Eric A. Weil
PLEASE PHONE, DONT TXT
If you want to talk to me, please speak, for while
I hear your voice, I believe in you. When I read
your texts, spy-code abbreviations disguise your accents.
In a voice there is life, in your intonations I hear an echo
of everything you’ve said to me, but I cannot hold a book
or hang my shirts in the closet and text you back.
I would stop anything while we’re together, and I smile
to hear you across hundreds of miles of air, but when
you text me, it feels sneaky. I see congressmen
tweeting during the State of the Union and blue screens
strung through a theatre audience, I am afraid
you are driving or stealing time from your job
or from a friend at lunch. Do not misunderstand — I can tap
a Lilliputian keyboard — but words that would flow
from my mouth jam behind my thumbs like clots
in a sclerotic artery. Thumbs were made for grasping,
and if I cannot grasp you I will hold your voice to my ear
like the sea in a conch, hearing the heartbeat
of your cadences, listening and listening still.
Author’s Comment: Author’s Comment: This is a tribute to, and an update of, “Please Write, Don’t Phone,” a wonderful poem by Robert Watson, my professor and friend who died in February 2012. I was grateful to share a draft of my poem with him (and to learn that he enjoyed it) a few months before his death. Bob’s Collected Poems came out in 2011; read it.
Bio: Eric A. Weil is the author of two poetry chapbooks, A Horse at the Hirshhorn and Returning from Mars. Poems are forthcoming the The Hurricane Review and Main Street Rag. He teaches English at Elizabeth City State University, in North Carolina.