DIRGE FOR A JOKER . Always in a middle of a kiss Came the profane stimulus to cough; Always from the pulpit during service Leaned the devil prompting you to laugh. . Behind mock-ceremony of your grief Lurked the burlesque instinct of the ham; You never altered your amused belief That life was a mere monumental shame. . From the cosmic accident of birth To the final grotesque joke of death Your malady of sacrilegious mirth Spread gay contagion with each clever breath . Now you must play straight man for a term And tolerate the humor of the worm.