I wrote these for the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form, a magnificent, ambitious, and slightly insane attempt to write a limerick for every word in the English language, one letter group at a time. You can see my additions and revisions there, but I like to keep them here as well; the menu below leads to permanent pages for each letter group. You can also see some miscellaneous and co-written pieces, an area especially aimed at OEDILFers, a page for mature readers, and pages of limericks about fine artists, Australian rock bands, Africa, the Americas and the Pacific. One of these limericks, and a video of me reading it, featured in an AP article about the OEDILF at the end of 2017, and briefly on the Washington Post and New York Times sites. Two featured in The RSPB Anthology of Wildlife Poetry, edited by Celia Warren (A&C Black, 2011).
At Adelaide Oval, fans know
That their team will put on a good show.
When the Crows drop their bundle,
They head back to Rundle
Street, chasing a place that serves crow.
Adelaide’s main shopping street is a twenty-minute walk from the Oval, which is enough time to work up an appetite after watching your AFL team—the Adelaide Crows—drop their bundle: that is, panic, lose their self-control, and give up.
In his love life, Lee’s down on his luck—Lee’s
A loser. He’s feelin’, well, stuck. Lee’s
Just gone on a date
With his mate’s bird’s best mate,
But will she be the one? Lee’s got Buckley’s.
In Australia and New Zealand, if you have Buckley’s—short for Buckley’s chance, hope or show—then it’s highly unlikely you’ll succeed. A sympathetic soul will sometimes observe that you have two chances, Buckley’s and none.
You’re a guest in our home, mate, a blow-in:
Turned up uninvited, not showin’
Due deference to those
Who were born here. I s’pose
You can do the odd job before goin’.
In Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Massachusetts, a blow-in is a newcomer to a place, regarded by grudging locals as an interloper. The term can be applied to city-dwellers moving to the countryside or vice versa, or to people from interstate, another region or another country. Blow-ins are considered ignorant of local ways and transient, although in time that can change; give it a few decades and see how you go.
This bloke down at Centrelink tol’ me
“Try harder or else lose yer dole”—me
Sole means of support!
Well, I’ll dance for ya, sport,
When I feel like it. You don’t control me.
Unfortunately, the staff at Centrelink, the Australian government agency responsible for JobSeeker and other social security payments, do in significant measure control the lives of people who depend on them. In the case of people looking for work, this means reporting to them every fortnight, applying for an agreed number of jobs in that time, and attending all job interviews and any required training, in order to receive an income equivalent to around 75% of the poverty line.
In the Outback, me ute ups and carks
It; it’s bloody annoying—it narks
Me. Them meant-to-be-clever
Mechanics should never
Have messed with that battery! Bright sparks.
A bright spark is someone who’s clever or witty, but is often used ironically, especially in Australia. A ute is a utility vehicle or pickup.
Och aye’s a phrase Scots dinnae say,
Nor fair dinkum most Aussies—no way.
They’re phrases that smack
Of invention, which lack
Much connection to either today.
Yes, it’s true—or should I say aye, it’s dinkum: these two phrases, so regularly used in stereotypical depictions of Scots and Australians, are rarely heard from the lips of either. That’s not to say that the individual elements aren’t: Scots often say aye for yes, and I’ve heard a few ochs in the wild as expressions of exasperation or bewilderment, but they don’t automatically, or often, go together—let alone get appended with the noo, meaning “right now”.
Aussies, meanwhile, still sometimes call something dinkum if it’s genuine or true, though you’ll more often nowadays hear its descendant dinky-di, but we don’t really say fair dinkum unless it’s a sly dig at stereotypes. You’re more likely to hear fair in the phrase fair go. We don’t wear hats with corks hanging off the brim, either, although maybe one or two bright sparks did once upon a time in the Outback.