Alan Perry


My telephone service provider texted the news
they will no longer offer directory assistance– 

effective immediately–which seemed
much too abrupt for a loyal customer like me. 

I can’t help but wonder if someone 
was in the middle of a query

searching for Aunt Marge in Minnesota
to tell her Grandpa Joe passed away

the funeral scheduled for next Friday.
Did the caller hear all ten digits

or just the area code 
as service was cut off?

It’s a big geography with millions of records
to sort. But we’ve all asked for help once

finding the right numbers to keep track 
of Great Grandma’s dementia 

hear about Mark’s first day of college
or the birth of Andrea’s new baby.

Though we sometimes found loved ones
when they seemed lost, or we were

and needed special assistance. 
Direction came from a soothing voice

on the other end, like a mother
connecting us to our next kin

taking our hands–one finger at a time–
wrapping them tightly around the receiver

not wanting to let us go, to say goodbye
for the last time.

Alan Perry’s debut poetry chapbook, Clerk of the Dead, was released by Main Street Rag Publishing in 2020. His poems have appeared in Tahoma Literary Review, Open: Journal of Arts & LettersOcotillo ReviewRemington Review, and elsewhere, and in several anthologies. He is a founder and Co-Managing Editor of RockPaperPoem, a Senior Poetry Editor for Typehouse Literary Magazine, and a Best of the Net nominee. Alan holds a BA in English from the University of Minnesota, and he and his wife divide their time between a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota and Tucson, Arizona. More at: