Our Metro system has been suspiciously well-behaved these past few weeks. Oh sure, there have been minor irritations. And I confess to feeling a sense of dread when I read recently about the system's plan to train a select group of riders in how to respond to an emergency. But for the past few Fridays, visitors to my online chat have remarked on how relatively trouble-free the trouble-prone system has been.
So this seems like the perfect time to announce the Inaugural John Kelly Metro Poetry Contest. My inspiration is Morton Stimler of Rockville, who recently sent me a composition he titled "Owed to a Metro Policeperson":
The no-eating ban has become
A bone of contention to some.
I was hauled off to jail,
And held without bail,
Because I had swallowed my gum.
Reading Morton's limerick, it struck me that there is all sorts of fodder for creativity in our beloved Metro system. There's the candy bar incident, there's the dwindling supply of SmarTrip cards, there are the embezzlements at the parking lots, there are the surly station managers, there are the escalator-clogging tourists, there are the broken-down escalators, there is the incessant single tracking, there's the greasy hair stain on the window, there's the pile of Expresses on the seats.
There is, in short, enough material for your typical Russian novel. (I can imagine the opening sentence now: "Functional subway systems are all alike; every dysfunctional subway system is dysfunctional in its own way.") But since we don't have room for a Russian novel here, we're doing poetry instead.
So your task is to compose a Metro-inspired poem. It can be any sort of poem at all: haiku, limerick, couplet, triplet, quadruplet, whatever. It can rhyme or not rhyme. Whatever it is, it must be no longer than 16 lines. E-mail your creations, with "Metro Poem" in the subject line, to email@example.com, or mail them to John Kelly, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071, Attn: Metro Poem. Please include your name, city and telephone number.
I will print my favorites in a future column and treat one grand-prize winner to lunch at a swanky restaurant.
Fall is in the air, an unmistakable crispness that always reminds me of the start of school. If you attended one of these reuniting high schools, it might be time to relive your school days.
Washington-Lee High Class of 1944 -- Sept. 11. Contact Burt Warden at 703-356-7522.
Calvin Coolidge High Class of 1979 -- Sept. 17-19. Contact Sherlita Tyson at 301-775-2605 or e-mail www.CoolidgeClassof79.com.
Annandale High Class of 1979 -- Sept. 25. Contact Kathleen Tourtellotte at 703-266-6702 or www.capitalreunions.com.
J.E.B. Stuart High Band Reunion -- Oct. 1-3. Open to any Stuart band alumni. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oakton High Class of 1984 -- Oct. 2. Contact Kathleen Tourtellotte at 703-266-6702 or www.capitalreunions.com.
Madison High Classes of 1964 & 1984 -- Oct. 2. Contact Kathleen Tourtellotte at 703-266-6702 or www.capitalreunions.com.
Fairfax High Class of 1964 -- Oct. 8-10. Contact Paul at 703-569-9021 or email@example.com.
Northwestern High Class of 1964 -- Oct. 8-10. Visit http://home.comcast.net/~nhsclassof64/.
Lake Braddock High Class of 1984 -- Oct. 9. www.greatreunions.com.
Annandale High Class of 1984 -- Oct. 9. www.greatreunions.com.
Laurel High Class of 1964 -- Oct. 9-10. E-mail LaurelSpartans64@aol.com.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase High Class of 1954 -- Oct. 15-17. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase High Class of 1944 -- Oct. 16. Contact Bill Snape, 4116 Stanford St., Chevy Chase, 20815, or Dean Martin at email@example.com.
Hayfield High Class of 1994 -- Oct. 16. Contact Kathleen Tourtellotte at 703-266-6702 or www.capitalreunions.com.
Dunbar High Class of 1959 -- Oct. 22-24. Contact M. Boyd Williams at 202-399-1657 or e-mail Arthur King at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomas Edison High Classes of 1964-66 -- Oct. 22-24, 2004. www.fcps.edu or call 703-919-6958.
South Lakes High Class of 1984 -- Oct. 23. Contact Kathleen Tourtellotte at 703-266-6702 or www.capitalreunions.com.
Wakefield High Classes of 1978-80 -- Oct. 23. www.greatreunions.com.
Walter Johnson High Class of 1974 -- Oct. 23. www.greatreunions.com.
Lee High Class of 1984 -- Oct. 23. Contact Kathleen Tourtellotte at 703-266-6702 or www.capitalreunions.com.
Gonzaga High Class of 1964 -- Oct. 23. Contact John Hillemberg at 202-887-1461 or email@example.com.
Mount Vernon High Class of 1964 -- Oct. 30. MVHS1964@aol.com.
Clifton High Class of 1994 -- Nov. 6. www.greatreunions.com.
J.E.B. Stuart High Class of 1984 -- Nov. 6. Contact Kathleen Tourtellotte at 703-266-6702 or www.capitalreunions.com.
Fairfax High Class of 1974 -- Nov. 6. www.greatreunions.com.
Oakton High Class of 1994 -- Nov. 6 www.greatreunions.com.
Northwestern High Class of 1994 -- Nov. 13. E-mail NHSc_o1994@hotmail.com.