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c.f. sibley


3 Hours with Time Warner



Although we like to say         we hate the music     it’s silence on hold     that’s worse.
By the grace of god     the cable company     occasionally     checks up on me    hello    
you’re still there        in between transfers         I divine auguries     from the pre-war parquet floor       
the plastic paperweight on my desk        salvaged from the fountain      on 59th street     emits memory
in the form of light.    I listen to the dryer        yelling    to be changed.           There is a sickness
to the cyclical.            I try the silence       ask the wall     via telepathy      are we all made to be tumbled
and left to dry on low?     The paperweight     reminds me     I promised to behave     I promised
not to fume      so I observe the sycamores outside     patiently     as though they might fly away       
until Michael          emerges from the ether       of customer services      Michael of the tangible        
velvet voice           laughs away  my exasperation     likes the last four digits of my SSN     
intuits the crick in     my neck heavy         from everybody’s scripted pity           from 3 hours
of the smallest of battles     of an entire Saturday morning      spent    on the goddamn phone
Michael knows          all of this about me.    I suspect he knows      even more       maybe everything     
It’s true that a voice can have hands.        There is oxygen     in your employee number
I would like another customer service claim       please         I want to hear you     read me the rules      
tell me         about the tiered system       of Ethernet reception          tell me             the truth
about quotas       recite      your favorite number    recount        the whole story       of that night     
in Santa Monica        because        who gives a damn        if the sycamores       do fly off?  
Every one of us is getting permanent pressed        for a buck fifty.       So confirm for me       
we are not automated.          In your mouth      let me discern       the smashing of timers.





I am tired of recovering bodies from the river,

crying picturesquely into lilies

in their fat, fragrant silence,

and tracing the intelligent grace

every loss gains in its fall.  I want to wrap myself in wool

and walk down to the Hudson with you

on the last golden afternoon of the season

to drink grapefruit juice through a cold plastic straw, fresh pressed

while October fans its fires around us.

I want to kiss you without pathos

and when I begin to memorize the script of your lips

I am not interested in hearing

the ghoulish prehistory of my skull expressing itself

behind my irises. Prescience has arrived

yet again reeking of fake cherry, a tang of metal

spoons clanging in the air, and made me

sick. I refuse to measure you

in the thin units it will take us

to get to our end.






C. F. Sibley is an Assistant Editor at Parnassus: Poetry in Review and the Translation Editor for the Columbia Journal Online. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Sugar House Review, Muzzle Magazine, and Bone Bouquet. She received a scholarship to attend Breadloaf Writers' Conference, holds a BA from Middlebury College, and is currently an MFA candidate at Columbia University. She lives in Inwood.