1 (800) 872-4339

by Cailyn Mickelsen



Hello. You’ve reached the all-encompassing help line
to report the end of the world.
Your call is very important to us. 
We’ll be with you shortly.
In the meantime—

Press 1 for natural disasters—
fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, drowning and
freezing and burning up.
Anonymous malpractice breaking off the tip of Florida
and sending California underwater.
You know, the kind of stuff you think:
“Couldn’t ever happen here.”

Press 2 for extraterrestrial invasion— 
aliens, UFOs, abduction, you know the type.
For thinking your neighbor looks just a little different today,
and wondering if he really is from Nebraska, like he told you at the block party.
He’s always just been a little odd.

Press 3 for international conflict—
for wars and rumors of wars,
(I heard Margaret tell Mary yesterday that we sent the boys back in—)
for bombs and planes and good old-fashioned
hand-to-hand combat.
For blood on your brow and your brother
broken alongside hope in the dirt.

Press 4 for pandemics and disease—
coughs, sneezing, that twinge in your gut,
some lump you really should’ve had
the doctor check out months ago, dear,
because I’m getting rather worried about it all.

Press 5 for silence—
the internet’s down again, Dad.
“Just unplug the router and plug it back in again!”
The phones have stopped working, the electricity’s gone out,
and there’s nothing left here except you and 
your blinking cursor on that document—
your email won’t go through.
(You’re sure people are suffering much worse, elsewhere.
Respirators down, trains veering off course.
But this is what’s sticking in your mind:
You were supposed to email your brother today.)
Is this how everyone lived, before?
And is this how everyone dies, now? Alone?

Press 6 for impossibility—
for the Earth being swallowed up by the sun,
for an asteroid veering off its predestined course,
for an end to oxygen and water and sunlight 
and beauty and that rose bush steadily growing in your mother’s front yard.
She’d just last week gotten it to bloom.
For a simple stop to that something that’s been brewing just beneath your skin
and lurking beneath the surface of your blue backyard pool.

Press 7 for simplicity.
An end in 2 words instead of two thousand.
Faith’s broken body lying next to your brother’s.

Your call is very important to us.
We’ll be with you shortly. 


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