Fuse #8

Friday, February 23, 2007

Poetry Friday #2

All sorts of poetry-related thingy things for you this fine and frisky Friday morn.

First up, another poem you've ne'er seen before. Me madre explains it thusly:

"Prairie Home Companion Joke Show was on last week -- it was listening to one of those years ago that made me notice the recurring words "joke," "blonde," "bar," "lightbulb" and "rabbi." A sestina doesn't rhyme; it takes the six end-words of the first line and reuses them so that if the first stanza is 123456, the second stanza is 615243 and so on until they've worked back around, then you have to reuse them all in three lines at the end -- and, if possible, keep anyone from noticing it's a sestina."


Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One

Surprise is what we value in a joke
we think, a different reason for the chicken
to cross, a deeper basement to the blonde’s
bemusement, some new group screwing in a lightbulb,
odder animal walks into a bar,
the final wise word from the patient rabbi.

A priest, a Baptist minister and a rabbi
walk into a bar. Barkeep says “Is this a joke?”
Sure, and a good one, a world where every bar
is just as apt to host a talking chicken
as an ecumenical conference, but no lightbulb
ever flashing on above the blonde.

It’s compensation, making fun of blondes,
just like giving the punchline to the rabbi.
The proud are humbled, the oppressed triumph, the lightbulb
goes on – we get it, and laugh. A joke
turns power upside down until a chicken
can be the hero and walk into a bar.

And everyone seems happy here, bar
none, not just the always-welcome blonde
but those who’d be justified in feeling chicken
about walking in, the solitary rabbi
stranded amid goyim who wouldn’t get the jokes
he tells at home, grateful that these lightbulbs

are dim. You’d have to be a pretty dim bulb
not to know that everyone in this bar
has been the butt of the lowest kind of joke,
history’s hotfoot, fate’s yanked-out chair. Blondes
took over one dark night and riddled the Polaks, the rabbi,
Cletus hazed Rastus, but yo’ mama fried that chicken

so good everybody was happy, even the chicken.
It’s verbal potluck: Luigi brings a bulb
of garlic, knock-knock the drummer delivers pizza, the rabbi
adds a little schmaltz, everyone in the bar
is flaunting their roots, eventually even the blonde,
The melting pot’s a plate, a glass, a joke.

“Rabbi, how many moths to screw in a lightbulb?”
asks the blonde chick at bar, “Only two.” “No joke?”
“But like us, you’ve got to wonder how they got in there.”

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At 8:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely done Mom. And nicely done sis for promoting such work. A perfect poem to start my day! -Kate

At 11:35 AM , Blogger Saints and Spinners said...

Applause, applause. Did I read your mom's poetry in college during my Women's Poetry and Performance class? If not, I wish I had.

In college, I tried to write a total of 3 sestinas, and they were all pretty awful. I can't remember any of them except for "When Gibbons Dance Beneath the Gibbous Moon." Ack.

At 11:41 AM , Blogger Josephine Cameron said...

absolutely terrific!

At 11:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marvelous!!! And funny to boot.

At 12:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Magnificent. Has your mom ever tried "change ringing?" I suspect she'd be great at it.

At 10:07 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

That's amazing! And funny too. I really enjoyed it.


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