Communication Breakdown

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.

 

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