Mairead Byrne
What is a Cell Phone?

A cell phone is a kind of clock.  You don’t use it to check time. Though

of course you can.  You use it to check that you exist.  On the porch—am I

still here?  In the driveway—am I here?  In the car—what about now, am I

here?  At the intersection—oh golly strangers everywhere—buses—trucks—

mama I’m turning keep talking for god’s sake yeah. You pat yourself down

more efficiently than any arresting cop.


A cell phone is a mobile bed.  A security blanket.  Saran wrap for the Reichstag

of your head.


Cell phones are a new dimension.  They have revolutionized the concepts

of out & in.  You’re never really out.  Unless you’re comatose.  And when

you’re in, you’re often out.  You can be in your car, perched on your honey’s

knee, virtually.  Or sullen on the couch, staring at your buzzing phone.  Are

you "in" or "out"?  Impossible to tell.  A cell phone offers many inexplicables,

always in quotation marks. 


A cell phone is a motor. You plug your head in & before you know it you

have exchanged one set of familiar surroundings for another. A cell phone

is a stun gun of the in between while simultaneously allowing no other state.

Found In Volume 36, No. 05
Read Issue
  • mairead byrne
Mairead Byrne
About the Author

Mairead Byrne lives in Providence and teaches poetry at Rhode Island School of Design. Recent publications include Talk Poetry (Miami University Press, 2007) and SOS Poetry (/ubu editions, 2007).