Gene Weingarten: Revisiting his ‘genius’ for combining poetry and jokes

December 15, 2011

Dear reader: Please do not cancel your subscriptions to this fine newspaper, or otherwise punish it. Its editors have not ordered me to rewrite corny jokes into poetry; I do it of my own volition. It will be over soon.

“The Camel”
in the style of an English heroic sonnet

An officer takes up his new command:


(by Eric Shansby)

A desert outpost, lonely and austere.

He asks the sergeant how the men can stand

To be so long without a woman near.

The sergeant shyly shows his commandant

A tied-up female camel in a shed.

Whene’er the men are paralyzed by want,

They make good use of her, the sergeant said.

While horrified, the captain did not speak.

His feelings, though, were of extreme unease.

But after months he, too, was feeling weak

And very much in need of some release.

He found it in the way he’d so contemned;

But this the sergeant spied — the deed, unmasked!

Embarrassed now, the captain hawed and hemmed —

“That’s how the soldiers do it, then?” he asked.

“It’s not,” the sergeant said with measured frown —

“The soldiers ride the camel into town.”

* * *

“The Diagnosis”
in the style of a pretentious New Yorker poem

How am I?

Dr. Herzelmann, of the Greenwich, Connecticut, Herzelmanns

Cleared his throat, Nervously.

(His throat was like the neck of a guitar, Wanda thought. Fretted.)

How am I?

Dr. Herzelmann, of the Greenwich, Connecticut, Herzelmanns

Said that tests had been done.

Things had been found.

(“Finding things” is a euphemism, Wanda thought, a nicety,

like when they say you have “a mass,” which sounds liturgical, like getting nearer to God, which in a way

of course

it is.)

How am I?

Dr. Herzelmann of the Greenwich, Connecticut, Herzelmanns

Said I’m sick and I haven’t much time.

(Wanda’s mind scrambled. Words scrambled. Much have didn’t I time, thought Wanda. Didn’t much I time have, thought Wanda, amused by the dreaded dyslexia of dire diagnosis.)

(Alliteration.)

(Ill iteration.)

How am I?

Dr. Herzelmann of the Greenwich, Connecticut, Herzelmanns, tell me, please, how much time do I have?

Ten ... he said.

(Ten, anyone? Thought Wanda with a giggle.)

(Tens?)

(Tense.)

(Passed tense?)

Ten what, doctor?

Ten years?

Ten months?

Ten weeks?

Dr. Herzelmann of the Greenwich, Connecticut, Herzelmanns,

fat slob that he is,

said,

… 9, 8, 7, 6 ...

* * *

“The Dumb Candymaker”
in the style of a Japanese haiku

blonde loses her job

at m&m’s factory

threw out w’s

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