Unanswered questions dangle in the air.
Thoughts are strangled between breaths by fear.
Anger mangles syntax; cackles tackle silence.
Salvos of small talk, punctuated by pauses,
softly explode in waiting ears
as mouths launch a counterattack
of relentless pleasantries,
inexorable and tenacious
as a wedding photographer
cajoling a group of well-dressed guests
to smile for the camera in the name
of holy matrimony, camaraderie,
and posthumous posterity.
The merriment of sentences meant in self-
defense amounts to an excellent announcement
as long as the speaker sharpens his wit on the ears
of his listeners, respecting their capacity
to reciprocate with their own bon mots,
bonhomie triumphing–if only for a moment–
against anomie–yet everything is temporary,
both the toothache and the earthquake,
and undying love that promises to last forever
will one day lie in the same box containing
the unused nubbins of leftover erasers
huddled like uneaten peas
in the refrigerated darkness.