No Joke by Ben Newell

The envelope is addressed to
Mr. Ben Newell;
I never get snail mail at work, never, so I’m torn between
intrigue and apprehension.

Turns out
one of our ex-student workers
needs a recommendation
for his membership in the Mississippi Bar.

I complete the form, vouch for his character
and suitability
with a real sense of sadness—

Last summer
he stopped by to say hello, said he had just finished
law school
but to hell with law, piss on law, fuck law, he
was moving to NYC
to crash on his sister’s couch
and pursue a career in standup comedy.

Clearly
the plan imploded.

My guess is his comedic powers wilted
when his sister
kicked his ass to the curb
and he stood there on the sidewalk,
staring at her apt.,
waiting and waiting and waiting
for the punch line.

Ben Newell 2

Ben Newell, 43, works as a library clerk at a small college in Jackson, Mississippi. His poems have appeared in The Blood Machine, Chiron Review, LUMMOX, Nerve Cowboy, Pink Litter, and other underground publications. He is a Bennington College dropout.

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