BEING ON THE PHONE WITH YOU (after Frank O’Hara)

by Rachelle Toarmino

you called to tell me
that when we are both online
it is like a staring contest

that you associate my voice
with the sound
of whatsapp notifications
more than with my own voice now

that your mom
can’t shut up about world war two
she watched a documentary last weekend
and works it into every
conversation

being on the phone with you
is better than REM sleep
better than a full eight hours
better than the watery night cap
stationed at the edge
of my nightstand
and better than any dream
you could’ve interrupted

like the one when you wouldn’t let me
sleep in your bed with you
until I let you pierce my nose
on both sides

or the one when I was walking around
with nothing but a bag of spinach in my backpack
and I stopped to ask malia obama
to help you with your nosebleed

and to tell you the truth

I consider it an investment
for the hours I spend
in the mornings and afternoons

waiting
for you to wake up
on the other side
of the world

which is actually the best part
of my day

I look at a message from you
and think that
from august until whenever
we are as much our phone lives
as we are our physical lives

maybe even more so

and I live in the space maintained
by software updates
and in the quickness of satellites

and where we can be quiet

strangely when my phone battery dies
everything seems a little brighter

like I have been groping
through a dream
and someone has just
turned the lights on

and I immediately want to jump back
into the glossy cracked surface
of my dead phone screen

like when blue ska-doos into a picture frame
and steve follows her

I want to become the smoothness
and coldness
of your phone

and hang on your thigh all day

and not because
I’m the jealous one
and becoming your phone
would grant me access
to your notifications

but because I would be treated by your hands

or because there would be moments
when you would desperately try
to turn me on

and because you would reach for me
when you didn’t have anything
else to do

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