Definitely Limericks by Rory Ewins


“Pray, hush now, and let down thy hair!”
Calls the prince to the maiden so fair,
So that lusty Rapunzel
Unwinding her buns’ll
Allow him to clamber up there.

Clamber is a variant spelling of clamour (a synonym of clam, to silence, the likely source of the expression clam up), as well as being what manly princes do in the presence of long hair.

In Cambridge, the bridge the most fair
Is the one at the college of Clare.
The surfeit of balls
On its elegant walls
Lends each crossing a May-Week-ish air.

Oh, tell me of clarified butter!
I’ll melt at the secrets you utter.
When mustard seeds sputter,
My heart starts to flutter—
Ghee whiz, I’m a curry-mad nutter.

Children, classical architecture’s solemn.
Would you please, if you plan to extol ’em,
Show the Parthenon’s features
Respect, like your teachers—
Not say, “Phwoar, get a load of that column!”

Any dude who knows Latin says “shame!”
When you call what you deprecate lame.
He knows it’s more mordicant
Calling it claudicant—
Both mean entirely the same.

Ernst Chladni was fond of vibrations,
Hence some of his clever creations:
Clavicylinders, played
Like pianos—parad-
ed by Ernst around various nations.

Chladni invented several instruments, chief amongst them the euphon and the clavicylinder. The clavicylinder had an internal cylinder with four glass cylinders attached, a felt-covered friction rod, and 63 iron rods joined to a keyboard. A treadle rotated the cylinder, and pressing the keys deployed the rods, which in turn brought the friction rod into contact with the cylinder, producing sounds as the rods vibrated. Chladni demonstrated his instruments throughout Europe at the start of the nineteenth century, delighting audiences and inspiring imitators; he kept their designs a secret for years, but eventually permitted a friend to make one and later published their design.

Unreliable engine goes “conk”;
Uncontrollable clunker goes “bonk”.
Inconsolable victim
Enunciates dictum:
“Ensure that your claxon goes ‘honk’!”

A cleanskin’s a cow with no brand,
Some anonymous plonk close to hand,
Or a person who’s clean,
Or whose crimes went unseen,
Hoping criminal charges won’t stand.

Originally referring to an unbranded farm animal, this Australian term was later used of people with no criminal record, and from the 1980s onwards has been used for cheap bottles of wine that show no maker on the label.

On clearways, you clearly don’t stop—
Ask any respectable cop.
You do and you’ll find
You get hit from behind,
’Cos your driving’s all over the shop.

Cleavage cavities aren’t gaps in chests,
So enough of your blasphemous jests.
The new embryo’s sphere
Full of fluid—in here
Is this blastocoel. Later come breasts.

The blastocoel is the fluid-filled cavity inside the blastula, the early-stage embryo produced by cleavage of an ovum.

How clement the weather is, darling!
How clear the sweet call of the starling!
How cloudless the skies!
What a joy to mine eyes!
Tell me, what’s given rise to thy snarling?

“Click here!” screams the banner ad, “Quick!
Punch the monkey!” Your eyes start to flick.
“Press the top of your mouse
And you could win a house!”
Yeah, as if... click click click click click click.

The clicket goes knockety-knock
On the door, with a clickety-clock
And a knockety-clickety,
STOP it! I’m stuck on the lock!

You’ve come down to earth with a bump,
And your husband or wife’s got the hump?
On the cliff edge you stand,
My friend. Here, take my hand,
And let’s one, two, three, run and then—

A cliff edge is a point at which dramatic change lies ahead, possibly not for the better. (This is a pretty bleak piece if you take it literally rather than figuratively, so please don’t. Things will look up soon. Think of all the limericks you haven’t read yet...)

“The climate is changing here, just
Like you said—turning paddocks to dust—
But it’s bulldust, I reckon,
That we did it. Check in
Our paper: in Rupert we trust.”

Columnists in the Murdoch press have been at the forefront of climate denial in Australia since the 1990s. After twenty or thirty years of denying that any change is happening at all, some are only now moving on to the second stage of denial:

1. It isn’t happening.
2. It’s happening, but we didn’t cause it.
3. It’s happening, and we caused it, but it won’t be that bad.
4. It’s happening, we caused it, and it’s bad, but there’s nothing we can do about it.
5. It’s happening, we caused it, it’s bad, and we could have done something about it, but it’s too late now.

Climate denialism: threat
To our fight against climate change, yet
Still appealing to many.
What chance is there any
Will recognize we’ve made it wet?

Industrialisation and our use of fossil fuels have made the world hotter and wetter, leading to fiercer storms, more flooding and sea-level rise, but too many climate deniers refuse to acknowledge the problem, let alone address it. Climate denialism is an industry in itself, with politicians and lobbyists backed by the fossil fuel industry doing all they can to delay action.

As I cling to the edge of this ledge,
I shall sing you this dignified pledge:
Should my fingerhold crumble,
I shan’t linger or grumble—
I’ll fling myself into that sedge.

If it’s valuable, though you may think it
Too delicate, really, to clink it,
If it glitters of gold
Or of silver, behold:
It is clinquant, this intricate trinket.

Thought I knew all my Roman gods. Who is
Cloacina? And what the hell (phew!) is
That smell? Pray explain:
She’s in charge of a drain?
Who on earth needs a goddess of sewers?

Cloacina presided over the Cloaca Maxima (the “Greatest Drain”), one of the world’s earliest sewage systems, which took all of Ancient Rome’s shit and dumped it in the Tiber. Of course you need a deity for that.

When I first saw Room 101’s clock,
It was striking thirteen, to my shock.
Now the clock has struck one,
And the rats have begun
Singing “Hickory Dickory Dock”.

It means someone who’s clumsy? Hey, neat.
Or a thick, heavy shoe? Can’t be beat.
Some kind of a yokel?
If he’s Aussie, the bloke’ll
Say clodhoppers just means his feet.

This word’s plural has transferred in Australian slang from its more widespread meaning of heavy shoes to the feet inside them, possibly under the influence of the word’s other sense of someone who’s heavy-footed or clumsy. The word originally meant a ploughman—hence its later association with heavy shoes—before coming to mean someone rustic, boorish and clumsy.

Doc, I know that the herb in your pot
Is biennial, and that it’s got
A stout taproot, and comes
From Eurasia, but crumbs—
Any clotbur has burs on, you clot.

It’s also known as the burdock.

At her hen party, Jess said, “It’s sucky
Not having a baby—you’re lucky.”
I shrugged, “I dunno.”
Jess said, “Watching kids grow
Must be awesome!” It sounds like she’s clucky.

In Australia, someone with a strong desire to have kids is said to be clucky, after the sound made by a broody chook.

I was clueless. “What happened? Oh, poo!
I hit Enter, and now the screen’s blue.
Does it mean that it’s dead,
Or it doesn’t like red?
To be honest, I haven’t a clue.”

Called tech support: “What do I do?”
His clueful reply: “The screen’s blue?
Turn the switch off and on.”
So I did—problem’s gone.
What a genius! Who knows how he knew?

My clumsiness typifies me
As a person of height (six foot three):
We distinguish ourselves
By colliding with shelves,
Or a doorframe or low-hanging tree.

More clumsiness happens when you’re
Even taller than that (six foot four):
You have reason to fear
Every fine chandelier,
For it might soon be found on the floor.

If a site’s full of words, this can twist ’em
In multiple ways; if you missed ’em,
It serves ’em up twice
So there’s more to entice.
Such a nice content management system!

If you wanna see news, CNN
Will inform you again and again
And again of what’s gone
On today, on and on,
And again and again and again.

To sample this network, get cable,
And all of the news TV’s able
To bring you will gush
In a pitiless rush
Till you wanna hide under the table.

The fur of a witch’s pet cat,
A bowler or stovepipe top hat,
A liquorice stick
Or the heart of Old Nick:
Yes, coal-black is blacker than that.

Coal’s stuck in the hold of our ship,
And to raise it may not be a snip.
What we need is some bloke
Who can scare up that coke—
So whip our coal, coal-whipper! Whip!

Europeans once thought it a berry,
But realised cochineal very
Much ain’t: “It’s a bug!”
The Oaxacans just shrug.
“It makes dye that’s as red as a cherry.”

Mesoamericans discovered millennia ago that an insect found on prickly pear cacti could be used to make a brilliant red dye, and when the Spanish turned up they went mad for it. Cochineal became Mexico’s second most valuable export after silver, with Oaxaca at the epicentre of the trade. The dye, known as carmine, was used widely in textiles and paints until the invention of longer-lasting coal-tar dyes in the 19th century.

After a century in the doldrums, the cochineal trade is again booming, this time as a natural food colouring. Your red cherry yoghurt won’t be vegan, then, although bugs won’t be the main culprit. (Cherries weren’t introduced to the Americas until the 1600s, so Oaxacans had to wait a few years to point out the resemblance.)

“I’m afraid, sir, the Duchess has just
Started speaking in Cockney. We must
Get her help.” “Is she loco,
Man?” “Guv, I should coco!
Gorblimey, she’s stuffed in the crust.”

The Duke’s ol’ dutch will be able to interpret for him, no doubt. Coco is “say so” in Cockney rhyming slang (originally from coffee and cocoa and tea and cocoa), while your crust is your head, same as your loaf. Gorblimey, guv, they don’t ’arf talk funny.

The cat wore a battered and faded
Top hat with a ribbon he’d braided.
Said Pat, “Look at that!
There’s a knot on that hat.”
Yes, the hat on the cat was cockaded.

To Banbury Cross on a cock-horse
Rides baby: a toy wooden-block horse
Goes trotting along
To the tot’s ringing song,
With its rider astride her white mock-horse.

The islands of Cocos, or Keeling,
One family once found appealing.
The locals’ new boss
Was “King” John Clunies-Ross;
With his heirs these Malays were left dealing.

The Indian Ocean Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, known by either name at different points (one for its coconuts, the other for its English discoverer), consists of a pair of coral atolls southwest of Indonesia. A Shetlander, John Clunies-Ross (1786–1854), moved to the archipelago in the 1820s, saw off an English rival, and established it as a private fiefdom, which he and his family ruled for the next 150 years. Although Britain annexed the islands in 1857, Queen Victoria later granted them in perpetuity to Clunies-Ross and his heirs.

The previously uninhabited islands were by now populated by Malays and Indonesians taken there as indentured workers, slaves or convicts by Clunies-Ross’s rival, Alexander Hare. Their descendants, known as Cocos Malays, developed a distinctive dialect and Muslim culture; significant communities of Cocos Malays today live in Malaysia, Singapore and Western Australia.

In the twentieth century the group was annexed to the Straits Settlements and then incorporated into Singapore, until finally being transferred to Australia in 1955, all while remaining the property of the Clunies-Ross family. By the 1970s, Australia lost patience with this feudal arrangement and pressured the family to sell it the title to the islands; in a referendum a few years later, most of the group’s 261 registered voters voted for integration with Australia.

People tend to have multiple faces;
Depending on which of our places
We’re in, we will code-switch
Between language modes which
Define us, to cover more bases.

I speak properly when I’m with Mother;
It ain’t like a rap wiv me bruvver.
This limerick, however,
Portrays how I’m clever:
I code-switch from one to the other.

The action of code-switching, stitching
Togetha yer accents, is bitchin’:
One’s register tends
To adapt to one’s friends.
Mate, it’s what makes a code switch bewitchin’.

One of my code-switching ways
Is to speak like the kids do; it says
That I’m still pretty young,
Which can help when among
Adolescents—it garners their praise.

For example, some young people in Britain pronounce says to rhyme with ways and praise nowadays. Sez who?

Though El Salvador now has moved on,
For some decades it used the colón.
Costa Ricans still use
The ₡. Don’t confuse
Them with cents! ¡Una gran confusión!

Almost eleven decades, in fact: the Salvadoran colón was in use from 1892 until its replacement by the US dollar in 2001. The Costa Rican colón was introduced in 1896, and is still in use today.

I suspect that I’m somewhat addicted
To writing these things unrestricted.
They’re usually good,
But I know that I should
Really do something else: I’m conflicted.

He’s an Aussie estranged from his flock; ’e
Likes copying us—hello, cocky!
I’m talkin’ to you,
Cockatoo at the zoo—
Hello cocky! Hello! Hello cocky!

He’s unfurlin’ his crest (there’s a shock)—’e
Looks ready to talk... hello, cocky!
He’s gunna, I know...
Hello cocky! Hello!
Hello cocky! Hello! Hello cocky!

At any zoo or bird park in the world, you can spot the Aussie tourists at the cockatoo display by listening for this traditional greeting.

“Had a cow of a day, did you, cocky?”
“Like a racin’ horse, mate, with no jockey.
First me wife broke her arm,
Then the bank took our farm.”
“What a shocker.” “Yeah, little bit rocky.”

A cocky or cow-cocky was a cockatoo farmer, a small farmer as opposed to Australia’s major land-owning farmers or squatters. A cow of a day is a rotten one.

Golden syrup on damper? Oh, boy!
And on dumplings? Mm-mmm! Cocky’s joy
On my ice cream? Yes, please!
And this toast? Just a squeeze!
And with Vegemite? ...That would annoy.

You may know it as treacle or mild molasses. Damper is a bush bread, while cocky here refers to the farmers (above).

Aussie tourist in London, not thrilled:
“Mate, yer takin’ the piss!” Still, he swilled
Down his pint. Feeling bold, he
Announced: “Try a coldie,
Youse Poms! Beer is heaps better chilled.”

One of the more tedious comments Aussies make about the British is that they drink “warm beer”, which when I was young and naive I thought meant that it had been warmed up, like mulled wine. All it actually means is that draught beer in UK pubs is served at room temperature, which in a cold climate makes perfect sense: beer drunk straight from the fridge in winter can be too cold. In Australia, though, especially on a summer evening after a day spent in the sun, a coldie is what you’re after, whether from the fridge or from an ice-filled esky.

Collaborators see in the devil
A chance to descend to his level.
To save their own skins,
They concur with his sins,
And conjoin with his demons to revel.

Three Michelin stars, and the waiter
Has heard from the floor: “Cold potater!”
Can it be? Froid potato?
Fetch the chef, garçon! Wait—oh.
Some Cockney chap calling you. Later.

In the olden days, cold-water flats
Weren’t uncommon, as rentier rats
Wouldn’t pay for hot water
As much as they oughter.
Amenity enmity, that’s.

When a geezer’s called fella or bloke,
Such descriptions we label colloq.
Hey, dude, they’re informal,
But perfectly normal—
Don’t fix ’em; the language ain’t broke.

When we colonized places, we checked ’em
For booty: some bums would inspect ’em.
So, colonization
Was not punctuation:
We took over countries and wrecked ’em.

The words are derived from colony, not colon, you ass.

That Samson is huge, a colossus.
Don’t piss the man off, or he’ll toss us
From pillar to post.
Just make like a ghost,
And hope that he don’t run across us.

As your family photographs fade,
Their chemicals slowly degrade,
And a colour cast taints
Their appearance: it paints
The wrong picture of life’s grand parade.

A colour cast is a tint of a particular colour across a photograph, which can be caused by problems in photo development or by the fading of dyes in prints over time. Scans of such images can sometimes be corrected digitally. Occasionally a colour cast might be desirable for artistic effect (for example, to make a new image look old): deliberately adding a cast is an element of colour grading and colour correction.

The old photograph under inspection
Has faded some; hence Col’s detection
Of odd-looking pinks
In its aspect. He thinks,
“I’ll subject it to colour correction.”

Faded photographs often end up with an unwanted colour cast. Adjusting digital scans of such images to restore realistic colours is known as colour correcting, resulting in a colour-corrected photograph. The terms are also sometimes applied to the colour grading of images for artistic effect.

Your movies look orange and teal,
Which is rather disturbing, I feel.
Colour grading them changes
Their look—something strange is
Afoot—the result isn’t real.

The emergence of digital image processing enabled better manipulation of colour, saturation and contrast in photographs and film, which was a boost to the post-production process of colour grading, or changing the overall colour balance of film or video for artistic effect. The 2000s saw a boom in colour-graded movies, particularly in complementary teal and orange (the former in the background and the latter in the foreground), leading many Hollywood blockbusters to look disturbingly similar.

From a circle with roughly scrawled grin
To a stick-figure lanky and thin,
Over time, kids express
Their artistic side less,
Till they’re left merely colouring in.

Black and white were the shades I would see
When I gazed at the tube, age of three,
But the year I turned eight,
Every vision turned great:
Mum and Dad bought a colour TV.

Combustibility causes hostility
When ignition engulfs the nobility.
Yes, combustibleness
Is a burning distress
For a baron who’s lacking agility.

I land on both feet with a thump
At the end of my parachute jump.
My adventure’s concluding:
“Work tomorrow,” I’m brooding.
I’ve come down to earth with a bump.

Your prose is the work of a hack,
And is subject, I think, to attack.
Signing off “time will tell”
May in your eyes read well,
But it’s bound to come in for some flack.

Mate, I reckon you’re onto a winner—
All you need is to ease up on dinner.
She told me her kind
Are the blokes she can’t find...
You’ll be harder to spot if you’re thinner.

So true... hang on. What? “Come in, spinner” is called during the Australian gambling game of two-up (where the spinners are two coins tossed in the air), but also at the end of a wind-up: when someone has been reeled in by the narrator of a fishy yet plausible story, he or she is let off the hook by its utterance. Of course, true masters of the art never actually use it.

Having comeliness means that you’re comely,
So someone won’t look on you glumly.
You’re pretty, for sure,
But it takes a bit more
For a chum to succumb to you dumbly.

The telephonist yawned as the laird
Told her how all his properties fared.
But he got his come-uppance:
She handed him tuppence
And said to call someone who cared.

A comma, is only a pain,
If encountered again, and again
Where you wouldn’t expect,
Yet is hard to detect
Where it’s needed, why do they refrain?

“Comic novels, at least for my money,
Must be clever and not only funny,
As the ones that have got
Far too silly a plot
Critics seldom take seriously, sonny.”

Sir, mine is intended as farce:
A hilarious satire of class
In current-day London,
Or as I call it, Fundon...
You see what I’ve punned on? No? Arse.

The Commonwealth, here in Australia,
Is the state. It might also avail ya
To learn that our land
Has six states in it, and
A profusion of awesome mammalia.

Okay, you probably already know the last bit. But non-Australians won’t likely know that the country was established as the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901, years before the British Empire became the British Commonwealth. In courts and laws, the federal state is routinely called the Commonwealth.

A cormorant sits on a rock
Temporarily, out in the loch.
If he stays for a while,
A wee shag on his pile,
He’s a commorant cormorant, Jock.

To commote is to cause a commotion,
As remote is to foster remotion:
Demotions of note,
Thanks to popular vote,
From the words we all quote with devotion.

What captures each student who delves
In the library’s lesser-used shelves?
The weighty compactus
Is what’ll attract us—
Or make us more compact ourselves.

In Australia, a compactus is a high-density mobile-shelving system, as used in archives and libraries. Sliding one row of shelves into the next can catch browsing Ph.D. students unawares.

Now competitive eating’s a thing,
More gustatory athletes will fling
Hot dogs into their maws.
Said enough now, because
I feel sick: up my food I will bring.

Competitive eating ranges from kids eating pies at town fairs to organized professional contests, usually only involving one type of food, such as burgers, hot dogs, pies or pancakes, and a set time limit. Gurgitators, as competitors are sometimes known, face serious potential damage to their digestive systems, and some have died from choking on food during contests. The record in Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest in New York, set by Joey Chestnut in 2021, stands at 76 hot dogs and buns in ten minutes.

Your beaten-up Skoda’s a mess,
But its handy compressibleness
Means that rather than wash it,
You simply could squash it—
The visual effect would be less.

More computerization? No way!
They already have far too much say
In controlling our lives:
A computer deprives
Me of ninety percent of my pay.

The programmer of a computer:
Part-builder and part-trouble-shooter.
Those zeroes and ones
Are all fine if it runs,
But too often the code-word is “neuter”.

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.

“That bloke’s such a conch.” “What, a shell?”
“No, no. Conscientious as hell.”
“An objector to war?
He’s a conchie?” “No, more
That he’s conchy. Thinks studying’s swell.”

In Britain, a conchie, conchy or conshy is a conscientious objector, but in Australia being conchy means you’re conscientious about your work or studies, to the point of never going out with your mates—which makes you a conch. (Not one of the big shells passed around in Lord of the Flies, no.)

As any good author or student
Will tell you, in writing it’s prudent
To bring to a close
Your meandering prose
With a passage that’s clearly concludent.

A concordist compiles a big list
Of the words in a text, to assist
Any readers who find
That it helps them unwind
To discover where Shakespeare said pissed.

As it happens, they’ll find a piss, a pissing, a horse-piss and a pissing-conduit, but no pissed, according to online Shakespeare concordances.

When a couple of corporals congreet,
There are mutual salutes when they meet.
When they’re everyday Joes,
They congreet with hellos.
When they’re babies, they wiggle their feet.

He’s contesting it? This’ll confirm
His paternity: sample his sperm.
You’ll see in each wriggle
His lecherous giggle,
Confirming the guy is a worm.

The Conservatives: public school gits
Who’ve misgoverned Great Britain. Why, it’s
Fourteen years they’ve been trashing
The place—yet “they’re smashing!”
Think 20%, still, of Brits.

The Conservative Party, successors in 1834 to the Tory Party and still known as the Tories two centuries later, have governed Britain for 32 of the past 45 years. Their support fell in February 2024 to its lowest level since Ipsos began polling in the 1970s, yet remains surprisingly high, given what they’ve been up to. Many former Tory voters have shifted to Reform UK, the right-wing populist party founded in 2018 as the Brexit Party, who threaten to split the vote on the right under first-past-the-post in the next general election (which is due at the latest by January 2025). Projections of Conservative losses range from half to three-quarters of their seats; even if Reform UK folded, the Tories would likely fall a hundred seats short of a parliamentary majority.

Public school in the UK context means one of seven specific English private schools, notably Eton, Harrow and Winchester, attended by the children of the rich and three out of five 21st-century Tory prime ministers. They represent a tiny percentage of private schools, who in turn educate about six percent of British schoolchildren (although only around 4% in Scotland, 2% in Wales and 1% in Northern Ireland). Government schools—for everyone else—are known as state schools.

Conspurcation: the act of defiling,
Which conscienceless types find beguiling.
They spread their pollution,
Escape prosecution,
And boast to their stockholders, smiling.

An ambassador shouldn’t be rude,
So your consular duties include
Helping guests from back home
Be polite “when in Rome”,
Though they question the customs and food.

They said it was good to consume;
That economies thereby would boom.
And they did, for a while;
Then they didn’t. Now I’ll
Consume tins of baked beans in my room.

Consumerism: theory that states
That a future of profits awaits
If we all gobble more.
While its prophets adore
Getting fat, what a fate it creates!

The containerization of trade
Saw the crime on the waterfront fade.
Once a company locks
All its brands in a box,
There’s a shocking amount to be made.

Different crate sizes used to constrain a port
In turnover terms. A containerport
Has a standard container
For ships—a no-brainer.
And that, friends, is how you explain a port.

On the waterfront, owners were greedy
For freighters whose loading was speedy.
What made longshoremen know
They’d been going too slow?
Coulda been a container ship, Edie.

You want to know what’s in a conto?
I’ll tell you in confidence pronto:
A thousand escudos,
And savers accrued those
In Portugal—not in Toronto.

At the time Portugal adopted the euro, a conto was worth 7.0744 of your Canadian dollars (just under €5).

Stick to two unstressed beats, and no more,
Between any you stress, so that your
Humble limerick will scan
For each poetry fan.
(Contradictoriness involves using four.)

I agreed to this scan of my chest—
Will the contrast material test
My resolve? How will my
Blood react when I dye?
I’ll be blue—and I don’t mean distressed.

The special dye introduced into a patient’s bloodstream during a CT scan so that veins and arteries stand out on the scans is known as a contrast material (or contrast medium). It doesn’t actually turn you blue.

Once the lad she’d been eyeing matured,
Connie planned his seduction: she lured
Vin away from his bike,
Saying, “This, you will like.”
The convincement of Vince was assured.

Coober Pedy’s a place where no dope’ll
Last long. People keeping up hope’ll
Reside underground
Until treasure is found:
They’ll stay fossickers, mining for opal.

Coober Pedy (PEE-dee) is a small town in outback South Australia known for its unusual lifestyle: over half of its residents live underground in homes carved out of the soft rock (known as dugouts), which stay comfortable in the desert heat. When digging out their homes, they’re also effectively doing their day job, as the town is one big opal mine. Prospecting in this way in Australia is called fossicking—at first the word was associated with hunting for gold, but now is mostly used in relation to gemstones. Fossicking is largely an amateur activity elsewhere, but in Coober Pedy a fossicker is anyone engaged in small-scale opal mining.

Spot a lizard who’s taking a drink
From a creek, when he gives me a wink.
“How yer goin’ there, mate.
Ain’t Tasmania great?”
Friendly fella, eh? What a cool skink.

Cool-skinks (or snow skinks), skink species of the genus Carinascincus, live mainly in the cooler southern Australian states of Tasmania and Victoria. Many prefer alpine climates. All but one of the eighteen lizard species in Tasmania are skinks, and seven of those are cool-skinks, including the most common lizard on the island, the metallic skink.

A copemate’s a person I hope
Will, in partnership, help me to cope.
The thing that I don’t
Need is someone who won’t,
So I’m sorry my mate’s such a dope.

A copemate is also a foe,
An antagonist set on my woe.
So if one wants my end
And another’s my friend,
How the hell can I capably know?

What is copypasta? Reproduced text
From one online source to the next.
If you copy and paste
Your opinions in haste,
You’ll leave critics bemused, if not vexed.

Copypasta is reproduced text (such as an opinion) from one online source to the next, which, when copied and pasted in haste, leaves critics bemused, if not vexed.

Dear CUSTOMER: Thanks for your query,
But no thanks, the chef says. I fear he
Is getting quite stroppy
With those who would copy
His pasta: past clones left him weary.

A copypasta response is a disparaging term for a form letter or similar stock reply online: such replies could be sent by businesses or even by social media personalities in response to comments.

A druid, a priest and an oracle
Went over some falls in a coracle.
“This boat is too round!”
“Dear God, we’ll be drowned!”
“I’m predicting this rhyme’s allegorical.”

An ancient Brittanical oracle
Declared as he paddled his coracle,
“This round wicker boat
Has a future of note—
It’ll float until annums historical.”

No sensible cycad disputes
The advantage of coralloid roots:
Bacteria love them,
And helpfully shove them
More nitrogen; cycads, this suits.

Coralloid means “resembling coral”, and is usually used to describe the roots of certain plants, particularly cycads. Coralloid roots form a protective home for cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), which then convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that the plant can use, helping it thrive in nitrogen-poor soil.

On a wet British Thursday in June,
A leader the press thought a loon—
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn—
Proved far more absorbin’
To voters. PM? Maybe soon.

After a 2017 general election campaign that began with the expectation of huge Labour losses, Corbyn defied his critics and attracted significant numbers of voters to Labour, thanks to a strong personal performance, a radical party manifesto, and a lacklustre campaign by Theresa May and the Tories. The result was a hung parliament, which leaves open the possibility of a minority Labour government or fresh elections, if Tory attempts to continue as a minority government collapse.

The cornloft is where we store grain
To protect it from dampness and rain.
Up there, near the roof,
Is this granary—proof
That a corny word’s meaning is plain.

Or is it?

Cornwall, the home of the pasty,
Is hilly and pretty, not nasty.
When looking south-west
From a lot of the rest
Of Great Britain, it’s kinda most-last-y.

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.

Coronation time! Look at the bling
On display as we get a new King.
Watching Charlie get crowned,
Count the times that he’s frowned—
Is he happy about the whole thing?

The coronis: a line, often curved,
That in books has occasionally served
To impart to the world
That the author’s unfurled
(With a flourish) the ending deserved.

Our Treasurer laughs as he whacks
Yet more burdensome corporate tax
On our businesses! Friends,
Their deceit never ends.
We pay thirty percent! Man, that’s stacks.

This is the kind of complaint you might hear from pro-business MPs in Australia’s parliament, for whom any amount of tax is stacks (a lot). Australia’s corporate tax rate of 30% is higher than in China (25%), the US (23.1%) and the UK (19%), but only a fraction of a percentage point above Japan’s and Germany’s. In the mid-1980s it was 49%; it fell throughout the 1980s and ’90s, reaching its current level in 2002.

The complete works of Melville? Oh, boy—
Now there’s a thought fills me with joy.
The heart of his corpus?
An overgrown porpoise,
And multiple wails of “Ahoy!”

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!”

This blanket I’m under is hot.
Do I like all these railings? Do not!
I’ll cry and I’ll scream
Till you rise from your dream.
(It gets rather extreme in my cot.)

The coucher, when hand-making paper,
Lays pulp to be pressed: he’s a draper
Of soggy rag fibres
Which, dried, help inscribers
To further their ink-slinging caper.

A counter lunch means that your grub
Has been served in a true Aussie pub.
“Chicken parma with chips,”
As its publican quips,
“Would be far too much drama to scrub.”

Counter lunches were introduced in Australian pubs in the 1850s, and were initially often free with the purchase of a beer, until patrons’ abuse of the system started sending publicans broke. Various attempts were made to restrict or ban the sale of food in pubs, but the countery survived, and menus have been evolving in recent years with the emergence of gastropubs.

Different meals have been associated with counteries over the years, including tripe and onions, steak sandwiches, and nachos, but the most Aussie is perhaps the chicken parmigiana. This parma, or parmy, is an evolution of the Italian eggplant (aubergine) parmigiana by way of veal (which was the norm in the 1970s), served with chips rather than the spaghetti typically found in the US.

The symptoms of Covid are vague: you
Could possibly suffer an ague,
And shortness of breath
Could mean imminent death.
Knowing whether you’ve got it can plague you.

Too many have blithely ignored
The clear risks, yet too few can afford
To catch Covid again.
It was bad enough then;
Now Long Covid is Damocles’ sword.

Covid is no fun the first time around, but catching it again is potentially worse, as every infection brings a risk of contracting the chronic condition nicknamed (and generally called, for want of a better term) Long Covid. Millions of people in the UK, the US and other countries live with long-term symptoms sparked by an initial infection, from anosmia (loss of sense of smell) or parosmia (a distorted sense of smell) to fatigue, muscle aches, shortness of breath, chest pain, insomnia, dizziness, tinnitus, loss of appetite, brain fog, depression and anxiety. Many of these symptoms relate to Covid’s vascular impact, which is also implicated in strokes and heart attacks, even among the young.

First me herd of new Anguses stray,
Then me prize-winning bull turns out gay.
Now me Polls have dried up
And their yield’s a cup.
Strike a light, what a cow of a day.

The Red Poll is a traditional beef and dairy breed. This cow-cocky says yield with two syllables.

Only “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” run,
Hop and skip in the fierce midday sun.
Were these words by that stripling
Noël Coward from Kipling?
Who knows how this rumour’s begun.

Look into Coward’s famous line “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”, from his signature song “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” (1931), and you’ll find claims online that he lifted it from Rudyard Kipling; some even name a specific poem. But the phrase, even in the cut-down form of the song’s title, appears nowhere in Kipling’s collected works. All of the credit goes to the celebrated English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer—who was a bit more than a stripling when he wrote it—Sir Noël Peirce Coward (1899–1973).

Our cow-orkers huddle like cattle
In cubicles; typically, that’ll
Mean trouble a-brewing,
’Cos all of their mooing
Will awkwardly make our nerves rattle.

An intentional misspelling for co-mic effect.

The cowpea is grown as manure
By those for whom cow poo’s impure.
If cows instead eat ’em
And loudly excrete ’em,
It’s peasy to follow their spoor.

Seems Coyote has run off a cliff
In pursuit of the Road Runner. If
You had hoped to see more,
’Fraid your chances are poor.
Warner’s tax-obsessed owners say: “Stiff.”

In 2023, Coyote vs. Acme, a mix of animation and live action starring the beloved Looney Tunes characters, was unceremoniously cancelled so that Warner Bros. could write the movie off against tax, despite testing extremely well in preview screenings. After a public outcry, the studio went through the motions of shopping it around to other studios, but rejected all offers; eager fans who had hoped that sanity would prevail realised that they had been running on the spot in the air three hundred feet above the ground. Now set for deletion, Coyote vs. Acme seems destined to become a legendary lost movie and an object lesson (and, indeed, an abject one) in how not to run a movie studio.

Because ’e gives budgeting no
Close attention, attending the show
Is too exy. Inflation
Has crippled the nation:
The cozzie livs means ’e can’t go.

This Gen Z slang term for the cost of living crisis, although coined in the UK, was so in line with Australians’ fondness for shortening words (like expensive) that it was the Macquarie Dictionary’s 2023 word of the year.

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