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Answering Machine

A poem by Terry Hertzler

Terry Hertzler
Terry Hertzler
  • She leaves messages
  • on my answering machine,
  • asks for my help,
  • tells me things
  • I’d rather not know:
  • her microwave clock
  • is stuck on 12:00,
  • the computer’s screwing up,
  • there’s a book she can’t find,
  • at 38 her cousin Crystal
  • has died of cancer.
  • You can’t do this! I want to tell her.
  • We’re divorced. It’s not fair. Instead,
  • I call her back, explain the procedure
  • to reset the clock, tell her
  • I’ll look for the book,
  • how bad I feel about Crystal.
  • And after I walk her through Norton
  • Utilities, defragment the hard disk,
  • and we’re saying goodbye,
  • she asks how I’m doing, and
  • I tell her okay, I’m doing okay.

Terry Hertzler is a Vietnam vet who makes his home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he works as a writer, editor, and teacher. He is the author of two books of poetry and short fiction: The Way of the Snake and Second Skin. His poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies and his work has also been produced on stage and for radio and television. “Answering Machine” is from his collection Second Skin, published by Caernarvon Press. It is reprinted by permission.

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Terry Hertzler
Terry Hertzler
  • She leaves messages
  • on my answering machine,
  • asks for my help,
  • tells me things
  • I’d rather not know:
  • her microwave clock
  • is stuck on 12:00,
  • the computer’s screwing up,
  • there’s a book she can’t find,
  • at 38 her cousin Crystal
  • has died of cancer.
  • You can’t do this! I want to tell her.
  • We’re divorced. It’s not fair. Instead,
  • I call her back, explain the procedure
  • to reset the clock, tell her
  • I’ll look for the book,
  • how bad I feel about Crystal.
  • And after I walk her through Norton
  • Utilities, defragment the hard disk,
  • and we’re saying goodbye,
  • she asks how I’m doing, and
  • I tell her okay, I’m doing okay.

Terry Hertzler is a Vietnam vet who makes his home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he works as a writer, editor, and teacher. He is the author of two books of poetry and short fiction: The Way of the Snake and Second Skin. His poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies and his work has also been produced on stage and for radio and television. “Answering Machine” is from his collection Second Skin, published by Caernarvon Press. It is reprinted by permission.

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Comments
6

i really am touched by this poem...the dichotomy of release is so perfectly shown in this piece...bravo!!!

Feb. 15, 2012

Terry owes much of his skill to this woman:

Feb. 15, 2012

was she his teacher Twister???

or simply a mentor...i'm laughing at myself now thinking "is there a difference"

Feb. 18, 2012

A being there for 'im, would be my way of putting it. She was to her own self true. That creates a strong magnetic field, and she suffered countless children of all ages to come unto her--and they did, in droves.

Feb. 18, 2012

aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh thx 4 the explanation!!!

i think Miss Roody has that quality

is there anything more exciting then a woman or a man who knows his/her own core like the back of his/her hand and is perfectly self accepting

a very rare person indeed

Feb. 23, 2012

Vy iss it zat ve are too soon oldt und too late schmart?

Feb. 23, 2012

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