Where the Telephone Lines Go


Grayson Stocks

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 119 in August, 2009.

your voice is the only thing
that still sounds like you did
three years ago.
the rest of you is too loud
to fit into that old introvert
shell that I cracked,
but sometimes
I call you
pretending it was an accident
just to hear your


always in the same questioning tone
like it’s difficult to believe
that I’m still here
with the stripes in my closet
and jar of salsa under my pillow
to seep some heat
into the four hundred thread counts
that somehow never warmed to you.

the question mark
on the end of your response
is the hook
never removed from my lip,
although the line you reeled me in on
has quietly slackened.

your newest sound is the scratch,
the claw of a dial-up internet connection
and the only question
left unasked
is the scream of your name across the country
but after so many miles of telephone cords,
the only answer is dial tone.

can you hear me now?


— Grayson Stocks