Where are all the smiling faces?

“Let a smile be your umbrella…”

I once saw them in Merida

“on a rainy afternoon…”

except when mourners trudged

barefoot along a dusty Yucatan road

carrying a small wooden coffin.

Where are all the smiling faces?

Surely not in New York City or Baghdad ,

“Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag…”

rarely seen in Oslo or Helsinki

“and smile, smile, smile…”

melancholy Danes shiver in the dark

glumly counting frozen fingers and toes.

Where are all the smiling faces?

“Smile and the world smiles with you,”

on street corners of Harlem and South Central L.A.

“weep and you weep alone,”

men laugh with their heads thrown back,

“Hey nigga who dat be witchu is?”

Mouths agape with missing teeth

they banter: “Shizzle my nizzle or

I’ll bust your conk.”

Where are all the smiling faces?

“Femena tu si na mala femena…”

dancing the tarantella at a wedding in Palermo ,

“Tu si a cchiubella femena…”

sweating guests in shirtsleeves hoist

bride and groom in the air, royalty for a day.

Mussolini once loved a Jewess,

now all is forgiven and forgotten.

Where are all the smiling faces?

All wanted babies have million dollar smiles.

Fake smiles of greedy tyrants have

wiped the smiles off smiling faces.

Milton P. Ehrlich