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Discussion of a small squabble between far relatives, fortunately now resolved, reminded me of Bob Eberth's great poem. 

Sometimes it's hard to say what you mean in a way that the listener perceives what you intended.  Other times it's hard to hear in a manner that you comprehend what the speaker wants to convey.  Both result in needless misunderstanding and heartache.  

Tickling the Porcupine 
by Bob Eberth     
  5/31 - 6/5/98 

“How can you tickle a porcupine’s belly, 
Without getting quills in your fingers?”   ...B.E. 

Our conversations as of late, 
Are turning into sparring matches, 
With each of us, 
Throwing and dodging verbal jabs and punches. 

We do a constant dance of lunge and parry, 
With arguments or icy silence, 
Our only means of communication. 

All because, 
Way deep in the very core of your heart, 
Somebody’s hurt you. 

So now, 
You’ve built up walls, 
And play a shell game with your emotions, 

And each time we speak, 
I feel . . . 

Like I’m tickling the porcupine. 

Reprinted by permission, headed "Sometimes communication can be so hard." 
This work falls subject to U.S. Copyright Law. 

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