Braden Coucher

Rookie (December 10,1986 / Portland Oregon)

Suicide Hotline - Poem by Braden Coucher

My home
phone is the suicide hotline
or at least it’s just one number off
In the yellow pages.
All night they miscall, punching
five sevens rather than four into their receivers.
Does it make more sense that the hotline should be
Five sevens in a row without interruption of
an extra...what is it? Four? at the front?
Do they think about how
seven is lucky when they dial?

Each man’s voice rattles like rocks down a snowy cliff;
each woman’s hesitates
like the first time you pull a trigger
or trust a stage fall. I know straightaway
they’re rethinking their rethinking
And it stops me dead in my morning ritual.
“Just my luck” They might be
contemplating deep down to themselves.

Into panic and love I thrust my voice over the line
“I have dyslexia too! ”
I tell one man when he apologizes
for misdialing while trying to save his own life.
It’s the truth anyhow
but he hangs up real fast,
cringing. I have all this compassion
that wakes me up at night. Like an eagle in a small house screaming
my phone rings-I always know when it’s a suicide
rather than my mother calling because she loves me.

And sometimes early into the morning
they call me up
when I lean against my island
in the nook, staring at the unwritten poems and eulogies
of the raining world.
I redirect each of them to the saviors at the mysterious place,
wishing they wouldn’t hang up.

If I weren’t terrified of taking a life,
of failing to give one back,

I’d tell them “Don’t do it! The world is so rainy and perfect outside and
I see two dear eating by the river and there’s the tiniest
but surest hopes of Spring life
on those plum trees! I promise I can see it all! Just breathe, babies! I love you! ”

But I don’t tell these humans these words.
I lean here, staring at the world
with my cup all filled up
in my trembling hands
And I’m little more than polite and calm.
I want so badly to talk, to invite,
to woo over each one

for no reason
but tea and coffee
and not because I know poems
would be born
but because I am not a professional life saver
at a cubicle in an office at a hospital with a license to talk ‘em out
of pills
or guns
or bridges
or sleeping in the garage
with the big door shut
and the Buick on
or even a knife to the heart
or a leather belt, or rope, or cord around
the neck in the closet. When they hang up

I know they feel dumb
but I feel so alone inside
my own home, listening to the
and flat-line tone- so much sudden indifference on either

Afterwords, I wonder do they call the suicide hotline
or quit for embarrassment?
Was I supposed to save them all
Or should I just keep staring out my window at Spoon River?

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, May 15, 2011

Poem Edited: Monday, May 16, 2011

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