Call the Police! It’s a Poem!

by G.T.

This list of contacts in my cell phone has offered a wealth of different characters ripe for all sorts of intriguing poetry. Not everybody responds, but some people have offered very interesting dialogue. Today, I probably encountered my most engaging person yet. This guy.

Josh S. (630) – When I first met Joshua, he stood out from other students, and fraternity brothers, on campus. Where most everyone is apathetic or an atheist, Joshua, a mechanical engineering major, is a devout Christian. Devout is putting it quite lightly, too. He led a bible study at the fraternity every Friday night that was attended by few of the religious all over campus. I’ve never met a young person who so loyally followed the dogma and practices of a religion. Although I’m not a religious fellow, I couldn’t help but admire that about him. He stands among few in a world that looks at him as if his mindset is obsolete, terribly conservative, and past it’s prime. What I respected most was despite how zealous he was, he chose to live in a house with gays, jews, atheists, agnostics, hindus, and all sorts of various faiths, or lack thereof. A bible verse that I found on Joshua’s Facebook got today’s poetry started.

“Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” – Ephesians 5:14

At 1:07pm.

“The Ephesian
words didn’t apply
to those who chose
their golden crosses,
but rather those
nailed against
splinters because
they chose to die for
a belief.”

1:11pm, Josh: “This is?”

1:13pm, Me: “Poet of nothing in particular. You Josh?”

I’ve run out of places to call myself The Poet Laureate of … I’ll think up of some more.

1:37pm, Josh: “A josh. You sound like Russ? Do I know you?”

I’m beginning to think that this is a wrong number, again. But since this person is talking…

1:42pm, Me: “This number is in my phone as Josh, an old friend of mine. I’m not Russ, but if he sounds like me, he must be a cool guy.”

1:44pm, Josh: “I’ve known a rather poetic Dan for some time… Though i haven’t heard from him in a while. ??”

Could he be thinking I’m Emo Dan? A contact from a couple of weeks ago?

1:48pm, Me: “Emo Dan?”

If this is Josh, he’ll know Emo.

1:54pm, Josh: “No, a dan from long before emo… But i admit i can not tell who this might be.”

2:12pm, Me: “Yes, I wouldn’t expect you to rightly remember me based solely by my words. I’m George, formerly of the Elevensies.”

Elevensies was the nickname of my pledge class.

2:25pm, Josh: “I still am not sure i remember you correctly. But tell me how life changes.”

What? How life changes. It occured to me that this may be one of the super secret fraternity codes to identify a brother. Otherwise known as everything I never learned.

2:44pm, Me: “Well I left during ritual years ago, so I lost touch with most of the clandestine lingo. Since then, I’ve had to commit my life to excellence elsewhere.”

I inserted the Delt Mission in the text. It’s not secretive, but at least it would give him an idea that I’m of some affiliation to the fraternity, however little that may be. Commited to lives of excellence. If barely employed writer with no money and no other prospects is a life of excellence, call me a Delt!

2:50pm, Josh: “I’m confident i have remembered you correctly. And glad to here your ambitions seem oriented to christ’s instruction. Was i part of a mass text or can i help u?”

Uh oh.

2:55pm, Me: “I’m writing poetry to every person on my phone’s contacts list, because I’ve lost touch with all of you. Each poem is written specifically for that person.”

2:57pm, Me: “So far, it’s been a very colorful project. I thought that verse would suit you.”

3:14pm, Josh: “But i am curious whether you have a faith of your own that aspires to such a verse or do you only parrot what you have heard?”

Uh oh. Again.

I stood in my kitchen while the soup I was preparing burned against the pot on the stove. How could I explain this project and that poem? Where did I stand as creator of the poem that he has mistaken as my ode to Christ?

3:57pm, Me: “I have faith in my virtues. My verses are my virtues, but are also windows into the perspectives of the beliefs of others.”

If I didn’t think like I do, how could I write poetry to my Muslim friends, or my friends who share his etiquette, but are atheists? Call me a parrot, one who mocks the actions and words of others, but keep in mind that I am soaring far above, and writing and sharing your ways of thought and life to others. I believe in the theme of that poem, but for Josh, I wrote it as if looking out the window of a Christian’s view. And also keep in mind that I would be one of the prettiest and most vibrant parrots in the sky.

Julia Z. (248) – I first met Julia during my first week at college. It was a terribly windy August day, and her and a couple friends were looking for a spot free from the wind to light a joint. They also needed something to light it. I gave Julia a pack of matches and we’d been friends since. Of course I never see her anymore because I left (I’ve said the story already), and have only run into her a few times after. One boring weekend afternoon, she took a photo of me sitting on the hood of my first car. Julia said that everyone should have a photograph of themselves sitting on the hood of their first car. That car crapped out on me long ago, and I never got that photo either. At 3:13pm.

“Like the photo of
you on the hood
of your first car,
nothing is thought
to change like snow
in the Midwest.
But it does, like
sludge on Cermak
under buses.”

Julia never offered a response. Last I spoke to her, she said that my number is listed in her phone as “Gay Castro”, which happened to be a nickname given to me after a night of shotgunning beers in an extra small, olive green shirt. Add a cigar, my beard, and a bed of flowers in the front yard of a sorority, and you have a photo of one very flamboyant Cuban dictator. Julia didn’t respond, so I inquired about that photo she took of me.

5:17pm, Me: “Didn’t you once take a photo of me as I leaned on the hood of my chevy lumina?”

Still no response. I guess I’ll never get that picture.

Justine L. (773) – According to Justine, I’m a dragon in an alternate universe. And she’s a fairy that resides in a garden. She’s obsessed with punk rock fad bands, and loses herself in forty minute tangents about marrying some of her more beloved bassists. It’s hard to believe that someone who says these things, let alone thinks them, is old enough to drink legally. I say this because most girls who say these things, well, aren’t. At 5:13pm.

“Bass riffs bounce off
poster plastered
walls cracked from
shaken foundation
of finer day blues.
They fall for scrawny
guitarist lyrics that
sing prettier names.”

5:14pm, Justine: “Who is this?”

5:16pm, Justine: “???”

Honestly, I would’ve been satisfied to have not received a response.

5:19pm, Me: “Was the poem so good that you need to know who I am?”

5:21pm, Justine: “What poem? I don’t know who this is that got my number”

5:25pm, Me: “That text was a poetic verse. What are your thoughts on it?”

5:27pm, Justine: “I don’t know who are so I can’t talk to you. Please go away or I’ll have to tell my parents and they’ll tell the police.”

I expected death threats before anything like this. Perhaps Justine changed her number. It has been a very long time. Now I may have contacted some Twilight obsessed tween who is afraid for her life. Why would a very young person use practically correct grammar, including apostrophes? Let’s see how she responds to her name.

5:39pm, Me: “This must not be Justine’s number. Pardon the inconvenience.”

Because the Chicago Police Department has nothing better to do on a Saturday night other than investigating non-threatening poetry.

5:43pm, Justine: “How do you know her name? I’m telling now and you’re going to jail”

So you’re asking why I know “her name”? And you’re going to tell your mommy and daddy that somebody accidentally sent you a text message.

I forgot. In the state of Illinois, poetic assault is a misdemeanor. I’m pretty sure that this was Justine. Her response sure as hell fit her description.