“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”
– Mr. Darcy, in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“Small talk is to the soul what acid is to metal.”
– Mark Helprin
I can’t understand why,
when they look in my eye,
of the anguish they will never take stock.
Instead, they will blather
whenever we gather
to all engage in this thing called “small talk.”
When I try not to bore,
they will smile back for more,
and continue to talk and to chatter.
Now you see, it is rude,
on such talk to intrude,
to point out that some things just don’t matter.
Yes, no really, please do,
tell me all about you,
since the subject so interests the speaker.
I would like nothing else
(as my mind slowly melts);
all our “topics” could not be the weaker.
“How are you?” “I am fine.”
“Is that yours?” “It is mine.”
Pray, please, do tell me how “things are going?”
Let’s say work is “busy.”
(Lack of “talk” makes us dizzy).
Look at that. Conversation is slowing.
That’s ok. Just move on.
Don’t let thought start to dawn.
There’s more small talk to exchange like a drone.
“How are you?” “I am fine”
“A new phone?” “About time.”
Repeating again causes no one to groan.
Let’s talk about weather,
without asking whether
we’re avoiding a substance that’s real.
If there are things which count,
some ideas we could mount,
why, they might slow our incessant peal.
Do we care just to know,
if we were to go slow,
what kind of truths might be hidden from speed?
What if you and if I
were to just, perhaps, try …
to have our talk, from self-focusing, freed?
Of my work, do not ask!
I’ve had eight hours to bask
in that drudgery already today.
Am I a one-track mind,
that I only can find
of the same ole thing only to bray?
See, our time here is short;
we soon cast off life’s port.
There is more than we have time to explore.
My time with you is brief,
just like an autumn leaf;
So let’s discuss some meaning, I implore.
Maybe some get to know
each other even though
they talk of nothing but ego and trifle.
But I can’t, no, no more,
be such a worthless bore
that I blab so that your feelings I stifle.
Some day I will find her,
and I’ll sit beside her,
and we’ll talk about something that’s true.
I’ll rescue the topic
from being myopic,
and from prattle of brain cells too few.
Let’s whisper of flashing
moments that come dashing
with brightness that points us to see.
Beneath, there’s a meaning
that leads to a greening
and grows past the small talk devotee.
So next when you see me,
please forgive if I be
distant from small talk’s shreds and tatters.
But, when we’re face to face,
I’ll believe it’s the case,
that you can converse on what matters.