the seventh asinine poetry contest:

holiday poems



TIS BEEN an interesting year, a mean year even, has it not? And here is the holiday season upon us, a time of festivity and fellowship. In other words, no better time to be asinine.

This contest was for holiday poems. And entrants were given these guidelines: ''Ever wanted to top 'A Night Before Christmas'? Ever had something you needed to get off your chest about Thanksgiving? Really inspired by Arbor Day? Then write a poem about it. Any and all holidays are yours to rhyme, haiku, or sonnet about.''

We received almost a hundred entries and checked off the naughty, the nice, and the asinine. (And, maybe it was the election preoccupying everyone, but we got a lot of not-asinine poems this year.) The editors here slashed and burned to a list of 12. Then we gave the last seven to a panel of invited judges: Janice Wentley, M. L'Etranger, and Ron Milon. They weren't always so happy with this selection themselves. Here, then, are the winners and some of the judges' reactions:

FIRST PLACE: "A Student's View of the Holidays" by Paul Buchheit
Judge Milon notes, ''I really related to this one. Good flow.'' ''Not bad,'' says judge L'Etranger. ''But the rhyme scheme breaks in the third stanza. Also rhyming 'Musing ring' with 'Musing Ring' is cheating. (What is a musing ring anyway?)''
SECOND PLACE: "I Love Christmas" by ern modern
''An A for effort, but was this poem really necessary?'' says judge L'Etranger.
THIRD PLACE: "Runaway Irishman" by Quint McGuinley
Says judge Wentley, ''Interestingly grounded in man's struggle with idyllic beauty and inescapable deterioration, death, and the grotesque, but perhaps ultimately too opposed to Freudian determinism?'' Says judge L'Etranger, ''Extra originality points for choosing St. Pat's day as a holiday. [It's why] I avoid Manhattan on that day.'' And says judge Milon: ''Excellent! Fucking asinine. The style really worked, i.e.: I'm legless, I'm scuttered, I'm clueless, etc.''
4. "I Saw Suzy Kicking Santa Claus" by Quint McGuinley
Judge L'Etranger notes, ''What is it with the Santa revenge fantasies?'' Judge Milon laments, ''Too long—took away from the effect.'' Judge Wentley calls the poem ''a compelling reimagining of the unsettling impact of that intrusive cut of certainty that beckons a soul to undertake its own consumption. Our literature has been enriched.''
5. "Happy Valentine's Day" by Dustin Michael
Judge L'Etranger says, ''This is the only poem of the bunch that succeeded in being genuinely funny.'' But judge Milon waxes, ''Great potential, ending bad!!!''
6."It’s Not Halloween Yet" by T.C. Bertram
The only comment was from Judge L'Etranger: ''I had to google 'devilock hairdo,' so extra points for that. Amusing ending.''
7. "A New Holiday" by ern modern
Judge L'Etranger asks, ''Pelicans?'' And Judge Wentley opines, ''Invents a poetic pedagogy at home with its forgiveness to itself, though anxiously poised to both topple and attain notions of intellectual authority.''
8. "The Death of Punxsutawney Phil" by Creeley Piker
9. "Little Drunken Boy" by Gordon Stanley
10."Smells of the Season" by Pam Moll
11. "Damp on the Mexican Sidewalk and Joyous" by Ciarán Ryan
12. "humbug" by J.C.

A hearty thank you and many, many happy holiday wishes from us to all of you who participated in this contest. Thanks and good wishes also to the judges for their wit and perspicacity. And most especially thanks and good wishes to you, our readers.