the laughter of the gods

The laughter of the gods is asbestos:
Unquenchable. It’s genuine, hearty,
Unselfconscious. Wet eyes shut to slits; lungs
Heave the mountain air. A shaky finger points
To the god who started it off: Nice one.
He’d mentioned some mortals’ pratfall end:
Sinkhole swallowed family car, gas main blew,
Drunken, laid-off father shot wife, kids, dog, self.
Mirth subsiding to satisfied chuckles,
They take sweet foamy sips from the nectar’d bowl.
Then someone starts it up again. What about
Heart attacks, yes, or slow wasting sicknesses?
The joke is contagious; they’re all chiming in.
Plagues, famines, lonely singles quietly
Ending it. Civil wars! Firing squads!
They keep it going to maintain the mirth,
Each relishing the others’ pleasure:
No pretense, no competition, no critique,
Just a nice way to pass the endless time.

(see also a poem should and voices)

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.