Definitely Limericks by Rory Ewins


Watch the charming Hungarian prance
To the csardas, his national dance!
From a gentle beginning,
He leaves his girl spinning—
A dashing, if whirlwind, romance.

The csardas (CHAH-dash) starts slowly and ends in a rapid and wild dance, with the women wearing whirling wide skirts.

If the ctenophore’s not a true jelly,
Then why the gelatinous belly?
It’s plankton, it seems,
And it combs the extremes
Of the oceans, as seen on the telly.

Ctenophores, or comb jellies, lack the stinging cells of true jellyfish but have connective tissues and a nervous system. They vary in size from a few millimetres to a metre or more long, range from shallow waters to the deep sea, and form much of the world’s plankton biomass.

Thought Cthulhu, “This being an ‘Old One’
Ain’t great. When most people behold one,
One scares them away.
Should call Bokrug today
And head down to the pub for a cold one.”

Cthulhu, created by fantasy horror writer H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937), is one of the “Great Old Ones”: ancient, powerful deities from space who are utterly indifferent to humans and yet worshipped by them. In his 1928 story “The Call of Cthulhu”, Lovecraft described Cthulhu as an anthropoid creature with claws, wings, a “rubbery-looking body” and “an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers”. Cthulhu is imprisoned in R’lyeh, an underwater city in the South Pacific—or, as his worshippers chant, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” (“Effin’ gluey mogul, naff Cthulhu of R’lyeh, we gonna golf tag ’im’”).

The Cthulhu Mythos has been developed by other writers since, adding numerous scary gods to Lovecraft’s initial pantheon of Great Old Ones (which included Bokrug, the Great Water Lizard). Cthulhu himself has manifested in comics, role-playing games, films, and as a surprisingly cute plush toy.

Though maintaining a boastful exterior,
We fear others are largely superior.
The cultural cringe
Is the name for our whinge
That Australian life is inferior.

When a rich bastard wants to insult yer,
He’ll accuse you of having no culture.
“What a cultureless swine!”
This Lord Snooty will whine.
Better cultureless, mate, than a vulture.

Control yourself, tiger. Don’t frown—
Just because I’m still wearing my gown
Doesn’t mean I need sex:
Just a cuppa, a Bex,
And a good—put your pants on!—lie down.

In Australia, someone in need of a rest is told that they need a cup of tea, a Bex, and a good lie down. The phrase in its various forms (cuppa, long lie down, a lie down) refers to a brand of analgesic powder containing aspirin, phenacetin and caffeine once popular with housewives, although the phenacetin was removed in 1975 after it was found to cause kidney disease.

I agree a fair price with you now
For this currency; later, you vow,
You’ll deliver the lot.
What a future I’ve got—
It’s a contract for coining it, yow!

Or so the purchaser hopes. Sellers of currency futures are effectively locking in an agreed exchange rate for a certain amount of foreign currency that they will be receiving at some future date, to protect against falls in its value in the meantime. The purchasers of such futures hope that the currency will rise in value against their own, and that they can then pocket the difference.

They bolted their scorching hot curry,
Then fled from their chairs in a flurry.
“Can’t breathe!” “Find a loo!”
“Form an orderly queue!”
They won’t forget that in a hurry.

The cursitors made out the writs
In the damn Court of Chancery—it’s
Where the screwed sought redress
Beyond law, but the mess
That ensued got on Dickens’s tits.

The English High Court of Chancery (merged with the law courts in 1873) dealt in equity rather than law: it could direct someone to act or not to act, which was often more valuable than the monetary damages available through the law courts. Its system of precedents lost much of its original flexibility; Dickens’s Bleak House parodied the excessive time and expense that resulted.

I’m finding it tricky to think
When this cursor does nothing but blink
At the end of each line...
My beginning was fine,
But the ending, I’m certain, will stink.

When a sheila is shapely and curvy,
It really seems cheeky and nervy
To ask for a dance,
But reserve means your chance
Is remote to do anything pervy.

If it’s Pidgin you personally speak,
Block your ears when you’re taking a peek
At this possum-like creature,
Or kwiktaim he’ll teach yer,
’Cos cuscuses curse a blue streak.

Kwiktaim is Tok Pisin (Pidgin) for “soon”. Cuscuses in Papua New Guinea speak Pidgin if you listen verrrry closely.

Take this dish, and take aim at Melissa...
Try more to the left, or you’ll miss ’er...
Now, up a bit... No,
No, no, further... Now, throw!
There, a custard pie, right in the kisser.

In Australia, a cut lunch commando
Is an army reservist: some rando
Who spends his weekends
Playing soldier with friends,
To a soundtrack whose chords are sforzando.

Cut lunch commando is a civilian term for a member of the Australian Army Reserve. Regular soldiers would instead call them a choco. A rando is a random person, a cut lunch is a packed lunch (UK) or bag or box lunch (US), and sforzando is a forceful accented chord, played with a strong initial attack.

“The other Mollusca are duller
Than cuttles,” was how I would lull ’er
To sleep as I’d natter
Of cephalopod chatter,
“’Cos cuttlefish prattle in colour.”

Cuttlefish are some of the most intelligent of all invertebrates. They communicate by flashing different colours across their skin, yet are colourblind themselves—they instead detect light polarization, which enhances their perception of contrast.

A cutwater’s either the edge
Of a prow or the prominent wedge
On the pier of a bridge,
So that past either ridge
Water flows—at a clip, I’d allege.

My curriculum vitae (CV)
Is a bullet-point bio of me:
My degrees, date of birth,
And lamentable dearth
Of old money to keep me job-free.

Our Granny was set in her ways.
Any trifle attracted her gaze.
She couldn’t be trusted:
She’d turn on the custard
And sit there and watch it for days.

Custard, short for custard and jelly, is Cockney rhyming slang for telly (television).

Telling pooches to cwtch means “lie down”
When you’re each in some cushy Welsh town.
If you want to look butch,
Then you’d better not cwtch
The dogs’ owner—he’ll shoot you a frown.

...because the verb also means to cuddle and to conceal; the noun means either a cuddle or a cubby-hole.

“Chest X-ray”, the card on his bed
Had directed (it actually read
“CXR”, but whatever),
But Chester was never
Examined—by dawn, he was dead.

Here in cyberspace, finding superior
Content’s a balm for the weary. Ya
Wouldn’t forget
It’s the chillin’-est spot in Cyberia.

Any action we take using bits
Is the province of cyberlaw. It’s
What controls, if not neuters,
Our use of computers
To freely download all the hits.

In cyberspace, everyone delves
Into e-books on virtual shelves,
While discussing their day
With i-friends far away
Who know only their avatar selves.

The young Web struck a tubular mood:
All those pages of data we viewed
Were like waves on a sea
In the Netscape, so we
Said we cybersurfed. Gnarly, eh, dude?

In the tundra, the fauna’s rapacious
’Bout plants one might call cyperaceous.
A delectable sedge
Has, for reindeer, the edge
Over grasses (“they’re too graminaceous”).

If reindeer could talk, they wouldn’t actually use fancy words for “grass-related” or “grass-like”, any more than they would refer to sedges as cyperaceous; they’d be telling Rudolph to “cover up that flippin’ nose—the glow is keeping us awake”.

In Czechoslovakia, beer
Was a useful distraction from fear.
A Budvar or two
Turned a red sky to blue,
And a Pilsner meant springtime was here.

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