Chip MacGregor

May 14, 2013

All Bad Things Must Come to an End…


Now that I’ve hit the speed limit (55), eaten my cake, and generally had a riotous time with friends celebrating my birthday, it’s time we wrap up our annual Bad Poetry Contest and get down to the very difficult business of choosing one member for our Hall of Shame.

Our annual contest always gives us great lines, such as Travis Campbell’s, “You can’t roll with the punches with a busted wheel under the office chair of your soul,” or famed crime writer Steve Jackson’s “…like the water in the toilet swirling down into lead-piped emptiness carrying with me the byproducts of my broken life…”  It’s exactly that sort of depth and insight that marks this contest. The judges also liked the work of Michele Simmons’ Sibling Rivalry, roller derby star Kathleen Christian’s A Worm, and Rachel Niehaus’ fabulous Untitled #3, as well as Andrew Winch’s A Cacophony of Discordant Sounds Shining Dissonantly: 

The shining moon shines on my heart,
With shining rays of anguish.
She doesn’t know the hidden art,
Which breathes my cries of languish.

The mausoleum wastes away,
With crumbling greys and greens.
The crickets scream and cry and bray
Which ‘wakens timeless fiends.

Curs-ed wolves howl at the moon,
Making damsels faint and gasp and swoon,
And I, I… howl with them.

We hope YOU are howling, since those are just the honorable mentions. In fact, one of the best entries wasn’t even a poem — the actual poem sucked, but the intro was fabulous:

My poem has a deepness that many won’t be able to apreciate. The skeptics shall veiw it as total nonsence, and shall condenscendingly turn up their noses, inflated with their own facitiosness. But the open-minded, the inspired, the beautiful, the wise, the creative, the good – they shall find infinate layers of meaning, which they will peel away like a banana which has multiple peels, one on another (so that when you peel off one there’s another peel undeneeth it, and you never reach the bananna.) Because of the way that you could interpet the poem in a million (no, a trillion) different ways, true poets can draw many different feeling from it. (Feeling rhymes with peeling). Each time they read through it, it will be different. They could laugh like a hynena, reminise like an old guy, sob like someone who’s sobbing, or tingle like shooken oh-so-crisp lettece with a little water on it. This is a poem that literary critics, poem-lovers, and those classes which disscuss works of writing can obsess over for weeks…

It’s the depth, the feeling, and the misspellings that draw me to that (to say nothing of the humility). But this year’s finalists are all about LOVE…

Kimberly Buckner offered this ode to love:

your love is the stuff in my refrigerator. Or, Ode from a hungry person. I couldn’t decide.

your love is milk. good for my bones.
your love is a mango. red, green, or yellow depending on how long I leave you.
your love is a zuchinni. underrated.
your love is an avocado. thick skinned, and smoother when I mash you with a fork.
your love is bread. darker on the outside, fluffy on the inside, allergy inducing to my mother. 
your love is a piece of…what is that? cheese? no…me–no, not meat….okay, well
your love is this fuzzy thing. its been there longer than I can remember and has grown over time.


Wonderfully bad. Speaking of bad love, novelist Joshua Graham rendered this:

The Beloved

Arise, oh daughter of Nero!
Come away with me to the hills of Vesuvius
As its peaks doth smolder, so my love for you doth burn
For your beauty is like no other

The Princess

My beloved is a mighty warrior
His chest is like granite, his legs powerful as the ostrich’s
Surely thou hast smote thy foes with thy mere flatulence!
Downwind, your enemies cower and flee at the mention of thy name.

Anyone who can invoke a biblical tone while covering love, beauty, and flatulence clearly has what it takes. And Neale Werle hit a home run with his sump pump of love:
My love for you fills me,
a flooded basement.
I must not drown,
I bail out my heart.
This poem I write,
a sump pump of love.

Then Bailax gave us his take on love:

If love was a plant it would be a genetically modified Venus Fly Trap fertilized through a hydroponic system while being injected with miracle grow and Prozac. People would poke it with sticks and take photos of it. It would become choleric and maniacal and would release repulsive pheromones and space monkeys. People will become afraid and wish it would just go away but instead they would become cocoons filled with knott’s jelly and consumed by wild wombats and dejected yellow bellied lemurs.


Bailax, who I’m sure is now back on his medication, has a future in bad poetry. And Jeanne Doyon became a finalist with this determinedly bad work:

My chalice runs over with sour wine
A symbol of my undying love
Brimming with foam
My cup runs
Like stockings in a briar patch
The buggy prickers stick close than my younger sister
Too close. 
My heart is close to yours. 
Beating like an old drum needing a tune-up
But beating just the same…
The same as what you ask?
Like the old ticker on the mantle shelf
Bored out of its mind, waiting to chime.
My love is predictable and wants to run after you. 

So in third place is Nice Lady with a Dog, who gave us this:

I thought of you again 
and my heart swelled

and swelled.
My lungs were getting squashed.
My fingers tingled and went pale.

They said, I think she’s dying of love.
Well, duh!

Somehow they revived me. 
I will live again.
But this I know:
I will never love again.

Too damn dangerous.


Fabulous. Truly bad. In second place, Junior gave us:

There are just 3 things:

What is this you think

of while viewing the black circles in my eyes when you’re
controlling me when I pet Junior the cat?

My brain is telling me things I don’t want it to.

1. I like Junior.

2. Love so fierce

I want to cut your
head off and carry it around so I can see your face whenever I want.

Your eyes are like mangos … no wait, one eye,

the other is blind and cannot see nor stare.

3. Mango eye watches.


Sensitive. Innocent. Drug induced. Exactly what we’re looking for.


But this year’s winner of the Bad Poetry Contest, and the winner of the life-changing grand prize (a copy of How to Good-bye Depression: If you constrict anus 100 times everyday. Malarky? or Effective Way?) is Becca Jackson, for this truly awful bit of poetry:

I was walking on the streets
bare and rusty, like someone’s
half-drank bottle of underwear

that’s when I saw you.

You, with the mouth
of a thousand pigeons
in their majestic fuselage
like a magic carpet

I could vacuum you,
and you would be clean
like a pale fresh spring day
just out of the combination washer/dryer

but as the frog escapes the grasp
of something trying to grab it,
you escaped me
like I should have known
you would.

Now I walk home at dusk,
the sky as vivid
as a t.v. show
about vacation places.


Congratulations to all our finalists. You are all wieners in my book! (And Becca, if you’ll get me your address, we’ll zip a copy to you asap.)

All good things must come to an end. So let me close with a heartfelt haiku:

Bad poetry ends
Now it’s back to publishing.

Last line, five sylla



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  • Nice Lady says:

    I’m kinda late in acknowledging the honor (it is an honor, right?) but I’m still trying to convince my mom it’s a joke, kinda. My parents are considering legal action to force me to reimburse their contribution to my college education, so this is a bit awkward. I wish third place came with a money gift.
    But the honor! Every time I think of it, my heart swells, and really, I can’t afford to mess with death this way.

  • Tricia says:

    Lawdy almighty, I is all aflighty. I is happy in the face that I made second place. (see what you did? I can’t stop)
    Besides Junior I was also Friend of Freds entry. I truly wanted to win with my multiple entries because I truly did not want to spend money on this book that I must, absolutely must have. But I guess I have to. I’ll never tell anyone, though.

    Thank you for selecting me second worst. I am honored. You are obviously less afraid of me now than the Great Lava Lamp year when you only wanted to give me a restraining order. Awww, good times.

  • Cherry Odelberg says:

    Allow me to have had so much fun to read into your poetry. At present, I must digress to an alternative state (Colorado) and correct your speed limit sign to 75.

  • Becca Jackson says:

    I’m speechless. I’d like to give acknowledgements and thank-yous where they are due, but I think something else may be more appropriate:

    I would like to apologize to every poetry professor who has ever instructed me at Ball State University, with special regrets to Michael Meyerhofer.

    I would also like to apologize to Cathy Day, who has encouraged me to share my talent for tripe with the literary community, and without whom none of this would have been possible.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Yes, this is quite an honor, Becca. You’re now in the pantheon of bad poets. I get chills just thinking about it. And a fever. I start to shake. (Or maybe I just have the flu.) Congratulations on achieving True Badness.

  • Melissa DePasse says:

    Ha … Congrats Becca.Thanks for fun times! Too bad you only have one birthday a year, Chip!

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Um… yeah. That’s what I need. To get older, faster. Thanks, Melissa. (Note to self: ban Melissa from ever being able to comment again.)

  • Taryn Souders says:

    So funny…I cried (from laughing…well, and just out of pity for some people)!

  • Robin Patchen says:

    Thanks for the laugh. I needed that this morning.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Readers Digest always told me laughter was the best medicine, Robin. (And thanks for the birthday card!)

  • Jerry says:

    Chip, You’re having WAY too much fun with this. Now my sides ache. Can I sue?

  • Jaime Wright says:

    Once I’m finished wiping tears from my eyes (insert laughter or horror here), I’ll return to work a changed person. These bits of poetry have touched my life in a way I’ll probably never understand. (especially yours, Kim! Here’s to “fuzzy things”)

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Touching lives… That’s what we’re all about here at America’s Bad Poetry Headquarters.

  • Jeanne Doyon says:

    Congrats to Becca!!! And to all of those who were awarded for being bad. This could be a turning point for me, one who always strives to be good!!
    Happy bad birthday, Chip!!

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks, Jeanne. We seek to achieve badness as an art form — but only for a week each May.

  • Congrats to all the finalists. And a special hoo-wee to Jeanne Doyon. So proud of you, Jeanne!

  • :Donna Marie says:

    This is ALways priceless 🙂 For some reason, though, I wasn’t able to see all the entries as they came in 🙁 Congrats to all the honorable mentions (which made me HOWL!), finalists and THE winner! 🙂 Thanks for doing this each year, Chip 😀

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Sorry, Donna Marie. Perhaps clicking on the gray button at the bottom of the “comments” section will help? (When the screen gets full, the system laps comments over to another page.)

  • Kevin B Parsons says:

    Dangit! Not only didn’t I win, but not even a finalist. That means my bad poetry is.. Is… Good? Oh please no! Perhaps it’s bad bad poetry. One can only hope. Next year it shall suck!

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Actually, your poem sucked rope, Kevin. It’s just that the competition is heated during this Festival of Badness. Keep working on it. You have The Spirit of Badness within you, Grasshopper…

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