Bad Poetry: The 2nd-Worst Jewish Poem Ever

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Bad Poetry Day draws near, and we’ve got another winner for you. This one might be even worse — or even better, depending on the way you look at things.

bad poetry contestOne of our judges — I won’t say whom — said that this poem shouldn’t win because it was too honestly good to be a bad poem. But the others disagreed, citing a winning combination of satire, Jewish stereotypes used in a creative context, and a rhyme scheme that was true to the original, but embraced both form and content in a way that was wholly its own. (Rhyming “rebbetzin” with “Manischewitz in” didn’t hurt its chances, either.)

I also think this might be a group entry, or a family entry, although I’m not sure — this poem comes to us courtesy of Miriam Wildeman, although from the way she wrote “We are proud to submit our entry,” I think a group congratulations may be in order.

Ms. Wildeman and co-conspirators will receive a prize package from Jewish Publication Society, including Arie Kaplan’s brilliant history of Jewish comics From Krakow to Krypton, and Josh Lambert’s decidedly non-bad guide to American Jewish Fiction — as well as a pair of bongo drums.

And now, without further ado, the poem itself.

The Maven

Once inside a Succah dreary,
While I pondered Jewish theory,
Seeking answers to my query,
Responsa tomes strewn ‘round the flooring,
While I studied, deeply poring,
Oy gevalt! in came my mother,
Seeking this and nothing more,
“Darling, I need halvah from the store.”
Sighed my mother from the door,
     â€œOnly this, and nothing more.”

Nothing more? “Oh mother never,
Never was your list so brief.
Are you well? Have you a fever?
You don’t need schmaltz? Or corned beef either?”
Sighed my mother from the door,
     “Only this, and nothing more.”

So I schlepped off to the store, buying halvah, nothing more,
But when I came back through the gate, see,
My mother stood there, to await me.
“Nu, darling, I forgot. I also need some mandelbrot.”
“Mother, please think this fully through,
since I have other things to do.
One more thing you need, or four?”
Sighed my mother from the door,
     “Only this, and nothing more.”

Mutely moaning, “It’s a mitzvah,”
Aloud I asked her, “Need some kishke?”
How about some lukshen kugel
Or apples for your famous strudel?”
But, “No,” said she, “mandelbrot is all I wish for.”
Sighed my mother from the door,
     â€œOnly this, and nothing more.”

So off I went straight to the deli,
Marching past the herring smelly,
Ignoring matzos, and the soup stock,
Passing by the liver chop block,
Home I came, with one thing only,
Only mandelbrot, lost and lonely.
Sighed my mother from the door,
     â€œOnly this, and nothing more.”

“We have the food now for the party,
But we need to clean up, smarty.
I don’t mind stacks of books around the Succah,
But should my friends know you use a hookah?
We have the food we need, but wait! That recipe from the rebbetzin – ”
I gasped, “Which cabinet’s the Manischewitz in?
Mom, I won’t go back to the store. I have had it –
     Nevermore!”

Posted on August 17, 2009

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