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Last week, District residents learned that their too-bizarre-for-belief city government had become a little stranger: The Washington Post reported that top staffers to Mayor Marion Barry were gathering for evenings of Chinese food, prayer, and haiku. Inspired by the news (or the muse), Washington City Paper invited readers to compose their own municipal haiku, capturing the District’s plight in 17 elegant syllables.

D.C. poets submitted almost 200 haiku, proving either that Washingtonians are very literate or that the Style Invitational had an off week. These are our favorites.

Rasheeda, Sharon

No nooky, no money. Why?

Bitches set me up

—Chris Cohick

Washington, D.C.

Will rise again from the dead

‘Cause Massa’ Newt said

—Timothy Cooper

Muddy brown water

Spreads from the clogged storm sewer

Good, an open pool!

Big rats grow bigger

Eating anything in sight

Uh-oh, where’s the dog?

—Kevin Parker

A natural source

Much cheaper than the street lights

The moon overhead

—D. Thurston

Home-rule advocates

Have Newt’s undies in a bunch

Capital City

—Joel Knanishu

D.C. police force

Highest crime rate, lowest paid

Que sera sera

—Pamela L. DeGeorge

Single in D.C.

Lawyers and politicians

Might as well stay home

—Marjory Palius

Whither Rasheeda?

Once Delilah, now she’s gone

Vista now unknown

—Pamela Murray Winters

And a Washington City Paper T-shirt goes to Beth Beisel for her winning haiku:

Malfeasance drifts in

on little rats’ paws. Finding

warm welcome, it stays.