Poetry from Karol Nielsen


I went to the coffee shop and as usual ordered two iced hazelnut coffees with milk. When I went to pay, the cashier who is my buddy lowered her voice and said, “I have a question to ask you.” I thought she was going to ask me to something serious. Then she said, “Does your office give out Metallica tickets? They cost $800!” I said I would check but had no intention of following through because I already knew the answer. The next time I saw her at the register I said, “My company is too small and doesn’t give out tickets. My father used to get baseball tickets but now he is retired.” She light up and said, “Thank you for checking! Tickets cost $900!” I keep going to the coffee shop to order my two iced hazelnut coffees with milk. The cashier is still my buddy even though I can’t help her get Metallica tickets.

Slack Bot

I often get a chuckle out of the Slack bot. When a manager posts on Slack, the bot says “head honcho” or “small business tyrant.” This morning, one of the writers on a different team said he was going on vacation. His manager wished him well and the bot slyly responded, “never heard of her.” Nobody ever acknowledges the bot’s posts, so they hang there like taunts for a belly laugh.

Funny Bone

Growing up, my older brother was the funny one. He didn’t tell jokes so much as making wisecracks that often involved farts. I was the serious one who had no idea how to make people laugh. When I grew up, I wrote serious memoirs about war and trauma. Then I discovered my funny bone through poetry. I read my humorous poems at open mic poetry events. It was delightful to hear people laugh at my lighthearted, little poems.

Karol Nielsen is the author of two memoirs, including Black Elephants, and three poetry chapbooks. Her first memoir was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her full-length poetry collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry. One of her poems was a finalist for the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize.