He’s Got Your Number, All Right (Kathryn Hummel)

I said: Sweetie, Baby—
                             what were you thinking
when you pulled out that double-headed match
and stuffed it right back in the box?
                                                                        Honey! Child!

As your Uncle I gotta tell you
to raise a whole lot more hell.
Don’t pass up a chance to burn two heads
                             hold two flames, light a double cigarette
à la the seductive mode of Paul Henreid.

I’ve got your number, all right, and
all those eights it contains are miserable.
Flip them onto their side and think: multiple infinities
                             yeah, like orgasms—
just get a little more…rock ’n’ roll.

Take the asp by the pincers, the opener by the can.
I don’t wanna know what you do with those operators:
                             the Text Jerk and the Snack Bar Guy,
                             the Steves and Sris and Judases,
but raise some hell I’m begging you.

I got a dedicated line to you, so now you dedicate one to me?
                                                                        Girl Child!
You can’t seize the right attitude from poetry.

                             Think of that
asthmatic masturbator panting down the line,
the latest guy who stood you up, just last night;
                             this one driving you to what we hope
is the airport you need to fly from.

The half-dozen friends you never call
but keep stored in your phone like numeric skeletons;
the other half-dozen you wear down to the bone.
The two who’ve blocked your digits;
                             the ones who see right through you
as well as the ones who don’t.

You can’t control who forgets you, so let me just say:
                                                                        Goodbye, Sweetie.
Have a great time and try not to worry.
                             We all—they all—have grasped
your goddamn number, all right.

photo credit: Kshitij Garg

photo credit: Kshitij Garg

Kathryn Hummel is the author of Poems from Here (2014), The Bangalore Set (2015) and the forthcoming Broken Lines: Writings from a Disrupted Lifetime in Bangladesh. Her diverse, award-winning poetry, fiction and non-fiction has been published and performed throughout Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Asia, often in collaboration with musicians and fellow writers and accompanied by Kathryn’s original photography. Throughout her travels in Australia, India and Bangladesh, where her doctoral research in narrative ethnography was based, Kathryn has completed residencies with Australian Poetry, Forever Now, 1ShanthiRoad and, most recently, the Kena Artists’ Initiative in Bangalore. More details are available at www.kathrynhummel.com.