"So is it like the Westminster Kennel Club, but with poems?"
—a friend, after hearing that I was judging a poetry contest.
Here are the poems that wag a great tale;
that ripple with muscular verbs;
the light ones, the dark ones,
the bound-through-the-park ones;
the ones that go sniffing at kerbs.
Here is the sonnet with well-bred allusions;
the triolet ready to beg
with its soft friendly pause
and manicured clause;
the limerick humping your leg.
Oh, how you long to give treats to them all
(even the poems that bite,
or force you to look as
they lick their own tuchas)
to keep them from howling all night.
But of course only one gets to fetch the big trophy,
so you comb and you vet till you know,
in a month and an age,
that a lone dog-eared page
has jumped in your lap and won't go.