Not until we look at why small-talk exists do we begin to understand how important it is. The purpose of small-talk is to save us from the most frightening and terrible thing that we can imagine--silence. And not only silence but awkward silence, embarrassing silence, silence which might otherwise be used to really observe and pay attention to what is contained in the pure, sharp moment. Imagine what an obvious and pitiful fraud a stage magician would be without the distraction of his patter. In the absence of it the illusions simply wouldn't work. When we say that a doctor has poor 'bed-side manner' we refer to an ineffective use of small-talk.
So now this poet finds himself in a particularly helpless and awkward situation. I can't talk at all, large, small or otherwise. My voice has been surgically removed. They sliced me from ear to ear and cut out my larynx. What can I say? It left me speechless. I am reduced to a mute and captionless cartoon character or a silent mime, a pitiful and laughable dumb clown with a tragic painted-on face. I must tell you, this is hard for a poet to bear.
The voice is a poet's primary tool, what allows him to elevate the merely verbal lnto the musical. The voice, with it's built-in rhythms and tones and nuances of inflection and emphasis is the instrument we use to play poetry.
It's not that I can't communicate at all. Certainly I can write. My best friend these days is my little white marker pad which I use to scribble my commands and responses, my wishes and answers, my signals to the outside world. I can make my specific thoughts and desires known, I just can't talk. And if you can't talk, you can't do small-talk. So, while I can be factual and tell you if I'm cold or hungry or horny, while I can indicate what I'm talking about and conduct business transactions and get practical things accomplished, while I can make myself understood well enough to function in the world, I can't use speech to make you comfortable or receptive by filling in awkward empty sonic space with inconsequential, meaningless, unnecessary words, the ones that simply tell you that the conversation is alive and continues, that I'm paying attention to you, that we are together here and now and everything is alright. Small-talk.
Then there is the matter of talking too much. It's one thing to not speak and have people assume that you have nothing to say or that you are a fool and quite another to open your mouth and remove all doubt. So, since I can't make small-talk with you. I'll just shut up now. Kiss me, you fool.