1999 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award

Winner: “Chain Poem” by Bob McKenty
Final Judge: Wendy Cope

Chain Poem

You mustn’t throw away this faded verse.
Make 20 copies. Send to 20 friends.
If you ignore this warning, then a curse
Will fall on you. Your hair will get split ends.
You’ll shortly lose the mates to all your socks
And dandelions will desecrate your yard.
Your firstborn will contract the chicken pox,
The cash machine consume your debit card.
Voracious termites will attack your house.
Your septic tank will start to overflow.
You’ll turn the TV on and find your spouse
Appearing on the Jerry Springer Show.
Then, just when things have started looking better,
You’ll get another copy of this letter.


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