The Thunker - Sarah Donohoe

Timing is everything, some people would say. Thunker reader Bill U. had perfect timing when he sent me a message saying, “…consider diving down into the sweetness of good doggerel…” and asking me to share the poem/song “Pico De Gallo.”

Don’t tell Bill, but I had to look up the word doggerel, which means verse of an irregular rhythm or trivial in nature. It also means words that are badly written or expressed.

Once I had the definition down, I had to read the doggerel he sent. It’s perfectly bad. And-here’s where Bill’s timing was spot on-it was brought to my attention just in time for Bad Poetry Day, which shows up annually on our calendars on August 18.

It is well-known that I am a fan of poetry. April is National Poetry Month and for years I have dedicated each column during that month to verse. Today I mean to offend no poetry lover by promoting that which is bad. You never know, sometimes bad is so bad it verges on good. Sometimes.

Granted, Bad Poetry Day got started mostly for the non-poetry enthusiasts out there. According the, the creators of Bad Poetry Day, the intention of the day is get paybacks for all the poetry we had to study but didn’t yet appreciate in school. “Invite some friends over, compose some really rotten verse, and send it to your old high school teacher, ” Wellcat says.

My high school poetry teacher would deserve such torture (rest in peace, Mr. McCutcheon). He wanted me to take a poem I wrote about geometry and turn it into a poem about passing gas. Admittedly, my math poem was bad but his changes to it would have produced the same results. Both versions stunk. Still, I wanted to pass the class, not gas.

Ok, ok, here is my original version, written at age 15:

I’d like to flee

from geometry

because me thinks

it stinks.

My mind goes out

I begin to doubt

if I will pass

this class.

Now, here’s the poem/song Bill U. asked me to share:

Pico De Gallo

by Emily Kaitz and Marilyn Cain

Pico de gallo, you oughta give it a try-o

Even if you're from Ohio, it'll get you by-o.

don't get it in your eye-o unless you want to cry-o

So come on, don't be shy-o, eat some pico de gallo!

It's got jalapenos, I reckon y'all have seen those.

They're kinda hot for gringos and probably flamingos.

Just add some tomatillos, onions and cilantro,

Lime juice and tomato, you got pico de gallo!

It was Cinco de Mayo, and I was down on the bayou

With my good friend Venus de Milo,

We were watchin' Hawaii Five-O

She wanted some French fry-o's, or maybe apple pie-o

And I said why, oh, why-o? We got pico de gallo!

Pico de gallo, you oughta give it a try-o

Even if you're from Ontari-i-o, it'll get you by-o.

don't get it in your eye-o unless you want to cry-o

So come on, don't be shy-o, eat some pico de gallo!

Somebody called The Very Bad Poet offered several suggestions on how to write bad poetry. Here are a few:

•Always use clunky words you don’t really know (e. g. incorrigible and verisimilitude).

• The good news is no one else knows what e. g. stands for either.

• Try to fit a knock-knock joke in whenever possible.

• If you run into writer's block, try writing in a foreign language you don’t speak. It's de rigueur.

• If you write a ‘concrete’ poem, try to use actual concrete or cement.

• Contrary to popular belief, people really do want to know what you had for breakfast as long as it’s in verse form.

• Things you should know as a poet: Along with “Leaves Of Grass, ” Walt Whitman also wrote several Motown hits for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

• Poems to imaginary childhood friends will most likely win you a Pulitzer.

• The best compositions are the ones you plagiarize (e. g., this list).

• It helps if you were dropped on your head as a child.

• If you’re worried about meaning in your poem, don’t. We all know the answer is 42.

Believe it or not, there is one man who is considered the worst poet ever. William McGonagall (1825-1902) wrote about 200 poems which are widely regarded as some of the worst in English literature. Apparently, the only thing he believed about poetry is that it had to rhyme. McGonagall was regularly engaged to recite his verse because of its unintentional comic relief; fortunately he showed no recognition or concern for what his peers thought of his work. A sample, you ask?

Here is the first verse of “The Tay Bridge Disaster, ” his best-loved bad poem:

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!

Alas! I am very sorry to say

That ninety lives have been taken away

On the last Sabbath day of 1879,

Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

You may let The Thunker know what you think at her e-mail address,

© 2019 Sarah Donohoe

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