“to the man about to put the lampshade on his head” by Ken Wagner

it’s not funny


no matter how much scotch we drink


it’s not funny


the only way you can top yourself at the next party
is to enter in a floral print dress   lipstick   and heels
and that’s even more not funny than the lampshade


so as you finger the fringe on the shade of the table lamp
mustering the courage or more likely squelching your dignity
let us follow the natural progression of your un-comedic arc


you will don the lampshade and say   I feel lightheaded
followed by   Get it   Get it


and then a limerick about the man off the coast of Cape Cod
which we’ve all heard a thousand times before
but some of the men will make the mistake
of giving you an obligatory chuckle


which will only make you try harder
which is even more less funny


then all the women will turn away   and in sync roll their eyes
your wife will leave the room and the men will fan away saying
Classic you


when your wife returns with your coat on her arm
she’ll jingle the keys at you and say   Roger   Come


and you’ll sheepishly walk to the door
keeping the lampshade on as you wave goodbye


and all the men will bend slightly in sympathy pain
and all the women will start to clean up the bar

—Ken Wagner, from Rattle #48, Summer 2015