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World's shortest poem and other feedback

By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia

What is the world's shortest poem? We rashly suggested last month that our poem

O worm
U squirm

might be the world's shortest ode. Several of our readers disagreed:

I have another contender for the world's shortest ode. It could also be the world's shortest love poem:


  -- Pratibha Umashankar,

Good one, Pratibha! This would be even shorter:

Ode to my Favorite Pooch


Muhammad Ali was reported to have composed this ode on request at a Harvard Lampoon speech:


  -- Gil Feinberg, gsfesqATvenizon net
I think the very shortest one has got to be Jean Kerr's Valentine::


  I've loved Jean Kerr's collections of humorous pieces since I was a girl. Before someone else beats me to the punch, I will now submit "You---/Ooh!" as another entry. Or perhaps, Ode to a Former Girlfriend: "Her---Brr!"
-- Danielle Juzan,
There's always Nash's ode to a goldfish: O Wet Pet.
-- Martin DeMello
How about my Ode to a Desert Fly: Dry/Fly
-- Barry Downs, Kimberley, South Africa,
Though I would nary claim it as a composition competing for the title World's Shortest Ode, although it is somewhat odious, I do remember an entry from a rag magazine sometime around the mid 1960s:
A Short Poem


  -- Ian Scott-Parker,
Well, just what IS the world's shortest poem? For our money, it's one composed years ago by a poet whose work is often published, but about whom little is known. It contains no words at all (but we're not sure that it rhymes):


  . -- Anon

Funny phrases from South Africa

South African columnist John Penn quoted some of Tim Sanders's hilarious US southern phrases from last month's e-book, in an amusing story in the Durban Mercury. He wrote:

Somewhere in my misspent old age I seem to recall playing a minor role in calming an irate colleague who had threatened someone: "Man, I'll hit you so hard you'll miss the whole shad season."

It was such a deft and dire warning that I've kept a lookout for similar ones ever since - to be used only in jest, obviously. My mental scrapbook includes:

  • I'll hit you so hard your whole family will vibrate.
  • I'll slap you so silly you'll flash back to your childhood.
  • I'll smack you naked and hide your clothes.
  • I'll hit you so hard you'll cough up bones.

How St. Balrick's got its name

Last month, in a story about assorted Baldricks around the world, we mentioned St. Baldricks Foundation, which encourages people to shave their heads to aid its bid to find a cure for childhood cancer.

So we read with great interest this further information on a webpage of Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey:

Along with the rugby team’s season opener on Sunday versus SUNY Stony Brook, both rugby teams will be a part of something bigger as they will be hosting and participating in the St. Baldrick’s fundraising event for children with cancer.

Although St. Baldrick is not actually a saint, the name was coined in 2000 when Tim Kenny, John Bender and Enda McDonnell, three Irish executives from New York City, decided to turn their annual St. Patrick’s Day party into a benefit for children with cancer by shaving their heads.

St. Baldrick is a combination of ‘St. Patrick’ and ‘bald’. Since then, St. Baldrick’s has grown incredibly, raising over $20 million for childhood cancer research, with over 26,000 people shaving their head, including more than 2,000 of them women. The foundation has been active at 828 events in 42 states and nine countries.

  • Sir Baldrick finished last in the fourth race at Cranborne (Victoria, Australia) on September 21. In another race at the same meeting, The Queen's English finished 11th in a field of 12.

Story first posted October 2006

Copyright © 2006

Eric Shackle

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