You could not find if you searched high

Nor if you searched low

So much distressing poetry

In one small folio.

The verse herein, it stinks like goats,

It’s eviller than demons.

(The editors have overlooked

The noxious Mrs. Hemans—

“The boy stood on the burning deck”

And others like far worse—

Few e’er surpassed fair Missus H.

In terms of woeful verse.)

But represented here inside

Are poor lyrists aplenty,

From goodly poets’ rare misaims

To talents much more scanty.

Take Lillian E. Curtis, please,

Whose hearken to Erato

Led her to rhyme a lambent ode

In praise of the potato.

And Matthew Green who knew about

The insides of most people.

His work “The Spleen” is plain-spoken;

Its rhymes are far from feeble.

James McIntyre was an oaf

From nearby Canada;

His “Ode on the Mammoth Cheese”

Is ripened foofaraw.

And Francis—Francis Saltus Saltus—

Dead at thirty-nine

Of frequent dips into the jug

Of overrich French wine.

(As fermented by Baudelaire,

De Nerval, and de Sade;

F.S.S.’s decadence

Was painfully declawed.)

Lest we forget Ms. Julia Moore

Fair Michigan’s “Sweet Singer,”

Who on young girls’ ignoble deaths

Was often wont to linger

.

(I must confess, in private spell

I actually enjoyed

One Alfred Austin’s doggerel—

One could be worse employed.)

Of farflung spread and varied wit

The troubadors diverse

Did share among them certain traits

That skewed their art perverse.

Each seems possessed with certainty

That genius is his quittance;

The rules of meter, rhyme, and scan

Are evidenced in pittance.

A morbid taste runs through their work,

As smooth as warm Vitalis:

Disasters, crashes, frozen tots,

A stressing of italics.

Not for these scribes the dawn lakeside

Nor trembling furzey heath.

Their subjects are of everyday:

Diseases of the teeth,

A ditch, a brick, a walking stick,

A grunting hog, a lawsuit,

A governor, two bears—what next,

The dripping of a faucet?

The speech of babes and foreigners

Is sure to mirth provoke.

For than an Irishman who lisps

What is a better joke?

But let us not these worthy bards

Their scribblings to mock,

This book is undiluted joy

And to it you must flock.

For when the evening’s winding down

And laughter grows less hearty

There is a simple proven way

To stimulate the party—

Just ope the Petras’ matchless tome,

Smile down on man and woman,

And in a clarion voice recite:

“Earwigs,” by Edward Newman.CP