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The Funniest Thing You Ever Heard by Michelle Lewis - The Feminist Wire

The Funniest Thing You Ever Heard by Michelle Lewis

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.

 

Refrain

 

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.

 

Chorus

 

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 LewisMichelle 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).