Jason Ryberg

A Laughing Matter



Down in Atlanta
de whitefolks got laws
fo to keep all de niggers
from laughin’ outdoors,

Hope to Gawd I may die
if I aint speakin’ truth
make de niggers do deir laughin’
in a telefoam booth.

-Sterling A. Brown



You know, even if this sloppy
under-age kegger/work-camp/
Animal Planet mini-series we call life
isn’t always “a laughing matter,”

it’s probably safe to assume that laughter
is an absolute necessity for facilitating
the fairly standard (and increasingly common) routines
of Just Barely Getting By and Merely Surviving Life

let alone living well (as an end in and of itself
as well as being the best revenge, they say,
against one’s enemies and detractors),

not unlike food and water,
friends, sex and shelter against the elements

and maybe a reasonable goal or objective
or mission statement of some kind to properly
motivate and devote one’s ever-diminishing
(by seconds/by minutes/by hours/by days/
weeks/months/years/decades/holy crap
what happened to all my) time to,

even if you end up modifying and customizing
or completely changing it out and over
-hauling it a couple of times over the winding
obstacle course of your life,

which, who knows, may just end up being
the thing you give yourself over to-

you know, the whole “living how
you want to on your own terms” thing
we’ve all, no doubt, heard so much about
(the laws of man and physics not withstanding),

shaking things up, every now and then,
just because you can and laughing out loud
as much as possible whenever you want
(or absolutely have) to.

I mean what else can you do but giggle
and guffaw your way through some of the ill-advised
back alleys and gloom-shadowed valleys
that life so often leads you (by hook,
nose or cock) through-

the Modern Courtship Ritual, for example,
and all its many protracted emasculations
and demoralizations and exclusive invitations
to dine and drink alone,
late into the night,

or the requisite hand-wringing subservience
and/or cringing, cap-in-hand, supplication
necessary to assuage and evade the wrath
of the world’s various figurines of authority,

or the repeated implosion
of everything you do to try to improve
your socio/sexual/economic situation

and then there’s that near constant gut
-churning anxiety if not full-on existential terror
of being swept up and swallowed or just simply
trampled by what has often been (and maybe
less than charitably) referred to
as the “bewildered heard,”

and, of course, most disturbingly,
the absurd (though very possibly
unavoidable) daily exchange
of body, soul, time and happiness
for some sort of currency
(if not immediacy
or relevancy)

with which to then immediately about-face
and (foolishly) attempt to buy those
very things back.

How can you not help,
sometimes,
but sit right down
wherever you are,
throw your head
and hands back
from the whole
beautiful, tragi-comic,
life-taking absurdity
of it all

and laugh?






I have always been a big fan of Jason's Ryberg's work, and I went out of my way to hunt out on of his poems for this issue; he's that damn good. Check out more at http://jasonryberg.blogspot.com/

1 comment:

  1. Ryberg seems to be king of the re-iteratively qualifying run-on sentences, and I love it.

    ReplyDelete

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