The Comedian at a Funeral

posted Oct 27, 2015

I've seen this movie; I know how I should act:
politely quiet, distracted by my grief.
But grief's an act I haven't mastered yet.
In fact, I'm almost happy. Everything
is hilarious and everything is wrong:
an awkward hand on the back, the mother's hat,
the sister's low-cut dress. Her body bends
toward the body in its odd white casket
and I wonder what if somehow this
is the only hour of my life that I
will not be sad. Living is just a joke
that no one gets, and I can't get it right.
Some bad-breathed aunt leans over, asks me how
I'm holding up, but there's lipstick on her teeth.
When I open my mouth, the wrong sound falls right out.

Patrick Ryan Frank is the author of The Opposite of People (Four Way Books, 2015) and How the Losers Love What's Lost (Four Way Books, 2015), which won the 2010 Intro Prize for Poetry. A recent Fulbright Fellow to Iceland, he currently lives and teaches in Austin, Texas. For more information, go to