A rabbi, priest, and belly dancer walk into a bar.
Everyone turns their way, recognizing a joke
when they’re in one. The belly dancer, for all the swivel
in her hips, is modest, and asks the rabbi and priest
to go to another bar, but the rabbi and priest agree
that whatever bar they enter, they’ll face the expectation
of a punch line. By the time they order beers,
people have gathered as they would around a burning house.
The priest wants to explain to the crowd that he
and the rabbi take belly-dancing lessons for their health.
The rabbi only knows one joke, a knock-knock joke
about a bris that isn’t funny: snip who? snip you.
The belly dancer’s also a black belt. This skill
combines with her agoraphobia in a sudden burst
of wounding. Someone calls the cops. An Irish cop,
a crooked cop, and a blind cop walk into a bar.
The blind cop says to the crooked cop, “I’m into the theory
but not the practice of roosters.” Everyone laughs
except the woman in back, who writes on her napkin,
“Why do people and animals in jokes always enter bars
in threes?” Just then, a hurricane, tornado, mud slide,
and stapler walk into a bar. She strikes a line
through her question and estimates how many nights
she’s spent in this bar or bars just like it.
The stick figure she draws on the napkin
has hung itself with an extension chord from a cloud.
“She has a beautiful smile,” the waitress says.
When the woman looks up from gracing the stick figure
with a skirt, she sees the waitress has a halo
and says, “You have a halo.” “Yes,” the waitress says,
“I have a halo.” ‘‘I would like a halo,” the woman says.
“I know you would,” the waitress says, pursing her lips
the way angels do when too tired to shrug.
Bob Hicok is the author of several collections of poetry. He tells us that his poems have appeared recently to be getting older. His new book, Words for Empty and Words Full, weighs 7.2 ounces, meaning his poetry approximately two dollars per ounce.
“Happy Hour” appears in our Winter 2010 issue.