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Friday, November 12, 2010


by Judy Kronenfeld

“…to perpetually circumnavigate the globe,
spreading laughter from continent to continent.”
         --“The Laughing Guru,” The New Yorker

A chuckle at the negotiating
table, almost completely
suppressed, like a burp, as Abu Mazen startles
awake, having dreamt
of his oldest son as a child
climbing into his lap
to tweak his ear. And Bibi,
hearing, he thinks, one tiny hee
that seems to end in a glottal stop
feels an odd tickle in his throat.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying
he doesn’t know who has told
the crowd there are gays
in Iran, ‘cause there are not, titters
into his lifted arm. Kim Jong-Il,
stuffed with giant rabbit meat,
giggles as he topples off
his platform shoes.
Myanmar’s Than Shwe remembers
a joke told by one of the two Moustache Brothers
he imprisoned, and guffaws.  Marxist Mugabe slips
on the marble floor of his 25-bedroom palace
and horse-laughs until he roars.
A great wave, like wind
mowing down wheat across
the American plains, across the vast
breadbasket of Russia, roiling
the Atlantic, making the Pacific seethe, rushes around
the globe. The Janjaweed’s Kalashnikovs
shake in their arms as they split
their sides, and  tears spill
from their eyes. The Taliban in Kandahar
cackle and shriek and let their AK-47s
fall, as they roll on the floors
of their caves. Al-Qaeda in Peshawar
leave off building their IEDs;
they burst their seams, they pee
in the pants of their shalwar kameezes,
they laugh until they drop.
And then they all stop.

Judy Kronenfeld is the author of  two books and two chapbooks of poetry. Her most recent full collection is Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize (Litchfield Review Press, 2008); her most recent chapbook is Ghost Nurseries (Finishing Line, 2005).  Her poems, as well as the occasional short story and personal essay have appeared in many print and online journals including New Verse News, Calyx, Cimarron Review, The American Poetry Journal, Fox Chase Review, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Natural Bridge, The Hiram Poetry Review, Passager, Poetry International,  The Spoon River Poetry Review, Stirring, The Women’s Review of Books and The Pedestal, as well as in a dozen anthologies or text books, including Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California (Greenhouse Review Press/Alcatraz Editions, 2008), Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease (Kent State University Press, 2009), and Love over 60: An Anthology of Women's Poems (Mayapple Press, 2010).