The Kübler-Ross Joke

by Jason Schneiderman

You taught me that I can’t lie down on the floor,
though it’s my favorite place to lie, and it turns out
you can, at the airport, when your mother’s dead.

Your death is a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card,
a hall pass for whatever I want to do, and the plane
has been cancelled, your funeral is in twelve hours,

and I can lie down on this floor. It’s firm and sturdy.
I’ve lain down on rotting floors in decaying buildings,
but the floors of American airports are as smooth

and as firm as cool bathroom tile in a hangover.
Michael asks if this is depression, mentioning
that he preferred denial, as he explains to the security

guard that my mother died, that we’re waiting
for the plane to be rescheduled, and we’re left alone.
Did you catch the Kübler-Ross joke? It never got funny.

We much prefer the Mary Tyler Moore joke. Likewise,
the Oscar Wilde joke is always funny. Ditto the
Mary Baker Eddy joke. But the Kübler-Ross joke was stale

before we started. Do you know that her last books
were proofs of the existence of an afterlife?
Just like Socrates. I haven’t read them yet,

but I can’t imagine that I’ll agree. I’d talk to you
differently if you were here. I wouldn’t be angry
or depressed. I wouldn’t be bargaining or in denial.

See? I told you it never got funny.

Published on October 4, 2010