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  • Erric Emerson

Two call center poems // Erric Emerson

Call Center

What remains is

filament in the fluorescent tubes

hung over cubicles-bland glow-

the cubicles, beige walls,

monitored calls from telephone, numbers

on monitor, the corded receiver,

outbound, outbound, dials, dialing,

smile into handset, handed in paperwork,

files into shredder-box picked up on Tuesdays.

I glance at you sometimes less than I used to; the way the workplace is playground for supervisor’s subordinate. How long

to talk at the copier before suspicious.

Enter the floor separately as a rule. That trip we took to Atlantic City last fall;

Borgata still mails me free play on weekends.


In the aisle between the sameness of cubicles I catch your eye, still, meeting mine but what for. A look drenched in yesterday, or imagined so. If not, get back on the phone, Hun, and I’ll get back to the paperwork like we we’re doing to start, last summer. Why cast me some unreadable gaze two months after our fact. What is today doing for you. All smiles,

and recaps of TV shows with my work-friends in earshot. How did you manage it.

This move on.

And the fuck are we doing acknowledging each other’s existences. Get back to cold-calling people in the Midwest. I’ll let you know if you wrote something down wrong, because as you know the client wants what the client wants.


Erric Emerson is a poet residing in the westerlands of Philadelphia. He is a founding member of Duende literary journal. His work has appeared in Beautiful Losers, Neon, Crabfat, Five:2:One, Mead, The Black Napkin, and Gingerbread House, among other places. His published work can be found at

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