I’m Good at Last Lines

I’m good at last lines. I really am.

The rest of my poems are crap but my last lines

Are really something.

I’m thinking of bringing out a book called ‘My Fifty Best Last Lines’.

The trouble is it’d be like bringing out a book of punch lines without the jokes.

‘By gum, I wish I could do that’ or ‘It’s okay for you two. I have to walk out by myself’ fall a bit flat without the jokes attached.

I suppose I could make the rest of the poems as good as the last lines but it’s a pretty big ask.

Now I can’t even get a good last line to this poem.

Aisle #9

I’m walking down aisle #8 but it could be aisle #9, depending how they classify it.

But it’s not down either.

I’m afraid to ask.

I know what sort of response I’m going to get but I’m desperate.

I ask one of the assistants,

So where do you keep it? I ask. Where do you keep the canned laughter?

Pardon? she says.

You’ve got canned fruit and canned veggies but I can’t find the canned laughter.

Is this some kind of joke? she asks.

Sort of, I say, But I do need a can or two.

She looks around for help. You know the look. This guy might be dangerous, I better humour him.

I’ll go and ask the manager, she says.

Don’t worry, I say sadly, no one stocks it any more. She heads off anyway and I slump out the store in my clown shoes and frizzy ginger hair. I beep my red nose for good measure.

No one laughs at my jokes these days. I’ve lost my edge. Looks like I’m going to have to go back to Comedy School.

Collections of Jokes Do Not Win Pulitzer Prizes

A short story though it may be funny is not a joke.

The last line of a joke is the punchline.

The last name of a story has no name.

You remember a punchline.

You do not remember the last line of a story.

You may remember the first —- I still remember the opening lines of David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities — but I do not remember the last.

No one does.

You tell people jokes.

You do not tell short stories.

Short stories have an author.

Jokes do not.

No one knows who the first person was to tell a joke that does the rounds.

Jokes are short.

Short stories, except those of Lydia Davis, are comparatively long.

Collections of jokes do not win Pulitzer prizes.

Collections of short stories do.

I like them both.

There is one way short stories and jokes are alike: the good ones you like to hear or read over and over again..

‘Quilton Loves Your Bum’

Quilton Loves My Bum

I know it’s clever advertising

but it’s kinda creepy too

the idea that some stranger called Quilton

‘loves your bum’.

Going by his presence on the supermarket shelves

he seems to love a lot of bums.

I’m sure it’s Platonic

but couldn’t they have used ‘like’?

wouldn’t that have been preferable?

It’s sort of reassuring that Quilton ‘loves’ your bun

but it’s kinda creepy too.

Stems

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I am losing the stems of words.

When ‘Brick’ comes on

My partner says, you know who sings that?

You’re good at names.

Partly, I say, the band’s name ends in a 5 or a 3.

She can’t think of a 3 but she jumps in

with ‘The Dave Clark Five’?

No, they’re English, I say. This guy, the lead singer

is an American , from Carolina, but he lives here, in Adelaide.

Why would he do that? She asks.

Well, we live here. It’s not a bad place. In spite of the jokes.

So who is it? She asks.

Do you know?

I’ll look it up, I say. Of course, my fingers snap, finding it immediately. Good old Google, The Ben Folds Five.

Never heard of them, she says.

Is this the beginning?

Losing the stems of words.

 

… And Another Thing

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And another thing …. What does it matter if you wear your hat inside?

 

My mate got told off by our host just for doing that. And my mate said, at least I don’t go around putting my feet on people’s poufs or coffee tables, having a dig at me.

 

Our host looked at both of us wondering what a pair of turkeys he had got in.

 

are manners truly arbitrary? which behaviours/ manners do you think are worth keeping?

Jump

 

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It’s Milly’s birthday today.

It is?

Yes. But what do you buy a cat who has everything?

A parachute.

A parachute?

Yes. The next time she gets on the roof and can’t get down all she has to do is jump.

 

Bar Room Brawl

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You had to fore warn people.

It was not a good look.

Scabs and bruises on the upper lip

Sores on the nose

So you said, “bar room brawl”

Half jokingly, “but you should have seen

The other fellow.”

It was more dramatic, more grunge-romantic

Than humdrum “cold sores.”

The One That Got Away

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I tried writing a poem once about a running joke. It was just ahead of me as the best poems are. I sprang off my writer’s block and ran after it with my butterfly net and my blue bucket of hope; but I was out of condition and this one really had legs. It waved back to me as it disappeared in a cloud of dust over a nearby hill.