That Etiquette Machine

That etiquette machine
With its hushed brittle words
And cranky decrees,

Rattling stiff-lipped
Through the purring
And churning decisions,

It haunts us around tables
And stutters our tongues,

Then moistens our palms,
Documenting our wrongs.

That etiquette machine,
Clockwork set, never glitching,
Forever twitching in time,

A skin-tight concerto
Of head shakes and sighs
And a mirthless conclusion,

All notes, no surprise,
No applause, no white lies,

Just the faint sound of tutting
And a muted goodbye.

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One Response to “That Etiquette Machine”

  1. This is one of your very finest poems Dunstan, a superb analysis of those who try to impose their uptight constrictions on the rest of us.

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