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Think of a joke. Any joke. If you can’t think of a joke, google ‘joke’. Now, write a ten- minute long joke with no punchline. Use all the sensory detail you recall or found in the joke, but don’t be funny. This is not a joke.

 

By Jodi Ann Korte

Three men walk into a bar
Inequality is not a joke
Keep your prejudiced assignments to yourself
Imagine whomever you want
Not by nationality, ethnicity, religion, age nor gender.
Three people walk into a bar
I see One
Blue jeans, truly blue, blue and white plaid check flannel
White undershirt stretched collar, ironed anyway.
Slightly scuffed, low-rise blue check/off-white check Vans
That maybe were once bright white, but maybe not,
an old swatch watch, worn baseball cap, part
truly retro, partly purchased with new money, old things
shuffles to the bar, only halfway perched, uncommitted
I see Two
Blue jeans with real life stories, bent and creased, caught
On more than one nail, snagged, still servient blue collar 
Blue cotton tucked-in buttoned-up, doesn’t do much to
Hide scoring skin marks or the stance of pride
Strangely shiny off-brown loafers, not-so-shiny off-brown belt 
Firmly takes a seat, nervous bouncing knees
Offset by a pair of silly socks.
I see Three
Chinos, tan, loose fitted cool corporate casual, 
More beige, three-quarter sleeves, red trim
Pushed up over getting-down-to-business elbows
Pocketing hands shoving contents back in, silently 
Explaining that hip-hanging cellphone holder, 
Leans in still standing, pull-out rung placemen
Announcing silver-laced shoes.

Time to recognize what we don’t know -
Missing identifiers give us room to grow.

This is Not a Joke
By Carmen Moyer

This is not a joke
I don’t know how to gauge time
Or how to measure it in lines

How many minutes are inside a verse?
Where are my lines?
Are there too many words?

No, no, seems there are too few – a paucity, really
Like kindness … never enough

HOW LONG IS THIS SUPPOSED TO TAKE?

Ten minutes: not onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnine.

Ten minutes is chopping an onion, shaving, brushing teeth or vacuuming a small room.
Ten minutes to read a poem – are you joking?

I feel linear. Perhaps I should lie down.

Trying to write
a ten-minute poem

Is just

Too

Exhausting.

HUSH
by LK

God and Satan walk into a bar.
It’s April.
God says something funny
about the cruelest month, how
April, actually, is just
one of a dozen of them.

But Satan doesn’t laugh because
Satan knows the laugh would sound
like every one of the billions
of forests on Earth that will be razed
by the billions of bulldozers that have
patiently waited for the sound
of Satan’s laughter. And how, each

each one of those
bulldozers alone
would seem to be no less or more than the
whir of the wing of a hummingbird
if you heard from heaven.

But, in hell, Satan knows
too well, you might catch one of those, hold
it to your ear, and then
you’d hear the sound of the shattering of every
mirror in which ever gazed
upon your own reflection
and wondered
who you were
as you considered
all you could never be guilty of, but
have been.

So, before you judge this, try to imagine the hiss
and howl of all that flying glass.
Glance over at that backpack someone left
in the corner
where the jukebox used to be
before someone took a baseball bat to it.

Think, oh, just some forgetful student.
Or some drunk in a hurry to drive home—late
again, and the freeway’s closed down
because of the accident.

Satan knows the sound of Satan’s laughter
better than anyone else. How, if
you were at the center of that accident
you’d hear it. Even
if you’d just been a little closer to it
when it happened. Even if
it didn’t happen to you.

But, if you caused it.
What you’d hear then.

If you caused it, imagine. And then
imagine that you caused it and you
were the only one to emerge
from the wreckage
still alive.

Then you’d hear it. All of it. Then
you’d have to hold your hands to your ears
in April to drown out the shrieks of the crocuses, all
that horror as April begins
to stab them out of the graves in which
they’d planned to rest forever.

And the howl of Schrodinger’s cat when, after
you’ve finished this thought experiment—how
much more terrified and terrifying that would sound
if the cat had been dead in there all along, only
to realize it was, instead, alive
the whole time.

So, Satan walks into a bar with God.
It’s so damned bright.
But God is in a good mood—although
happy hour is over.

Satan looks around.
All these
windows, and
that backpack.
Satan knows.
That wasn’t left behind by accident.
A bomb’s
been tucked inside it, very
tenderly by someone
made of hate, who sang to it, hush, hush, little
bomb of mine:

Followed by the silence of children, who
fall asleep
before they die.

It’s been
packed with nails and razorblades and thumbtacks.
If it explodes, like Satan’s laughter.
What then?

If Satan laughed.
Which Satan won’t, even though
God’s still waiting, a little insulted, perhaps, but also
feeling the usual holiness, full as ever of forgiveness.

After all, this
is just Satan
we’re talking about, and it
was just one of a dozen jokes God could still tell .

No Kidding
(What I learned from my uncle’s online memorial service, April 1, 2021)

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Staring
By S. Atticus O.

Sometimes you know
When to close your notebook.
Sometimes she knows
When to close you.
Other times still,
You both sit still, staring.