In the footsteps of Baudelaire

— my short life as a poet

All good stories start with the words “once upon a time”. And so does this one.

Once upon a time there was a website called Poetry.com. It is not the same Poetry.com you find today. The one I found was an older one, which now has disappeared. If that has anything to do with my efforts as a poet I don’t know. I guess the jury is out on that one.

One thing that attracted me to Poetry.com was the fact that you could post your own homemade poems on their website and take part in their different competitions. So since I didn’t have much else to do — unemployed and bored — I decided to write an ironic poem as a parody and a joke, just to have fun and give not only myself but others a bit of a laugh.

The one I posted and that I entered their competition with was a poem I called The Fink and the Crayon.

The Fink and the Crayon

I think, said a fink,
that the sky has turned pink,
because God has spilled out
a bottle of ink.

Haha, said a crayon,
your’e wrong, it is I
who’s responsible for
the pink-colored sky.

So all you cartoonists
take care of your pens
It actually is
a serious offence
to change the sky from original blue.

And we don’t blame the pen
- we blame you.

To me it was rather obvious that The Fink wasn’t a real poem, not a serious entry. But the people at Poetry.com didn’t seem to understand that it was a joke.Instead the poem went through to the finals, and eventually much to my surprise won an award as “Poem of the month”.
As a result of this — in my view — successful practical joke I wanted to see how far I could take it before they realised that it was a joke. So the month after I received the award for The Fink I posted another poem. This one I really tried to be so bad that they just MUST understand that it was a parody, a joke. I called it Scandinavian Plant Song.

Scandinavian Plant Song

When you drink the blood of a cow it says “ Moo…
I don’t like you drinking my blood, would you?
And what’s that idea, to drink with a straw?
The strangest idea I ever saw.”

Now into the talks comes a plant, nice and green.
It shouts “Don’t complain, life sucks for a bean.
Just when you grow up, have a nice life and thrive
they chop off your stem, and kill you alive.”

I’ve filled this text with rhymes that I need
not bad, don’t you think, for a man who’s a swede?

I smiled when I posted it. This one MUST be refused to enter the competition. Nope, they didn’t get it this time either. I won an award again.

At this moment I gave up. Since no-one understand that it was just for fun, I lost interest in pursuing this type of comedy. Instead I started to do standup, and I still do.

And what happened to poetry.com you might ask?
Well, as I understand after a few owner changes they just disappeared from the Internet in 2018. It took three years, but then they were back in 2021. This time with new owners and a new-ish web layout. Which by the way more reminds me of a sales page for a free genealogy program than a poetry website. But to each their own I guess.

Today my old prize-winning poems aren’t available anymore at their website. Or anywhere else, except on my computer. And now also here.

/Tomas A

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Tomas Ahlbeck

Tomas Ahlbeck

Swedish Standup comedian, writer & diabetic. Published a few books, done a few gigs. ‘Sweden’s own dirty uncle, brilliant writing and some very dark humour.”