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 symptoms of Covid are vague:
It may or may not bring an ague,
And your shortness of breath
Could mean imminent death.
It’s a 21st-century plague.

My girlfriend, as long as I’ve known ’er,
Has been happiest being a loner.
Now the whole of the nation
Is in self-isolation,
She’s desolate: my, my, Corona.

Always an uncommon girl’s name because of the association with the beer brand, Corona is set to become even less popular because of its association with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the disease COVID-19, which has brought everyday life and the economy to a halt around the world in 2020. Nicknames for the coronavirus include Corona, Rona, and Covid, with or without initial capitals.

Nearly twenty young crows could be seen
Gathered tightly en masse on the green.
Out of breath, and in shock,
An old crow told the flock,
“Keep your distance, you corvid nineteen!”

The sculptures of A. Giacometti
Were spare, almost simple, and yet he
Caught all of life’s rigours
In tall, walking figures
Constructed of lumpy spaghetti.

The stick-thin “walking man” sculptures of Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966) are cast in bronze rather than pasta, but their lumpy surfaces add to their pathos. Giacometti also painted, made prints, and sculpted nudes and especially heads.

The king of the airbrush, Chris Foss,
Painted covers you’d stumble across
On old novels of space.
What’s that look on your face?
Not a keen SF reader? Your loss.

Chris Foss (b. 1946) designed over a thousand book covers for the UK versions of science fiction novels in the 1970s and ’80s, adorning them with scenes which usually bore no relation to the novels within but instead created fantastic worlds of their own. He also worked on the design of key science fiction films of the era, such as Alien, Superman and Flash Gordon.

The impossible objects of Escher
Loop endlessly. Here’s a refresher:
The top of his stairs
Join the bottom. So where’s
The beginning? Look closer. No pressure.

Beloved of mathematicians and scientists, M. C. Escher (1898–1972) was neglected in the art world, even in his native Netherlands, until late in his life. He is known primarily for his lithographs, woodcuts, and mezzotints inspired by mathematical objects, tesselation, and impossible perspectives.

I like Jan van Eyck. I’ll be clearer:
His meticulous eye draws one nearer.
In his fine Arnolfini
Double portrait, a teeny
Reflection appears in a mirror.

The Arnolfini Portrait (1434) by the Bruges-based Early Northern Renaissance painter Jan van Eyck (c. 1385–1441) hangs in London’s National Gallery.

My granny resides in a flat
At the back of our house, with her cat,
Her collection of spoons,
And her Matt Monro tunes.
Why not stop for some tea and a chat?

To post your epistle, just go
To the heart of the city, and show
Your sealed, addressed letter
To the clerk—as you’d better
Buy stamps—at the grand GPO.

My son’s children? Oh my, they’re all grand:
There’s Charlotte, Amelia, and
Isabella, Sophia,
And Ella, and Mia,
And Harry. A few more than planned.

The grugru nut grows on a palm
In Brazil. There are projects to farm
It for oil, an idea
Which its backers are clear
Would protect the world’s forests from harm.

The nut of the grugru or macauba palm has a hard shell and an endosperm tasting of coconut. It yields two kinds of oil suitable for biodiesel and for human consumption, and can be harvested from existing trees on agricultural farmland with no change in land use. The production potential of macauba oil exceeds global palm oil production, with clear potential benefits for the world’s rainforests.

“These old papers reach up to my head!
And there’s boxes all over your bed.
All this junk is obscene—
The whole place needs a clean.”
“I love trash,” Oscar grouchily said.

To know better their gods, Graeco-Roman
Adorers would watch for an omen:
From Olympus on high
Comes a bolt from the sky!
Oh, that Jupiter/Zeus, such a showman.

Teaching simple grammatical rules
Is deficient today in our schools.
Take this principal’s letter:
“We could of done better.”
My five-year-old could have, you fools.

Some red or green grapes in a bunch
Make a tasty addition to lunch.
If you let them ferment,
They can help you get bent—
Drinking grapes will take off, I’ve a hunch.

My slavering maw is agape
At its sweet, oval, purple-skinned shape.
What a beautiful morsel!
No possible force’ll
Prevent me from peeling a grape.

Metrosexual bible GQ
Is compulsory reading if you
Want a monthly, slick fashion
Magazine with a passion—
A gentleman knows what to do.

I says to my local GP,
“Doctor, doctor, I think I’m a tree!”
Says the doc, “I’ll be brief—
Time to turn a new leaf.”
Then he fashions a table from me.

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