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It's taken Vulture Central's highly-trained team of experts an entire week to trawl through the hundreds of entries for our 419 haiku competition.

You'll probably want to stick the kettle on before settling down to enjoy the fruits of our readers' fertile poetic imaginations. As for us, we're off for a stiff drink. Enjoy.

First up is competition regular Jasmine Strong, who is still bitter about the mauling she received for her entry in our JenniCam compo:

Maybe I can learn
Counting is a poem's virtue
Especially haiku.

Lester Haines thought that
He ought to poke fun at me
For my last poem's form.

To recap, Jasmine exceeded the 17 syllables the law allowed for a JenniCam haiku. She has not, lamentably, taken our advice and invested in an abacus. Still, it's her second mention on The Register - a rare honour.

Of course, we're not sticking religiously to the Japanese haiku rule which states that the composition must contain at least one seasonal reference. Mark Haigh clearly already knew about that bit, but forgot to bother with the 419 part of the challenge, and then over-ran by one syllable:

A T-shirt for me?
to wear, covered in blossom
Under the apple tree

Shouldn't that be cherry blossom? Let's ask Paul Spencer:

Three hundred million
when the cherry blossom blooms;
keep confidential

Matthew Roche, Peter Sheil and Chris Stuart-Bennett also merit a mention for seamlessly blending the spirits of Mount Fuji and downtown Lagos:

Spring cherry blossoms
fade, impermanent. Just as
all of your savings.

New year's first frail buds
killed by unexpected frost.
A 419 scam?

Like Lotus blossom,
My money vanishes fast
With email requests.

And Lucky Dog Books get a heads-up for referring to Lagos by name, although we haven't the foggiest idea what the rest of it is all about:

Huge sum of money
Old pond & olive waters
The walls of Lagos

Staying in Lagos for a minute, but moving away from under the cherry tree, Roger Byrne get a bit more direct:

Millions of Dollars
Reside in Lagos account?
Pull the other one

Quite so. The fool / money / soon-parted concept proved popular. Light applause please for Paul Barrows, Philip Urea, Craig Zeni, Steven Walker, Aaron Howard and Philip E. Perry:

Deposit wired through;
boneheads wait expectantly
for great piles of cash

Covet quick riches-
Oxen manure you receive,
no sympathy due

Old Kabila's son
Dollars in sunny Lagos
Bring checkbook, sucker

I gave all my money
and waited ...
doh! 419 times

I've got tons of cash,
I'll give you some for your help -
Are you a moron?

Oh, WOE! Woe is me,
my GREED, and STUPIDITY
419 got me.

Good stuff, although still some problems there with the LAW OF SEVENTEEN. The oxen manure reference, btw, relates to the most excellent AUGEAN STABLE 419 email, as discussed here.

We'd hoped that many entries would include direct extracts from actual 419 emails, and we were not disappointed. David Schluter, Thad Humphries, Tim Burgi, Brad Myers, John S. Whitford and Robert Ramsey demonstrate the technique:

ghostly accident,
prince Kashinhand dead. small fee
to prove trust, god bless

Nigerian widow
Of President Mobuto
Wants all your money

Calvary Greetings,
Modalities in order,
Unforeseen expense

African princess
oesophageal cancer
Nigerian scam

Gold lays a wasting,
YOUR UNRESERVED ASSISTANCE...
Springtime we are rich.

Ghostly car bloodbath
Come and collect your free cash
God will reward you

You'll need to be a bit of a 419 aficionado to successfully play spot-the-reference with that little lot. However, we think everyone will be able to relate to the next batch, courtesy of Robert Darke, Ben Holness, Jeff Lane, Liam and Russell Dunn:

I really hate spam!
Not everyone will think that
this Haiku is fun.

New emails arrive
Four hundred and Nineteen spams
My delete key fades

Oh, Nigerian
Friend, your offers I have missed,
now inbox is full

Their moolah to flow,
Deposed dictators lament -
Patience my inbox

Dear Paul Okoro
A kind and helpful spammer
Please will you sod off.

Agreed. Now, tradition dictates that we must at this point take a short breather to review some of the more off-the-wall entries, or those which defy pigeonholing. Try this for starters:

Broda, mi is kiap
Mani in di beng tok hait
Mi laik helpim, yeah?

That's Merlin's offering in a "Babawilly's Dictionary of Pidgin English Words and Phrases" stylee. Rispek. Moving swiftly on, here's a political entry from Rupert Stubbs:

We laugh at the fools
Handing their money to thieves,
While we vote Labour.

No idea what you mean. This from Chris M, on the other hand, is pretty clear:

SIR, MY DAD IS DEAD
AND YADA YADA YADA...
SEND ME SOME MONEY!

A bit too direct, perhaps? What about this 'Monopoly' reference from Brian Simmons?:

Nigerian Chest -
BANK ERROR IN YOUR FAVOUR
PAY TWO THOUSAND POUNDS

Wrapping up this section we have Rory Campbell-Lange, who was clearly so bogged down in an IT trauma nightmare scenario, that he clear forgot what the competition was about:

It's Monday again
Servers down after patching:
No coffee til done.

Bless.

MOST HONOURABLE MENTION

Coming up is a list of entries which, in our humble opinion, deserve extra plaudits. It's certainly a mixed bag of approaches and styles but all these entrants (listed in alphabetical order) certainly cheered us up. A "mugu", for the record, is a derogatory 419er term for victim:

Al:

Coins held in bank hole
Western fund unlock said quids
Help free for percent?

Alien:

wily N'gungo!
with all those Americans
someone has to bite.

Laird Brown (with apologies to P Diddy):

Soft money calling.
Send a brother all hard cash,
On the 4-1-9.

James Carne:

If it looks too good
to be true; well, then it is
too good to be true

Myron Chaffee:

You can have billions
Just let me fondle for that
Wallet on your ass

Pippia Cristian:

Top 419ers
Won't get out of bed to spam
For less than ten mill.

John Croall:

Shafted dictator's
Long-lost loot goes a-begging
D'you fancy a share?

John Deters:

Photographs capture
My greed with a funny sign --
"I am a mugu."

John Green:

HUSBAND FELL LIKE LEAF:
SHAKE THE MONEY TREE FOR ME;
HALF THE LEAVES ARE YOURS!

Simon Holt:

Urgent Proposal
Involving deceased people
Farewell to savings.

Andrew Moore:

This is a Haiku
About the low IQ of
419 victims

Mike Ritson:

Sadddam, Moogarbe;
Much Doll@r, Make DAD Ritch
Go WESTERN UNION!!!!!!!!

Michael Russell:

Send money to me:
For you. Administration
Has left leaves unturned.

Brian Simmons:

comedy in caps:
NIGERIAN STUPID TAX -
SEE FORM FOUR ONE NINE

Ryan M. Suydam:

i gave you my dough
boy my life will be better
when i get my cut

Kelly Talcott:

mysterious mail
distinguished salutation -
send account number

Lord Darth Vader:

A lonlely widow;
modalities demurraged,
send by Western Union

Shaun Willson:

Greed overcomes all sense
Nigerians bait their trap
Hear their cruel belly laugh

Yes, we can hear it now. And with that magnificent complilation we are ready to announce our

MOST EXCELLENT WINNERS

As is the local custom, we have decided to award - in addition to the five Strategy Boutique t-shirts - five runners-up prizes. We're not entirely certain what these will be (lunch in Amsterdam with Maryam Abacha, perhaps), but we'll think of something over the weekend. Here are those lucky people, in alphabetical order:

David Hurcomb:

£ONE OH COMMA OH
OH OH COMMA OH OH OH
(TEN MILLION POUNDS)

Gervase Markham:

cherry blossom falls
like foolish Americans
for a 419.

Ed Moore:

Lagos mailing you
Pictures of your box of cash
Spring sky above, green?

Kelly Talcott:

generous kind sir
of sterling reputation -
help with stranded funds?

Roger Wareham (2 verses)

Twenty million
untraceable addresses:
msn.com

Lagos police force
will track down 419ers.
Do not make me laugh

Quite so. It is now our distinct pleasure to announce those who, according to the El Reg judging panel, offered just a little bit more. Forgive us if you disagree with our choice, but it will take us a week in a darkened room to recover from "haiku blindness" provoked by reading through more than 8,500 lyrical syllables. A tough job, although ultimately rewarding, as these choice cuts demonstrate:

Erik Ahlefeldt:

Autumn's email flood,
Small advance ensures windfall.
Outside, swine fly south.

Nick Davidson:

Cold winds blow money
Trapped still by an unkind fate,
Your trust rewarded.

Ewan:

I HAVE MAGIC BEANS
BURIED IN IRAQUI SOIL.
BUY THEM WITH YOUR COW.

Michael Friesen:

Winter in Lagos
Dusty, lonely hotel room.
Where is the money?

Peter Howard:

I wish to transfer
$100,000,000
10% for you?

Well done indeed to our winners for those tremendous efforts. In fact, well done and thank-you to all of our entrants who exceeded our wildest expectations in terms of both quality and quantity of entries. It's been emotional. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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