"Cowabunga dude!" Thor said. "This one is rilly, rilly bitchin'."
Moe sighed. "He's been reading the California entries for your poetry contest," he told me, "and I think it has affected his brain."
"Eeee-uuuuu," said Thor. "This one is gnarly to the max!"
This is the first year that my poetry contest, the theme of which was "hard times," was open to the nation as a whole. The immediate effect was to get about 10 zillion entries from California, a place where nobody has to work for a living because they can pick oranges right off the trees, which means they have a lot of time to write limericks and haiku.
And though the Left Coast people did really well this year, it was still a local poet, George S. Friedman of Towson State University, who won the contest with:
In this world of pollution and rubble,
I see nothing but sorrow and trouble
So I'm searching for hope
Through my new telescope
(Had it made by a fellow named Hubble.)
First runner-up, who will become Miss America should anything happen to George, is David Thomas Atkins of Los Angeles:
The four horsemen that gallop so pale,
Are faced solely by George Bush of Yale,
But what's in the news
To give me the blues,
Is that pacing the wings is Dan Quayle!
Second runner-up goes to Peter Larsen, Lake View Terrace, Calif.:
There was a bad hat named Hussein
Whose greediness rotted his brain;
He marched without pity
On rich Kuwait City
And claimed it as capital gain.
Third runner-up is Mrs. Hana B. Himelstein, Baltimore:
Bush's rhetoric often perplexes
JTC Rich & poor, young & old of both sexes,
For we misunderstood
his intent to do good:
"Read my lips, I will never raise Texas."
Fourth runner-up is Gerald Rhoades of Agoura Hills, Calif., who wrote a very chilling haiku that you have to think about a little. (Hint: What if the birds are not birds?)
White birds trace an arch
Through the garden of the sky
While I watch TV.
Another haiku that gets special mention for its rich irony is from T.A. Williams, Garden Grove, Calif.:
I'm being killed by
The cigarette taxes and
The high cost of beer.
Also special mention to:
John H. Brown, St. Timothy's School, Stevenson:
Guv Billy got Herbie Belgradium
To build a new Camden Yards stadium
Where rich blades and their foxes
Cavort in skyboxes
High over the poor folks who paidium.
Douglas W. Clark, Los Angeles:
Oil. Mid-East. Oil. Palms. Oil. Well?
Machine guns. Oil well.
E. Kahan, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.:
Utilize the alphabet
Read beyond his lips
J. Cain, Baltimore:
Ripkens on Welfare
Orioles Owners Too Cheap
Sun headline '93
Daniel L. Thomas, Baltimore:
Smarm Meister General, George,
Oozed down razor's edge.
Herbert Fisher, Stevenson:
My Porsche and TV are in a stew,
My kids can't listen to 2 Live Crew.
O for the good old days,
When my parents could laze
Through the Depression and World War Two!
Bob Eikenberg, Fallston:
Super-hot news flash:
Moses gets two new tablets;
Re-thinks burning Bush.
Lynne Eastman, Avon, Ohio:
There was a young girl from St. Paul
Who would not study at all,
She giggled and laughed
'til I knew she was daft,
But she wept when she flunked study hall.
William C. Noble, Baltimore:
It's a shame. But now
I see a Silverado
Behind ev'ry Bush!
Matthew Petties, Beaumont, Texas:
Racism and Hate:
Deep in the heart of Dixie
While I got hundreds of poems attacking Saddam Hussein, there was one that took his side. It is from Johnathan J. Lewis, Los Angeles:
In spite of their might I refuse to fight.
Insight shows light that it's all for the House of the White.
Saddam is a friend to me.
Not an Arab enemy.
Despite all the planning, only understanding
will make the night bright.
There was also this from Br. John, Apache Mission, Whiteriver, Ariz.:
Tryin' to forget the ways
White man f---ed it up.
But on a lighter note, there was the entry of Jane Stagner of Joshua Tree, Calif., who wrote:
My job took me out of my state,
The realtors are making me wait,
With broke clientele
My house will not sell,
I'll throw in my in-laws for bait.
But let's end this on a hopeful haiku by Gary Richman of Baltimore, a stockbroker at Shearson, Lehman:
Despair of winter
Must precede in ev'ry year
Spring's heightened colors.
If a stockbroker can be optimistic, you know there's hope.
And here's hoping that the theme of next year's poetry contest will be good times.
Have a better new year, everybody.