Mostly we’re a happy country.
It’s in the constitution. We have the right.
Your mother told you that
when you wanted to cry. She said,
“I’ll give you something to cry about,”
So, apparently we smile by fiat.
We invented football for it’s aaahs and oohs
and jolly whoops and bone crushing
and skull fractures and permanent brain injuries

which oddly may also amuse us
We probably invented pigskin so we
could laugh in the stands, so we
could get a grin out of our unwept tears.
Then, we invented moon walking
and walking on the moon and Rogaine

and Groucho at either end
of the big chuckle
that was the last 100 years.
And googly eyes. We invented those.
And Jack Black. Also earlier,
the roller-coaster for shits and giggles,
the Bearded Lady, Siamese twins
and M. Knight Shyamalan
for an underwater scream.
Invent and invent for awe, to make
ourselves guffaw, then we concocted
a new kind of government,
a grief project, just o prove how hard
we would work to get past mourning,
to get to a simple American smile.

a version published in Unlikely Stories

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About the Author

Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of four books, including, The Mercy of Traffic, winner of the Phillip H. McMath 2020 Post-Publication Award and five chapbooks. Her work appears in Atlanta Review, Mom Egg Review, pacificREVIEW and this spring Doubleback Books reprinted her 2008 book, Discount Fireworks as a free download.