The Dance of Halitosis

by John Muth

SMELL THE CONVERSATION.
What made this stinking cloud?
Was it a tuna melt
Washed down with a hard-boiled egg,
Or a Genoa Salami
Percolated through a cup
Of  two-day old black coffee?
Close your eyes.
Can you smell a barnyard
on a hot summer's day?
 
Look at them when they talk.
Try to listen.
Exhale when they exhale.
Be polite.
Try not to run,
(Or gag).
Inhale when they inhale.
Keep their rhythm, or you'll catch
The tail end of the monster.
 
When it settles in your nose,
Do you dream of murder:
Drowning a friend in a vat of Listerine,
Stabbing a lover in the mouth with a toothbrush
Over
And over
And over
Till white foam pours from her now sweet lips,
Or do you eat
A liverwurst, head cheese, and pickle sandwich
And give them back
The love they have given?

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