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 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.