I’ve been recently going to town on Facebook with a slew of oh-so-clever terrible poetry jokes. The whole thing was inspired by a page on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency of terrible poetry jokes, which I’m hoping you’ll read before reading my own contributions, so you get a sense of the, uh, genre. Thanks to Lysette Simmons for turning me on to this. Feel free to add to the list.

They are broken into sets, for whatever reason (because I’m a poet)?


Arthur Rimbaud and Thomas Chatterton walk into a bar. They are carded.


Sylvia Plath walks into a bar. The bartender says,”What’s cookin’, good lookin'”?

Alfred Tennyson crosses a bar. He is never seen again.

Gertrude Stein walks into a bar, thinking it was a bar. But it was a bar.


James Wright walks into a bar. Suddenly, he gets gin blossoms.

Frank O’Hara walks into a bar at 6:27, three day after Columbus Day. (Fifteen years later, Ted Berrigan walks into the same bar, on the same day, at the same time. He orders a Pepsi.)

Sappho walks into a Lesbian bar. Meanwhile, Edward Kamau Brathwaite walks into a Caribbean bar.


Allen Ginsberg walks into a bar after the kitchen’s closed. He says, “I’ve seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by starving.” He then goes nuts and strips.


Robert Creeley walks into a bar and punches out Willem De Kooning. Then he gets side-swiped by Willem De Kooning.

Carl Sandburg walks into a bar. He stays for a few hours, then leaves. He is immediately forgotten.

Ezra Pound walks into a bar and tries to start a tab with his credit card, but the card is declined: “CONTRA NATURAM.”

D.H. Lawrence walks into a bar and has sex with his mother.


Robert Frost walks into a bar. He says: “Fuck this motherfucking place!” The bartender asks: “What’s got into you?” Frost says: “Something that doesn’t love a bar.”


Edgar Allen Poe walks into a bar. He orders a vodka tonic. The bartender asks: “What kind of vodka?” The raven on Poe’s shoulder says: “Stoli.”

Because the bar would not stop for Emily Dickinson, they stopped serving her. (Turns out, she’d never left her bedroom.)

William Blake walks into a bar and has sex with Eternity.


William Butler Yeats walks into a bar that is advertising a happy hour with 100% off on all drinks. He orders a vodka tonic. The bartender says: “That will be two dollars.” Yeats says: “Innisfree”?


Jim Morrison walks into a bar. The bartender says: “You’re not a poet!?”

Kenneth Goldsmith walks into a bar. He orders a menu.

Ron Silliman walks into a bar. Shadow of palm tree on fading Exxon sign (employees standing under it). We park the car: the carp of parse. Capitalism.


John Ashbery walks into a bar. The bartender says: “What’ll you have?” Ashbery says: “Some drinks.”

William Carlos Williams and T.S. Eliot walk into a bar. Williams says: “I’ll have a Red Wheelbarrow!” Eliot says: “Jew!”

e.e. cummings walks into a bar. l(one) line (s)(s).


Gwendolyn Brooks walks into a bar, because black women poets are under-represented on this list.

More Terrible Poetry Jokes from this blog.