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The Funniest Thing You Ever Heard
Ha Ha 1: Animul
When Animul asked me to take our flames
& make them into one
I swear to you I thought it was a joke.
I said sure. (I didn’t laugh. I was sweeping up a floor.)
This is Animul: stone-eyed;
teeth way in his head (like most
men); tall. Though unlike most (I know
(& I know a lot (another story)))
when angry did
vibrate his animul head.
Then came the churching: I walked the joke
down a little aisle cottoned in a skirt
with frayed waist edge.
Ha Ha 2 My Afraid
That was the beginning of my afraid.
The end of my a-frayed-and-fairied edges.
Ha Ha 3 The Joke
What makes a joke funny:
not filling the void with laughter.
You have to take the beat
& then it’s not the joke:
it is the void that’s funny.
Ha Ha 4 Churching
Animul swung me around into the joke, the void.
Some stranger mothering me
from the back
who heard from
a coke-nosed ex about the churching.
That was another edge I made
so funny I forgot to
do a shot of bourbon.
So then I did, left the
drywall & the pulloutbed
wore my Easter dress to a job interview.
(Someone shot out a laugh.)
Ha Ha 5 The Joke
It was a joke that broke the window,
a joke that dried the wall.
Maybe bourbon would make this funnier.
Don’t talk like that / who is that
looking at you / is he from your yoga class? /
your old school? / only use your full and given
name / why is the desk drawer locked? / what
does this piece of paper say? / what do you have
to be a-frayed about?
Ha Ha 6 Rules
Thin & thinner lines broken
& then stretched until
some smithereens: glass in my clothes from
the window that doesn’t stretch but breaks.
Pieces in my underwear, what’s
the story says the man at the garage. It’s sort of funny.
If everything’s so much
a rule everything’s so many broken. Until:
a day, another severing.
Ha Ha 7 The Funny
Animul said I could call whomever
but they wouldn’t take it serious (was a deputy, knew everyone! served papers folded
in a handshake!) Ha ha!
Now you tell me that’s not funny.
Ha Ha 8 Inside
Tell that one again:
I’m walking back from _______’s
house without much
of the bourbon left in me,
Two cites (titties) away (astray).
A girl has got to hitchhike
or else how’s a girl to get home that far?
Someone seems nice & takes me
to where I pull the bed out of the (dry) wall.
I check his registration from the glove
when he goes in to pay for gas
(just in case – I’m far inside it now,
half bourbon, half bad ass, half something severed).
Against a rule I fray. I bourbon someone’s breath.
Ha Ha 9 Done In
Make whoopee pies
watch TV a bit, push the pulloutbed
back in, sleep in the space it left
everything as it had been / or else done in.
I heard the joke at the gym
some months hence: Animul had tried
to church the other instructor first
who was prettier, but found out
she was not as lost so I was
chosen. Ha ha,
you have to laugh because it’s
funny. Funny as hell, so funny
I throw up in the bushes behind
the 7-11 where I stop to buy
a Sprite & a balloon. Funny cause
they look at me then through.
Funny cause it’s true.
Ha Ha 10 Chosen
Made a cardboard cutout of a sparrow, hung it on the drywall.
Wore my Easter dress to work.
Baked the truth into some poems for Animul’s psychologist.
Do tell, said the psychologist
& smiled like a joke had cracked between us.
No snow & so only the sun is
ruin. So lost. So flame. So chosen.
Ha Ha 11 Outside
Animul locked me out because of
the hitchhiking, because what name
on the registration because the sparrow
hanging overhead. Because the movie.
It was about two women
who did not respect their flames
then drove off a cliff.
I was cold, I paid, went in. Was them that done me in.
Animul figured I took a lesson.
Thought I was out thinking.
Cracked a hole in the drywall
where my head
had been. I mooned outside all night.
Ha Ha 12 The Punch(line)
I wasn’t even watching (the guns! Brad Pitt!).
I was (from above) watching only me: each direction peopled with
our flames: our ticketed hours: my own church to
clutch the dun in / dark in
Now not even the void is funny.
Michelle Lewis is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program. She has written for The Gettysburg Review and Poet Lore, and her poetry has appeared most recently in Jet Fuel Review, Spoon River Poetry Review (Winter 2016) and The Indiana Review (Summer 2016). She is the author of two chapbooks, The Desire Line (Moon Pie Press, 2006) and the forthcomingWho Will Be Frenchy? (dancing girl press, Fall 2016).