In accordance with the military code of conduct, it is a prisoner of war’s sworn duty to attempt escape and, if possible, to help others to escape also. I believe that should be our own personal maxim as well. When held at the mercy of our own anxieties, we must obligate ourselves to flee to an internationally recognized safe haven — laughter.

Human beings are among my all time favorites when it comes to carbon-based life forms, and amusing ourselves is something at which we excel. Entertaining others is even better. While it is commonly accepted that everyone who wishes to should be able to enjoy themselves equally, I know of a few syndromes that prevent some people from the physical demonstration of joy. Since I am so deeply reliant upon my own need to laugh, I was immediately struck by, and sympathetic to, this little-known portion of our populace.

In the spirit of the jest, I have chosen to explore this topic through verse.

(© 2013 Michael J. Cahill)

There once was a boy unable to smile
With his features all frozen in place.
From birth, though his family prodded and tickled,
A frown would remain on his face.

As a child he was pleasant and always polite
Never crying or making a fuss.
But likewise he never could manage
A happy demeanor like any of us.

Believing that he was the saddest of souls
No one tried to make friends with this boy.
And yet, though his face could not possibly show it,
Inside he was bursting with joy.

The world as he saw it was brimming with fun
Yet people were so disenchanted.
How many, he thought, of these unhappy souls
Take the gift of a smile for granted?

It’s true that what’s awful and hurtful and sad
Is never that far out of reach.
Yet one thing that few of us manage to learn
Are the lessons a smile can teach.

Simply choosing to chuckle or let go a grin
Or to laugh right out loud at a joke —
The joy that is shared by a happy expression
Can brighten the saddest of folk.

As a young man he threw himself into the role
Of a fool on the people’s behalf.
Never mind why the people were laughing at him.
All that mattered was he made them laugh.

As he grew he perfected his gags and his stunts
And improved with each pratfall and jest
Yet, despite all the laughter his antics inspired,
The reaction inside was the best.

For any who wanted a reason for joy
There was much to be found as he’d seen it.
Deadpan swore that if ever he managed to smile
He would do so each day — and mean it.

Through the years he would learn how to easily turn
All his foes into sisters and brothers.
By bringing such joy to the saddest of souls,
He had smiled….. through the faces of others.





15 thoughts on “Jest

  1. What a beautiful poem and a truly soul-touching message. We receive so much joy in the simplicity of kindness with another human being, even if that kindness is little more than a smile. My full time job is in community mental health and I am reminded daily of the power of a smile, of a laugh, of a kindness and it’s ability to heal.

    Thank you for sharing this with us today.
    Lyre at Lyre’s Musings

  2. I have to agree with Arlee. I couldn’t help think of your brother the magician and wonder if he was the one who inspired you to write this. I have written a little poem for letter ‘Q’ but not nearly so well. Thanks Michael. God bless, Maria from Delight Directed Living

    • Actually, my brother was not the inspiration for this. I actually knew someone many years ago who suffered from this malady and always wanted to express a sympathetic point of view. It just happened to come out here. Thank you for your kind note. Very sweet.

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