found poetry

There’s a discussion from late last week on Jeff Atwood’s Coding Horror of a strange comment left on one of his old posts, offering a nonsense defintion of “programming”:

Programming is all about knowing when to boil the orange sponge donkey across the phillipines with an orangutang gorilla crossed with a ham sandwich to the fourth power of twelve across the nile with an awful headache from the previous night when all of alfred’s naughty jalapeno peppers frog-marched the nordic elves across the loom-lined geronimo induced swamp donkey over and above the fortran fortified kilomanjaro fence past the meticulously crafted anti disgusting sponge cake scenario where all the hats doth quoteth the milk which is not unlike the super werewolf from the infinite realm of ninja-step. it’s hard to define, really.

The odd comment led Jeff by-the-by into a discussion of Markov chain theory, including the use of Garkov as an example, which is how the whole thing caught my eye. I agree, though, with Jeff’s analysis from an earlier thread that the comment above probably wasn’t the produce of a markov process. What it reads to me as is honed human-generated nonsense, pure and simple.

But reading it, it also struck me as being familiar in another way. I went to a lot of open-mic poetry readings when I was younger — it’s how I cut my teeth as a performing musician and got over my, if not stage fright, at least stage vague anxiety. And what the comment reads to me as, most of all, is bad poetry.

So I’ve applied what folks in the bad-high-school-poetry biz might call The Cummingsesque Gambit (quick gloss: linebreaks = art), and I feel fairly vindicated by the result. It’s my questionable pleasure to present:

programming is
by “hello”

programming is all
about knowing

when to boil the orange sponge donkey
across the phillipines
with an orangutang gorilla
crossed with a ham sandwich
to the fourth power
of twelve

across the nile
with an awful headache
from the previous night
when all of alfred’s naughty jalapeno peppers frog-marched

the nordic elves
across the loom-lined geronimo induced swamp donkey
over and above
the fortran fortified kilomanjaro fence
past the meticulously crafted anti disgusting sponge cake scenario

where all the hats doth quoteth the milk
which is not unlike the super werewolf
from the infinite realm
of ninja-step.

it’s hard to
define, really.

6 thoughts on “found poetry

  1. More precisely, it reads like someone trying to be “wild” and “imaginative” and perhaps “poetic” as well; you see this kind of thing in MeFi comments all the time, apparently in an effort to garner favorites and in imitation of those who are born to it and do it well (e.g., loquacious).

  2. I’ve had a random bad poetry generator at my site for ages, using a markov chain perl script and an input corpus of a whole bunch of poems submitted by kids to a website I worked for in the late 90s: I Am, by The Aggregate Kid

    I love Garkov, by the way.

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