Do Not Pick Up the Telephone

Look, we’re sorry. You were going to get a lovely poem about snow, otters and dreams. You’re getting it tomorrow. Somewhere between now and then Skype demanded our password, we failed to guess what it was, Skype attempted to make us reauthorise the account…you don’t want the details. Suffice it to say we railed against technology, gave it access to the keychain (whatever that is) and somehow got technology to work.

But it was such an ordeal that now you’re getting a poem from the man who invented fear of technology. We, meanwhile are making more of tonight’s tea. It’s called Carrot Cupcake, and this slightly dubious name hosts a rooibos with carrot cake spices and cinnamon. It should be dire. We love it. It tastes of autumnal warmth and the crackle of a fire. You know, the kind of fire you can use to destroy recalcitrant technology if you’re so minded and then curl up with a book beside.

Do Not Pick Up the Telephone

Ted Hughes

That plastic Buddha jars out a Karate screech

Before the soft words with their spores
The cosmetic breath of the gravestone

Death invented the phone it looks like the altar of death
Do not worship the telephone
It drags its worshippers into actual graves
With a variety of devices, through a variety of disguised voices

Sit godless when you hear the religious wail of the telephone

Do not think your house is a hide-out it is a telephone
Do not think you walk your own road, you walk down a telephone
Do not think you sleep in the hand of God you sleep in the mouthpiece of a telephone
Do not think your future is yours it waits upon a telephone
Do not think your thoughts are your own thoughts they are the toys of the telephone
Do not think these days are days they are the sacrificial priests of the telephone

The secret police of the telephone

0 phone get out of my house
You are a bad god
Go and whisper on some other pillow
Do not lift your snake head in my house
Do not bite any more beautiful people

You plastic crab
Why is your oracle always the same in the end?
What rake off for you from the cemeteries?

Your silences are as bad
When you are needed, dumb with the malice of the clairvoyant insane
The stars whisper together in your breathing
World’s emptiness oceans in your mouthpiece
Stupidly your string dangles into the abysses
Plastic you are then stone a broken box of letters
And you cannot utter
Lies or truth, only the evil one
Makes you tremble with sudden appetite to see somebody undone

Blackening electrical connections
To where death bleaches its crystals
You swell and you writhe
You open your Buddha gape
You screech at the root of the house

Do not pick up the detonator of the telephone
A flame from the last day will come lashing out of the telephone
A dead body will fall out of the telephone

Do not pick up the telephone

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