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On Monday, the Washington Post reported the following:

“Roughly one night a month, [Mayor Marion Barry’s top staffers] gather in nondenominational “spiritual meetings’ to pray, swap aphorisms and poetry, and reinforce what they say is a shared belief that Barry has been touched by a higher power. They open the evenings holding hands. They order Chinese food. [Barry lobbyist Bernard] Demczuk, who often hosts the events, sometimes reads his original haiku verse.”

Demczuk says that the Post misinterpreted the gatherings. “I thought it was very unfair to take my personal life and make it look like…administrative policy.”

Official business or not, these evenings of kung pao poetry sounded like such a good idea that the staff of Washington City Paper decided to do the very same thing. A few beers and an order of pork lo mein later, we were reciting our own municipal haiku.

So much depends on

The red schoolhouse, glazed with rain

Filled with asbestos

Flame-gold leaves tumble

Into a coal-black pothole

They’ve moved to Fairfax

License renewal

A bureaucrat yawns at me

Behind safety glass

I’m on hold again

Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick

Answer the damn phone

Besieged leadership

Retreats from reality

Into New Age crap

Quick! Hop the Red Line

Fleeing the District for my

Suburban retreat

Couch in the alley

Six rats gnaw a Hefty bag


Back in a minute

Pink slash across my windshield

Fifty dollars more

Home rule under siege

Coffers empty, vendors peeved

Someone get Chinese

Monroe Street alley

Forgotten blue cans bulging

My lunch from last week

One man, no millions

Barry stands all alone in

Farrakhan’s New Math

The stoplight changes

Green, yellow, red—nothingness

Who turned off the lights?

Stoplights stuck on red

Half a billion short of cash

Call the Third Wave dork

An old dashiki

A limo, a grin, a trick

Marion Barry

Winter’s keening wind

Give me your tired, your poor

Not in my backyard

A dreaming Jim Walsh

Saw a rich and happy town

Ooops, that’s Syracuse

A Washington City Paper T-shirt will be awarded to the person who writes the best haiku about the city. (For those who’ve forgotten freshman English, the first and third lines of haiku have five syllables; the second line has seven syllables.) Inspired poems will be published in next week’s edition if they reach us by Tuesday morning. Submit your entry by writing to Haiku, Washington City Paper, 2390 Champlain St. NW, Washington, DC 20009. Our fax number is (202) 462-8323, or e-mail us at dplotzwashcp.com. No phone calls, please.

Nicole Arthur, David Carr, John Cloud, Glenn Dixon,