Janie Hofmann

The Sad Days of Laurel and Hardy

They were no understudies,
the big one in a little hat, a fine mess
and the skinny half-wit who cried.
Stage and silent
film birthed two harried gents
who sold mousetraps and hid from shrews.

Their women, shrewish
a hopeless study
in lack of gentility,
the biggest mess
Ollie and Stan silently
endured. Stan's crying.
A polished man, he cried,
was petted by his shrew
while Ollie prayed for silence,
got dishes busted over his head, a study
in bad marriages. The mess
at its worst, the gents

would clash with an ungenteel
keystone cop who would decry
their antics, bust them for messing
with the peace. Not shrewd
enough to study
the silence

of oppression, they were silent
and genteel. Stan spoke like the gentry,
Oliver insisted on Harvard study.
Stan never cried
wolf, Oliver shrewdly
faced the mess
when they were messed
over in talkie and silent
films. The old black and whites were shrewd,
grainy, ungentrified,
Chaplin knew they cried
the truth, but he is another study.

Once, the gents studied a menu, wanted apple pie,
messed up the kitchen, but the cook was a shrewd operator,
made them work it off unsilently until both cried.

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