The starch-thick meal all tucked away, they sit,
Their several chairs a dozen feet apart,
Picking through conversation that might fit.
From sofa and from Lazy-Boy, the mother,
Father, and son all practice at the art,
And no one gets the better of the other.
Silence that has its telling say as well
Puts in from time to time to bore to death
The one who’s come to visit them in hell
And hear her spite. It takes away his breath.
At length, they tire. At length, the three retire,
To fortify for calumny; to meet
The next day with new strength. It is not dire,
But neither would you ever call it sweet.
Len Krisak is the author of five books of poetry and six books of translation (Rilke, Virgil, Catullus, Ovid, and Horace). He is the recipient of the Robert Penn Warren, Richard Wilbur, and Robert Frost Prizes. With work in the Hudson, Sewanee, Southwest, Antioch, and PN Reviews, he is also a four-time champion on Jeopardy!