The Laughter Age

Woodcut by Alfredo Zalce, circa 1941. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

When I am there, many empires from now
laughter will be a thing of the past. The Laughter Age.
Which will have ruled longer than the Ottoman,
but not as long as the Byzantine. Which will have
kept us in stitches and fits long enough to notice
its absence, but not enough to remember its balm.

You will buy me a gyro wrapped in the news, since
many things change but some do not, and we still need
print journalism. It remains a flea market, though pests
have long been bested. We remain fleeing though shoes
are out of fashion, and for that matter so is fashion.

Along with music and soap and human children,
inhabitants will hold laughter to the light
like an LP, or a rhinestone, say how heavy
Say, how did people wear this for so long in their bodies

                  Say, beautiful, beautiful, oh darling let’s buy it, how cheap!

July Westhale is a poet and essayist living in Oakland, California.
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