cloth cut from the hem of Mamaw’s skirt.
Castor Oil took care of most everything else.

Emergencies thus defined were rare.
And because phone calls were how
Emergencies got reported,
No one wanted to get a phone call in the first place.
But if you were unlucky enough to get one,
Finding out if everyone was well
On the other end of the line
Was all that was necessary.

“Everyone OK on that end of the line?”
“Yep. We’re doin’ just fine.”

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