operator 2

  1. Goodbye, Dear


How seldom now do you begin with Dear,

Both warm and formal (civil) but a mere

First name — “David:” — like a Sir or Madam  

Summons to a wayward child of Adam,

No salutation as in Saint Paul’s Letters,

Your curt tone saying one should know his betters

As if you bid a servant or a beast,

And you in all these emails not the least

Aware of such abruptness being rude —

Public, private address grown crass and crude —

And so, in closing, I reply (hit Send)

Goodbye: And let this conversation end.


  1. Toll Free


Reception bad on my cable TV

I punch the 800-number. Technically

Pleasant an artificial female voice

Says “Hi. I’m here to help you. Make a choice:

English? Español?” “Latin.” “Choose again.”

“English.” “OK. Now we can start.” (I’m in.)

“Let’s try to find the problem.” “Well . . .” I pause

Wanting to be quite clear while cause on cause

Is quickly listed for my “Yes” reply

Or cordless button-pushing as I pry

To get more than a word in though the toll

In time and patience, rising, tries the soul

Till “No’s,” then silence, prompt a change in tone:

“I need my supervisor. Hold the phone

Two minutes.” Twenty pass. A curt “Hello”

To which my Latin tells him where to go

As “thanks for calling but we seem unable

To understand the problem with your cable”

And “this call has been monitored . . .” play through,

Reception clear as church bells, ringing true.

David Middleton

Until his retirement in June of 2010, David Middleton served for 33 years as Professor of English at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. In April 2006 Middleton won The Allen Tate Award for best verse published in The Sewanee Review for 2005. In November 2006 Middleton won the State of Louisiana Governor’s Award for Outstanding Professional Artist for 2006. Middleton’s books of verse include The Burning Fields (LSU Press, 1991), As Far as Light Remains (The Cummington Press [Harry Duncan], 1993), Beyond the Chandeleurs (LSU Press, 1999), and The Habitual Peacefulness of Gruchy: Poems After Pictures by Jean-François Millet (LSU Press, 2005). Middleton’s newest collection, The Fiddler of Driskill Hill: Poems (poems of Louisiana North and South) was published by LSU Press in the fall of 2013.

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