In Competition No. 3184 you were invited to tell a joke in verse form. This challenge, suggested by a reader and coming at a time when we could all do with a laugh, drew a large and jolly entry. As space is short, I pause only to salute stellar performances all around before handing over to the winners, who snaffle £25.
The barman had seen many people walk into his bar,
He’d met with folk of all persuasions, nations near and far.
They’d ordered every type of drink, they’d ordered them with puns,
he’d seen celebrities walk in, as well as ghosts and nuns.
But never had he seen a pair stroll in just like these two;
Helvetica and Times New Roman, print in letters true.
They strolled up arm-in-arm and asked the barman for a drink.
‘A gin martini, my good man, and stout as black as ink.’
The bar fell grimly silent like a Western with John Wayne,
before the cowboys throw down cards, and guns and whisky reign.
The letters gazed about them, not suspecting any trouble,
not guessing they were on the rocks, this most unlucky double.
The barman didn’t want a scene, but drew a warning breath,
he leaned across the counter and his eyes were cold as death.
He stared them down, a warning hand upon the tap of beer;
‘You’re going to have to leave now. We don’t serve your type in here.’
Farmer Giles has a suck on a straw,
And whistles his collie to heel,
Says, Sun won’t be up for much more,
And it’s time for our evening meal.
Go down to the field by the fold,
And hustle my sheep to their pen.
Make sure that you do as you’re told,
And count them once over again.
The dog nips away where they graze,
And is back in two shakes with a grin.
He says, as if hoping for praise,
All forty, they’re all gathered in.
Wait a minute! says Giles. In my flock
There are thirty-eight only, you pup!
Says the dog, his contempt ill-concealed,
I know — I’ve just rounded them up.
The maestro at the keyboard’s one foot tall.
(The mini-Steinway he had custom made.)
His talent is as large as he is small,
As you have heard in every note he’s played.
How did I come to find this novel act?
An elderly relation passed away
And willed me one peculiar artefact,
An antique lamp. I polished it one day,
An act by which I set a genie free.
He offered me the usual grand prize —
Whatever I wished for, he’d grant to me.
Imagine my dismay and my surprise
When I wished and he misheard what I said.
I got this 12-inch pianist instead.
On the blackboard of our pub the Wishful Thinker
the Table d’hôte has Starter, Main and Sweet.
The À la carte provision is succincter:
‘We’ll cook you anything you want to eat.’
A diner says, ‘I have a clear demand which
will show the Wishful’s claim to be a con.
Please bring me now an Elephant Ear Sandwich.’
‘Of course, sir. English mustard or Dijon?’
The smart-arse tucks a napkin in his collar
delighted that he’s called the menu’s bluff.
‘Casse-toi!’ he hears le Chef de Cuisine holler.
‘Sandwich d’oreille d’éléphant is off!’
Undaunted by the stream of four-star language
the waiter sidles back and shakes his head.
The diner smirks: ‘You haven’t brought my sandwich.’
‘I’m sorry, sir. The kitchen’s out of bread.’
A man led his hound, both a bit of a freak,
Through the doors of a ‘dogs welcome’ local.
‘He’s a longer-nosed, longer-tailed, shorter-haired Peke,’
He told the incredulous yokels,
‘He’s low to the ground but he’s never a flincher,
He’ll lick any dog in the boozer!’
‘Let’s see,’ said a punter, whose bison-cross pinscher,
Called Spike, was a champion bruiser
It was dog against dog in those God-awful days
And unleashed, Spike was quick to get started,
But when the dust cleared, there the Peke stood ungrazed
Whereas Spike and his head were now parted;
‘Just what is that thing?’ came a barmaiden’s shriek,
So the little man offered semantics:
‘He’s a longer-nosed, longer-tailed, shorter-haired Peke;
Or a crocodile, if you’re pedantic.’
A friend of mine feared he’d turned into a duck
So decided to talk with a quack:
When she chided him gently for being a schmuck,
Her wise words washed straight off his back.
Instead he consulted a Freudian shrink
Who explained that a duck stood for nought:
‘Your delusion is rarely the thing that you think —
It’s failing to score makes you fraught.’
My sympathies frayed at this endless charade
And I snapped with: ‘I really don’t care;
You’ve laid a big egg with your patent canard —
You’re a mallard imaginaire!’
No. 3187: wave power
You are invited to supply a sea shanty with a topical theme. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 17 February.
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