Landline Photograph
by Cord Moreski

When my sister and I arrived that afternoon,
we regarded each room accordingly
and gathered items that reminded us of him:
the record player on his soapstone bar counter in the basement,
the replica shotgun he mounted on the living room wall,
even the shoe boxes full of family photographs
dispersed in piles along the dusty attic floor.

And then I found it when we entered his bedroom,
jutting out from his closet: a landline.
Outdated and painted in a field stone grey,
its plastic body twined tightly by its own cord.
With a brief disentanglement from its restraint
and a quick plugging into the wall,
it became alive, again:
the sounds of monotone bleeps,
the spooling of tape reel,
the clicks and clacks
the answer machine’s PLAY BUTTON
sang against my eager finger.

It was there the greeting message played
and his voice leaked through the device
like sunlight filtering through a boarded window.
“Please leave your name and message,” he insisted,
“and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”
The music of his voice suddenly disappeared
into the prolonged beep that followed.
“Say something!” she demanded
as I picked up the receiver,
but the line was already dead.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after I was cleaning out my grandparents’ house. I came across an old telephone landline, and it immediately brought me back to when I was a child. I plugged it in and began playing the messages on its answer machine. Suddenly, I heard my grandfather’s voice, and it instantly gave me chills. Anybody watching me would have thought I was trying to contact the dead.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cord Moreski is a poet/teacher from New Jersey. He is the author of the chapbook Stay Afloat Inside (2016, Indigent Press), and he was a nominee for 2016 Poet Laureate of Asbury Park. His work has be featured in The Yellow Chair Review, Eunoia Magazine, Five 2 One Magazine, and several other magazines/journals. When he is not writing, he teaches middle school reading and language arts in special education. Check out more at and Facebook.