The Museum of Jokes

By Barbara F. Lefcowitz


Knock, knock. The moment I enter
a guide asks if  I've heard the one about--
the chicken, the  rabbi, the priest, the man
who dyed his mustache blue
but cuts off before  concluding:
we must wait until we reach The Hall of Punch Lines,
beyond the infirmary where the Sick Jokes are quarantined
and Lame Jokes receive the latest comico-therapy,
enroute to our new Ellis Island Wing
with its babble of  ethnic jokes. 
On your left is the store room
where April Fool Jokes wait in the off-season.
Stop for a moment to purchase a ticket
for our heartiest laughter contest;
among the prizes a special tour
of the secret  salon of  dirty jokes
complete with disinfectant sprays and masks.
No photographs allowed of  the crypt
that contains samples from every
pornographic joke ever created. 
Please visit our gift shop for the world's greatest
selection of  whoopee-cushions and off-color t -shirts
encyclopedias of jokes, some dating back
to the Ice Age,  like my favorite:
Knock, knock . Who's there?
The sun.  The sun who?  The sun that will melt
your  snow cave  and flood you with tsunamis
that once were glaciers.  
Take care when you leave
not to slip on the banana peels.
And  please visit again:
new jokes arrive everyday, so many
they spill out to the street
where you can pick up a few
and donate them to scientists
who pulverize and pack into capsules
the essence of their jocularity
without arousing the suspicions
of the Federal Joke Police, aka FDA. 


Barbara F. Lefcowitz has published nine poetry collections. Her most recent, The Blue Train to America, appeared in 2007. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in over 500 journals. She has won writing fellowships and prizes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. An ex-pat New Yorker, she lives now in Bethesda, MD and is also a visual artist and playwright.

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