That Bad Joke

The little fat boy must
have felt it.
Its climax,
the one built up
so smirking, so goggle-eyed,
knifed his chubby back,
pulled on his cheeks like elastic,
let them fly back against his bone
and sting and sting and sting.
And all the young girls
in the religious parade
were not safe.
Even high above the streets on floats,
dancing in native costumes,
the howl of laughter
shuddered their bones,
faltered their step,
turned the music sour, atonal.
The men who had seen it all
spat where once they had dreamed.
Birds became bats,
cats, rats.
The old women in black
could feel nothing existed
to stop the world turning
day into night.
Strangers suddenly knew
what others had lost.
They walked the streets
pretending to find it for them.
A priest pleaded with God
to save them from
all such wicked gags.
The answer was Ha Ha Ha.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Abyss and Apex and Midwest Quarterly