Wednesday, April 16, 2014

16 of 30: "The Quiet World" by Jeffrey McDaniel

I'm obsessed with this next poem: It was originally published in 1998, though it feels especially contemporary with its premise of a daily allotment of words one speaks in some sort of parallel present. It's clever, honest and sweet all at once.

Enter "The Quiet World" by Jeffrey McDaniel:
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
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 chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way. 
Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
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.
16 of 30. Happy National Poetry Month!