Style Invitational Week 1133: ’Hew ready? Poems even the rhythm-deaf
A contest for clerihews, and the winning verses featuring spelling
Suffering fools: The muses for this week’s sample clerihew. (Bob Staake
for The Washington Post)
By Pat Myers July 16
feedback for 'Style Invitational Week 1133: ’Hew ready? Poems even the
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(Click here to skip down <#report> to the results of Week 1129, our
contest for poems using spelling bee words.)
*Not one but two football players, C.J. Wilson and Jason Pierre-Paul,
* *Lost fingers playing, but not playing ball. *
*They cost themselves plenty because they were jerks*
While judging the contest whose results run today, the Empress waded
through a mire of verses (not the ones that got ink, of course) that
seemed to /want/ to have a meter, some recognizable rhythm, but instead
went floundering around like a team of draft horses that started
galumphing into each other within their traces. But the ever-resourceful
E did not despair: Why not /use/ our abundant resources of bad meter for
a poetry genre that embraces it? Hence our second-ever contest for
clerihews, our first since 1995. Named for its inventor, the British
humorist Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), *a clerihew is a humorous
four-line rhyming poem about a person whose name is mentioned in the
first line; in fact, the name must be at the end of that line (or
constitute the whole line) so that it has to rhyme with something. The
rhyme structure (and we don’t want “lazy” rhymes
) is AABB: the first line
rhymes with the second, the third with the fourth. *While the rhymes
have to be valid, the meter can be off, as in the example above by Gene
who as a passionate New York Giants fan is passionately angry at Jason
Pierre-Paul. You may use either fictional or real people, and the
Empress tends to favor subjects who’ve been in the news recently, though
she’s made many exceptions for the oldies.
Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial
the Lincoln statue bobble head. Second place — in a salute to E.C.
Bentley — receives another in our Cup Size series, this one marginally
more printable: It’s a U.K. souvenir shot glass
a pair of voluptuous glass breasts barely covered by a flag-motif bikini
top. Call it a Union Jill. Donated by Style Invitational Devotee Ellen
Just right for a nip of British gin: This shot glass is this week’s
second prize. (Pat Myers/The Washington Post)
*Other runners-up* win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug
or the ardently
desired “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag.
mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet designed by Bob Staake: either
“The Wit Hit the Fan”
Offenders receive a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink
for their first ink). E-mail entries to /email@example.com
/ or, if you were born in the 19th century,
fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday night, July 27; results
published Aug. 16 (online Aug. 13). You may submit up to 25 entries per
contest. Include “Week 1133” in your e-mail subject line or it might be
ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number
with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at /wapo.st/InvRules/
. The headline for this week’s results is by
Chris Doyle; the honorable-mentions subhead was sent in by both Nan
Reiner and William Kennard. A clerihew contest was suggested by both
David Smith and Michael Greene. Join the lively Style Invitational
Devotees group on Facebook at /on.fb.me/invdev
./ “Like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day
on Facebook at /bit.ly/inkofday ./
*The Style Conversational: *The Empress’s weekly online column,
published late Thursday afternoon, discusses each new contest and set of
results. Especially if you plan to enter (she’ll share the results of
the Invite’s first clerihew contest), check it out at wapo.st/styleconv
And the results of the Style Invitational contest posted four weeks ago
. . .
*A SPELL OF BARD LUCK: THE RESULTS OF WEEK 1129:
In Week 1129 we put up a list of 50 stumpers
from this year’s National Spelling Bee and asked for short poems
Many Loserbards noted that “epithalamium” has that
ONE-two-three, TWO-two-three meter — a double dactyl; this week’s Inkin’
Memorial winner is the best of them, in its knitted-highbrow/lowbrow glory.
*HIPPOCREPIFORM,* /horseshoe-shaped /
Dear John: While stuff that’s hippocrepiform
is sometimes known to take the world by storm—
the playground swing, the basic yoga pose,
the seam that joins the legs of pantyhose,
the handle of the hanging kitchen spoon,
the “C,” the horseshoe (duh!), the crescent moon—
the truth, my darling, is that your appendage
was better when it had a lot less ... bendage.
(Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)
*HOOROOSH, * /a wild, hurried or excited state or situation /
*Under D.C., (as sung by Sebastian the Crab from “The Little Mermaid,”
and ona video by the writer )*
dey always pleadin’; dey beg me to take de train.
Now I goin’ to miss my meetin’; de subway is late again.
We trudge down into de station ’cause de escalator broke.
De Center of Operation: hooroosh as we fill wid smoke!
Under D.C., under D.C.! Endin’ location: your destination, or destiny?
Cellphone no good in subway car. What do I need dis hassle far?
I’m not a goober; I’m callin’ Uber. Under D.C. (Nan Reiner, Alexandria,
2nd place and the books “Nature’s Nether Regions” and “Art of the Fart”:
*CIBARIAL,* /referring to food/
My passions are cibarial
From breakfast time till bed.
Predict I’ll soon be dead.
“I love my weight!” I tell them straight,
And advocate they try it:
If thin is man’s intended state.
Then why is “die” in “diet”?
(Stephen Gold, Glasgow, Scotland)
And the winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:
*EPITHALAMIUM* (EP-i-tha-LAME-ium),/a song composed for a wedding /
Rocks out her wedding to
Nick in July,
Rapping her vows in an
“Beg for it, baby, from
(Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)
Spelling B-pluses: honorable mentions
*MINHAG* (MIN-hog),/Jewish custom that has developed over time rather
than being decreed /
At my Seder there’s no paschal lamb,
As Reform as can be? That I am!
So my family minhag:
A fat “it’s no sin” hog!
Want a slice of my Passover ham? (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
A man went inside an emporium
And purchased some cheap collutorium.
This was eau de latrine.
He’s listed today In Memoriam. (Mae Scanlan, Washington)
*EPITHALAMIUM,* /a wedding song/
Edith of Downton was
Left at the altar, her
Heart full of gloom;
Quickly they wrote a new
Guess what they titled it?
“There Goes the Groom.” (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
Stephen’s believin’! Plus
Sonia, Elena, and
Ruth Bader G.:
SCOTUS is singing the
Nature composed for my
Partner and me! (Nan Reiner)
*SCYTALE *(either “sittily” or “sightly”), /a coded message written on a
strip of leather, then decoded when wrapped around a pole /
Spartans found it worked so prettily:
Secret writing with a scytale.
They would wind long strips of leather
Round a staff; when put together,
Staff and strips bore information.
So “scytale,” in my translation,
In terms of how it does the trick,
Is simply this: a memory stick. (Hugh Thirlway, The Hague)
For this message (I’ll ask you politely)
Please wrap it around the stick tightly;
If it’s loose on the staff,
The receiver will laugh.
“I can’t read this — it’s much too un-scytale.”
(Ann Martin, Falls Church, Va.)
*SAMADHI* (sa-MAH-di), /a state of intense concentration/
A yogi’s meditation has him
Feeling an orgasmic spasm
In an out-of-body trance.
Oh, what a samadhi-pants!
*MAMALIGA* (mama-leega), /a Romanian cornmeal dish /
When I first heard “mamaliga,” I almost felt a rush!
I thought it sounded sexual, but now I know that’s mush. (Howard
Walderman, Columbia, Md.)
*COCOZELLE* (coco-zelly), /a zucchini-like squash/
The doctor was astonished;
His patient he admonished:
“Cocozelle is delish
Sliced or diced, served with fish.”
So tell me truthfully, my dear,
How’d this one get up your rear?” (Lois Bartis, McLean, Va., a First
*TARTAREAN* (either “tarta-RE-an” or “tar-TAIR-ean”), /hellish/
It figures: When you hardly ever floss—
a wicked lapse, in your hygienist’s view,
because it boosts your risk of dental loss—
and then she scrapes your plaque and scours your goo
to save you from a grin that’s European,
the torture’s positively tartarean. (Melissa Balmain)
In Hades, the pit most tartarean’s
Reserved for pedantic grammarians. (Chris Doyle)
*EPHELIDES* (e-FELL-e-deez), /freckles
/A fella sees
“The hell a’ dese? Some yella fleas?
Let’s quell-a these —
(Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)
*VESPIARY,* /a nest of wasps/
Persons should be very wary
Getting near a vespiary.
Do not denigrate the wasp:
It can put you in the hosp.
*ACRITARCH,* /a kind of small fossil/
Hark, hark! The acritarch
At Heaven’s gate sings;
Been waiting here three million years,
Three million falls and springs.
It’s time for you to let me in
To join your works colossal.
If your eye is on the sparrow,
Then it should be on this fossil.
(Edmund Conti, Raleigh, N.C.)
*PORWIGLE,* /a tadpole/
(Sung to “Titwillow” by
Gilbert and Sullivan)
I stuck some bait on a little brass hook
Porwigle, porwigle, porwigle.
Big eyes, a mouth, a tiny tail shook
Porwigle, porwigle, porwigle
Baby frog hatchlings are ugly as I,
Slimy, fat commas to throw when I “fly”
But it also describes a tight dress on a guy:
Poor wiggle, poor wiggle, poor wiggle. (Barbara Turner, Takoma Park, Md.)
The hourglass — a figure that most males find appealing;
But pear-shapes, with protruding hips, for some evoke more feeling.
I love the hippocrepiforms, so flaunt ’em if you got ’em
Round and bulging at the top and open at the bottom. (Rob Cohen,
*Still running — deadline Monday night: our contest for bogus history
trivia. See bit.ly/invite1132 .*