The Quiet World

in an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

when the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. in the restaurant
I point at the chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

late at night, I call my long distance lover,
and proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

when she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
after that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

– Jeffrey McDaniel

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