My nominee for worst poem ever written

I love The New Yorker. I love the articles. I love the cartoons. I love the reviews.

Sadly, all is not wine and roses. Because the poetry is frequently terrible. From their March 30 issue (which I have been flipping through between patients), I give you this year's winner of the Emperor Has No Clothes Award for Epically Pretentious Silliness:
So, So It Begins Means It Begins

by Mary Jo Bang

And so it begins, Mickey, birthday cake (party), special

Night, whoops, and take a box.

So it begins, take a bow, hold your head up,

Scowl now. This is your own guitar.

Stop and see a movie.

Stop and see whether the eagle holds up at the end.

I’m leaving. See how I pull the door to.

The door is the floor and it’s rising up,

Below is a dungeon. It’s all you can see in the dark.

There is graffiti on the wall.

The bugle has ceded its call to power.

It’s the time when we are waiting to be told.

Nothing is getting better. And nothing is getting worse.

A duck and a mouse. A house and a hat.

Having lunch and having a medal of honor.

Let’s put our culture on a cartoon’s.

Why not? Have the mouse answer the phone.

Have the receiver click. Then the real comes to

Its awful end. That point where, as he said, all came in

“With the shoutmost shoviality. Agog” Agog.

My reaction isn't exactly "agog." "Aghast," perhaps. "Agape." "Ague," maybe. But not "agog."

Update: I felt kind of guilty (but not really) slagging on this poem, and I'm pleased to say that I rather liked this one by Ms. Bang.


  1. is this a turing test?

  2. I hadn't thought of that, but it certainly seems like a fair question.

  3. Thanks for this great article.I have had so much happy to read this poem.