December 5, 2016

Steve Abbott

RINGTONE PANTOUM

Whenever her cell phone rings
she’s clawing at her purse,
desperate to not be out of touch
no matter what she’s doing.

She’s clawing at her purse
during meetings, in the shower,
no matter what she’s doing.
Her friends reach out and grope her

during meetings. In the shower
she doesn’t think it strange that
her friends reach out and grope her.
Even when she’s breathing hard in bed

she doesn’t think it strange, that
Lady Gaga ringtone chirping loud.
Even when she’s breathing hard in bed,
she just can’t let it go, be in the moment.

Lady Gaga ringtone chirping loud?
It’s music. It’s a drug. It’s her life—
she just can’t let it go. Be in the moment?
Someone who is bored is more important:

it’s music, it’s a drug, it’s her life
all tangled up in every other life. It’s clear
someone who is bored is more important,
more than anything she does or loves,

all tangled up in every other life. It’s clear
she’s connected to everything but herself,
more than anything she does or loves,
a perfect slave who embraces her chain.

She’s connected to everything but herself,
desperate to not be out of touch—
a perfect slave who embraces her chain
whenever her cell phone rings.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016

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__________

Steve Abbott: “I know that poetry has the power to move us in ways that never get above the neck to where we create ‘meaning,’ and that is how the best poetry works. But I often view it and those of us who write it the way John Stewart described The Daily Show’s approach to the news: ‘We only honor the distinction between real and absurdly fake. And we are absurdly fake.’ So I just keep writing down what comes to me—real or fake—as I move through the world.”