Calling by R. S. Thomas

The telephone is the fruit

of the tree of the knowledge

of good and evil. We may call

everyone up on it but God.


To do that is to declare

that he is far off. Dialling

zero is nothing other

than the negation of his presence.


So many times I have raised

the receiver, listening to

that smooth sound that is technology’s

purring; and the temptation


has come to experiment

with the code which would put

me through to the divine

snarl at the perimeter of such tameness.


by R. S. Thomas

from Experimenting with an Amen (1986)


Aunty Joan by Derek Stuart

When Aunty Joan became a phone,

She sat there not saying a thing.

The doctor said, shaking his head,

‘You’ll just have to give her a ring.’


We had a try, but got no reply.

The tone was always engaged.

‘She’s just being silly,’ said Uncle Billy,

Slamming down the receiver enraged.


‘Alas, I fear,’ said the engineer,

Who was called in to inspect her,

‘I’ve got no choice. She’s lost her voice.

I shall have to disconnect her.’


The phone gave a ring. ‘You’ll do no such thing,’

Said Aunty’s voice on the line.

‘I like being a phone. Just leave me alone,

Or else I’ll dial nine-nine-nine!’


by Derek Stuart