“It’s not a joke, it’s a rope, Tuco.”

I always got the bum role. Ugly, I learned the rote motions,

trembled at the deft hand over hand of my companions.


An autodidact, I cracked jokes like cashews, blared softly

like a trumpet muffled in silk. My verbal fatuity


stood out amongst the Sunday morning silent, lit up

the heart’s roster like a winning game show answer, stuttered


and knocked its way down the aisle. Beautiful

young ladies in slips of dresses board the bus; young men


grow another set of legs. The road is an untied shoelace,

a surreptitiously placed banana, a smear of oil carefully laid.


Let me get this straight: a knock, then another, and the

Jehovah’s witnesses sweat away their illnesses, starched collars


forcing zeal. I never mastered the punch, the nattered smack

to the back that would leave them breathless, but I bide my time,


practice my lines; begin each thought with
two clerics walking into a bar.


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