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(Today is the Ides of May — my mother’s birthday).

My mother:

In baseball (9 players per side; 9 innings long; 3 outs per side per inning)

They retire numbers for

Someone special.

The phone company — 

I’m not so sure.

“Reach out and touch someone.”

They used to say,

As though they:


As though they cared,

About someone other than those billion little pictures of Washington, Lincoln and Grant

That flow from 


Wallet to



Now, there’s a neat trick

Allowing us to communicate

(At the speed of light = 186, 000 miles per second; which despite their ads, they did not invent)

(as though that is not in everyone’s interest, for all to communicate)

And pay the price.


216-733-1751 jumps yet again into my head,

Is reassigned to a stranger.

The notion that my mom is dead…

Maybe, I should call her.

She died a year and a half ago.

But, hey, you never know, as the lottery ad proclaims.

What with technology these days.

Maybe DSL means “Dialing Sacred Lives.”


“Delaying Special Losses.”

Who knows?

Would there be a recorded annoucement?

“We’re sorry. The person that you tried to reach is:



The number has been retired.”


Just a long, low, incessant ring of infinite duration.

Silence amplified by (a scientifically engineered) sound into a lonlier tone.


Would some bleached blonde 25.3 year old divorcee with 2.21 kids answer?

I’d say:

“Uh, Hi. You don’t know me, but … 

Well, I thought I’d call; let you know that my mom used to have this…er…your phone number.

And, earlier it was mom and dad’s and before that even, it was my number too.”

And, what would we talk about then?

(Assuming she didn’t call 911 on her cell-phone)

The flow of electrons, human life, and money, perhaps.

The high cost* of telephone service.

*(Does it make you wonder when all the phone commercials are about how cheap they are?)

What would we talk about while her kids whined about breakfast in the background?

Lucky Charms, maybe, or Count Chocula. 

I loved sugar too when young, in all its fine forms.

(A teaspoon of sugar has more calories than you can imagine.)

I Manipulated

Mom (you have 1 and only 1 mother but 2 grandmothers and billions of grand-fish ancestors)

Into letting me ruin my teeth. 

Wasn’t I the smart one? 

I haven’t had a new dental problem for a long, long time.

But the old ones (year > 40) recur and recur.

I pick up the phone

(engineered according to the numbers)

Hear that reassuring hum,

(the frequency is scientifically set) 

And then return it, gently, gently,

To the cradle.

By human touch alone.

I don’t calculate

The dollar cost of this small act

Although undoubtedly I should.

I just return it, gently, gently 

To the cradle.

By human touch alone.

The Impossible


Camelot is in your Heart

Maybe it Needs a New Starter

The Most Serious Work

Is a Dream

The Jewels of November

Mother’s Day


The Tree of Life

How the Nightingale Learned to Sing

Come Back to the Light