On the Suicide Hotline
want is -pathy, -pathy, some
sym- and em-, a semblance of
I crave a voice debating me, Resolved,
you have a life too good for
you to take,
but on the hot line I'm a triagee.
"Are you holding a gun?"
I answer, "Yes."
I have to act as if
my desperation speeds me to
They make me name the model of the
They want to hear it click.
They want to hear
despair or they will put me back
I call too often. I'm becoming old.
John Milbury-Steen has poems published or forthcoming in 14 by 14, 32 Poems, Able Muse, The Anglican Theological Review, The
Beloit Poetry Journal, Best Poem, Blue Unicorn, Bumbershoot, The Centrifugal
Eye, Chimaera, Christianity and Literature, Contemporary Sonnet, Dark Horse,
The Deronda Review (Neovictorian/Cochlea), The Evansville, Review, Kayak,
Hellas, The Listening Eye, Lucid Rhythms, The Lyric, The Pennsylvania Review,
The Piedmont Literary Review, Scholia Satyrica, Shenandoah, Shattercolors, the
Shit Creek Review, and Umbrella.
Milbury-Steen served in the Peace Corps in Liberia, West Africa, earned
an MFA with Ruth Stone at Indiana University, and worked as an artificial
intelligence programmer in Computer Based Education at the University of
Delaware. He currently teaches English as a Second Language.