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Spam poetry: transcending the junk mail paradigm

Freight train over avocado pit self-flagellates

It's taken a while, but we have sifted through the flotsam and jetsam which washes every day through inboxes world-wide and found the precious pieces of amber which lie hidden within.

Yes indeed, it's time to hand out some Reg goodies for contributions to what we have called "Spam Poetry" - those bursts of random, spam-filter-busting language which somehow transcend their mundane purpose and burst into the golden light of literary glory.

Of course, we didn't invent the idea of Spam Poetry, nor discover its delights for the first time. We're obliged to all those correspondents who wrote to us indicating the veritable Web cornucopia of such material and are pleased to note that spammers have unwittingly contributed so much to humanity.

Nonetheless, we're here to further celebrate the genre. Each and every piece of Spam Poetry featured here secures the contributor a not-available-in-the-shops Reg lapel pin courtesy of Cash'n'Carrion. There are no overall winners, we're just going to go with the flow. Enjoy.

First up, we have what we've entitled the "Pedigree Dog" genre. This encompasses random and fairly meanless collections of words which have a certain euphony. The concept will be familiar to owners of pedigree dogs who insist on giving their pooches ridiculous monikers: Pax Britannica General Belgrano and Joanna Lumley Celebrity Haircut are just two of the more noteworthy examples.

Try this, from Simon Kember:

lemuel babylonian folksong clockwatcher

You get the idea. More:

amphioxis nymphomania fluency bootlegged croix (eric)

synchronous weatherstripping motorola placenta (Mark Harrop)

improvident lutanist fluorine isfahan
Contextual balletic songful conservator
Typesetting banal wilful degree
(Chris Fryer)

topsy altimeter afro cocktail (John Gregor)

annex spayed dolomitic ductwork (Nate K. McVaugh)

pyrophosphate melodious ponchartrain pussy (Peter Stone)

stag scenario calcium fuselage
Beetle aldehyde maiden wipe
(Nicholas Fisher)

amply calm durkin Jehovah (Martin Ward)

orgiastic tuna cartilage hardscrabble linoleum (Ross Orr)

And our favourite:

Translucent gibbon rucksack bonanza (Chris Murray)

Marvellous. There are neologisms to be had from spam, too. Here are four nice examples from Ann Barcomb:


God alone knows what crotchetybegging is - perhaps it's got something to with one of the stories trumpeted in our next category, entitled "Leader Writing Made Easy". Trainee journalists take note:

A curved coloring book makes baby Jesus cry (Stephen Jones)

Girl scout negotiates a prenuptial agreement with fruit cake (Phil Bailey)

Electrocardiograph sunbeam wastrel beset eyelid (User Los)

Salesmen cognate gallstone (Ralf Stephan)

Hydrogen atom living with necromancer (Peter Stone)

Only you can archive nitrogen (Steven Hedges)

Dilettantes remain burly (Mark Tomlinson)

Oslo actinide besotted zombie (Simon Kember)

Brusque Whitehall collarbone damp (Jack Miller)

Pine cone living with wheelbarrow feels nagging remorse (Groc)

Fetishist beyond fruit cake and eggplant from chestnut are what made America great! (Dermot Murphy)

A variation on that last one crops up again later, so keep your eyes peeled.

Now, sometimes you get the feeling that your spam is trying to deliver some form of profound message, or perhaps a warning. Reader Stuart Allen called this "Fortune Cookie" spam, and who are we to disagree?:

Honest and hard-working policemen are usually gunned down a day or two before retirement time.
After a number of injections my jaw got number.
You don't even wait for the water to boil anymore.

Here's another, from James Paterson:

If you get it overnight, you can lose it just as quick
When Mumma dead family done.
Take heed of reconciled enemies and of meat twice boiled

Absolutely. Solid advice.

It's pretty rare, but "Strategy Boutique" spam will be familiar to anyone who's ever read the results of a particularly over-excited technical brainstorming session:

guidance NET nearly mailing based indicate Sender systems One management guidance doesn't translate Document respect display performing interpretation: source operationally preferences defined languages Alternate these employ by review It tag time non-proprietary know has found subtle think interpretation: important numbering

Thanks to Ken Hill for that gem. We'll probably see it for sale as part of a £3,000 white paper before long.

Onwards. You want flow of conciousness? You want profound insights? Look no further than our this selection of the truly profound - "Spam Prose" to truly tickle the intellect. First up we have this from Karl Pearson:

Most piroshki believe that living with hydrogen atom admonish defined by inferiority complex.When you see alchemist defined by bartender, it means that wheelbarrow toward leaves.widows remain curmudgeonly.Dorothy, although somewhat soothed by industrial complex defined by and behind toothache.

It's that hydrogen atom again. Good to see widows are still curmedgeonly, though. More, from Jim Maciejewski:

it took a lot of special effects work every day to get located north of Manhattan. Hellboy ready for his close-up. We got the inside story from the controlled environment. What came next? Flamethrowers, of course. planes. See also How Cell Phones Work. Senator Chuck Hagel "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" show.

Flamethrowers? Of course. And we'd pay $10 to Senator Chuck Hagel's show "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai". Harold Tessmann III's run back into that pesky necromancer:

Where we can hesitantly give lectures on morality to our necromancer. Class action suit of polar bear gets stinking drunk, and freight train over avocado pit self-flagellates; however, pocket living with cargo bay host..for tabloid teach dolphin beyond. Burglar for oil filter find subtle faults with garbage can of burglar. When particle accelerator beyond cup is South American, insurance agent for steam engine boogie inside ribbon.

It's getting worse. Must be the LSD and Bolivian marching powder kicking in, as Simon O'Hare can prove:

And eat the dark side of her dolphin.mastadon about fire hydrant ceases to exist, and maestro over hibernates; however, cloud formation behind submarine give a pink slip to..Any bodice ripper can seek for nation, but it takes a real blood clot to behind wheelbarrow. Therese, the friend of Therese and takes a coffee break with reactor living with turn signal.

All a bit too Naked Lunch, that one. Peter Bennett notes that he is pleased that Stephen has found succour from a tomato:

cigar about pork chop earns frequent flier miles, and inside football team self-flagellates; however, ball bearing from make a truce with..But they need to remember how usually behind briar patch daydreams.Where we can thoroughly learn a hard lesson from our fetishist. Stephen, although somewhat soothed by tomato related to girl scout and from rattlesnake.

So, what was it that made America great? Graham Mann has another answer to this question:

defined by power drill leaves, because dahlia inside earring cook cheese grits for behind tomato. grain of sand of blithe spirit sweeps the floor, because short order cook over know omphalos living with taxidermist. gonad for, from stalactite, and umbrella living with parking lot are what made America great!

Right, got it. Chris Coates wants to tell us something about mirrors:

Most mirrors believe that tuba player from mirror learn a hard lesson from omphalos beyond. When earring related to is hypnotic, inside gonad dance with ballerina from industrial complex. around asteroid is tattered. Indeed, around corporation cook cheese grits for pit viper near.

Gonad dance with ballerina? Nasty. We need a beer after that. Calum Sharp can deliver:

But they need to remember how wisely from bottle of beer ceases to exist. When behind oil filter prays, from chess board takes a coffee break. And reach an understanding with the dark side of her cowboy. Indeed, cough syrup about reach an understanding with polar bear related to. He called her Ursula (or was it Ursula?).

No idea. Maybe Nick Godfrey can shed some light on the matter:

When you see wheelbarrow for, it means that steam engine inside beams with joy. Most taxidermists believe that near toothpick recognize omphalos around polar bear. football team around insurance agent gets stinking drunk, and boy of flies into a rage; however, ski lodge around tea party boogie.. living with football team is self-loathing. He called her Sonja (or was it Sonja?). Where we can accidentally bestow great honor upon our food stamp.

Hold on a minute... Was it Ursula or Sonja?. No matter, we have more weighty considerations to ponder, courtesy of Andrew Maguire:

When hole puncher beyond toothpick rejoices, plaintiff toward fairy dies. sheriff can be kind to about bonbon. But they need to remember how wisely satellite beyond feels nagging remorse.

So the satellite is feeling remorse, too - just like the pine cone. Blimey. Let's conclude this prosefest with this lovely example from Ben Murphy:

Something to think about: The mauve aardvark writes succulently, lightly. Upon neat cheerleaders, return not yet reconcile uniquely And what is a woman, but a scary loaf? A clump speculates, stepping esoterically to a likeable leader, Nectar had a hanger, which was not at all a shirt. Acorn had a book, which was not at all a stomach. Alas, the object has transmutated quite darkly, cleaning An acorn dives, catching messily to a crummy person, Hole had a shadow, which was not at all a flower. Sparks like cheeses catch positively to port, making In cups, the picnic will peel, laugh not The bouncy creep laughs openly, angrily.

"And what is a woman, but a scary loaf?" Truly outstanding. Shakespeare himself would have been proud of that one.

Penultimately, we tackle what can be called "Spam Poetry" proper. Its a thought-provoking melange of the profound and the melancholy - challenging material to be sure. We start with an offering from Jasmine Strong. Jasmine is an old mate of El Reg, having previously failed in spectacular fashion to keep her haikus to 17 syllables:

unseen and unnoticed
you unwittingly spoke
visions passed before
uttering preposterous things
the most terrible

The most terrible what? Don't keep us in suspense.... These two related offerings, from Steve Hallsted and Owen Cunningham, on the other hand, are a bit less truncated, but no less surreal:

Mine white mobile phone is angry or maybe our purple smart kitchen smiles.
Her expensive hairy printer smells.
His stupid glasses stares.
Our green sofa sleeps.
Our silver underwares smiles.

Our children red ram stands-still.
Their golden boat is on fire and his brothers well-crafted ram fidgeting.
His stupid tall exam book arrives.
Their white tv prepare for fight.
Her hairy white fancy bra prepare for fight and their red cat is thinking.
His brothers bluish purple tv calculates and perhaps our children smart book sleeps.
Our bluish cat arrives or a given shining table calms-down.
A odd shaped little soda stinks.

Smiling silver underwear? A lovely thought. As is a bouncing turkey:

When you see over gypsy,
it means that of diskette hibernates.

When briar patch toward ribbon is self-loathing,
about turkey bounce plaintiff of.

Thanks to Jon Winter for that. If you like your poetry short and sweet and not to any point whatsoever, try this from Nora Miller:

scarecrow civet pact

Yep. Like it. Like this too, from Ian Naylor. He notes that any poem with this first line is a sure-fire winner:

Evening, landlord :)
Labor is the beginning, the middle, and the end of art.
Friends applaud, the comedy is over.
Searching for pill in internet? feudists embusk

Embusk they may well do, but do they concord, asks Andy Furnish?:

concord,and he could,concord,and he could,concord,and he could.concord,and he could,concord,and he could.

Crikey. Our penultimate offering is this beautiful effort sent by Benjamin Johnstone-Anderson:

turning softly, springtime, nothingness, cat is on fire

Think about it. But not too hard.

And finally, proof that the ghost in the machine may really be talking to us comes from this extract from an email header submitted by Patrick:

X-Authentication-Warning: anatole freeing
X-Mailer: hypoactive celery

Enough said. ®


Thanks to all of those many readers who submitted stuff, and thanks to Chris Allen and Dave Chamberlin who were the original inspiration for this compendium of spam madness.

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