Tag Archives: humor

How You See Depends on Where You Go

If you were a hot dog…

How You See Depends on Where You Go                                     Jynne Dilling Martin

 

If I were a hot dog, no way would I want to hang around

all week in the boiling water of a metal hot dog cart.

 

The dark would make me claustrophobic, the smell

must be pungent, and though we’d all pretend to be friends,

 

each time the sky split open and the aluminum tongs

came down everyone would hustle hoping to be chosen

 

and then be so pissed afterwards about life’s randomness

and inequality, since the dog selected would totally suck.

 

With nothing else to go on, we’d idiotically think

hot dogs were the only food and our cart the only cart

 

and our vendor the one who invented the light and dark.

We’d carve a fresco of our cart’s history on the metal

 

using a rusted knife that had fallen into our water.

We’d be such a joke to the ketchup and the mustard!

 

No, I’d rather be an eight-pack dog in the refrigeration aisle

of a grocery store, and not just anywhere in that pack,

 

but one of the four on bottom with a transparent plastic view

of the suburban shoppers. Then I could scan all the people

 

and feel quietly superior to the ugly and unhappy ones,

knowing my snug life at least is better than that.

 

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Vim

Vim is a tough word standing on its own as we usually associate it alongside the word vigor. Vim and vigor as a team describe high spirit and energy. High energy and low energy people can appreciate the humor in this poem. I don’t believe the poet has nearly this much vim.

Vim                                                                                                     Mark Halliday

Some people just seem to exist, as opposed to live,
in a foggy drift. I am so glad that’s not me!

 

I am certainly so glad I have such thumping
zest for life. The way I dig into life
like a bowl of hot Texas chili with sour cream
and shredded sharp cheddar—I’m so glad

 

I have such a pulsing intuitive grasp
of how short and precious life is
and how we are impassioned clay
and each incredible diem is there to be carped

 

so therefore I skim speedingly over the waters of life
alert to every flick of fin
and super-ready to jab my osprey talons into
the flesh of whatever sensation swims my way
not fretting for a second about any other plump fish in the sea

 

and so for example when I see young couples
groobling moistly at each other’s burger-fed gamoofs
I certainly don’t waste my time with any type of envy,
I’m just like Yeah you kids go for it!—
Meanwhile I am going to listen to Let It Bleed LOUD
and totally rock out with all my teeth bared!

 

Man, it’s so great not to be the type who falls asleep watching baseball
and wakes up with Cherry Garcia on my shirt.
I figure I am at least as alive as Little Richard was in 1958
and it’s such a kick!

Does it get tiring?
Well, sure, occasionally,
but who cares? I embrace the fatigue,
I KISS it till it flips and becomes defiantly voracious vim

 

and when I read that line in Wallace Stevens
“being part is an exertion that declines”
I’m like What in heck is that old guy talking about?

Buddha’s Dogs

I enjoy this poem. I’ve experienced day long meditations and I relate to the dog metaphor and overall humor. Despite practice I don’t meditate well. I automatically look for interesting things or plans to think about and when I finally get to my breath, I’m quickly distracted. I have been chasing the same dogs around in my mind forever despite plans to weed out and eradicate circular and non productive thoughts permanently! My greatest comforts include knowing others’ dwell in the same human condition I do.

Buddha’s Dogs                                                                      Susan Browne

I’m at a day-long meditation retreat, eight hours of watching

my mind with my mind,

and I already fell asleep twice and nearly fell out of my chair,

and it’s not even noon yet.

In the morning session, I learned to count my thoughts, ten in

one minute, and the longest

was to leave and go to San Anselmo and shop, then find an

outdoor cafe and order a glass

of Sancerre, smoked trout with roasted potatoes and baby

carrots and a bowl of gazpacho.

But I stayed and learned to name my thoughts, so far they are:

wanting, wanting, wanting,

wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting, judgment,

sadness.  Don’t identify with your

thoughts, the teacher says, you are not your personality, not your

ego-identification,

then he bangs the gong for lunch.  Whoever, whatever I am is

given instruction

in the walking meditation and the eating meditation and walks

outside with the other

meditators, and we wobble across the lake like The Night of the

Living Dead.

I meditate slowly, falling over a few times because I kept my

foot in the air too long,

towards a bench, sit slowly down, and slowly eat my sandwich,

noticing the bread,

(sourdough), noticing the taste, (tuna, sourdough), noticing

the smell, (sourdough, tuna),

thanking the sourdough, the tuna, the ocean, the boat, the

fisherman, the field, the grain,

the farmer, the Saran Wrap that kept this food fresh for this

body made of food and desire

and the hope of getting through the rest of this day without

dying of boredom.

Sun then cloud then sun.  I notice a maple leaf on my sandwich.

It seems awfully large.

Slowly brushing it away, I feel so sad I can hardly stand it, so I

name my thoughts; they are:

sadness about my mother, judgment about my father, wanting

the child I never had.

I notice I’ve been chasing the same thoughts like dogs around

the same park most of my life,

notice the leaf tumbling gold to the grass.  The gong sounds,

and back in the hall.

I decide to try lying down meditation, and let myself sleep.  The

Buddha in my dream is me,

surrounded by dogs wagging their tails, licking my hands.

I wake up

for the forgiveness meditation, the teacher saying, never put

anyone out of your heart,

and the heart opens and knows it won’t last and will have to

open again and again,

chasing those dogs around and around in the sun then cloud

then sun.

The Secret life of Barbie and Mr. Potato Head

It’s hard to believe Barbie and Mr. Potato Head would get it on, but it’s not impossible!

The Secret life of Barbie and Mr. Potato Head                  Nin Andrews

 

It began the year Jane received her first Barbie, and Dick was given

Mr. Potato Head for Christmas. Jane loved Barbie. She especially loved

undressing Barbie. So did Mr. Potato Head. Soon Barbie and Mr. Potato

Head were slipping off alone to dark corners. The first time it happened

Jane’s mother was fixing a salad for supper: cottage cheese nestled on

a crisp bed of lettuce with canned pears on top. Barbie was nervously

popping her heard off and on. Jane, her mother called, would you please set

the table? That’s when Jane told her mother that Barbie was engaged to

marry Mr. Potato Head.

 

Of course even Jane knew Mr. Potato head was the perfect match

for Barbie. She was afraid her Barbie might be jealous of all the other

Barbies in her neighborhood who had acquired handsome Kens for

their husbands. But she soon realized her mother was right. Her mother

always said looks aren’t everything. Besides, Mr. Potato Head could make

Barbie laugh. And he could do a lot more things with his detachable nose

and pipe and ears when her mother wasn’t looking. He, unlike Ken, was

the kind of man who could change himself for a woman like Barbie.

No problem, Mr. Potato Head would say whenever Barbie requested yet

another body part.

Pentecostal Girls

This a delightful poem with a wonderful feast of images using a striking economy of words. Good girls and bad girls make the journey fun. And the tension between what should be kept hidden and what may be exposed provides us with the kinds of secrets we love to think about.

Pentecostal Girls                                                                    Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

 

When it got too hot,

Pentecostal girls

went swimming

at the shore

 

in long white dresses,

sneakers on their feet,

braided hair covered

with bandanas.

 

From root to toenail,

their sins were

bound as tight

as the binding

on a new white Bible.

 

When us bad girls

came bouncing up

cute as hell

in silver hoops

and red bikinis,

 

the boys

 

couldn’t stop looking

at those Pentecostal girls

 

dripping salty sin,

laughing, splashing

 

flashing hints

of bra straps

and panties.

 

Satan herself

didn’t stand

a chance

against the saints

who had been

immersed

in the armor

of wet, hot cotton.

 

Because People Ask What My Daughter Will Think of My Poems When She’s 16

Little do we realize when we have children, that we will one day be changing ourselves to please them. Other people who think they are wise will project into the future and lay problems onto our relationships. They ask pesky questions. Who knows? Maybe the daughter will understand poetic license and freedom of speech. And, that a parent is a full being in their own right.

Then the poet warns the daughter that she will always be there watching that she takes care. And motherhood gets a lot darker than it seemed at first.

Great images and resonance, there is much to enjoy  and think about in this poem.

Because People Ask What My Daughter Will Think of My Poems When She’s 16

                                                                                     Beth Ann Fennelly

Daughter, the light of

the future is apricot,

and in it you are not

the thigh-child pointing

her earnest index finger

to the yellow balloon clearing

the willows and drifting

higher, you’re the balloon. I’m

the grasping hand. Or I’m

the oo in balloon. I’ll meet you

there. I’m the brown

strings, formerly violets, you

didn’t water. I’m the hole

in the photo, you’re the un-

safety scissors. I’m the lint

in the corners of my purse

after you steal the coins,

brown-bag lunch you pitch

after leaving my house, buttons

you undo after I’ve okayed

your blouse. Poems

you burn in the sink. Poems

that had to go and use

your name, never mind

that soon you’ll be 16, hate

your name. I’m the resemblance

you deny, fat ass

you hope your boyfriends

never see. I’ll meet you

there, that is my promise

and my threat, with this

yellow balloon as my

witness, even if I’m

dead, I’ll meet you there.

Noah and Joan

Its hard to imagine having more fun than this poem does. It reminds me of a friend who’d say “In my world….”  We knew that meant if she was in charge everything would be different!

Noah and Joan                                                                      Denise Duhamel

It’s not that I’m proud of the fact

that twenty percent of Americans believe

that Noah (of Noah’s Ark) was married

to Joan of Arc. It’s true. I’ll admit it—

Americans are pretty dumb and forgetful

when it comes to history. And they’re notorious

for interpreting the Bible to suit themselves.

You don’t have to tell me we can’t spell anymore—

Ark or Arc, it’s all the same to us.

 

But think about it, just a second, time line aside,

it’s not such an awful mistake. The real Noah’s Missus

was never even given a name. She was sort of milquetoasty,

a shadowy figure lugging sacks of oats up a plank.

I mean, Joan could have helped Noah build that ark

in her sensible slacks and hiking boots. She was good with swords

and, presumably, power tools. I think Noah and Joan

might have been a good match, visionaries

once mistaken for flood-obsessed and heretic.

 

Never mind France wasn’t France yet—

all the continents probably blended together,

one big mush. Those Bible days would have been

good for Joan, those early times when premonitions

were common, when animals popped up

out of nowhere, when people were getting cured

left and right. Instead of battles and prisons

and iron cages, Joan could have cruised

the Mediterranean, wherever the flood waters took that ark.

 

And Noah would have felt more like Dr. Doolittle,

a supportive Joan saying, “Let’s not waste any time!

Hand over those boat blueprints, honey!”

All that sawing and hammering would have helped

calm her nightmares of mean kings and crowns,

a nasty futuristic place called England.

She’d convince Noah to become vegetarian.

She’d live to be much older than nineteen, those parakeets

and antelope leaping about her like children.

 

definition of milquetoast: a timid, unassertive, spineless person, one who is easily dominated or intimidated. (After Caspar Milquetoast, a character in a comic strip, 1924 first use.) Frenchified milk toast!

Trouble with the Soul at Morning Calisthenics

The soul is hard to pin down and now I know why.  “Soul” is a very rich writing prompt.  Set a timer for 7 minutes and try it.

Troubles with the Soul at Morning Calisthenics                                     Anna Swir

 

Lying down I left my legs,

my soul by mistake jumps into my legs.

This is not convenient for her,

besides, she must branch,

for the legs are two.

 

When I stand on my head

my soul sinks down to my head.

She is then in her place.

 

But how long can you stand on your head,

especially if you do not know

how to stand on your head.

I Talk To My Body

This is the best time of year to get things straightened out with the body. Though January might be even better. Or February.

I Talk To My Body                                                                                    Anna Swir

 

My body, you are an animal

whose appropriate behavior

is concentration and discipline.

An effort

of an athlete, of a saint and of a yogi.

 

Well trained,

you may become for me

a gate

through which I will leave myself

and a gate

through which I will enter myself.

A plumb line to the center of the earth

and a cosmic ship to Jupiter.

 

My body, you are an animal

for whom ambition

is right.

Splendid possibilities

are open to us.

 

Writing in the Afterlife

For some the humor of the poem is inherent, for other’s the idea is a little too depressing.  Irony is well used: would writers love or hate the compulsory writing demanded of newbies to the afterlife?  In my classes, I enjoyed asking and hearing about the varied instructions per “where we’ll go in the end” that we’d received in our varying upbringings.

Writing in the Afterlife                                                                                 Billy Collins

I imagined the atmosphere would be clear,

shot with pristine light,

not this sulphurous haze,

the air ionized as before a thunderstorm.

 

Many have pictured a river here,

but no one mentioned all the boats,

their benches crowded with naked passengers,

each bent over a writing tablet.

 

I knew I would not always be a child

with a model train and a model tunnel,

and I knew I would not live forever,

jumping all day through the hoop of myself.

 

I had heard about the journey to the other side

and the clink of the final coin

in the leather purse of the man holding the oar,

but how could anyone have guessed

 

that as soon as we arrived

we would be asked to describe this place

and to include as much detail as possible—

not just the water, he insists,

 

rather the oily, fathomless, rat-happy water,

not simply the shackles, but the rusty,

iron, ankle-shredding shackles—

and that our next assignment would be

 

to jot down, off the tops of our heads,

our thoughts and feelings about being dead,

not really an assignment,

the man rotating the oar keeps telling us—

 

think of it more as an exercise, he groans,

think of writing as a process,

a never-ending, infernal process,

and now the boats have become jammed together,

 

bow against stern, stern locked to bow,

and not a thing is moving, only our diligent pens