#33 – Summer 2010

Tribute to Humor

Conversations with
Carl Phillips & Aram Saroyan


#33Funny on paper isn’t easy. So much of humor relies on tone and timing, and all the nonverbal cues of the comedian’s trade. We received far more poems for this theme than for any other we’ve done–perhaps as many as 10,000 were submitted–but the Tribute to Humor is no longer than any of our other themed sections. After six months of reading, only 25 poems tickled us enough that we can call them funny. They deploy a number of strategies: Some use pacing and enjambment to mimic comedic timing. Others carefully craft a voice to conjure their own comedians. Some set up rhymes in order to subvert the rhyme’s expectation. Some leap wildly into the absurd. Some are funny stories, simply told. The only thing they have in common is that they kept us laughing through a long winter of editorial meetings, and we think they’ll keep you laughing, too.

As always, the tribute is the focus of the issue, but not the totality of it. Rattle #33’s open section features the work of 38 poets, including a long narrative poem-noir by Tony Barnstone, with illustrations by the artist. Also, Alan Fox interviews Aram Saroyan and Carl Phillips, and in the back pages, our first-person contributor notes are almost as fun to read as the poems themselves.

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Jim Daniels Lip Gloss, Belgium
Toi Derricotte Rome
Brent Fisk Drug Facts
Charlene Fix Dear FSG
Richard Garcia A Poem by Andy Rooney
Christopher Goodrich Peeing After the Movie
Mark D. Hart Incompetence
Lola Haskins The Fruit Detective
David James How to Ruin a Good Funeral
Marvin Klotz E.R. Poetry
Greg Kosmicki A Hazardous Brush...
Peter Krass All Dressed in Green
Rick Lupert Rules for Poetry
Terry Martin When My Sister Cut French Class
Gemma Mathewson Planning
Al “Doc” Mehl Graduation
Marsh Muirhead The Firing
Mathias Nelson Dip My Pacifier in Whiskey
David Romtvedt American Election: 2004
Jan Seabaugh Czechs Mix
Martha Silano What the Grad Students Said
Matthew J. Spireng Water-Based Lubricant
Carol A. Taylor A Fading Memory
Jeff Vande Zande In Early Drafts, Robert Frost…
Mike White The Freshman Essay


Tony Barnstone Jack Logan, Fighting Airman
Karina Borowicz Soap
Devika Brandt How to Keep Her
J. Scott Brownlee City Limits
Drew Foti-Straus Film Color, 1950
Alan Fox I Like to Watch
Jeannine Hall Gailey I Forgot to Tell You…
Ed Galing Nursing Home
Elizabeth Harmon A Must-Have for the Holidays
John Harris Goodnight, Moon
Bethany Schultz Hurst Sweet and Golden Soup
Lesley Jenike A Golden Retirement
Laurie Junkins The View, the World, My Mother
Reeves Keyworth On Loved Ones Telling the Dying…
Marianne Kunkel A Sloth First Hears its Name
David LaBounty 21-Gun Salute
Manuel Paul López The Scales
Alvin Malpaya Lament for the Maker
Kerrin McCadden Elegy for Some Beach Houses
Michael Meyerhofer Dedication
Joe Mills How You Know
Kelly Moffett White Flower on Red Earth…
Tom Myers We Are the Weather Tourists
Jacob Newberry You’re 39, Not Yet a Man
Kent Newkirk Comet Hyakutake
Ann Floreen Niedringhaus Happiness
Miller Oberman Ears
John Paul O’Connor Breakfast
Kathlene Postma Four Women in a Hot Tub
Tomaz Šalamun Untitled
Aram Saroyan Autumn
Glenn Shaheen Chinese Spies
Feral Cats
Abigail Templeton U.S. Unemployed…
Lynne Thompson Antilles. Lesser.
Lee A. Tonouchi I Wuz Dea
James Valvis The Flies
Diane Wakoski Bell Bottom Trousers
Steve Westbrook Cumberland Gap


Carl Phillips
Aram Saroyan