Definitely Limericks

I wrote these for the Omnificent English Dictionary in English 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 co-written pieces, an area especially aimed at OEDILFers, and a page of limerick biographies of famous artists. 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).

The names of glam rock legends litter
The ’70s charts. One big-hitter
Was Bolan, who made
A pop platform for Slade,
Alvin Stardust, Mud, Sweet, and G. Glitter.

“Call me Dave”? Cameron wasn’t some bloke,
But our terrible leader, no joke.
Not just one time, but twice,
The man rolled Britain’s dice.
Now he’s sold us a pig in a poke.

Self-described “compassionate conservative” David Cameron became leader of the British Conservative Party in 2005 and prime minister in 2010, overseeing years of government austerity and worsening inequality. After narrowly avoiding the break-up of the United Kingdom in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, he held a further referendum in 2016 on Britain’s membership of the European Union, in the hope of silencing the Euroskeptic minority within his party. He resigned on the day that referendum result was announced.

There are things we were not meant to know!
Our design’s for the LORD to bestow.
Do not tinker with life!
We shall bring nought but strife
If we gene-splice! Begone, GMO!

The geneticist calmly explains,
“Our design has bestowed us with brains
And the means to create.
Wouldst thou modify fate,
That has shown us these limitless plains?”

This verse you are reading is good.
Could it be even better? It could
-n’t. (Apart from that there
Enjambed line ending, where
Most would have a full stop, and I should.)

“What’s GNU?” queried Linus, confused.
“GNU’s not Unix!” said Richard, enthused.
“So what is it?” asked Linus.
“Let not closed source confine us!”
“I’ll just build my own OS,” Linus mused.

GNU (pronounced like the animal), a recursive acronym for “GNU’s Not Unix!”, is a freely licensed collection of software based on the (closed-source) Unix operating system and other Unix software. As the GNU operating system kernel isn’t production-ready, GNU software is often used with the Linux kernel. This combination is commonly known as Linux or GNU/Linux: Linux founder Linus Torvalds favours the former, while GNU founder Richard Stallman favours the latter.

The fictional Linus here uses the coder’s pronunciation of “oss” for OS.

The pestiferous stuff we call glitter
Is a hard-to-remove form of litter.
In seas, microplastic
Is far from fantastic
In the innards of many a critter.

The language the Greek people speak
Is called Greek, or in shortened form, Gk.
Yes, the language’s name
Is exactly the same
As the people’s. That’s hardly unique.

1 GJ is one billion joules,
Or a gigajoule. Fossil-based fuels
Provide GJs aplenty:
Three barrels, ’round 20.
Don’t waste all that energy, fools.

A barrel of oil provides approximately 6 gigajoules of energy. 1 gigajoule is equivalent to 278 kilowatt-hours, so a typical UK household consumes about 16.5 GJ of energy per year (4,600 kWh, 2010 figures), equivalent to a little under three barrels of oil. The average US household uses 2½ times as much, around seven barrels.

1 gigajoule also translates to 239,000 kilocalories or food calories, around 100 times the adult recommended daily intake of 2500 kcal for men and 2000 for women. So, if we could eat oil, a barrel of it would feed an adult for almost two years. If we could plug ourselves into our (UK) household electricity supply, our power bills would go up by about 20%. And if we could run our household power supply on Big Macs (508 kcal each in the UK), we would need to feed it a little over 21 a day. (An American household would need 50, even with the slightly higher calorie count of US Big Macs.)

When Juanita crossed over the border,
ICE came to arrest and deport ’er,
No ifs, buts or maybes.
And to house her seized babies:
Concentration camps, made to Trump’s order.

People have been crossing the Rio Grande for millennia. In 2018, Donald Trump crossed the Rubicon. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) now routinely separates children from their parents, in line with Trump administration policy. So many have been confined in detention centers for unaccompanied migrant children that a tent city has been erected in Tornillo, Texas, to house the overflow. At the time of writing, Trump has held office for just under seventeen months.

Although the term is primarily associated with Nazi death camps, concentration camp was used in Cuba and South Africa at the end of the 19th century for prison camps holding persecuted minorities and political prisoners, after an older U.S. military term for camps for the temporary accommodation of large numbers of troops. Nowadays it is also used figuratively, to describe places of oppression, suffering and inhumanity.

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