Joshua Sutherland Allen

Joshua Sutherland Allen

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


I heard an Intercom buzz – when I died –
Or rather, it is what killed me –
The constant crackling, sawing, sizzling sound,
The sassy, sparking strain
Of electrical fuses on the fritz. 
The noisome, noxious noise,
The putrid, persistant popping
Buries all other waves of sound
In the room – particularly sinful
In a music classroom.

I am overtired
Of the Intercom I myself desired.
I begged the office every day
For an intercom that worked,
And also a phone, and perhaps a bell
So that I did not have to call around
And figure out when to dismiss my students.
The day we had intruder lockdown,
And I was unaware what went on,
Because my room had no intercom,
No bell, no phone, no connection
With the outside world.
It took them weeks to get it done,
And when they did, it worked quite well
For about an hour.  And then
It stopped, and I am left alone
With this ceaseless, sputtering sizzle.

I know now how it is that I will die,
This sound will pierce my brain.
I will be teaching, the bell will ring,
And I will keel over.  Perhaps I will
Stagger a little bit first,
Or perhaps I will just fall,
Not knowing what it was that hit me.
But I will collapse as life-bearing blood
Ebbs and pools around my head.
My students will know what happened,
They will see the small holes in my head
Where the sound stabbed in
And slashed my brain
To the size of squishy spaghetti.
Yes, I know how my end will be,
And now I can sing the refrain:
This is how the world ends,
Not with a bang, but a crackle.

My apologies to Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and T. S. Eliot.


  1. What an ominous feeling you give with that crackle.. and then a teacher view, with all those shootings.. it sounds even darker.

  2. "They will see the small holes in my head
    Where the sound stabbed in
    And slashed my brain
    To the size of squishy spaghetti."...o my...nice enjoyable lines :)

  3. Oh, man. I absolutely love this. It's the little annoyances sometimes, isn't it? Your classic poetry references are delightful, and there is a quiet laugh waiting to bubble under this...someday. Right now, only that crackling buzz. Wonderful.

  4. Oh this is humorous to read, but likely not to endure. Wheels grind slowly in the System, LOL. Maybe if you casually drop the words "stress leave" into the conversation, they might fix it faster. I enjoyed this, but feel bad that you have to listen to this every day, it must drive you bonkers.