On the Third Ring

By on Apr 13, 2010 in Poetry

Critical care room with snow overlay

The late phone call brings the voice
from China, from Illinois,  from Intensive Care.

The snow has stumbled south from Seattle.
The airlines hold their passengers as collective breath

while sleet marches southeast to Los Angeles as rain
where county commissioners count storm drains

as items for next century’s budget, and news cameras
will turn tosporadic rivers in concrete beds

mounting current enough to sweep away
children impervious to warnings  against

the fascinations of waters
rushing garbage from the city into the  sea.

The news crews wait through clips of murders,
and hit-and-runs, holiday fires and asphyxiations.

The clouds twist south through the dark.
The phone sleeps.  The  patient seeps IV meds.

We remember the turns of the last conversation.
We will talk  again.  Friends can choose

to outwit the rains, to pray out symptoms.
Friends will speak despite death and thunders.

In the comfort of drumming waters
down the rooflines,

each will know
the other’s voice.

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R. S. Carlson, a previous contributor to Wild Violet, teaches literature, linguistics, and writing at Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California. His poems have appeared in The Texas Review; Birmingham Poetry Review; Poet Lore; The Cape Rock; Genre; The Hawai'i Review; Sunstone; War, Literature and the Arts; Viet Nam War Generation Journal; Colere; Rockhurst Review, Slake, and other literary magazines, print and online. His poetry collection, Waiting to Say Amen, is available from Lulu.com in downloadable ebook or print editions.