Posts Tagged 'humor'

Poet rag

In this ancient burial ground
I am a heap of compost, not

Sure of sorrow, not sure of earth
worms roiling through sad entrails.

Today will die tomorrow, as surely
as restless nights in cheap hotels

Cannot but end with eyelids burning,
brandy scented, coy as any drifter

Lost in a bus station, lost on that cold lake,
a dark spot on a lung. Is there no crime

Committed when words decompose
Where no radish is ever terrified

When reality’s dark dream digs wet
dirt on a shovel, into some poet’s grave?


(patchwork of writing prompts gleaned from half-dozen writing anthologies – make of it what you will)

The Chicharrones Diet

On America’s Got Talent, Brenda Lane presented her spectacular recipes for guaranteed weight loss. The voters hated her and she made it only through the first round. She went instead to the Biggest Loser and made it through rounds two, three, and four, with much hooting and ridicule for her recipes and her habit of wearing spandex too tight. She sweated on her meringues and divinity, she fried her pork rinds in lard and tears, the audience laughed and laughed but kept her in the race until round four, when with a flourish she threw off her towel at weighing in and ran off the set and onto the studio parking lot, where she hailed a cab in the altogether. The cabbie drove to a thrift store and brought her a shift of stretch terry cloth and handing it to her said for crying out loud lady, put something on. She wiped her eyes on the terry and thanked him, and he took her home. At the door, she said wait, just a minute, and came back a moment later with a bag of chicharrones and his cab fare, and thus a great love was born.

A hatred of fat is funny in a country of fat people, but less funny in a country of people who worship thinness for its own sake. Brenda and Guy went through every recipe of Brenda’s together and watched the weight come off.

“It’s a good joke, don’t you think,” said Guy, licking country gravy off of his bowl with a chunk of fried turkey. He handed Brenda a whole dill pickle to dunk in the batter.

“Sure do, honey,” said Brenda. “You want to hear another one?”

“Shoot, cupcake,” said Guy.

“How many fatties does it take to change a light bulb?”

“I don’t know, how many?”

“Only one, but it has to want to change.”

They laughed and went out for donuts, a couple of people who were just fat enough on love and chicharrones.

Bodily fluids

It was a hot day in the city. A bead of sweat trickled down her neck, and she thought to herself I really have had enough of bodily fluids for one day. She took a tissue out of her bag and wiped at the back of her neck. The tissue, sodden, shredded immediately, and she looked at it in disgust.

The man at the falafel cart made a sudden hooting sound at her, “Hey miss Lady,” he said, “here you go, here you go.” He held a handful of napkins out to her. Her first impulse was to throw her soggy, sweaty Kleenex in his face and curse his children, but she did realize it was just her bad day speaking. She calmed herself, set her face in a civilized gracious neutral, and accepted the handful of napkins, sopping at her neck, her forehead, even down the front of her shirt (turning slightly aside as she did this).

“Thank you,” she said, stiffly, but sincerely.

“No problem, Miss,” the falafel man said. “You want a drink, I got Orange Fanta and Root Beer, nice and cold?” She admitted that an Orange Fanta would be pleasant, and he fished one out of his cooler.

“I’d give it to you for nothing, you know, only I work hard for the money,” said the vendor, with a look that suggested he’d been watching her cross the plaza every day as she left the labs.

“That’s okay, but thank you so much,” she said. She paid for the Fanta and left a tip that was too large, just to put that distance between them. The falafel man’s face fell just a little, but he smiled and waved, bravely, as she left, crossing the plaza to the bus stop. The number 17, as always, he noted.

When she arrived on the scene this morning, the day was already hotter than anyone expected this early in the year. The university, with its hardwood floors and wide open windows, seemed foreign to her, accustomed as she was to grey walls, formaldehyde, fluorescent lights and the chilly certainty of dead flesh in drawers lining the walls on three sides.

There was a pool of blood still oozing from his head when she got there, reaching into the pile of student papers on his desk. If only the campus police had responded immediately to his call – his hand was still on the phone – they might have gotten there before this final student assessment. As it was, she put on gloves, gathered the papers, lined lightly in spilled blood, and put them in plastic bags for later examination.

(Writing activity: Group member Andy brought a handful of incomplete sentences with him to group. Everyone wrote the partials down, then we wrote for 20 minutes, using as many of the incomplete sentences as we wanted to create a fresh narrative. Here are the sentences Andy contributed – But I work hard for the money, said
– A pool of blood still oozing from his head reached into the pile of student papers on his desk. If only
– The ship had reached warp speed, and soon the distance between them would eliminate their love, unless
– Pat was in seventh grade with only a hint of facial hair beginning to appear, and dreams that were
– It was a hot day in the city, a bead of sweat trickled down her neck, and)


I was as good or better than I’ve ever been before. Even when, last August, I volunteered for Meals on Wheels and gave blood to the victims of that tsunami, that tsunami – I never can remember the names of tsunamis, seems like there’s one every month or so. It was in the newspaper, a feature piece by Jolene Kreuger Guttierez, that the tsunami victims that moved here – maybe it was the hurricane, that hurricane last year? Feature article by Jolene Kreuger Gutierrez, with a picture of me surrounded by – not refugees, you know, because refugees are like illegal aliens, but anyway, they were people displaced by disaster, with me in the middle of them, and we were all smiling. I had a French manicure and big chunky highlights done the day before the interview.

I have been taking care of people and disasters since I was a little girl. I remember saving a puppy who was running down the street, chasing after him in my big wheel. Mama says I was calling to him, Boo, come here puppy boy, come here and he kept running the other way ‘til I thought to go get an ice cream to share with him. I had to eat it fast; it was awfully hot that day, and then awhile later that puppy came up and licked the ice cream right off my face. I put the leash on him like Mama said and then we took him to the pound, where they take care of strays and keep them off the streets.

When I became a famous sexologist, it was something I was very good at, much better than I’d ever really expected or planned to be. Sometimes, expertise just falls into a person’s lap, so to speak, and I was thrilled to say that my interior life, my inner cupboard, you might say, is just full as can be of secret pleasures. Secret Pleasures is also the title of my first book, which might have won the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction, had it not been for the poorly timed release of Tim Cook’s Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917 – 1918. I was happy for him, obviously,and spent some time with him at the awards ceremony that year. He does drink a bit, of course, and I had quite a headache the next day, although I didn’t let it interfere with the research for my interview with Rielle Hunter. 

“How’d you decide on your subjects, Dr. Luce?” She asked me. I was in good form, sexology is my long suit, you might say, and so I told her about my first interview long ago, with a Playboy Bunny whose name I can’t really give here for legal reasons.  Well, you know Dick Cavett was before my time, but not before this Bunny’s time. She was a bit past her prime, of course, and looking for some copy; a few inches in a tabloid goes a long way. Her secrets were relatively obvious, and at that time, you see, scandal wasn’t really scandal the way it is now.

(writing retreat activity: Using a collectively generated set of prompts, create an “unreliable narrator”.)

Wuxi to Wuhan

The smashed banana plant in China made banana mash for smoothies manufactured and bottled in Cleveland, Illinois. The mash machine, a banana macerator, took in up to 1500 pounds of banana in a single open mouth gulp, emitting banana burps that hovered over the ancient city on the Yang-tse River. The banana peels were spit into a vat 20 feet high, which gradually came to a very high heat, releasing a continuous vapor. The banana peels eventually became a viscous substance that was compressed into long flat sheets, cooled and then cut into panels, which were sold to kitchen remodelers in Portland Oregon, who repurposed them into environmentally sound faux marble countertops with customizable colors.

The shaking of the banana macerator made an awesome sound, one that flavored the dreams of every small child and old man from Wuxi to Wuhan. The sound of squids walking, the sound of tree roots squelching through mud, the sound of moths wiggling out of their cocoons, amplified 100,000 times. The sleep of the people from Wuxi from Wuhan was both sweet and uneasy, and when they woke, they wiped banana vapor out of their eyes and had rice for breakfast, with dried fish and salty plum. The smashed banana plant on the Yang-tse River gave jobs to the people from Wuxi to Wuhan, but after the first generation, no citizen of either city ate bananas, and after two generations, many of them left, unable to stand the smell of bananas for even one more minute.

In the middle of everything

golden retrieverThis is a common scene in my home, most or many of those autumn days: me, pushing the dog bed against the wall, in spite of her strong preference for keeping the bed in the middle of the room, where I had to step over her repeatedly while I bake.

This dog does not want a den, she wants a stage. She’s been through many remodelings in a relatively short period of time, for a number of reasons. Sitting quietly in a corner does not guarantee love, attention or food, in her experience. When we upgraded our windows, single to double pane, she tripped the Pella man, whose ankle was twisted, but he forgave her anyway because of her strawberry blonde hair and her wish to play tennis ball with him before he leaves. The plumber is less forgiving, and charges me for his x-rays.

At some point in the remodel I am finally able to remove the vintage 70s Elvis posters that have been tormenting me through ex-husbands, sentimental children and unsightly holes in the wall that I have not ever gotten around to patching or painting.

Really, don’t we all know that remodeling is most manageable following a huge natural disaster? A flood, an earthquake, even a fire? Although fire is so absolute that it has almost a religious significance. This fire would not have happened without your sin. Or mine.

So I found myself dragged through our history: the beaded shell door hangings, the various sound systems, lost technologies, the aging spices from vegan experiments, the nasty industrial air fresheners of the nineties, the assorted snugglies and noise cancelling devices of the early 2nd millenium. We washed our feet like Jesus at one phase in our nesting. We lit sage to cleanse in another. We accumulated in the next decade, more and more and more and more and more and came suddenly to a painful and choking halt, with duct tape and orange alerts and one ounce bottles to carry on our big adventures somewhere else.

Now it is time to upgrade the house with security systems and timers, cameras and automated gates. My gardeners begin to worry, begin to believe there are terrorists everywhere and now my baking is for reassurance. No worries, I tell them, Randy and Julian and John and Jorge, take this apple spice cake and this bag of little things we did not use in the remodeling. They are looking for re-usable wiring so they can protect the perimeter of their empty lots, where they will someday build the house they’ve always wanted for their wives and children, who are for the time being living in little thin-walled apartments in Rio Rancho, which are incredibly expensive and yet close. Being close is important. Being close is more important than double pane windows, which is something even my red-haired dog, who is no rocket scientist, knows, and I have come to agree with her, and leave her bed in the middle of everything, because that is where we all belong.

The Complete Idiot

I had this system for getting exactly what I wanted out of people.

It was so perfect, this system, like a surgical knife, or maybe more like a perfectly blown piece of glass.

This system worked for everyone, and I was the author of it. Sweet!

It is pretty exciting to be the author of a system for getting exactly what you want out of people.

I wrote a book: Getting What You Want Out Of People For Dummies.

And another: The Complete Idiot’s Guide For Getting What You Want Out Of People.

These books were wildly successful. I had some LLCs. Bunches of them. And two accountants to manage my numbers.

Lost seven jobs in 6 years. Fired for being hard to get along with.

Next I’ll write a book about Getting Fired for Dummies.

Pays the bills.

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