Though on the longest, most arduous, absolutely worst days it can be about as taxing as pulling your suitcase out of a crowded overhead storage bin on an even more crowded small-plane flight, smiling is necessary. We know that the sheer physical motion of smiling improves mood. If you're desperate, you can put a pencil between your teeth and wait for the neurotransmitters to do their thing — or you can read through one of these poems.
Does poetry still have a reputation for being deathly serious? It shouldn't. I mean, yes, there are plenty of poems that will move you to tears (don't read those right now!); there are poems that will make your heart slow down (probably don't read those right now, either); but there are just as many that will crack you up or at least make you grin. There's a real kinship between poets and stand-up comedians, I find, and I think you will, too, especially if you read the right writers.
These seven poems are sure bets to put a smile on your face. No, they won't resolve the source of your sour mood, but they just might help you forget it or, better yet, gain some perspective.
"Clue" by Nicole Sealey
“Hands down, mustard
is the tastiest condiment,” coughed Professor Plum—
"Bread and Cake" by Kevin Prufer
The black Mercedes
with the Ayn Rand vanity plate
crashed through the glass bus stop
"United" by Naomi Shihab Nye
For Alaska to pick “North to the Future”
seems odd. Where else are they going?
"The Life of Man" by Russell Edson
For breakfast a man must break an egg. Then not all the king’s
horses and all the king’s men can do very much about it.
"Jokes Don't Translate Well From Russian" by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach
It goes something like, there once was an alcoholic, because
it always starts with drinking, and his wife
"It Happens Like This" by James Tate
I was outside St. Cecelia’s Rectory
smoking a cigarette when a goat appeared beside me.
"Parties: A Hymn of Hate" by Dorothy Parker
I hate Parties;
They bring out the worst in me.