Poetry / Cortney Lamar Charleston

always heard coming up         not always when you want

but always on time                   you make the damn
phone call                   eventually get a call back

in the middle of something mundane           mandatory
folding clothes           changing diapers and you

answer it           tuck the receiver between cheek and
collarbone to hold                 press your ear

to the air’s vibrations like a bat           moving
through the darkening world without vision

for your life               why you called in the first
place                 as a last resort lucky a friend

passed your number to a friend who             passed
your number like lotto play                 then there was

a booming                   voice on the other end of the line
trying to teach you how to fish            in wet cement

saying don’t worry nigga                         I got you

Cortney Lamar Charleston is the author of Telepathologies, selected by D.A. Powell for the 2016 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. He was awarded a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and he has also received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation Literary Festival and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His poems have appeared in POETRY, New England Review, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, River Styx and elsewhere.