The Red Telephone

Kyle Carrero Lopez


The Moscow-D.C. hotline ain’t—ain’t ever
been—phone call biz: first it was teletypewriter
keyboard clicks like sugar-charged feet,
then the shriek-boop-beep of faxes, and then the now,

encrypted emails’ soundless sails
between Kremlin and Pentagon.

The red telephone’s birth fell four months
ahead of my father’s in Havana, ‘63,

two near-twins in the shadow of missiles.
Cuba Cuba, tall, with its missile-shaped shadow,
fathered and mothered
the red telephone.

If Cuba could chat, land mass
to linguist, what would it say

of its global sway?
Or of what number of Cubas
fit inside the U.S. slab,
or of which fraction

of Russia’s bulk makes one U.S.,
or of greeting each new day
knowing some sunny, skinny
island could lift all that heft,

store at least enough power
to spark the giants’ red line?


Kyle Carrero Lopez is the author of MUSCLE MEMORY, the chapbook winner of the 2020 [PANK] Books Contest. His poetry and prose is published in The Nation, New York Magazine, The Atlantic, Jewish Currents, and elsewhere.

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