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Photo of a rack of dress shirts

Layers: A Jabberwocky

(A Nonsense Poem)

By CJ Madsen


You feel like a befuddled behemoth.
You feel as voluminous as a Victorian couch.
You feel . . . uncomfortable.

You are wearing seventeen sweaters, twenty trousers, seven sneakers, and seventy-seven socks . . . and you’re still putting on layers!

Why are you doing this dumbfounding deed?
Because . . . you want to be the best!
You want to be the Walloping Winner of the Dress-‘Till-You-Drop Duel.

Perspiration pours down your face.
You are, after all, wearing one hundred and twenty-one pieces of clothing . . .
and it is the middle of July.
But you are no namby-pamby.
You are indefatigable.
You will triumph!

The crowd stares at you in a catatonic stupor.
With a grunt, you reach out your foot and snag another sweater.
You quickly flick the sweater up onto your outstretched arm.
You work the sweater over your head and into position.
You are now wearing one hundred and twenty-two pieces of clothing.
You walk . . . no, you lumber . . . no, you waddle over to the next item of clothing.

You continue for ten . . .
   . . . twenty
         . . . thirty minutes.
                     An elongated eternity stretches by.

Finally, only one man stands between you and glory.
However, his highfalutin boasts are braggadocio.
His bombastic prattle is piffle and twaddle.
This year he will fall.
There are five minutes to go; victory is within your grasp!
You begin bending down towards a huge loafer.

Then . . . you stop.
Your strength suddenly slips away.
The weight becomes too much for you.
You topple backward, arms flailing helter-skelter.
A lugubrious howl wrenches from your throat.
You grind into the ground.
The crowd cries in consternation, “Awwww!”

You can’t get back up.
Your roly-poly rotundity renders you incapable of mobility.
There’s simply too many . . .
   . . . too many
         . . . too many

You never wear more than two layers of clothing for the rest of your life.


CJ wrote this poem in 2010 for a high school poetry slam. It took first place.

When have you done some “dumbfounding deed” that culminates in epic failure? We appreciate any thoughtful and respectful comments.


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