We're Laughing but We've Just Seen a Darkness

Christopher Salerno

              After growing up I grew an ear
              for that note of sadness hidden in laughter.

                            We assume all sorrow is redacted there.
                            We trust the mouth as a medium

              but often the louvers of anguish
       don’t make a good seal, causing the laughter

                            we hear to carry a second sound
                            overheard, as with the whistling of radiator

              steam, hearing heat inside
       the pipe like some darkness in the larynx.

                            It’s not a musical note and not
    not an echo either. When two people fall

              into insuppressible laughter, brut
       champagne pouring out of their noses,

                           one may not be able to stop, may
                           even need help getting up off the floor.


Christopher Salerno is the author of four books of poems and the editor of Saturnalia Books. His most recent collection is Sun & Urn (UGA 2017), selected by the late Tom Lux for the Georgia Poetry Prize. Previous books include ATM, (Georgetown Review Poetry Prize 2014), Minimum Heroic (Mississippi Review Poetry Prize 2010), and Whirligig (2006). He is a recipient of the Laurel Review Chapbook Prize, the Two Sylvia’s Press chapbook prize, the Prairie Schooner Glenna Luschei Award, and a New Jersey State Council on the Arts fellowship. His poems have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, American Poetry Review, New England Review, The Academy of American Poets series, and elsewhere. He is a Professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey.