Pandemic Poem #13: The April Fools Poem

This was my April 1 poem. I’ve always hated April Fools, as most formerly-bullied kids probably do. Why devote an entire day to playing pranks on people, catching them unawares, sometimes humiliating and sometimes actually hurting them? And let’s be honest, most of the time the “jokes” are not really “funny”–unless performed on a dear friend or loved one who is eventually let in on the joke, they’re most often designed to harm or embarrass–“haha, got you! Made you look! Boy are you dumb!” I associate this day with cruelty and careless disregard for other people, more so than with lighthearted fun (and I understand that’s not everyone’s viewpoint; but in my point of view concerning this day, you witness the lasting trauma of childhood bullying.)

This year, all I could think when I sat down to write was “haha, April Fool’s, jokes on all of us” and about how foolish our “leaders” who are also in many cases open bullies have been, and how bullies never care about anything not immediately affecting them, personally, but how they intimidate everyone else into doing the wrong thing or not doing anything for fear of getting their attention, and cause damage, damage, damage . . . And yet, they are in authority positions because we don’t do anything about it, so here we are. Dark and twisty, with a side of humor. Because that’s how I cope.

(Reading tip: if you are reading this on your phone screen, turning the screen sideways will result in a correct placement of each line; otherwise, they are broken up in unusual and not especially poetic fashion.)


Musings on Covid-19 on April 1

Tradition has it that on the First of April
We prank folks with little jokes,
Try to catch one another unawares–
Harmless, of course, just a little fun,
Or so we like to say.

The real joke today
Is that we’ve known this was coming
But it was always coming, never here
So we didn’t care enough to prepare–
April Fools, indeed.

(originally written 4/1/2020)


I invite those who are also writing creatively in response to the pandemic to share their words in the comments below. I am sharing the “poem-a-day” on Instagram and Twitter, as well; follow me @mridleyelmes !


About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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