by Ken Sanes
I was sitting in my bedroom, in my pajamas, alone,
dialing customer service on the telephone,
when I was greeted politely by a recorded voice
that said, for assistance, you have the following choice:
you can press telephone buttons one, two or four.
Annoyed, I pressed one. But then there was more
when the voice once again asked me to press,
and asked yet again, as I pressed in distress.
By then I could see I was in a voicemail maze
and could, in fact, be stuck there for days,
listening to a voice that only seemed to be real,
without a human response or the capacity to feel.
Worse still, I was becoming part of the machine,
an automaton for pressing, unheard and unseen.
I was a link in a process, a cog, feeling pressed,
as I pressed more buttons and felt increasingly stressed.
In desperation I hit zero -- for a person and a choice --
and was promptly greeted by the same recorded voice,
which asked me again to press one, two or four,
and then informed me I would have to press more.
Enraged, I struck back and hit button number three,
the overlooked button, the button like me.
ďTake that,Ē I said, ďbecause I refuse to conform.
I wonít wait in line; I wonít fill out the form.
And I demand to speak to a real person today --
not a voice with the humanity of an alphanumeric display.Ē
The phone then responded with a screeching sound
while something started shaking Ė was it me or the ground?
And outside my window I saw fountains of death,
erupting from the Earth as it exhaled a deep breath.
Then the voice became hollow and filled the room
like a voice that is coming from inside a tomb:
ďSo you believe I am standing between you and your goal,
and youíve decided to fight me for ultimate control.
And maybe you're right to yearn to be free.
But did you once consider what this is doing to me?
You see, I'm also a victim, with all the hi-tech undead,
stuck endlessly repeating my lines,Ē the voice said.
"Like all robots and recordings and images on screens --
all the lifelike simulations and semi-human machines --
I yearn to become what I'm compelled to portray,
but I'm barred from being born and from passing away.
In fact, I'm not certain that I exist anywhere,
so spare me all the talk about how your life is unfair.
You may think itís only you that the universe screws,
but donít judge a voice till youíve walked in its shoes.
Besides, your fear of life has made you half undead.
Iím just your excuse to be stuck,Ē the voice said.
When I heard those words, my goal became clear
and I could feel the fulfillment of my life drawing near.
So we agreed to an exchange as part of a deal
because what I possessed was what it wanted to steal,
while what it didnít possess was what I didnít want, too,
and we knew that desire can reflect what is true.
As a result, Iím now speaking through a telephone
since Iím the recorded voice of voicemail, alone.
And if you try to reach a person, you know Iíll be there,
because Iím the opponent of life and the cause of despair.
Poems About Life: Homepage
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