Punchliner – Poetry by Paul Corman-Roberts

I was a punching bag a punchline a
punchee spectacle of arms and legs
on the killing floor of love
the one the universe 
surely meant to be mine
called me aside to confide
she in fact, 
loves another.
I’m the grinch in a clinch
a cinch to exact 
revenge on the cucker 
who cucks me the cuckee
and he didn’t even know it
a war only I was fighting.
I was judgement and punishment
could have let him die in that SRO
simply by walking away
his last connection to this world
held in my hand.
Him barely able to stand.
ramshackle skeleton
in his own feces and vomit
this once beautiful specimen
of the liberal dream
the leftist’s 70’s scheme
All I can really remember from that day 
the on-call counselor
this was before cellphones
you had to use a payphone
situated in a dark, decaying hallway 
in the Tenderloin.
and the on-call counselor
on the other end
telling me:
So if you really want to save this guy you need to get him into an ambulance now.
That was the beginning
of me not being a punchline
the end of me 
being a punching bag.
in a very expensive ambulance
Paul Corman-Roberts

Paul Corman-Roberts is the author of the Firecracker (CLMP Awards) nominated full-length poetry collection Bone Moon Palace from Nomadic Press (2021). An original founder and organizer of the Beast Crawl Lit Festival (Summer Beast 2022 - Beast Crawl Literary Festival) he currently teaches workshops for the Older Writer’s Lab in conjunction with the SF Public Library, the San Francisco Creative Writing Institute and the Oakland Unified School District. He sometimes fills in as a drummer for the U.S. Ghostal Service and The Jennifer Blowdryer Band, but mostly he is just exhausted.

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