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What Can We Do

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The persona is speaking to a part of herself or himself as Eliot does in "Prufrock."

You probably know to pay as much attention to the grammatical rhythm (syntax) as to the meter. 

What does it take to shut down the dialers who feed on our ears and our patience? O What does it take? How can we shut down the pleas for support, the electric voices that bother our phones just as we sit down for dinner? What does it take? Why say there’s no hope? The dialers, you say, are that damn clever, their noise sounding real, almost engaging? True, we have lingered too long imagining flesh and blood we might invite to the movies or for walks through the town when the rain has stopped and the sidewalks call, "Come out; you’re alive, walk about." Why don’t the dialers care how we felt when we strolled for an hour or more and no one said, “Sorry, I’ve got to take this one and this one”? Remember, just after the war? No, not that one; the one before. "Listeners breed dialers," you say? What tilted the world that way? Don’t you remember the time no sister or brother dared answer a phone or stand up, leave the table, after grace had been asked, the pot roast passed, when none, with back turned to the parents, talked to the wall about buying or selling or fattening profits or what went to hell, or who screwed it up? Yes, some of the dialers are real, are alive, full of blood and worries, troubles with children, incipient cancers. I get it, but what if they hurt farther than abstract concern can reach out to and what would it take to make dialers imagine their objects are human, that we, too, are fathers with feelings? Not even if one would ask, “Dialers, please, stop for a minute” or “Do take a rest?” The sun will set to the west of the river and might rise in the morning long enough for one or another to wake in the new light and to one other declare, “As the day and the night may serve us, we will love one another; don’t despair.” Isn’t it worthwhile to slow down the flight, on wireless wings, of nattering words that fuel pundits and bigots, steal songs from birds, or even implore us to serve a just cause? What if one dialer felt need for restraint, threw the program away, and refused to keep all other thought at bay? O God (listening?) speak with a small voice to all of us, to all saints and sinners; whisper hope to all the down-trodden; instill fear in all the down-treaders; discipline all as we lie; thrust back all pointing fingers; grant one grain of sand to each ear; exhaust the desert, even to bring forth but one single pearl! Can’t you imagine, only one moment left, and none hoarding or selling it for souls? If not, breathe your last breath and lie down in the dark where the dialers and dealers are lacking your number and none can encumber the peace passing our kenning by word, by sound, and by penning.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2019

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