Don’t tell me jokes,
I know about jokes.
They think they are funny.
They think they can get away with things.

I don’t know everything about them,
just enough. I know this:
that they refuse to be remembered,
slipping the mind’s fingers,
a shoal of laughter, vanishing.

And this: that they hide still inside,
deeply. Delinquent poems,
absconders from custody.

Of course they think it a great lark,
sneaking back again and again:
the grenade of laughter,
then silence.
I prefer to find it tiresome.
And a little sad.
All that repetition!

Don’t pigeon-hole me:
I appreciate a good joke.
I said appreciate, not laugh at.
For I will no longer laugh.
I will not answer their ridiculous summons,
I refuse to accept their subpoena.
Never again will I eagerly rip open
the scented envelope
filled with strange plastic.

There are only four jokes anyway:
the custard pie, and the breaking of taboo,
the game of words, and the thing
we are each most afraid of.

from New Selected Poems (Duffy & Snellgrove, 2001), copyright © Peter Goldsworthy 2001, used by permission of the author.

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