Virtual Timing

Virtual Timing

Phone has been a silent sentry
for weeks into this pandemic,
robo callers extinct for lack of work.
I’m on a Zoom poetry reading,
mic on to read my poem at the open,
and you guessed it, my phone rings.
Not my cell phone at my elbow that
I can click off but the house phone,
too far to reach to press the red
shut-up button, and so I read my poem.

A few days later, the host sends
a video of the reading; so nice to hear
the features again, phrases I missed,
narratives to relive and savor, and then
there’s the open. Too anxious to wait,
I fast forward to me, hear the phone
loud as Big Ben at midnight and again
cringe at virtual timing.

What I missed the first time now
makes me chuckle. Several poets
get up, checking their phones, sighing
before returning to their virtual square
on the screen. I want to shout “It was me,
my phone rang – so sorry to interrupt”
but I know it’s too late for that.

Two days later, I attend another reading,
my time at the open mic, I hold my breath
that the phone will not ring and it doesn’t.
Instead, Snickers, our watchdog,
starts a chorus of barking, joined by
our other dog, Ruffles, just as I start reading.
No way to shut the door, tell them to shut up,
I just read my poem through gritted teeth
at the sheer injustice of virtual timing.

I’m the last reader, we say goodbye, click off
quick and clean; dogs still barking an alarm,
I race to look out the window and smile
to see three baby bunnies running in circles
to catch each other, a hopping game of tag,
so cute, so small, so clear why the dogs
are alerting me.

When the video arrives in my inbox,
I click off without watching it; instead,
I sit watching our front lawn for bunnies,
the dogs quiet beside me.

~ J R Turek
June 27, 2020
Hour 7

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