Poetry Sunday: Robocall by Vijay Seshadri

Do you have a landline telephone? I realize that Millenials think of that as something from a distant stone age of technology, but we have held on to ours, even as we use our cell phones for most things. It's a mostly innocuous instrument. Except during election season. Our landline phone rings fairly constantly these days, and it's not our friends calling. No, it's people who want us to take opinion surveys or they want money from us for their campaigns, as well as a fair number of scams that try to trick us into doing something we don't want to do. Mostly, it's robocalls. 

And as for those cell phones, mine dings throughout the day announcing texts from campaigns that need just a few dollars more from me to put them over the top. Otherwise, all will be lost. And not to forget my email box that fills up with their messages every day. In other words, there is no escape unless one wants to totally take a detour off the information highway. But the robocalls are the worst and the most intrusive, even though (thanks to caller ID) we don't answer them. Honestly, November 4 can not come quickly enough.

Vijay Seshadri feels our pain.    


by Vijay Seshadri

Three or four brand-new ideas—not crisp
or sensical but, still, helpful to me—

slipped entirely from my mind
when I ran to get the phone, and heard once again
the 1-800 voice of the One saying,

“If I am He or She or They Who is here
when the last star hisses out, why am I talking to you?
I was thinking of you this morning, but why you?
Para español oprima numero tres.”

Another day ruined by the question of being.
When will they just let me sit under my guava tree?—
eating my guavas, thinking my quarantined thoughts,
nursing my mortified body.


  1. Such an interesting poem. Very little of the poetry that I read digs into the modern world like this. Thus, this poem seems very different.

    I get robo calls on my cell phone.

    1. Seshadri is one of those poets who does address the modern world so his poems are quite relevant to our everyday lives.

      Oh, yes, I get robocalls on my cell phone, too, though not as many as on the landline.

  2. We get these calls, but not nearly so many as you it seems. I don't have called ID so I answer the phone and then quickly hang up. The most annoying thing of all is to have run from some other part of the house to get to the phone. We still have a land line. Why, I am not quite sure!

    1. Our children call us dinosaurs for hanging onto the landline, but there are many people out there in the world - relatives mostly - who use that number to contact us and it would be inconvenient to get new numbers to them all and so dinosaurs we remain.

  3. The newest thing around where I live is the scammers "spoofing" people on the same exchange as you. You get a caller ID of the name of an actual person. I didn't quite know what was going on until I got a phone call from someone whom I did know - a next door neighbor for almost 30 years - but he had died several years back! Maybe I should have answered that one just out of curiosity. So now I can't even trust phone calls from people I know.

    1. We get those, too. If we don't recognize the number, we always wait for voicemail. If the caller leaves a message that seems legit, then we can pick up, but that almost never happens.

  4. No more landline here. If I am near enough to my cell phone I can hear it tell me "unknown caller." It is never anyone I want to talk to. Between our phones, iPads and desktop computers, there are constant dings going on all day. I turn the volume off at night. As the Millennials say, whatever. I liked the poem.

    1. The constant conversation from all of our electronic equipment, in which I include our Alexa, is something that we've become so accustomed to. When there is silence it feels a bit strange.

  5. My husband looked at insurance online last week, and now we are being flooded with calls.

    1. Yep, that's the way it works. They've got your number now.


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