Fall 2019 / Poetry 2019 / Volume 50

Ode to the Telephone Booth By: John Repp

I’d driven fifteen hours, things broken back there


or refusing to break—not the things with which I’d stocked

the converted carport where I fried rice & cooked coffee, 


no—things: Love, Work, Money, Innocence (that stubborn 

fucker most of all). I was home again, nowhere to stay, 

mother dead, father somewhere, brother north, sister deep 


in the land of milk & screaming, friends put out of reach 

or gone or dead. Across from the dark bungalow 

whose every grease spot emitted moan, hum, or whisper 

I could sing any time you asked, I carried a dime 


into the phone booth outside the Hess station & called someone 

I had no right calling anymore. I was filthy, cold & hungry. 

I had enough money to turn around & enough will to bed down 


in the back seat, but the only word I knew was “Please.” 

Sometimes, tenderness sleeps at the heart of things. “Sure,” 
she said. “Take the couch. You can’t make me the asshole.”

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