There was a joke I was going to write, a really good joke, but I have forgotten it. A shame, now all that’s left is the television blaring in front of me, sounds of “The Price is Right” shoveling through my ears and a contestant that looks a little too suspiciously like Tupac is shouting and jumping at having won... something?

I don’t know,
I’m not following the show,
nor do I really understand the rules.
Just another sensation
white-noising itself through my head
before it is different again
and the moment is different again
and I remember it differently again.

New contestant, this time Biggie Smalls.
Same dance different shout. Same apathetic response.
New moment,
new seconds on the clock.
This time,
I turn off the t.v.
and I get up and walk
to the other side of the room,
pick up the sleeping bag
that swallows my work
without complaint
but without compliment as well,
and I straighten my back
and then a new joke is revealed to me
from the recesses of my mind,
an abstraction strung together
by an invisible pattern, method, rule,
to come out as a joke
that I tell to the bag.

“The reason why they call it the Price is Right
is because it costs so much to pay attention.”

I tell the joke to no audience,
to no credible person in the room,
but I hear the bag laughing
and then the day was ready to begin
and I step outside
to the warm welcome of the wind
and blink my eyes twice
and find that
I’m on the set of the television show
that I tried to turn off
and I can’t leave. I can never leave.

Now I’m dancing and shouting in glorious praise,
because I remember my original joke and realize that
as a result of my diligence and tough-living,
I’ve been rewarded with the absurdity of everyday living
and everyday dying. That was the joke all along.
But this time, there's a audience behind me,
laughing and clapping at my spontaneous and illogical display.
Because they are stuck there too. We were all stuck there.
That was our cost.


(2015)

Prose, What, Price, Wrong, Poem, Poetry, Parker, Jennings

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