--for Zev Shanken

My Jewish friend asks, What's the difference
between a joke and a poem? Rabbi Joshua says,
A poem is a joke that needs no punchline.
Rabbi Naomi says, A poem is a joke
with a different punchline each time--
it's silent. Pastor says,
The stickers only stick if they mean something.
These Jews, see. Christians have Flannery O'Connor
and Hazel Motes, but can't use them.
Too dark for polite conversation.
Haze starts The Church of Christ without Christ,
says if you want to get ahead in religion,
you gotta stay sweet. My old pastor
feels bad that he feels so bad.
Christians feel guilty about their guilt.
Christ is a stumbling block for believers
who would rather it be of no consequence.
Rabbi Rebecca says, You wish your uncle
knew jokes; you wish your grandfather knew poems.
Christians wish there was more to them
than Ole and Lena. But they don't want
Hazel Motes. Right, and what to do
with bumper stickers and guns.
The trouble with Christians
is they can't laugh, don't know jokes.
Jewish writers have the rabbi.
It's ok for Jews to be poets.
Luther was funny. Only because
he was constipated with loud farts.
He had problems with the Jews.
Not funny. No.
No Christian poets? Only Catholic ones.
No protestants? The odd thief
and the unbalanced way.
My Jewish friend goes to dinner
with his wife, talks over her while she's talking.
You're just like Donald Trump! she says.
Stop the car, he says, gets out, and walks home.
Christians don't do those things?
Christians in pews voted for Donald Trump.
Pastors have or half their tears,
halving their laughter, sweep, sweep.

Jim Bodeen
10 January 2017

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