Sunday, June 4, 2017


The Jack-in-the-Box

Since when did a jack-in-the-box
become a national toy?

I find no joy in a jack-in-the-box,
when a little jester springs at any

given time, we don’t know when.
We just know it will. We keep

cranking until that mind-numbing,
tinny music stops, and that little

corpse-white face with red painted
lips, beady black eyes and harlequin

hat, stained and sticky from pudgy
fingers, springs from the lid. All the

kids jumped a little, laughed a lot,
rolled on the floor, clutched their

stomachs and vied for the crank
to yield the same surprise over and

over again. Not me. I sat there,
frozen in fear, swallowing tears, knowing

if I cried or left, they’d laugh more. The
jack-in-the-box --  not funny then, even

less funny now that the box is the
White House and the jester looms big in

his fine-tailored suit, big clown-red hair,
plastered pursed lips, popping up in headlines

at home and abroad with rude remarks, broken laws,
nonsensical orders that won’t be approved, making

friends of foes and foes of friends, naming and blaming
without advice, laughing and bullying, banning and handing out

orders like popcorn at a horror show. Some folks chuckle, some howl,
and some don’t care. They think the jack-in-the-box is just a silly old toy.

Not to me. The jack-in-the-box is still not funny or fun, the tinny sound
the toy made then still echoes whenever the jester appears.

Where do I go, where do I hide, when the jester is President, the
nation his toybox, recess is endless, and everyone’s laughing but me?

-- Shelly Blankman


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