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Funny, Jennifer Michael Hecht

4 Ratings: 3.5
Book of poetry from one of the smartest ladies out there
1 review about Funny, Jennifer Michael Hecht

Proof that smart people are smart across the board...

  • Jun 16, 2010


There’s nothing better than a smart, funny collection of thoughts to take the bite out of hard-to-think-about things. Jennifer Michael Hecht’s collection, Funny, is an amazing and insightful work of art. I’ve read a lot of poetry, and most of the award-winning stuff is either totally inaccessible to most of us or so far up its own ass that we don’t get anything from it. THIS, though, is just enough mental yoga mixed with the funniest person you ever had drinks with. And this isn’t even Hecht’s day job: She has a Ph.D. in the history of science and works as a professor of history in New York. Here’s a sample for you…
The Propagation of the Species
Jennifer Michael Hecht
It is likely that someone
will be standing there at the end

of time, looking up at the fireball 

or down at the organs of desire.

It won’t be us, but only because odds 

are odds: uncanny, cranky, spare. Thus 

we may conclude the world to be a safe 

enough place. These are the cares 

of the day, the age of probability 

having replaced historic ne’er-do-wells 

with numbers. As for us, we live in 

surprise; why not share this mood 

and facial disposition with some scion

of the future generation? 

We spent our meditation-time instead 

confessing. The exercise delivered 

unexpected fruit. Perhaps we’ve better quarry

than the truth. 

The fruit of all of this is 

possession and release, 

mango and bananas. 

Especially bananas. Try expressing 

to a friend, when next you are feeling 

unglued or blue, say: I’m bananas. Explain 

to others that your lover, while very 

sweet and handsomely randy, is a mite bananas; 

is bananas. With a meaningful look in your eye, 

gesture an unpeeling. 

It is your autobiography 

you are living. The actor eating scampi 

to my left says he is not yet off-book, but 

will be. Folks, I am ever-so-slightly off-book; 

Friends, I am bananas. 

We parse the problem, nouning out the principle 

players: friends, families, prospects. I interview 

the possibility of a child; 

ask it questions. Intone the word: Interested? 

Then: Want to learn the word for widget? 

Want to read Beowulf? Want to get named? 

Shall we grin and bear it? 

I admit, existence is where woeful 

was conjured. Nonetheless, to recommend it, 

there is Jell-O; average rainfall; the anchovy 

app at Luna’s; and the fact that in the middle, many 

change their minds on the whole shebang — get 

a good one off in both directions. But you and I 

are going to have to choose. 

It is our autobiography 

we are eating; you snooze you 

lose. Still, in the midst of going too slowly, 

all hell has been known to break loose. 

A gang of snails attacks a tree sloth, steals her wallet. 

Down at the station, police chief 

questions: How’d they get ya? 

Sloth says, I dunno, it all happened so fast. 

Ain’t it the truth. All this wallowing 

in the details of engagement 

and when the battle comes, 

it isn’t quite expected. It’s slower. Also, 

over much too fast to make a fair 

assessment. Lounging in her tea tree, 

chewing leaves and dreaming, she sees 

them: tiny, slimy things with spiral shells 

and damp antennae that float like sea anemone 

above their wet-tongue heads. She wonders 

softly: Is it a moment for decision? 

Shall I bolt or battle? Or better yet, 

might this pass me by without regret? 

It took days for the battalion 

to cross the stretch of trunk and reach 

her, yet she was still mulling it over 

when she found herself succumbed.

Years later, still on her way home 

from the station, she wondered what 

she had wanted with a wallet, anyway. 

There is no way to parry ordinary disaster. 

There are no odds worth playing. 

Animal-stars from early motion-pictures 

eat bonbons and wear feathered mules 

in their trailers; the old-age home; the zoo. 

What, on the other hand, will become 

of you and I? 

Side by side, the Studebakers inside us 

ride along the Côte du Rhone, 

our hair getting tangled in the violent wind of speed. 

And how do you propose we un-knot 

all these tangles? Not, I trust, 

on the rocks below: brave souls pick 

a hotel from the travel guide and go. 

What do fools do? Don’t know.

Probably the same but badly. 

Bombardiers stay home. Bombardiers 

know too much of bombs to roam. 

Still, it is a question of the result 

of one’s actions. Mendel was a monk, 

watching pea-pods, but had a wild effect 

on pillow talk in centuries to follow; 

mumblings of the pregnant engineer. 

What do you get from a threesome of a tiger, 

a scorpion, and a fly? 


How do you get a zebra? Mix a horse 

and a tiger. 

How you get a tiger? Mix a lion 

with that same zebra from before.
Let us accept a rainy August day 

as if it were a single, unlikely fabrication. 

As if these movies had 

never been on television before, as if we’d 

never heard of Mamie Eisenhower, 

as if her tiny bangs could still cause us to smile. 

The recovering tree sloth hangs upside-down, 

her three-toed feet hooked to the fat branch 

above her as she lollingly observes 

the tropic scene. Much, she muses,

to which we cling, turns out to be . . .

ah well. She’s lost her train of thought, 

chewing a mild leaf and swinging gently 

with the breeze. 

Odds of the home-front; odds of the sun; 

odds of a herringbone. Run, run, run.

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