What follows is the first poem of thirty I plan to write to celebrate National Poetry Month, a poem for every day in April. Let’s begin, appropriately enough, with a poem about the significance of April the first, a strange little holiday if there ever was one. The composition part went pretty smoothly, but here’s a word to the wise: formatting poetry in WordPress is like hammering nails into wood with a toothbrush. Hope you enjoy.
I just broke my arm in ten places
and I will never play the drums again.
I just got word from my doctor
that I’m pregnant or something.
Your mom called to say that
her house burned down.
There’s a gunman in the store.
These things are not funny.
The last thing I want is to be
frightened or grieved as a gag.
If for a moment I fall for your trickery
I will be angry at you
for a very long time,
maybe even until the first
of April next year.
That’s a long time, sucker.
Don’t try to turn me into
one of your
I’ve got some bad news, she says.
I’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
I have three months to live, tops.
I’ve got some bad news for you, he says.
You’re an asshole.
Only an asshole would make such a joke,
such a cruel, mean-spirited,
manipulative, stupid joke.
It’s not a joke, she says.
It just happens to be the first of April.
I could have waited, I suppose,
to tell you. I could have waited
until the second day of the month.
This just seemed important somehow,
like it couldn’t wait, urgent even,
although I’m not sure why.
It wouldn’t change anything
if you were to know one day later,
except for the fact that you’d have
one less day to grieve,
but maybe that’d be a good thing.
Come to think of it,
I’m almost sorry I told you
at all. I could have saved you
three months of grieving
and the anger you felt just now
because you thought I was fooling.
What really happened is that
my wife sent me a text
as she was leaving the house and
because I am rarely close
to my phone, I didn’t see the text.
She said, did you get my text?
And I said, no.
There’s a dead squirrel
in the driveway, she said,
and that is not a joke.
So I went outside and
shoveled up the dead squirrel,
already stiff, a really big animal.
Because our dog is too old
and slow to catch and kill squirrels,
this one had probably
fallen from one of our oaks
because he was playing
and lost his balance
or just because he was fat.
I pretended to say a prayer
in Latin and I tossed him into a bag,
and even though I didn’t want
the garbage to smell,
I thought better of tying off
his little body wrap
and I placed him gently
on the bottom of the rubbish bin.