Wednesday, July 1, 2015

From Volume 35: A poem by Jeffrey Beck




Jeffrey Beck



his father’s voice





because you didn’t have time to return

his last call, you linger now replaying

the crackly voicemail, his buoyant plea

to talk, his voice rising a squeaky

octave, so you’ll know he’s excited;

even with random emphysema wheezes,

he’s eager to talk about that baby girl

he’ll never see: if you’d called him back

you would’ve been trapped for forty

minutes, at least, by his tireless shaggy-

dog storytelling, no irrelevant detail too

minute not to mention, as he tenaciously

wove his meandering tale, and just

when you had enough, he would’ve fended

you off, with artful news of poor aunt

Virginia’s hip, or cousin Scottie’s brilliant

new place, or, best  of all, the vital dates

of the next Koch-Schenken-Grunewald-

Beck reunion. And now, after the killing

stroke, you would relish it all, beg him

to tell you more, coax him so he felt

perfectly relaxed spinning his whole

life’s tangled yarn, his smoker’s smile

lighting his wrinkled, bony face.

and now you dread the day when the

voicemail leaves your phone, when you’ll

never hear again his squeaky, wheezing,

crackly, loving voice.



his father’s voice



having no time to return his last

call, you linger replaying the crackly

voicemail, his plea to talk,

his voice rising a squeaky,

excited octave, so even with random

emphysema wheezes, you know

he’s eager to hear about the baby girl

he’ll never see: if you’d called him back

you would’ve been trapped for forty

minutes, at least, by his tireless shaggy-

dog storytelling, no irrelevant detail

too minute not to mention, and just

when you had enough, he would’ve fended

you off, with artful news of poor aunt

Virginia’s hip, or cousin Scottie’s brilliant

new place, or, best of all, the vital dates

of the next Koch-Schenken-Grunewald-

Beck reunion. And now, after the stroke,

you would relish it all, coax him

so he felt perfectly relaxed spinning

his whole life’s tangled yarn, and now

you dread the day the voicemail

leaves your phone, so only in

your mind’s ear you’ll hear

the squeaky, wheezing, crackly

voice.

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