The JC Penney Advertisment

shouts 4-Hour Doorbusters
in headliner arrogance
above the full-color page
of bras jutting out
at any middle-aged onlooker
unaware of ironic intent.

My six-year-old daughter asks
explanations for all words:
puns, pundits, sarcasm, snide.
My small son plays drums
on my own sagging breasts.

Meanwhile, we forbid the word stupid
in our suburban home,
trying to tame our natural snobbery,
while smiling obnoxiously
at our own bad jokes,
the ones we say on purpose,
with knowledge and intent.

My children love words for their results
and make up jokes disconnected
from any sense. Why did the refrigerator
go outside? To say hello to the birds.
It’s our joy they wait for,
the laughter we can’t keep inside our mouths
that makes them bellow, try another sentence
of nonsense, stringing together syllables
to hook us into their world,

a story so separate from this town,
this state, this continent of innuendos
we read to them straight-faced
from the newspaper, looking for comics
to fold into a metaphor, make fly
all the illiterate letters.