Stand-Up Comedy

[the comedian approaches the stage in sunglasses
and a shiny black and green robe.]

Knock knock.
                        (Who’s there?)

I am.
There is no punchline.

Listen past your rush-hour heart.
I am up here breathing heavily.

Listen: I want you to laugh
and never stop. I am trying jokes
you did not know you wanted to hear.

I searched coast-to-coast for lands
who laugh with me, that tectonic shifting
from belly to chest.

Why did boys like me bring ladders to school?

We wanted to learn mountains and rarefied air.
To find reservoirs of laughter waiting.

What did 0 say to 8?
                       Nice belt!

                      (I don’t get that joke!)

But I want your holy, exhaled noise.
Relax.

What do you do if you see a spaceman?

You laugh. He doesn’t know what he’s doing here.
What he’s doing anywhere.
I offered myself to the ocean–
the entertainment industry.
She did not want.
The spotlight hungers for no one.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Why wouldn’t the chicken cross the road
if the chicken intended to cross the road?

Most everyone I know crosses the road
without looking both ways these days.
I do not call them chickens– they are my more realistic friends.

I want to make them laugh.
If you’re not laughing for me, laugh for them.

We are haunted by too many things:
dead friends, dead family, dead love,
dead strangers, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead.

You can be someone’s haunting sunlight.
Someone’s champion jester dispersing their marbles too good.

Look, a magic trick!
                                   [he throws two playing cards onto the floor]

How do you catch a unique rabbit?
U nique up on it.

How do you catch a tame rabbit?
Tame way– u nique up

on something enough to latch onto–
just a hinge’s creak
before the mouth’s swing open, closed.

Some of us never leave that darkness.
The silent divide.

Laughter will bring us close.

I mean it when I say let’s laugh until we die,
even when what we laugh about isn’t funny.

I mean it when I say if you see a space, man,
park your car, man.

It’s over.

 

(originally published in The Magnolia Review, Fall 2017)

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Katalina’s

I would walk to the ends of the Earth for you or,
more accurately, to the brunch spot a few
blocks down the street to spend ten dollars,

ten minutes with a runny yolk on a southern
chicken breast sandwiched in a biscuit, while
your silver-haired friend buys your meal and shares

his own, he who kindly asks if I want more water
because he could always use more, like all of California
during my time there; he who gushes about the beauty

of rain-soaked Seattle, how in a three-sixty swivel
hills lush green and you never feel more alive.
I cannot help but agree that, yes, the Pacific Northwest

has a fog which casts a pall over my slinking shadow, loses it;
yes, casts a spell on my marionette body, slackens my spine
to skeleton-cast my demotion of confidence to learn, no–

to move back east from the west is not that unique.
Ladies are not impressed with artifacts,
rust coating that less authentic time.

 

(originally published in Down in the Dirt, Spring 2016)

Why Dogs Would Be Great Film Directors

It was tough to leave for work this morning,
collie’s silhouette usually at the top of the stairs
a shadow slinking, eyes glowing.

Your heart nearly stopped flailing its arms
as it sank deeper and deeper into the ocean.
When you watched Silver Linings Playbook
you saw your dog in the face of Bradley Cooper
those dark eyes shining in the greater darkness–

driving home with the key stabbing the ignition,
you drove wanting anything to please you.

It wasn’t in the trees or the swaying lights
or the Post-It notes crumpled in the bagless bin–

no, collie ran in circles. You reached for a treat,
your heart compiling sand and blowing glassworks–

collie on set with Bradley Cooper, his eyes
on her galvanized eyes and all she wants is ham
you’ve never seen a ham this juicy and
why am I excited about ham and

collie with her eyes makes Bradley
see the ham, want the ham,
want the ham like never before.

(originally published in Nude Bruce Review, Summer 2016)

 

Rob Delaney

Hi, I am Rob Delaney.
I am not Rob Delaney

and he would never begin a five-minute set like that,
but before California dangled blackberries
above my granite mouth,

Rob showed us the way and the truth and the life
(John fourteen-six by the score of silent thumbs)

god, twitter fame was the only thing
that could bring us nearer gods we do not believe in

this big bang of a perpetually expanding following
we cannot fully understand

by choice I never listened to robins
conducting high-frequency symphonies

(but I did read Last Call of the Passenger Pigeon
by Daniel A. Hoyt that summer
and could form the parentheses of a whistle
enough to calculate the slow kettle of tea)

my father would sit on a pig stump
(an oak whose life he ended himself)
and watch birds fly the superhighway,
clouds like rush hour in L.A.

like some hippie saint claiming
all that is God
is not man-made

I always thought of bird-watching as a way
for the elderly to augment their loneliness

now all the young men I know
fetishize loneliness in themselves

 

(originally published in LEVELER – Summer 2015)