The phone handset is prone
And silent in its cradle.
No-one knows my number.
I’m alone in this new place,
A stranger in this space.
You were supposed to be here
Now. I dial your number
Please check the person trying
The message is disconnected
I’m separated from you.
Again I try your number
This service has been calling
You have called again later
The baby doesn’t stop crying
In the sweet, lace trimmed bassinet.
Please try unavailable number
Not before this again or
Is not a recorded number.
Please check the person trying.
I had a 70 denier black
Stocking over my head
With my nose pressed
And my lips as if
Like mine their
faces were hazed.
I looked like a criminal
But I had not stolen
Except the opportunity
For their morbid fascination.
About these poems:
These poems are from a current work in progress, a collection that is emerging from trauma which poetry is helping to release.
About this poem:
It's interesting the things that stand out to children; the things that sear into their lifelong memories. This poem is about the factory my mother worked at that I sometimes had to be at as a 8-9 yo child. The things that struck me back then - the fish faces in the wire cages on the forklift, the hot tempers of the migrant workers, the industrial grime. And the office - quiet, clean.
Iridescent rainbows glow in the engine oil
spilled on the concrete floor. Scales of large fish
sparkle silver and blue behind a pressing grid of wired cages.
Their eyes stay open to the dusty, gray walls and pipes,
mouths poised oh! at the passing tubs of fish guts.
In my mother’s office I collect the confetti of white telex
machine perforations. Some sprinkle from my hands to lay
bright against the ocean green swirls in the waxed linoleum.
A man stabs another man with a filleting knife
in the filleting room.
My mother tells me albacore is the new chicken of the sea.
Sometimes we would leave
when the factory women were finishing their shifts.
They wore white coats like doctors
with bloodied plastic aprons and
white rubber boots,
laughing, gesturing -
now they can leave this place.