I once attended a stand-up show in Amsterdam,

            and not speaking a word of Dutch I just laughed

     along with the crowd, letting myself get caught

up with the noise. It’s the same logic of applause

            and food fights. I can’t think about the bubonic

     plague without getting anxious. When I watch


Planet Earth, I root for both prey and predator.

            The border between humor and disgust blurs

     neatly so it’s often hard to say. I was driving

home from the grocery store last week

            and saw that my neighbor had painted and hung

     a new sign on his shed: THEEVES WILL BE SHOT


and Kate asked, Who’s Theeves? In high school

            a boy did a Gallagher impression after prom,

     smashing watermelons on stage with a hammer,

his fake mustache falling off mid-swing, 

            and then two weeks later his parents received a bill

     for $30,000 to replace the pulp-smattered curtain.


Or that time in second grade after we had

            just moved when a quiet boy in my class asked

     for a ride home. My mother, new to the city,

got lost, and cross-stitched neighborhoods

            in the fading light because the boy didn’t know

     which was his, and he started crying, and my mother


started to cry too, and we drove until the boy saw

            a familiar park, and eventually we found it,

     his house, and his mother was on the lawn

with two officers, and she’s crying, too,

            and then the drive home after, my mother

     whispering Shit, Shit, Shit, and wiping her eyes.