The Crazy Operator at the Switchboard
Joanne Ward
volume 3
issue 1
Spring 1977

This must be a bee hive.

And we are all busy as bees

Filling the little black holes in the comb,

Buzzing, buzzing.


These cords extend from our backbones.

Current runs through our mouths.

Our fingers, open to the tips for information,

Operate, operate,


Touching a humming in the lines

After the words have been cut off,

Have vibrated out of the ears,

Bye-bye, bye-bye ...


Fluorescence shines down like grey,

Like the coming of a storm.

We plug the Centrex day after day

With numbers, numbers.


Headsets are burning out my ears

In this rarified air.

I’m eccentric at twenty-eight.

Buzz, buzz,


I want to sing a pure note over our heads,

To pull out all the cords

And whip them into a fine wind,

Into a flashing chorus of brass.

I want to answer the phone like a door

And say, “Come in, come in!”