'Spirit Dity Of No Fax Line Dial Tone' by Bob Hicok

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The telephone company calls and asks what the fuss is.
Betty from the telephone company, who's not concerned
with the particulars of my life. For instance
if I believe in the transubstantiation of Christ
or am gladdened at 7:02 in the morning to repeat
an eighth time why a man wearing a hula skirt of tools
slung low on his hips must a fifth time track mud
across my white kitchen tile to look down at a phone jack.
Up to a work order. Down at a phone jack. Up to a work order.
Over at me. Down at a phone jack. Up to a work order
before announcing the problem I have is not the problem
I have because the problem I have cannot occur
in this universe though possibly in an alternate
universe which is not the responsibility or in any way
the product, child or subsidiary of AT&T. With practice
I've come to respect this moment. One man in jeans,
t-shirt and socks looking across space at a man
with probes and pliers of various inclinations, nothing
being said for five or ten seconds, perhaps I'm still
in pajamas and he has a cleft pallet or is so tall
that gigantism comes to mind but I can't remember
what causes flesh to pile that high, five or ten seconds
of taking in and being taken in by eyes and a brain,
during which I don't build a shotgun from what's at hand,
oatmeal and National Geographics or a taser from hair
caught in the drain and the million volts of frustration
popping through my body. Even though. Even though his face
is an abstract painting called Void. Even though
I'm wondering if my pajama flap is open, placing me
at a postural disadvantage. Breathe I say inside my head,
which is where I store thoughts for the winter. All
is an illusion I say by disassembling my fists, letting each
finger loose to graze. Thank you I say to kill the silence
with my mouth, meaning fuck you, meaning die
you shoulder-shrugging fusion of chipped chromosomes
and puss, meaning enough. That a portal exists in my wall
that even its makers can't govern seems an accurate mirror
of life. Here's the truce I offer: I'll pay whatever's asked
to be left alone. To receive a fax from me stand beside
your mailbox for a week. It will come in what appears
to be an envelope. While waiting for the fax reintroduce
yourself to the sky. It's often blue and will transmit
without fail everything clouds have been trying to say to you.

Anonymous submission.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Beauty of Mundane Things: An Interpretation of Bob Hicok's "Spirit Ditty Of No Fax Line Dial Tone"

When one thinks of poetry, one might conjure images of grand, sweeping vistas or deep, philosophical musings on the nature of existence. But what about the mundane things of everyday life? What about the beauty that can be found in the most ordinary of objects? Bob Hicok's "Spirit Ditty Of No Fax Line Dial Tone" is a poem that explores this very idea, finding depth and meaning in the most unassuming of things.

At first glance, "Spirit Ditty Of No Fax Line Dial Tone" seems like a simple poem. It's only seven lines long, and the language is straightforward and uncomplicated. But upon closer examination, the poem reveals itself to be a meditation on the concept of communication and the ways in which it can both unite and divide us. The speaker of the poem is attempting to send a fax, but is met with silence instead of the expected dial tone. In this moment of frustration and confusion, the speaker reflects on the nature of communication, and the ways in which it can be both a balm and a barrier.

The first line of the poem sets the stage for this exploration: "The silence of the fax line is a small miracle." Here, we see the speaker acknowledging the strangeness of the situation they find themselves in. In a world where constant communication is the norm, the absence of it can feel like a miracle. But why is this? Why do we place so much importance on staying connected? Perhaps it is because we are social creatures, and we crave the company of others. Or maybe it is because we are afraid of being alone with our thoughts. Whatever the reason, the speaker recognizes that the silence of the fax line is more than just an inconvenience - it is a moment of reflection and contemplation.

The second line of the poem is where things start to get interesting: "I can hear the spirit ditty of no fax line dial tone." Here, the speaker is suggesting that even in the absence of communication, there is still something to be heard. The "spirit ditty" that they hear is not a literal sound, but rather a sense of something beyond the physical world. It is the feeling of being connected to something greater than oneself, even in a moment of frustration and isolation. This idea is further emphasized by the use of the word "spirit", which suggests a connection to the divine or supernatural.

The third and fourth lines of the poem continue this exploration of connection: "It's there, in my hand, the cord, the line, the electric hum / that once connected my voice to yours." Here, the speaker is reflecting on the physicality of communication. The cord and the line are tangible objects that connect us to others, and the electric hum is a reminder of the energy that flows between us when we communicate. But what happens when that connection is broken? When the fax line is silent and there is no one on the other end to receive our message? The speaker seems to be suggesting that even in these moments of disconnection, there is still something to be gained. The silence forces us to confront our own thoughts and feelings, and the absence of communication can be just as powerful as its presence.

The fifth and sixth lines of the poem bring this idea full circle: "Now, the wire is slack, the signal faint, the destination unknown / and the world is a little bit smaller." Here, the speaker acknowledges the limitations of communication. Even when we do manage to connect with others, there are still barriers that can prevent us from truly understanding each other. The wire is slack and the signal is faint, suggesting that even when we try our hardest to communicate, there are still gaps and distortions in the message. And when communication fails altogether, the world becomes smaller - we are left alone with our own thoughts and feelings, unable to share them with others.

The final line of the poem ties everything together: "But in this quiet, there is something like hope." Here, the speaker is suggesting that even in moments of disconnection and frustration, there is still something to be gained. The silence of the fax line may be a small miracle, but it is also a reminder of the power and beauty of the mundane things in life. In this moment of quiet, there is hope that we can find meaning and connection even in the most unassuming of places.

In conclusion, "Spirit Ditty Of No Fax Line Dial Tone" is a poem that explores the beauty and complexity of communication. Through its simple language and unassuming subject matter, the poem manages to capture the essence of what it means to connect with others, and the ways in which communication can both unite and divide us. By finding meaning in the most ordinary of objects, Bob Hicok reminds us that there is beauty and hope to be found even in the most frustrating and mundane moments of life.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Spirit Ditty Of No Fax Line Dial Tone: A Poem of Modern Frustration

Bob Hicok's Spirit Ditty Of No Fax Line Dial Tone is a poem that speaks to the modern frustration of communication technology. In a world where we are constantly connected, the poem highlights the moments when we are not, and the frustration that comes with it. Through the use of vivid imagery and a playful tone, Hicok captures the essence of the modern struggle to stay connected.

The poem begins with the speaker attempting to send a fax. They describe the process of dialing the number and waiting for the connection to be made. However, instead of the familiar sound of a dial tone, they are met with silence. The absence of the dial tone is a metaphor for the absence of connection. It is a moment of disconnection that is all too familiar in our modern world.

Hicok uses vivid imagery to describe the frustration of this moment. The speaker describes the "empty socket" where the fax machine should be, and the "dead air" that fills the room. These images create a sense of emptiness and isolation. The speaker is alone in a world where they should be connected.

The poem then takes a playful turn as the speaker begins to imagine the reasons why the fax line is not working. They imagine that the line is "tangled in the hair of a mermaid" or "wrapped around the neck of a giraffe." These playful images serve to lighten the mood of the poem and provide a moment of levity in the midst of frustration.

However, the playful tone does not last long. The speaker returns to the reality of the situation, describing the "sweat on [their] forehead" and the "sigh [they] exhale." These images convey the physical and emotional toll that the frustration of modern communication can take on us.

The poem ends with the speaker imagining a world where communication is easy and effortless. They imagine a world where "the fax line is a river" and "the phone line is a string between two cans." These images are a reminder of a simpler time, before the complexities of modern communication technology. They are a reminder that sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

Overall, Spirit Ditty Of No Fax Line Dial Tone is a poem that speaks to the frustration of modern communication technology. Through the use of vivid imagery and a playful tone, Hicok captures the essence of the modern struggle to stay connected. The poem is a reminder that sometimes the simplest solutions are the best, and that we should not forget the value of human connection in a world that is increasingly digital.

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