Practically a Joke

We huddled anxiously; five flashlights

switched off to let our eyes adjust,

all systems Go after a week of planning.

We pushed from our canvas

platform tent into the scattered moonlight,

crept to Ricky’s tent, carefully

lifted the stiff fabric door flaps—

he was asleep. Counting on fingers:

1, 2, …3, we lifted his cot and carried him,

cleverly, into the woods on a path

we’d cleared and marked. A hundred feet,

holding back laughter. We snuck away; he

snored. We flocked around the picnic table.

Leigh, usually quiet behind his thick Welsh accent,

cackled, and we busted up. Seth hopped

on the table and ripped off his shirt,

dancing around, reminding someone

of the one-armed stripper joke.


Then we heard twigs snap,

whispered shut up.

Ricky emerged from the trees,

feet bare, hair awry—

our laughter erupting. Then,

his look of confusion

magnified by his voice:

Guys, I woke up and

I was like, ‘Where

the fuck am I?’

and we howled.


The words aren’t that funny, anymore—

too many times I’ve

fallen asleep, been carried

into the woods,

slept there so long

that when I finally wake

up, I think nothing different.


Finally, Matt, the dumbass,

booted a tin fire bucket like

a soccer ball, sent it clanging

over rocks and roots,

and a flashlight beam darted

out from Ricky’s father’s tent.