Archives for category: Humor

by Matsuo Basho, translated by Porky Pig as told to Paul Fericano

Into the quiet of the anci-ancie-ancie—the very old pond
the small f-f-fro, f-f-fro-fro—er, the toad leaps.
The water sound is b-b-beau-b-b-beau-beau—oh, never mind.

IMAGE: Michigan J. Frog & Porky Pig Animation Production Cel, available at

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR: Porky Pig was introduced in the short animated film I Haven’t Got a Hat (first released on March 9, 1935). Known for his stutter, he appeared in 153 Warner Brothers cartoons during the Golden Age of American animation.

ABOUT THE AS TOLD TO AUTHOR: Paul Fericano was a finalist in the Alfred Jarry Foundation’s 2013 Cy Schindell Imaginary Book Prize competition for his notion of a manuscript based on an idea inspired by a Jorie Graham acceptance speech. He was a semifinalist for the 2012 Casaba Melon Poetry Award and has been nominated 56 consecutive times for a Pushcart Prize, tying Joe DiMaggio’s major league record. In 1982, he became the first American poet to enter and leave the U.S. Witness Protection Program.

translated into a limerick by Alfred H. Marks

There once was a curious frog
Who sat by a pond on a log
And, to see what resulted,
In the pond catapulted
With a water-noise heard round the bog.

IMAGE:  “Basho’s frog haiku print” available at

by Ogden Nash

Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.

IMAGE: “Mallard Duck on Pond 3 Square,” watercolor by Amy Vansgard. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frederic Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was an American poet known for his light verse. The New York Times said his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry.” Ogden Nash wrote over 500 pieces of comic verse. The best of his work was published in 14 volumes between 1931 and 1972.

CAPTION: And no one ever heard from the Anderson brothers again.

Credit: The Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

by Katie Bo Peep

o peeps,
you are so sweet
the yellow ones are the best
but the others still pass my test.
easter is my favorite time of year
because a day without peeps is something i fear.
i do believe that my mouth can sense when they are near,
o peeps, how i love you!
the purple ones are the second favorite of mine,
but on all peeps i do dine.
yellow, purple, white, pink or blue,
which peeps are best to you?


by John Lennon

I sat belonely down a tree,
humbled fat and small.
A little lady sing to me
I couldn’t see at all.

I’m looking up and at the sky,
to find such wonderous voice.
Puzzly, puzzle, wonder why,
I hear but I have no choice.

‘Speak up, come forth, you ravel me’,
I potty menthol shout.
‘I know you hiddy by this tree’.
But still she won’t come out.

Such sofly singing lulled me sleep,
an hour or two or so
I wakeny slow and took a peep
and still no lady show.

Then suddy on a little twig
I thought I see a sight,
A tiny little tiny pig,
that sing with all it’s might

’I thought you were a lady’,
I giggle, — well I may,
To my surprise the lady,
got up — and flew away.

PHOTO: In 1964, John Lennon holds his just-released book In His Own Write while Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr read over his shoulders.

SOURCE: “I Sat Belonely” appears in the 1964 release In His Own Write by John Lennon — a collection of poetry, stories, and drawings. Much of the work was inspired by Lewis Carroll‘s nonsensical poetry in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, particularly “The Jabberwocky” (included below).

by Lewis Carroll

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

by Richard Garcia

How about these paperclips?
Consider the humble paperclip.
Paperclips do not like to remain in their containers.
Paperclips can be found at the bottom of the sea.
The first paperclip was made of mastodon ivory.
Some paperclips are covered in plastic.
Some paperclips are plastic.
Metal paperclips are desirable.
You can twist them while on the phone.
You can use one to pick your teeth.
It is not recommended to use a paperclip to pick your teeth.
A paperclip can unlock a handcuff.
A paperclip cannot unlock a plastic handcuff.
Last time I mentioned paperclips
I received boxes of paperclips in the mail.
Here are some candy paperclips.
You can use them to attach important papers together.
You can eat candy paperclips.
Paperclips are like some marriages.
They clip things together temporarily.
Please don’t send me any more paperclips.
You can use paperclips to brush your eyebrows.
It is a little known fact, but every computer
has a secret tiny hole somewhere on its body
into which you can insert a straightened paperclip.
Usually, a frozen computer will start up again
when you insert the unfolded paperclip into its tiny, secret hole.
Your IT guy at the office would rather you did not know
about the tiny, secret paperclip hole in your computer.
Paperclips have been sprinkled into space by scientists.
Paperclips ring the planet. Some planets have rings of ice,
boulders, bits of exploded comet, purple and yellow meteor dust.
Our planet has a ring of millions of paperclips.
Recently it had been noticed that the paperclips
are joining together, each clip attaching to each clip
forming a paperclip chain in the ionosphere.
Maybe Mankind could learn something from all
the paperclips that have fallen into remote corners of our offices.
Here are some biodegradable paperclips made of recycled paper.
Here are some paperclips made of compressed diamond dust.
Here is a paperclip I have carried in my pocket since 1944.
It saved my life at Omaha beach by deflecting a sniper’s bullet.
As you can see by its girth, they don’t make paperclips like they used to.

SOURCE: Rattle Issue #33, available at Visit the publisher at

by Stephen Burt

Likeness held in the hand,
I can link any thin thing
to any thin thing: rarely cold
to touch, and unassuming not withstand-
ing my silver paint’s sparkle. I can connect
a map of Connect-
icut to an atlas of Iceland,
or flatten out the mountains of Vermont.
I have no use for a doctrine of non-
attachment, although I once
put an argument for it together:
I see through and remember any sliver
of paper or ribbon that has ever passed
between my stainless teeth…

In hope that what I join
nobody will put asunder,
I preside eagerly over
every union I encounter; I pretend
that anything I make fast,
will hold fast, though the ever-
sharper incisors of my mother,
Time, her servant, Dust, and her other
servants, Water and Sunlight —
the enemies of the news
today, and of anything you write
tomorrow — will in fact devour
everything I touch:
each letter and artifact
will go the way of all files —
cursive and print will join up,
gold and black merge and indigo,
each stock and weight at last
as good as any other in
the empty chamber I will someday know.

SOURCE: “Swingline Stapler” appears in Stephen Burt’s collection Belmont (Graywolf Press, 2013), available at

PHOTO: Collectors Edition Swingline 747 Polished Chrome Classic Desk Stapler, available at


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. He grew up around Washington, D.C., and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. Burt has published three collections of poems: Belmont (2013), Parallel Play (2006), and Popular Music (1999).

Burt’s works of criticism include Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (2009), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Art of the Sonnet—written with David Mikics (2010); The Forms of Youth: 20th-Century Poetry and Adolescence (2007); Randall Jarrell on W.H. Auden (2005), with Hannah Brooks-Motl; and Randall Jarrell and His Age (2002).

Burt has taught at Macalester College and is now Professor of English at Harvard University. He lives in the suburbs of Boston with his spouse, Jessie Bennett, and their two children. (Source:

Author Photo: Jessica Bennett, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

by Jack Prelutsky

Last night I dreamed of chickens,
there were chickens everywhere,
they were standing on my stomach,
they were nesting in my hair,
they were pecking at my pillow,
they were hopping on my head,
they were ruffling up their feathers
as they raced about my bed.

They were on the chairs and tables,
they were on the chandeliers,
they were roosting in the corners,
they were clucking in my ears,
there were chickens, chickens, chickens
for as far as I could see…
when I woke today, I noticed
there were eggs on top of me. 

Painting: “The Mysterious Mystical Chickens” (acrylic on wood, detail) by Penelope Merrell, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

By Ogden Nash

Bird watchers top my honors list.
I aimed to be one, but I missed.

Since I’m both myopic and astigmatic,

My aim turned out to be erratic,

And I, bespectacled and binocular,

Exposed myself to comment jocular.

We don’t need too much birdlore, do we,

To tell a flamingo from a towhee;

Yet I cannot, and never will,

Unless the silly birds stand still. 

And there’s no enlightenment in a tour

Of ornithological literature.

Is yon strange creature a common chickadee,

Or a migrant alouette from Picardy?

You can rush to consult your Nature guide

And inspect the gallery inside,

But a bird in the open never looks

Like its picture in the birdie books –
Or if it once did, it has changed its plumage,

And plunges you back into ignorant gloomage.

That is why I sit here growing old by inches,

Watching a clock instead of finches,

But I sometimes visualize in my gin

The Audubon that I audubin.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frederic Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was an American poet known for his light verse.  The New York Times said his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry.” Ogden Nash wrote over 500 pieces of comic verse. The best of his work was published in 14 volumes between 1931 and 1972. (Read more about Ogden Nash at

Photo: “Panama Bird Through Binoculars” by Landlockedlis, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED