Hey Riddle, Riddle

“Do you have to use so many cuss words?” — The Stranger.  “What the fuck are you talking about?” — The Dude in The Big Lebowski

My son plays an underdog

in a podcast about riddles.

While fans at home shout, exasperated,

the obvious solution, he and his

improv partners throw out wild

guesses, progressively

sillier until one of them prompts,

I’d like to see a scene.

They instantly assume assigned

characters — Kevins and Susies

exploring a wacky

premise to its ridiculous 

conclusion, and listening,

we jape at our own unexamined

beliefs.  I’ve done that.

I never miss a show,

although there are too many

f-bombs for my brothers,

and my parents would be shocked.

(My father who can tell a joke

demeaning women or any

ethnic group at all, really, would

be fiercely pissed at the digs

at his staunch beliefs.)

The poet and the comic,

two generations exploring our deepest

pains and anguish, although

he’s much more clever,

poking fun until people cry

in helpless laughter, while

my poems elicit tears

of rage or sadness.  I’ve tried

to write comedy, alas,

I’ve always been the straight

woman, from the time I filmed

my children dressed in outlandish

outfits, singing and posturing.

I’d maintain my composure,

silently giggling later.  Turns out,

this is how you raise

an improv comedian.

When my chuckles burst out, finally,

he rushed to his brothers

to claim his prize; they’d all been

trying for years to break

that calm demeanor.

He doesn’t read my poetry;

he was present for the pain

that led me through so many

mistakes.  The marvel is that

he can go on stage knowing

people screw up, and finding

the fun in that, forgiving 

his mother who sits alone

forging sword-poems, stabbing 

old scars.  My readers wince, while

he’s feinting and dancing,

headphoned-millenials on the train

snickering even as they examine

their wounds, wiping the dripping 

blood like tears,

grinning as they see

what they’ve been carrying

is universal.  We’re all 

damaged

goods

seeking

clemency in poetry

and podcasts, 

laughter and tears.

Inspired by the podcast Hey Riddle, Riddle, and Clemency, Underdog, Partner and Riddle.

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