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Frederick Pollack

 Call



An office as tenuous

as fog. Someone unpaid

except in their own youth mans

the phone, the computer.

Never enough

money, time, ventilation, coffee,

understanding or patience,

though the latter is total.

Even the word “client” marks

a defeat somewhere

in deep time, a failure of

relationship. 

Lawyers have clients, but law here

is the opponent in a perpetual

judo. And is 

the one crying

or barely verbal on

the phone, who is bleeding 

(“from wherever”), evicted, hungry, 

to be killed for “honor,” 

guilty since birth, a client?

Doctors at least have patients,

but how to diagnose

one who calls without power

while the one who answers 

has no power but answering?


I who don’t belong here, tired

of Grand Hotel Abyss, wanted

to praise heroes,

and am immature enough

to imagine an armed, confident

man. But all I found,

all anyone can find

are mice in the granary of suffering,

and the advice of Lenin

that, finally, revolution

is an affair of clerks and accountants.




Author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both Story Line Press; the former reissued 2022 by Red Hen Press. Two collections of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, (Prolific Press, 2015) and LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Pollack has appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Fish Anthology, Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, etc.  Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire  Review, Mudlark, Rat’s Ass Review,  Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Live Nude Poems (2021), etc.


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