Bad Jewish Poetry: The #1 Poem

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I never thought it would come to this.

bad poetry contestA few months ago, when I said we should ask people to write some bad Jewish poems for Bad Poetry Day, I didn’t realize any of this would happen. I didn’t know that my inbox would be bursting open every day for the next month with haiku about bagels and lox, limericks about Rosh Hashanah praying, and hip-hop verses where the M.C.s yell “Challah!”

We did it. And on today, the culmination of it all, you can feel bad poetry trembling in the air. Amy Oseroff and Miriam Wildeman wrote an outlandish take on Edgar Allan Poe and Jewish motherhood in The Maven. Jordana Horn wrote a sneakily clever paean to subversive kashrut.

And now, we give you “Bashert.”

This was a controversial poem from the start. For one thing, it was picked in a blind sample even though its author, the estimable Yonah Lavery, was actually featured on our blog for her brilliant Talmud Comics project. For another, as Daniel pointed out, the last line is technically not true, since a real follower of Meir Kahane wouldn’t be caught dead in an anti-Zionist mecca like Meah Shearim. (That, he said, is why it classifies as a bad poem.)

For the rest of us — well, we all loved it. In that awful way. No, not in an awful way at all. In fact, one of the best virtues of this poem is that it doesn’t involve a name. So if you’re after a handsome young man in a furry hat, just write “Dear Simcha Bunim” at the top of this poem, and maybe it will win his heart.

Just don’t say that MyJewishLearning never did anything for your love life.

Bashert

I first saw you, baby, in Mea Sharim.
Your lovely eyes downcast, your shtreimel agleam,
Your luscious lips let loose a horrible scream
And you pointed at me. I thought it was a dream,

And was all in a tizz when you threw the first stone,
Since this loving act prompted me to atone
For my bared lower shins, not okay in this zone.
You broke my heart, baby, and my collar bone.

You shouted “Zonah!” and I reached my nirvana.
Oh beautiful creature, sweeter than Tropicana,
Your judgment so harsh, your skin smooth as banana,
The comeliest student of Meir Kahane!

Posted on August 18, 2009

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4 thoughts on “Bad Jewish Poetry: The #1 Poem

  1. matthue Post author

    It’s true! But, for the meaning of “bad,” there’s no single definition…and there’s no single way to rank it. Not even if you were a statistician.

  2. Pingback: MyJewishLearning’s Bad Poetry Contest « Jewish Book Council Blog

  3. tzipi

    Hi Matthue:

    I do not dispute your selection! I would like now to know what happens to the other poems. Those which did not make it. I am sure that my poem was worse than these three!

    These are fine poems.

    Tzipi.

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