A page from Autograph Penis – and Funny Hell
We can afford to take a taxi because we made a little extra money at writing workshops this year. Everyone is relieved. Four girls, four enormous suitcases, and assorted purses and carry-ons are squashed into a sedan. K-Rawk is up front with the driver. He’s from another country, honestly I can’t even remember it to a continent. K-Rawk is really excited to be in Boston. At home she’s in school and she works a lot, so she’s usually juggling several things and seeming kind of tired, but today in the front of this taxi she is illuminated.
The taxi driver and K-Rawk are bantering about architecture and history, Boston and Cambridge, where to eat. Other Country Taxi Man is clearly enjoying the back and forth. If our drive was longer, my guess is he’d be smitten by the end. In general, K-Rawk will smite you with the liking of her. She’s self-effacing, kind, loyal, somewhere between hot and gorgeous, and has a lot of really beautiful ink. Apparently it all started with the birds on her chest, but the compliments she gets are usually for the geisha and samurai wrapped around her shin.
K-Rawk is the person who told me about Funny Hell. It’s where you go when you’re not bad enough for Real Hell. You haven’t murdered anybody or stolen a million retirees’ pensions, but you still have to go to Hell because you’ve made fun of things that are sacred. Sometimes things that will send you to there are things you have created, say if you’ve ever written a poem where you implied you were checking out the crucified Jesus in a non-biblical fashion (who would DO that?). Funny Hell.
Other times you just think something is funny when to do so is unacceptably rude. For example, last year I saw a poem about the rare earth mineral mines in Africa.8 We use those materials in all of our cell phones and computers, and the miners there are very poorly treated. This is a serious problem, and importantly, it is a problem I’d never considered before I heard the poem. This poem taught me something I was glad to learn. Partway through there is a line saying that for every “BlackBerry” there are “Blacks, BURIED.” See now this is punning. Punning For Social Justice will make me laugh every time. I laugh very quietly. I really like the People Who Pun For Justice, and they work hard. But it’s funny to me. People deliver these puns with an angered gravitas. I hold my breath and weep wide-eyed suffocated-funny tears silently. Funny Hell it is!