A Joke

Corbin Louis


It would be good to make a joke of death
To open an empty casket at my funeral
and play Queen while my body swings from a ceiling fan

It would be a victory to smile at the trauma
and the gray skin and the rotting of something
you thought you knew but is gone

My advice is don’t be afraid of a hanging tongue
And don’t think twice, cry if you need to, or jump
Laugh in great triumph at the snapped neck

10-years of drug use walking in a body

There are so many worse things than limp skin
than pure transformation

I know change is hard, but when the switch moves
just run, get the leash off your neck and dive out

Head first into the snapping jaws
The scales falling off your judgement
I have a feeling when they bury a body
everything goes with it
besides what people remember
and what they remember goes with them
until all that’s left
is a pile of dirt

I hope that it comforts my family to know
that in the end life is a piss stain and eightball
and a birthday candle

I blew as hard as I could
I exhausted my lungs
I swung from the ceiling fans
screaming I hate you all and I love you
and I would do anything for a shortcut

I would poison myself for 10-years
just for one night of dancing
just for one belly laugh
isn’t this ridiculous
how bad it hurts
how good it feels
to let it out



A recent Jack Straw Writer’s Resident and MFA graduate at the University of Washington, Corbin Louis is a Seattle native making work out of a legacy of grunge and rain and illness. Each piece serves as a form of sublimation, transforming dysfunction into arrangements of self-reflection and cultural critique. Corbin’s goal as an artist is to garner awareness and support around mental illness by creating pieces that shriek for understanding, and he has been published by Best American Experimental Writing, Random Sample Review, Visible Poetry Project and others.