August 28-September 3, 2017: Poetry from Michael Paul and Scott Ferry

​Michael Paul and Scott Ferry

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​Michael Paul

Bio (auto)

Michael Paul is a retired Air Force veteran who lives in Evansville, Indiana. He is an investor, triathlete, Ironman and occasional writer. He lived alone with my beautiful Yorkie ’till three months ago when he lost him. 

The following work is Copyright © 2017, and owned by ​Michael Paul and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Call Center Blues

Beep is the worst sound on the earth.
Beep is a cotton-less Q-tip drilled into my ear,
a starter pistol popping my hangover REM sleep.
“Thank you for calling Vetran — how can I help you?” my ear zings.
She needs gas, I got gas, I got gas up the
vast, safe, wondrous pipeline infrastructure that is,
Vetran Energy Delivery.

I type, I talk, I window surf, she pulls my strings, I answer.
My fingers run a hundred hundred meter dashes a day,
my lips, like a million inch-worm push-ups on a horizontal mirror,
my mind smokes from ear to ear to ear.
My courtesy is endless, my patience has no precedence,
and I love, love, love my customer in a pleasant, pithy way.
I make her laugh,”I have a photographic memory,
but I keep leaving the lens cap on”
I make her smile,”I can offer you a rebate on that water heater”,
I make her cry, “No, we can’t turn on your gas today
(and yes, your baby will die because of it)”.
I’m her sunshine super slave while I tap my foot like a puppy-dream paw,
bang my head on my desk,
spill my soda on my mouse,
wave my hands like I’m landing a plane,
crawl under my desk for my glass lens,
my exploding pen, that penny,
my precious Dorito, my —
my headset’s unplugged!

“No, no Ma’am, take your time” I drip sweetly into my honeycomb mike,
while mouthing “Blah, blah, blah, blah”,
and placing a stuffed octopus on my head.
Across the desk, Marilyn is having a cardiac event, and I smile,
I smile at my phone, my friends, the paramedics,
the goofy-bright rainbow walls.
We are all so very, very happy here in customer service land,
except for Marilyn.
My customers think I am their god, and I think they are my children,
and they want what they want, and they want it now!
“Thank you for calling Vetran, you have a nice day,”
and I deflate, pith off.
I hate being so nice.
Marilyn was nice.
200,000 times more and I retire (Beep).


Scott Ferry

Bio (auto)

Scott Ferry (Renton, Washington) helps repair what war has done to veterans as a registered nurse. He pretends to live in the physical world. Mostly, he cleans things and loves his wife and daughter with an unnatural fervor.

The following work is Copyright © 2017, and owned by Scott Ferry and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

How to tell jokes to a patient with cancer

I tell him the most obscene one I can think of,
but maybe that is to make me feel more normal.
But penguins eating vanilla or
naked nuns painting the walls 
won’t stop Jupiter from veering
into his bathroom with stereophonic clarity,
and he still won’t be able to eat
with sweat colliding into usual
sentences like good morning.
At least when the punch line comes out
in the hospital the patient chortles, even just to be polite.
I wonder if he has made balance with God
to be able to respond with laughter?
There are percentages to be weighed.
Does the forced levity bloody the equation?
Does the trick allow any forgetting or remembering?
How can people converse freely when blame
complicates all the healthy bastards’ complacent lips?
Or are the minute pleasures enough: blueberries,
watermelons, 1969 letters from lovers,
comfortable swings of afternoon in sunned leather, 
felines humming on the thighs, texts from
grandchildren purring in the pocket?
Can these lights carry through?
When solving for a or b:
a being the string of twine uncoiled in the dark
twisting through the vena cava and the amygdala,
b being black sails or blank screens,
are there equal signs
on both sides? 


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