At last, the long-awaited finale of the televised poem competition had arrived.
The pope, who was a keen lyricist and writer of poems, had to everyone’s surprise entered the competition. He immediately announced that he would only be reciting poems about personal spiritual experiences. Despite this limitation, it turned out he was gifted with words and he had made it all the way to the final. His opponent was the favorite to win: a Harvard linguistics professor on the top of his career and with a mind as sharp as a knife’s edge.
The Harvard professor was up first. He was informed of the rules: “Two minutes to come up with a poem, and it must involve Timbuktu.” The clock started, and when the time was up the Harvard professor approached the microphone:
“On my way through desert sand
Met a lonely caravan
Men on camels, two by two
The crowd went wild. Commentators were lyrical. This was without a doubt the best poem of the competition. The Harvard professor had done it again! But as the crowd settled down their spirits sank. As far as anyone knew, the pope had never been to Timbuktu, which was soon confirmed by the TV commentator. How could the pope have a personal spiritual experience with such a word?!
The elderly pope was walked to the stage and informed of the same rules: “Two minutes to come up with a poem, and it must involve Timbuktu.” The clock was started, but after only a short thought the pope stopped it. Everybody in the competition had used all the provided time, and as the pope approached the microphone a sigh went through the audience. Was he withdrawing from the competition? Would it all end in anti-climax?
No, to everybody’s surprise the pope started to recite his poem based on personal spiritual experience:
“Me and Tim to Brisbane went
Met some ladies, cheap to rent.
They were three and we were two,
So I bucked one, and ‘Tim-bucked-two.'”