The Only Animal That Laughs 

For Lenny Bruce


Does a purple-arsed baboon hurl its turds in a Frisbee comedy? 
Does a kangaroo do pouch vulgarity shocking Marsupial decency? 
Does a mouse have satire to live in the terror of the cat society? 

What do you say, your honour? 

Jean-Paul Sartre, on hearing of the torture of Algerian 
prisoners, asked why we go to so much trouble to remain human. 

Do you know why, your honour; 
you, the arbiter of the nation’s truth? 

Why do we consent our entrance to this grotesque 
vaudeville act of suffering and violence we call reality? 
There is nothing left to do but laugh the blackest gallows chuckle. 

Your verdict will be that I am a nauseating spin of slang; 
a maelstrom of dirt-chat sicked-up from the city’s sewers. 

Won’t that be so, your honour? 

In this, the new Babylon, to be convicted of 
obscenity means I must be definitive depravity. 

Do I have anything to say in my defence? 
Those who cannot see the joke are doomed to repeat it.




Michael Wyndham

Note: In April 1964, Lenny Bruce was arrested as he left the stage after a gig at the Cafe Au Go Go,  in Greenwich Village, New York City, by undercover police. Bruce was found guilty of obscenity on 4th November, 1964, and sentenced to four months in a workhouse. He was set free on bail during the appeals process but died of a Heroin overdose before the appeal was decided.





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