Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Bob Called Me

I got a call this morning from a Vietnam vet. He called because he saw a recent article I did on veterans, and it seems he wanted to share a poem with me. The guy is trying to build a memorial to veterans who have been mentally wounded in wars, and the inscription he wants to put on the monument is a poem, written by him. (I won’t name it here or share much of it out of discretion.)

The man, who I’ll call Bob, asks me if I have a minute to listen to his poem. “No, actually, now’s not a good time,” I say. But Bob launches into a lengthy preamble, explaining what the poem is about. Then he begins to read it. “While his heart is wounded/It continues to beat…”

I’m not sure what is happening, or why I am listening to this, but I choose to wait until he is finished to tell him again that I can’t really stay on the phone. People call often with something that may or may not be the nugget of a story. Sometimes I listen because I may be able to write something about what they are telling me, sometimes I just don’t know how to get off the phone.

Partway through the poem, the call cuts out. So I hear, “Something something something…He’s seen so much/He still needs your touch…”

And click.

No, I think. There is a Vietnam vet out there who thinks I just hung up on him because I hated his poetry. I feel uneasy.

But Bob calls back.

“My cell phone’s not so good,” he says. “Let me read it to you again.”

And so he begins again.

The phone cuts out.

But Bob calls back. This time I don’t answer.

Minutes pass. The phone rings again, and I pick it up.

“I forgot to give you my number,” Bob says. “It’s 555-12…”

The phone cuts out.

An hour or so passes, and I decide I will not answer the phone, even though I am waiting for an important call for a story. Finally, it rings. I let it got to voicemail.

Bob reads the entire poem to my machine.

I wish I could write it for you here. But I won’t. So I think it will probably just exist in two places now: in Bob’s head, and on my voicemail. I’m not sure what else there is to do with it, or, really, if anything else should even be done. I’m sort of just waiting for him to call me back.


At 12:19 AM, Blogger Michael said...

I'm sure Bob must be my brother.

Take care


Post a Comment

<< Home