I’m reading poems that make me laugh out loud. Since they’re poems, the laughter always has other layers and edges, of course, but the laughter comes first. If you have The Oxford Book of American Light Verse, take a look at William Cole’s “What a Friend We Have in Cheeses.” Two of the poets I always rely on for this are James Tate and Frank O’Hara. James Tate’s second book is titled The Oblivion Ha-Ha (you’ll want to look up ha-ha if you only know one meaning), and you can cheer yourself up just by reading through a list of his poems titles: “The Blue Booby,” “The Distant Orgasm,” “To my Great Great Etc. Uncle Patrick Henry,” The Hostile Philharmonic Orchestra,” “Nausea, Coincidence,” “Man with Wooden Leg Escapes Prison.” Or book titles: Hottentot Ossuary, Riven Doggeries, and a collaboration with Bill Knott: Are You Ready Mary Baker Eddy?”
Here are two poems that make me laugh. Please, please suggest others.
POEM [Lana Turner Has Collapsed]
Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
lana turner has collapsed!
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up
TEACHING THE APE TO WRITE POEMS
They didn’t have much trouble
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into the chair,
then tied the pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
and whispered into his ear:
‘You look like a god sitting there.
Why don’t you try writing something?’