For lunch with a writer, make limericks triter

The World's Most Dangerous Poetry Contest is back!

The Eighth Annual Roger Simon Greater Eastern Seaboard Poetry Contest kicks off today.


L As usual, the rules are difficult and the prizes are meager.

But that's kind of like life, isn't it?


Each year's contest has a theme. In 1985, the theme was squeegee kids. Hard to believe we once cared about squeegee kids, but 1985 was a more innocent time in America.

The winner was Allison Doherty, who wrote this haiku:

Squeegees remove grime

Allowing us to see life

More than we wished to.

Allison was awarded an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood, an interview with a top agent and a small part in "Porky's XII."

Today, Allison pursues a successful acting career under her stage name: Meryl Streep.

In 1988, the theme was the Oriole's nightmare season (1988 was a more innocent time for America, too) and the winner was Marc Barron with this limerick:


It's silly for me to compose

This verse on the Baltimore O's

Why should I show 'em

This insipid poem

When they really need hard hitting pros.

Today, Marc Barron is a U.S. senator from Hawaii.


In 1990, the theme was hard times (we were losing our innocence) and George S. Friedman won with this nifty limerick:

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.)


On his way to pick up the Nobel Prize for literature, Friedman inexplicably burst into flames.

Last year, the theme was how to save Maryland (we had no innocence left and darn few dollars) and Scott Katz won with:

Since domestic assistance abates

And the White House won't help out the states

I hasten to mention

To receive intervention


We should change our name to Kuwait.

Katz would have received $10,000 in gold bullion, but it was discovered that Scott Katz was actually the pen name of William Donald Schaefer.

We now are lurching through 1992 and the theme is easy: George Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.

(All of whom, by the way, are left-handed, like me. This has nothing to do with the contest; I just wanted to point it out.)

Here are the rules:

1. You must write three poems, each one on a different candidate. In other words, a poem on Bush, a poem on Clinton and a poem on Perot.


2. Each poem must be either a limerick or a haiku. You can write three limericks, three haiku, or two of one and one of another. Get it? Read my lips: Haiku or limericks.

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.

Here is a haiku:

What can George Bush do

From now 'til Nov.3?

Only one thing: Pack.


A limerick, as you well know, is an epigrammatic piece of verse in five lines of mixed iambic and anapestic meter. Lines 1, 2, and 5 are in trimeter and lines 3 and 4 are in dimiter, with the rhyme scheme a-a-b-b-a.

Here is limerick:

There once was a man named Perot

Whose motto was: Go, go, go, go!

He said with a straight face,

"If I lose, no disgrace,


"I'll just buy the country, ho, ho!"

I'm sure you can do much better than that. (Yeah, right.)

4. You are not allowed to rhyme Bush with tush. It's funny only the first thousand times or so.

5. Send your entries (postcards or letters, but postcards preferred) to:

Roger Simon's Poetry Contest Clearinghouse

The Baltimore Sun


Suite 1100

1627 K St. NW

Washington, D.C. 20006

6. If you win, I'll take you to lunch or something.

I know it's no big deal. But life is a lot like that, too.