The uniform of poetry these days is a habitual gray; it spends most of its time in the head. Freud, Jokes and the Unconscious: Spirits rise in inverse proportion as the level of humor sinks. Old-fashioned though I may be, poetry teaches me how to live. This depression-era roadside ad sums it up pretty well: Why live when you can be buried for 10 bucks? ________________________________________________________________________________________________
A man borrows a
pot from his neighbor
and returns two. He
explains it this way:
“The first pot's given
birth to the second.”
He later borrows
another pot and
never returns it.
The neighbor complains.
"I regret to say
that the pot is dead.
How can a pot die?
You believed me when
I said a pot gave
birth. Why do you not
believe me now that
the pot has snuffed it?”
Teeth Extracted by the Latest Methodists
Because is big rush, we will execute
customers in strict rotation. Special
today: No ice cream. Salad is firm's own make;
limpid red beat soup with cheesy dumplings
in the form of fingers; roasted duck let loose;
beef rashers beaten up in the country
people's best fashion. The manager has
personally passed all the water served here.
It is forbidden to enter a woman
even a foreigner dressed as a man.
Drop your trousers here for best results.
The flattening of underwear with pleasure
is the job of the chambermaid. Dresses
for street walking. Ladies may have a fit
upstairs. Leave your values at the desk. You
are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.
Cooles and Heates: if you want just condition
Of warm in your room, please control yourself.
Not to perambulate the corridors
in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.
When passenger of foot heaves in sight
tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously
at first, but if he still obstacles your
passage then tootle him with vigor.
Previously published in Comedy Contemporary American Poetry, a special double-issue of Green Mountains Review, Johnson State College, Johnson, Vermont 05656, V. 15, #1/2 (Fall 2002)
Alex Cigale’s poems and translations can be found in Colorado, Global City, and North American reviews, Stranger at Home: American Poetry with an Accent, and in Crossing Centuries: The New Generation in Russian Poetry. Born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine in 1963, he has lived in New York City since 1975, apart from six years at the University of Michigan where he won a Hopwood Award.