Call and Respond

Love letter to one who doesn’t read them
to mean more than they say on the surface. Grocery list
for a savvy shopper who’s late for supper. Calling card
closed in a storm door, stamped with a name
of someone who might try the keyhole next visit.
Lock sets for sale at the True Value, fourteen ninety-five.
Box of tasteful Thank-You notes, so perfect as a knick-knack
that we didn’t send them out. Yet. Notice
shoved through the mail slot proclaims The End
of Utilities.

                        A love letter built to be unpacked
subtopic by implication. It’s complicated. Laundry list
of inside jokes hatched to scrub the soul with laughter. Lighter
methods of commiserating with a fellow traveler
over spans of years. Calling home while sheltered
from a sleet storm in America’s last active phone booth.
It’s a museum relic, but it’s also how I almost hear you, too.
Blessings to Ma Bell who’s tried but gone soft this once.
This is a quest

                        for mutual understanding. I may not get there with you.
This is a matter of send and receive. I feel the urge to break through.
You too? A tendency toward shorter, simpler. Ink spent with efficiency,
song invested for dividends. This rolling conversation
is a call and respond routine, including handwritten notes
on the dining room table. Can you relate? Domestic metaphor
in any of these vehicles for symbolic language. Transmission,
reception, through an array of weather. Hey there.
Time’s increasingly precious. It is. Time’s half out the door.
The stake in our flowerbox reads, “Daylillies.”

Todd Mercer won the Dyer-Ives Kent County Poetry Competition (2016, and 2nd & 3rd places in 2013), the National Writers Series Poetry Contest (2016) and the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Contest (2015). He reviewed for Foreword Reviews,, judged contests for Publishers Weekly, Independent Publisher, Scholastic, Poets’ Night Out, and was editor of Dunes Review. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s recent poetry and fiction appear in 100 Word Story, Blink-Ink, Cheap Pop, The Lake, Literary Orphans, Sonic Boom, Split Lip Magazine, and The Magnolia Review.

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