Award-Winning Poetry? Sure. We won the 1993 Julia A. Moore Poetry Contest. Drawing over 800 entries from all over the world, the contest is named in honor of "the sweet singer of Michigan," widely recognized as one of the worst poets the world has ever known. For sentimentality and forced rhyme, her like has rarely been found. The annual contest, sponsored by the Flint Public Library, seeks to recognize the best in bad poetry. Entries must be no longer than 50 lines and must contain no profanity. Here is the winning poem for 1993:

(In order to give credit where it is due, allow me to render thanks to Robin Watson for suggesting the word "Rubenesque.")

Death Of A Manatee
A poem without profanity:
The death of Jack, the manatee,
Who lolled about quite harmlessly
In shallows of the Atlantic sea.

Deep in the swamp he'd float and bask, 
Disturbed by no unwelcome task;
Now on his front, now on his back,
A happy manatee was Jack.
Sometimes he would dive, to explore
For tidbits on the ocean floor. 

Oh Jack, you were innocuous!
Oh Jack, you were a rock to us!
Oh Jack, your kind is waning fast;
Of them you were among the last.

One humid day as Jack did float 
Around a gnarled mangrove root,
Warmed by the sun, he fondly thought
Of wife and little manatees;
With such thoughts he himself did please.

A wanton hunter gliding by 
With gun full cocked and keen of eye,
His prey the startled duck on high,
Propels his nimble little boat
Into the bay where Jack's afloat.

A curious Jack swims closer to 
Investigate the craft and crew --
Alas, too close! Propellor blades
Scythe through the water. Jack evades
Them for a moment, but too rash
Comes closer still. And now a gash 
Opens along his back. Slash, slash
The blades churn sinless blood, and red
Soon stains the shallow waterbed
While crimson froth floats to the shore:
Jack's gentle heart will beat no more. 

Alas, his blubbering family wail
When they pursue the bloody trail
That leads them where their former head --
Minced manatee -- floats red and dead.

One manatee's of little note 
In swamps Floridian remote.
One sudden death: what does it mean
To selfish brat or lustful teen,
To golfer, yuppie, hunter, or
To the hungry urban poor? 
Gone is this flabby creature rare.
The world's diminished: few will care.

With damp eye, settled at my desk,
I mourn Jack's body Rubenesque. 

(Copyright 1993 Joe Lewis)