Definitely Limericks by Rory Ewins


My normal emotion’s chagrin
When exposing my pasty white skin
On a beach in the Med.
But on Bondi, instead,
I’m embarrassed because I’m so thin.

IKEA’s opponents prepared
For its annual meeting. Unscared,
They assembled their case;
Knocked up tables apace.
Sad for them, it was all-too-well chaired.

Is a culture so terribly strange
Whose traditions are subject to change?
Some begin, others end.
Evolution’s our friend,
As it helps to extend custom’s range.

My book in limerick form.

A fine astronomical prize,
Chamaeleon hides in the skies
Of the southernmost nations.
(Note: no constellations
Are known to hide out and eat flies.)

The flap of a butterfly’s wing
Causes chaos: that one little thing
Set the weather adrift,
Gave the markets a lift,
And made fractal bloke Mandelbrot king.

Okay, so chaos theory didn’t actually cause climate change, the stock-market boom, or all those early-’90s T-shirts with funny patterns on them (actually, maybe it did cause those), but it’s a powerful tool for explaining any nonlinear dynamic system. Just watch out for those effective Lepidoptera.

The chapati, a flat wholemeal bread,
Is a food on which Hindus are fed.
Don’t spread it with jam
Or with Vegemite, ma’am:
It’s intended for curries instead.

My chapbook is tiny and wee;
A bookish chap sold it to me.
My thighs I doth slap
At its verses and crap—
Like this limerick, good chap. Tee-hee-hee!

Johnny Appleseed’s legend had grown
Like the trees from the seeds he had sown
Near the southern Great Lakes,
But his fans made mistakes—
Johnny Kudzuseed’s less fondly known.

John Chapman introduced the apple to large parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Kudzu has reached Illinois from the South and should smother his legacy any day now.

To assassinate someone is crude,
But their character? That’s simply rude.
A murder is one thing,
But slurs aren’t the done thing:
They learn that you spread ’em, you’re screwed.

A characteristic attraction
Of limericks is bawdy distraction
From wordy pursuits.
So what are the fruits
Of a wordy one? Boredom? Inaction?

“Hey, pardon me, boy, but what’s down
This here line?” “Why, a place of renown!
It’s the Tennessee hub
Of our train network, bub:
Chattanooga, the choo-choo-based town.”

For many years, most trains bound for Dixie passed through the Southern city of Chattanooga. Nowadays it’s known for more than the Glenn Miller tune... if you live down that way. If not, it’s known only for the Glenn Miller tune. Sorry, Chattanooga.

The slivers of cheese that he fed ’er
Were far from the tastiest Cheddar,
But her love of the bland
Made her promise her hand.
Now he’s feeding her Edam to bed ’er.

There really is too much to tell, see,
Of Cheltenham, Chelmsford and Chelsea.
They’re English, of course,
Which betokens, perforce,
There are no other places as swell, see.

Or so some would say. Actually, they’d make a passable Cook’s tour of southern England for anyone planning to visit only places whose names start with Chel-.

Some weapons leave peacemakers flustered:
“Those chemicals just can’t be trusted.”
But others, alas,
See the virtues of gas:
The alternatives don’t cut the mustard.

Thought America, “Baghdad is busted!
Its chemical weapons are clustered
In silos and bunkers.”
But some wars are clunkers:
Seems all Iraq’s missiles had rusted.

“My dear, though the chersonese near you
Has an isthmus you seem to revere, you
Should know—I’ll convince you—
It’s just a peninsu-
la.” “La, la, la, la, I can’t hearrr you!”

Our stubborn geography-admirer knows better: a chersonese (stressed on ker) is a particular kind of peninsula, with an isthmus.

Dig around in most anywhere’s dirt,
And you’re likely to find, if alert,
Microcrystalline quartz
Of a number of sorts,
Such as agate, flint, jasper—all chert.

I landed a freshwater cheven
(Or chavender) after eleven.
This luckless young chub
Made delectable grub:
Down the little red lane to fish heaven.

Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler has some tempting recipes.

I mildly derided my bride
For childishly chiding our guide
On our honeymoon tour.
She was sooo immature—
That Ghost Train was such a cool ride.

Now, children, let’s sit for a while,
And I’ll read you... No hair-pulling, Kyle!
Now, this story is... Bridget!
Don’t fiddle and fidget!
You’ll make me so cross that I’ll... I’ll...

The house I grew up in had stacks
Of white chimneys. I couldn’t relax
In the summer—they all
Needed painting. I’d crawl
On the roof and re-cover their cracks.

I was actually painting their chimneystacks, the parts above the roof.

“Chinese gooseberry” didn’t quite suit
The promotional plans for this fruit
In New Zealand. Their game
Was to simply rename
It the kiwi: brown, furry and cute.

The bunch of cilantro cried: “Slander!
How dare you call me, coriander,
The herb Chinese parsley?
A parsley? How ghastly!
That personally gets up my dander.”

He attempted one chin-up too far:
Couldn’t haul himself up to the bar
On the ninety-ninth try.
“Never mind,” said some guy
Who was watching. “Chin up, man. Cigar?”

A masterpiece? Not to my mind—
It has woodchips and resin behind!
That so-called Vermeer
Is a phony veneer.
It’s been painted on chipboard, you’ll find.

She’s chatty and cheerful and chirrupy,
Likes ponies and horses all stirrupy,
Thinks lambsies are lovely,
Is gentle and dovely
And sugary, sickly and syrupy.

Rain pattered, relentlessly drizzly,
On earth full of gravel, all chisley,
And soaked through the loam
Into Grandpa’s new home...
(I’m a mole, so the ending ain’t grisly.)

The chivachie conquered, or nearly,
The Valley of Death, cavalierly,
But woe, the six hundred!
Foes volley’d and thunder’d;
Which wasn’t that chivalrous, really.

An archaic word for a cavalry raid—with light apologies to Tennyson.

It’s chockers; it’s totally full.
Couldn’t stuff in another, no bull.
Wait, a little more space...
Chuck it into the case,
Hold the end of this strap and then pull.

An evergreen tropical tree
Made of chocolate? I’m bouncing with glee!
It comes from it? Wow—
So I plant this cacao,
And there’s even more chocolate for me?

What me grandmother put on me plate
Wasn’t really that terribly great:
Those boats of cold gravy
Could drown a whole navy.
It’d choke a brown dog, it would, mate.

Would a chokeberry cause you to croak?
If it’s stuck in your throat, you may choke
On this tart little fruit.
You should give it the boot,
Right along with this obvious joke.

Ken referred to his hen as a chook
And from Henry received an odd look.
You see, Kenneth was Aussie,
And Hank, well, because he
Was a Yank, he knew something was crook.

Chook is Australian slang for a chicken, and crook is Australian slang for “wrong” (as in that’s crook) or “ill” (as in feeling crook).

Get a move on, ya big tub of lard—
Go an’ round up the chooks in the yard.
Come on, after them chickens!
Yeah, run like the dickens!
Now, shut that gate! There, not so hard.

Here’s a reading of this limerick.

This metrical term won’t describe
Its own stress pattern; poets would gibe
At a KOR-ee-am-BUS.
To avoid any fuss,
Call it -AM-bus—and never imbibe.

The choriambus, more commonly known as a choriamb, is a poetic foot consisting of two long syllables separated by two short ones (a trochee followed by an iamb). Choriambus is not a choriambus.

In Christchurch, the South Island city,
The churches looked ever so pretty,
Until a big quake
Gave ’em all a good shake
And a bunch tumbled down. Such a pity.

New Zealand’s second-largest city suffered a 7.1-magnitude earthquake on 4 September 2010, destroying many of its historic buildings and badly damaging its infrastructure. Amazingly, because the quake struck at night rather than during business hours, nobody was killed. Sadly, the next one was far worse...

First pictures and trinkets and plaster,
Then masonry, faster and faster,
Shook madly and tumbled,
As everything rumbled
In Christchurch’s second disaster.

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake on 22 February 2011 did far more damage than the earlier one because of its proximity to the city and the ground’s surface. Because it struck at lunchtime it also claimed many lives, making it one of New Zealand’s deadliest natural disasters.

An atheist pupil cried, “Miss,
If I’m Christless, how come my name’s Chris?”
“Yes, it does seem quite odd
That it references God.
You should ask your dad Zeus about this.”

So it’s Christmas, and what have I done?
Not completed my card list, for one,
Or bought tinsel, or food,
Or some gifts for my brood...
I could get away clean if I run.

A strippergram? Not for a vicar—
The strain is too much for his ticker.
Gorillagram? No—
Too Darwinian, bro.
But a Christogram—that one’s the kicker.

I’m sorry to report that a Christogram is actually a graphic symbol of Christ, not a fancy-dress entertainment for parish birthday parties.

A chronopher carries the time
From a source to the furthermost clime
Using pulses of power.
When wondering the hour,
We hail its electrical chime.

A truckie of plentiful girth
On the Nullarbor suffered a dearth
Of Swan Lager. He knew
What he then had to do:
Chuck a U-ie and drive back to Perth.

There’s a word we beware of down under,
And given its meaning, no wonder:
A sensible fella
Will wear an umbrella
When, hurled from a window, comes chunder.

“I’m perfectly sober!” he thundered,
But given his colour, I wondered.
His face a bright pink,
He made straight for the sink,
Held the sides, leant his head in and chundered.

The Argentine bird called the chunga
Has an ardent, insatiable hunger
For insects and snakes.
Its appetite makes
It a terror—though many years younger.

The chunga is a relative of the extinct phorusrhacoids or “terror birds”, ten-foot-tall carnivores that stalked the plains of Cenozoic South America kicking giant sloths to death, or whatever it is that terrifying birds do.

That waterway? Naught but a runnel!
I’ll make it my mission to tunnel
Beneath its expanse
From Dover to France.
The Thirties will bring us a Chunnel!

The Channel Tunnel was a word and a dream long before it was a reality.

Ol’ Churchill knew just what to do
When it looked like his country was through.
“We shall never surrender,”
Said Blighty’s defender.
“Instead, we shall fight World War II.”

I chuse to use spellyngs abstruce,
Nott to mention, of course, owt of use:
So to say, I preferr
(Althowh uthers demurre)
To use spellyngs that bryng me abuse.

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