Poem Written from Failed Chat Notes
“Hi PJ,” someone writes, the PJ, calmer than
the owner of the name. I love to see my initials
so free of all the cares of earthly possessions.
“Looking for job,” another writes, just like
that,looking for a job. The message is flat,
like a pan, no, no, like a flat board, where
the cutting of potatoes further flattens
the map where the job may be found.
“Hello,” the echo, clearly discernible
through the pressing of keys, this time,
a woman, out there in Southeast Asia, “Hello,”
she says as if words were sufficient
in themselves to return to us, filled
with air bubbles, like a balloon.
“Hello, madam,” one man says, a sigh,
carrying the silence that only the word,
“madam,”can leave behind. His hair,
combed back after shower; somewhere
in India, it is hot now. “How r you today?”
Another adds, as if to complete
the sentence others have left hanging
on the tiny lines of these long distance
greetings, like litter on the page of a phone.
“Hi, how r u?” Another interjects, and as
quickly as that came in, here comes
another,in correction of grammar, I guess,
“How are u today?” So I think, we should
all agree that the proper spelling of “you”
has to be “u.” But before I linger too long
on whether a “u” is better than “you,”
here comes another, more elaborate,
a lecture on the act of caring,
something I needed to hear today.
But when I do not respond, another comes
in, maybe to take back his long discourse,
he says, simply and calmly, “Hello.”
I love the word better. “Hello.” At least, I can
write a poem with that. Hello, hello, imagine
a poem with a hundred hellos all over the
page,a hundred and fifty hellos.
When the next greeting stops at something
Like,“Hello, big sis,” I step away from
the computer to check my weight.
Fora moment, I think he meant “big,
fat,overweight, large,” what can I say
to another brother of mine far across
the ocean somewhere? I love Facebook’s
ability to tie us through air and space
by hanging strings and names.
After a while, I’m tired of reading.
All across the message inbox, are fragments
of disconnected thoughts unending,
the fracturing of thoughts by people who
could be otherwise, fractured. So, like
pieces of jumbled up thoughts, I read on
and on, “Patricia,” “Hi,” “Mm,” “Hey,”
“Hello,mam,” “Good morning,” “hey,”
“Wat’sup?” “Oh,” “Mam,” “What’s up?”
In between the careful incompleteness
of language, are those whose story no one
will tell. I wish I knew the next sentence,
the twisting of a finger on a small keyboard
just to scribble a single word. Someday,
there will be strings of words, strung together
so another can complete the thoughts
of another. I love you all, but most of all
I love the incompleteness with which
you complete the things you cannot say.
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is an internationally acclaimed poet and writer who has been published widely around the world. The author of four books of poetry and one children’s book, Dr. Wesley has been featured as a visiting poet and poet in residence, a women’s rights activist and public speaker throughout the US, in parts of Africa, and in Europe. She has been invited by some of the finest institutions and groups to read her poetry and talk about issues around the plight of women in the Liberian civil war. Her work has been taught across the US and outside and her poems have been anthologized in numerous publications in Europe, Africa, South America and the United States. Parts of her poetry have been translated in Spanish. Most recently, she was invited to participate in Poetry Parnassus London 2012 Olympic Poetry Festival among 204 world poets from the 204 Olympic countries, and to present her research on the trauma stories of rape and torture of Liberian women during the civil war to the Nobel Women’s Initiatives forum to stop rape and sexual violence in conflict. Patricia was appointed as one of the experts to write the first comprehensive history of the Republic of Liberia. Dr. Jabbeh Wesley teaches Creative Writing, African Literature and English at Penn State University’s Altoona Campus in Altoona PA.