Larry, Curly, and Moe have become
childhood-eating ghosts. They taunt,
they haunt, they still slam heads with
an overhand fist, still gouge eyes,
still teach the young to giggle at pain.
I recall everything they taught me
about how art doesn’t always imitate life —
something I learned by hours of backyard practice
of every Stooge-stunt on the neighborhood kids,
just as they learned by trying things out on me.
We went out into the bigger playgrounds
allegedly having learned the difference between
a staged massacre and the real thing.
It’s hard to believe that now.
Maybe we learned a different lesson:
one about how little it hurts
to inflict mayhem on another, or one about
how quaint such ancient comic savagery appears
when given enough filter through time and grime
to forget how much we loved it once, how hard
we worked to perfect every noise they made
as they suffered so hilariously, how well
they set the stage for the world
we now call our own.