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Allison Pitinii Davis

Allison Pitinii Davis is the author of Line Study of a Motel Clerk (Baobab Press, 2017). She is a PhD Candidate in English and creative writing and is from the Youngstown, Ohio area.

By This Poet

1

The Function of Humor in the Neighborhood

                                        —with a line from Louise Glück

Humor functions in the neighborhood as it functioned in the shtetl: the only way into a world insistent on your pain. Something you’d be shot for. If they want you to cry, tears are evasive; if they want you vulnerable, vulnerability’s a cop-out; if they want a confession, your confession is cheap. “When I speak passionately, / that’s when I’m least to be trusted.” A privilege to weep when to laugh is to choke on history. Oh diaspora: seventy-five years ago I’d be gassed beside my sisters, yet here I am, running out for milk in a heated car. Does a funnier joke exist? Yet there’s so many jokes in this neighborhood, that one barely gets a laugh.

                                                                    You’re telling us.