after laughter

i remember laughing with you
about your dad’s teeth falling out
over dinner
because he was taking smack again 

he laughed too and showed the waiter 

a brown incisor sat in his palm.

with a plate of lobster in front of him
he was still alive in all the ways you can be
i laughed too
when my dad said
in his drunken way
i think i’m gonna kill someone
or maybe i just want to kill myself

then i laughed some more when
he drove us fast in his car
saying we were headed over the cliffs
when there was nothing but flat land for miles 

and we both knew his suicidal feelings
didn’t last more than 20 kilometers.
i laughed when diana died
and mum had tears in her eyes
but i was only seven
i laughed when pharrell williams
said happiness is the truth,
he knew i wanted it
i laughed while shouting
fuck off at you over and over again
each of us trying to be louder
the delinquency!
your words slurring
you fuck off!
the FURY!
NO YOU fuck off!
i laughed when the man’s house burnt down three floors of georgian terrace
turned to ash
because we used a blow torch
instead of a paint stripper
august and the place
really went up
i laughed when sally told me a prophecy
a gnostic man had told her
that she believed
which was that all the bad people,
all these bad bad men appearing of late 

like deformed horsemen of the apocalypse,

not on horses but on televisions,
and not biblical in stature
but boneless and pink

were going to die
they’re going to die i said?
ye, honestly right, they’re just gonna die!
i laughed at the care home
when the family came back
after we had already tied the old man’s feet,
he wasn’t quite dead but well on his way
death was rattling
like the lid of a pot on the boil
and you wanted to clock off early
we had to untie him as they walked up the stairs

for their final goodbye.
i laughed when we took legal advice
on ten-centimeter-high red plastic
children’s chairs
pouring out the intimate details of our life
in the crèche room of a church
you crying, not from laughter
well i looked at the wendy oven and laughed, 

thinking that they didn’t make ovens
you could stick your head in anymore
i laughed when
the ashes blew back in the wind
when the cat ate the kids new hamster
when you called in sick on a sunday afternoon 

because in the midst of a bender
you had lost your place in time
and thinking it was monday morning
left your manager a voicemail
i can’t make it in today i’m afraid
i’ve um... very sick this morning

i laughed when the bailiffs left their letters
next to the television
as if they thought it to be our most
treasured possession
and when you ran the foot of one of them over 

so they couldn’t take the car
i laughed when the priest said
jim would rest in heaven
when he didn’t know the man
and jim was a heroin-dealing pedophile
- later i laughed at the wake in the harvester
as i ate from the buffet

the food was awful,
the memories worse
and when the lion
killed the game keeper
who, dedicating his life to the animal 

had believed his captive loved him

i couldn’t help 

but cry a little too