No Punch Line

Tracy Mishkin


A man walks into a bar but it isn’t a bar

or his office or the bank. It isn’t any place

he knows. On the wall, a framed print

of a knife and fork and an arrow pointing right.

To the right, nothing. He sees better

when he knows what he is looking at,

so he feels lost. Dusty jars on the counter

like an antique pharmacy. He needs a drink badly.


A man walks out of a bar and onto the street.

He thinks the trees had leaves when he entered.

There was a tall building across the street.

He recognizes nothing. The wind hustles

leaves through the gutter.


A man walks back into a bar, knowing

 it isn’t a bar, but he is lost and must go

somewhere. The place is empty. He cannot

ask for directions. Dust on the counter

undisturbed. There is nothing to drink.

He would like very much to sit down.


Tracy Mishkin was born and raised in Indianapolis. She taught English at Georgia College & State University and at Butler University. Tracy has published poems in Flying Island, Poetica and