The annual poetry contest: You, too, can do haiku

ROGER SIMNON

September 05, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

Thor and Moe were manning the telephones and pretending to be the Readers' Representative.

"Gee, you don't have the late Orioles' score in your paper?" Moe said. "Then howzabout I come to your house and tattoo it on your forehead, you sniveling little geek!"

"The capital of Sri Lanka is not Cleveland?" Thor said. "Are you sure? We rarely make mistakes. But we value all calls, even those from demented weasels such as yourself."

Thor and Moe are the two enforcers who live in a meat locker on the second floor of The Sun building. Their job is to build goodwill.

They also act as the poetry police for my annual contest, which began last week.

Thor and Moe carefully check each entry for originality, imagination, articulation and poise.

"And next year we're adding swimsuit," Thor said.

Then the two of them check the entries against my rules.

"Rules so simple that a gerbil could understand them," Moe said.

L "Rules so simple that a gerbil could write them," Thor said.

But what do we find every year? I asked the boys.

"We find that people break the rules," Moe said, taking a sap from his back pocket and whacking it against one massive thigh.

"And that makes us very, very upset," Thor said, slipping brass knuckles over a fist the size of a country ham.

This year, I asked you all to choose a name for Baltimore's new (and possibly imaginary) football team or to question the need for a new team or football in general.

And you quickly found it wasn't as easy as just checking off a name on some coupon and mailing it in.

Oh, no. This required being thoughtful! This required being creative! This required being conscious!

But what was one of the very first entries I got? Well, it came in a very fancy envelope from Sinai Hospital of Baltimore.

"We are talking very high-quality paper here," Thor said.

"And no wonder hospitals charge $8 for an aspirin," Moe said.

Inside the fancy envelope, we found an entry from Herman K. Goldberg, M.D.:

What a natural

For a football name

Romantic

Along the Chesapeake Bay

Thunderous

As sometimes

You must be

So roll on to victory

With waves as our name.

"Just how many rules does that break?" Thor asked.

Oodles, I said. One rule declared: "All entries must be limericks or haiku. A haiku has three lines. The first line has five syllables, the second has seven and the third has five. The lines do not

rhyme and must express a single, penetrating idea."

"I think I have an example," Thor said:

Some fancy-schmancy

Doctors think they can break rules.

Try broken legs, Doc.

There was another big rule to my contest: "Each entry must be on a separate postcard. Postcards only!"

So, tell me something, Herman K. Goldberg, M.D. Is that a postcard you sent me? Or is it a letter in an envelope?

"The latter," Thor said.

"Very definitely the latter," said Moe. "So let's get the electrodes and the car battery and pay him a little visit."

Wait, wait, I said. The best is yet to come: Guess what department at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore Herman K. Goldberg, M.D., is in?

"The Slow Learners Department?" Moe said.

"The Office Supply Filchers Department?" Thor said.

No! The Department of Ophthalmology! I said. He's an eye doctor!

"Oh, the irony," Thor said. "The poetic irony!"

There is one point in his favor, however: He did spell ophthalmology correctly.

"Big deal," Moe said. "It's probably on a name tag sewn into his underwear."

But let's be charitable, I said. He did get the address correct:

Roger Simon's Poetry Contest

The Baltimore Sun

Suite 1100

1627 K St., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20005

So let this be a lesson to the rest of you: Get your entries in. Make sure they are haiku or limericks. Postcards only.

And hurry!

L The contest ends soon and I need more people to make fun of.

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