The ballots are in, the votes are counted.

The ballots are in, the votes are counted.

The ballots are in, the votes are counted.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
Aug. 18 2007 2:21 AM

Contest Results

The ballots are in, the votes are counted.

Gracious, Nelly! You folks really know how to stink up a place!

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In last week's Bad Poetry Contest, we opened our cellar to your versifying spewage. You, dear readers, were only too happy to wallow in poetic debasement. Our panel of distinguished judges have weighed in with their verdicts, and we are now prepared to declare "The Worst Poets in a Field of Very Bad Poets."

The first dishonorable raspberry goes to Goltotoo's "Ode to the People of the Bad Poetry Contest," which captured the zeitgeist of the contestants and won special acclaim from Dahlia Lithwick for its "Wordsworthian grand vision:"

Thee! Vile rhymester who, like a worm, doth into this Bad Poetry Contest creep,
Where your twisted, awkward verses tread on clomping, platform-shoe'd feet.
Thy bloated similes and metaphors lie there, like day-old roadkill on the street.
You slash and burn and sow with salt, the Elysian Fields of the sacred poetic Muse.
It would serve you right if you got trampled by a moose.

And thou, oh denizens of Slate, a child of Blackboard, the wise mentor of our youth!
How dare you debase this Wonder of the World, this Internets, with your contest so uncouth?
Are you MSM, do you not know that 7ru7h 15 b34u7y, 4nd b34u7y 7ru7h?
Poetry, like the Goodyear® blimp, should serve to raise up man.
For this ignoble contest, may the Furies curse you with an Inbox filled with spam!

After hours spent poring over horrid poesy, June Thomas found herself most sympathetic to "Bleed, " proclaiming aimlesswanderer's gripping portrait of suicidal ennui, "sheer genius!"

Nothing on tv,
Nothing to read.
Think I'll slit my wrists
And watch them bleed.

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Daniel Politiwas positively repulsed by frowelishnu's anguished adolescent whine of amorous incompetence, "Cooperation." "Just awful!" raves our critic:

Last night I glanced, though our eyes did barely meet.
Last night I left in what I hate to call defeat.
Last night, we didn't talk, we just spoke
But this morning when I awoke-
I was wishing you here, wanting you near.
Hoping to hear your heart beat in my ear.
You see I'm struck with Cupid's infection, which has caused this erotic obsession.
I've an aphrodisiac possession and there's a need for confession.
But if I told you, what would you do?
There's this nagging fear, while I'm wishing you here, are you wanting me near?
Don't let these words fall on a deaf ear.
This was supposed to be for me, this was supposed to be... word's cure, making me lust free.
But this hasty syncopation has only fueled my infatuation.
Do you see my sorry situation?
More importantly, are you down with cooperation?
If I only knew, are you feeling this too?
I'd fall softly into... us.

Like a child of the VH-1 generation, Daniel Engber gravitated towards the worst lines, splitting his vote between twangmonkey2's "Sweating out your bile / On Cupid's Bowflex" and the thrilling conclusion to wgoconnel's "If you were a microbe:"

If you were a microbe of the ilk that aided the digestion of a whale's mother's milk,
Then I'd call you Jonah except if you latched onto any bees,
And tried to escape on one as it flew from under the baby whale's teeth.
And If milk got on the bees, and you made the bees' wings cheesy until they couldn't flap, then
I'll bet bees wouldn't make honey, and people would get stung as they sucked cheese off the bees' bodies.

The popular vote split evenly between three winning poems. "Bleed" took another honor, sharing its jeers with submissions by X.P. Callahan (going inscrutable with "Sisyphus Among the Philistines") and topazz (going to the gutter with "Please Stop Wearing Underpants on Your Head.").

The grand prize winner of Slate's Bad Poetry Contest, the only entry to win four out of four votes from our judges, goes to rhymworm for his epically awful elegy to the recently deceased inventor of Ramen noodles, "Arigato, Momofuku:"

I.

He softened up after the winter solstice:
The springs were icy, the ridgelines almost deserted,
And snowdrifts filled corners of the hiking shelters;
The LCDs froze in the glass of each GPS display.
Our mileage tables tend to agree:
His last day on earth was a zero day.

Far from the test kitchens
Purists trudged south past the blue-blazed shortcuts
And hostel-keepers allowed the old year's air to clear;
By hiking-boot tongues
The death of the noodle king was kept from his soups.

But for Ando-san present and future now were pasta,
Steeped in MSG and savory broth;
The cellophane lost air-tightness,
The desiccated brick began to moisten,
Dampness invaded the packaging,
The starch lost its stiffness; he became his flavor varieties.

Now he waits on shelves in a hundred trail towns,
Wholly given over to odd combinations--
Slathered with peanut butter, perhaps,
Or sautéed with a mess of spring ramps.
The carbs of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the thru-hike plans of tomorrow,
When gear salesmen are demonstrating the newest ultra-light cookstove,
And post offices stack the duct-taped boxes
to which they have become mostly resigned,
And each thru-hiker imagines himself alone atop a ridge,
A few wanderers may recall this day
As one recalls a day when one left something at the previous shelter.

Our registers all agree:
His last day on earth was a zero day.

II.

You hungered as we do; your dream transcended ours:
Deep-fried noodles, made permeable in palm oil,
Then dried-lightweight, calorific; just add water.
Now hikers have oatmeal and their ramen too,
For noodles simply keep one going, enduring
To the next town stop, or maildrop, where gourmands
Would never think to pause; starchy strands
One carries past bears and shelter mice, or eats
Raw in hostels when low on cash; surviving,
Sure of something they will fill-a mouth.

III.

Dirt, receive a soupy mess:
Ando-san is laid to rest.
Let the camp stove cookware be
Emptied of its noodlery.

'Round the fire-ring in the dark
All the trail dogs pant and bark.
There some camping party waits,
Freeze-dried omelets on their plates;

Palpable is their disdain:
Noodles? No, they will not deign;
Their food's from an outdoors store
(Packets paid twelve dollars for).

Hikers, though, don't find it strange
To fill up for two bits and change.
(In fact it's truly not uncommon
to hike for days, just eating ramen;

Those who walk and persevere
Have to save their cash for gear.)
Who cares if the trans-fats mount?
Bless that high caloric count!

Momofuku, go in peace
Be at ease in your release:
Most men slurp, so few men chew;
Hikers will remember you.

Way to suck, everyone! Happy Bad Poetry Day from your friends and nemeses here in The FrayGA11:15pm EDT

Geoffrey Andersen, co-editor of the Fray, is a law student based in California.