The First Telephone

This poem is one which sprang from a Poetry Business workshop. I rarely have much affection for poems written in workshops, because I seldom seem to be able to put enough heart into them. Nevertheless, I like to think this one developed a life of its own.

The First Telephone

consisted of cotton reels and a lolloping length
of industrial string, robust enough to crab
the twelve-thousand sea-bed fathoms
in the perishing gap between the dolerite
of Fair Head, Co. Antrim, and a grey-seal city
on the Mull of Kintyre; to withstand
the Black Watch tugging mightily hard
to tauten it. Alas, no verbatim transcript
of that very first call survives—but suffice it
to say there were multiple mishearings
and consequent pleadings to pipe up.
The unpublished memoirs of the two main
protagonists prove those teething problems
can’t simply be attributed to mathematical
misconfiguration; rather, it was the pell-mell
tempo the top-hatted gentlemen nattered at,
over one another, which necessitated
their grudgingly methodical recalibration.

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