Published on Academy of American Poets (

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I have thirty seconds to convince you
that when I’m not home, my verve is still,
online or if I’m sleeping when you call,
sheep are grazing on yesterday’s melodrama.
Does anybody know what the burning umbrella
really meant? Forget it. Tell me what you need.
Leave me a map. Leave me your net worth
for reference. Leave me more than you ever planned.
Frankly, I’m anxious your message will be a series
of blurs, that you’ll leave the endearing part out,
garble your confession: A misstep here, a domain there.
A ventriloquism. The phone is in the kitchen,
but I’ve lost my way. It must be hunting season.
I retract every last gesture for your same retraction.


Copyright © 2016 by Carmen Giménez Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 20, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Voicemail greetings are sort of a lost art because we mostly text now. My favorite greeting from a friend in college was, ‘blah, blah, blah, leave a message.’ In this poem, I hoped to evoke an actual apparatus in a bedroom making all its clatter to then be followed by something different than what a bill collector leaves.”
—Carmen Gimenez Smith


Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of Be Recorder (Graywolf Press, 2019). She is a codirector at CantoMundo and Publisher at Noemi Press.

Date Published: 2016-04-20

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