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The Punchline

ISSUE:  Winter 2017

You know I’m actually not who I appeared to be
kidding. I’m actually not sure this was my idea
of a good time, not sure what’s exactly what
in the glass elevator whose bellied window
swerves your face away from your face.
I’m actually not sure why the spot I want 
lies always in the pinched gutter of the map.
Where I found you, who were so sweet to me.
I’m actually not sure who’s stepping off last.
I’m actually not joking, actually not a person

who isn’t a person but a stream of perceptions
without a cohesive self. A cipher. A stretch.
(I’m actually not going to tell you the original.)
I’m actually not going to flinch; stand as close as
you want. I’m actually not an emotional isolate, 
not afraid of loss bearing my way, actually not
a blue and stately snowdrift, a single clear idea,
a mind’s pale erg. If I nail the lead-in, people
just die laughing. I’m actually not about to break
character. Lose my number. I’m actually not

John Casteen


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Judith Randall's picture
Judith Randall · 7 years ago

Reading John Casteen's poem was like having someone listen to my confessions to my therapist and then put them into clear and beautiful verse. 


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