Poetry: Joseph Wood

Apology to Third Shift Greyhound Phone Center Operator

Let us begin with Lemon, KS, population who the fuck knows, its boarded storefronts & tumbleweeds breeze-rolling

Onto the big, crashing waves of La Jolla, mansions perched with the ospreys, up on the cliff, eyeing the private, deserted beach below

And speaking of oceans, let us shoot east to Brunswick, ME—aren’t there icebergs this time of year, igloos forming as R’s fall off the ends of words

And on the matter of conversation: well, I do realize we’ve been on the phone 75 minutes, & I do realize you’re deeply rubbing your temples, & staring, once again,

At the call center’s orange-cinder block wall, & that damn calendar, nailed firmly at eye-level, its topless torpedo-breasted coeds bronzing beneath the palms

And I suspect, when your shift is over, you’ll need an windshield ice scraper as it is probably snowing where you are, as it is where I am, but the good news is

The school bus won’t come tomorrow, & I won’t have to do the daily walk of shame—my head lice, my juice stained shirt—

In front of jackal-like classmates, whose roofer fathers have tar for brains & mothers are pregnant again

And my own mother, of course, on her bazillionth Melon-flavored highball, ready to swing the belt at the first one who breathes

And no, dear operator, I am not a sergeant on a two week leave, nor an encyclopedia salesman hoofing it sad town to sad town—

Forgive this indiscretion, but may I say, in your strong Southern drawl, azaleas spring open, Antebellums erupt from nowhere

Though right now, on the other end, I have no idea what an azalea is

Except that it’s bright, fragrant, like Christmas morning, when everything’s wrapped, the tree lights blink, & I’m shaking