The Washington Post

Bad doggerel! Gene makes a mess, again.

(Eric Shansby)

Each of my poems here is based on a corny old joke that, in its original form, was fewer than 20 words long. In an effort to lose as many readers as possible, I rewrote each into a full Shakespearean sonnet.

Why Dogs Can’t Dance

Gene Weingarten is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writes "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column that is nationally syndicated. View Archive

Perhaps you’ve wondered, as have I, my son —

Why dogs, tho’ lithe and nimble at first glance,

Tho’ fleet and sleek and graceful when they run

And yet, when tasked to do so, cannot dance?

It’s quite a strange conundrum, my dear boy:

A noble beast (in most ways lacking faults)

With zest for life and ever filled with joy,

And still, inept when asked to dance a waltz!

What deficit of theirs impedes this skill?

What might we have that dogs, alas, have not?

— Or maybe it is what we lack that will

Explain why dogs can’t master the gavotte?

I think, my son, I’ve found an answer sweet:

All dogs, you see, are curs’d with two left feet.

The Talking Brassiere

Not long ago there was a talking bra

Who did not speak with any other clothes

For most of them lacked ears (and also jaw)

And so in the main, ’twas silence the bra chose.

One day, it’s said, the bra discovered that

There was a closet filled with garments sleek

And one of them, a fine and shiny hat

With ears to hear what words the bra might speak!

The bra attempted to some words compose

She wished to say things smart and wise and clear

Alas, she knew but what a garment knows

Which limited her lines a bit, I fear.

So in the end, just this was what she said:

“I’ll give these two a lift, while you go on a head.”

How Many Freudians ...?

A group of men who follow Sigmund Freud

Engaged were they in long and fierce debate

Upon an issue odd, their brains employed

To solve a problem of no minor weight.

In plotting out a task they could foresee

— the sort we all must do, and no one dreads —

How many of their group would need there be

To screw a light bulb in above their heads?

They pondered this a while, with to and fro

Till in the end they all would quite agree

The number that was needed, they did know

Wasn’t one, or two, but clearly three:

“Just one to hold the bulb, but, no small matter —

Two more to hold the penis … we mean, ladder.”

E-mail Gene at Find chats and updates at

For stories, features such as Date Lab, @Work Advice and more, visit WP Magazine.

Follow the Magazine on Twitter.

Like us on Facebook.

E-mail us at



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.