Definitely Limericks by Rory Ewins


GST: goods and services tax.
When ideologues take an axe
To progressive taxation,
Their plan for the nation
Is to hike GST to the max.

A value-added tax, known in some countries as a goods and services tax, is similar to sales tax but is levied on the price of a product or service at each stage of production, distribution, or sale to the end consumer. It is a form of regressive taxation, imposing a relatively greater burden on the poor.

GST is an indirect tax.
When a right-leaning government lacks
Enough income, this charge
Becomes ever more large:
The flat tax a lean treasury backs.

Grand Theft Auto (the game) is such fun!
Here’s the car that you stole, and a gun.
Now go do something shitty
In Liberty City,
And when the cops notice you, run.

Grand Theft Auto or GTA (1997) and its many successors, set in thinly-veiled versions of New York (Liberty City), Miami (Vice City) and San Francisco (San Andreas), is one of the most popular franchises in video game history. The latest instalment, Grand Theft Auto V (2013), is the second best-selling video game of all time, after Minecraft.

For a party, what’s best? Let’s take stock:
Guacamole and ol’-timey rock.
Avocado-based dips
That go straight to your hips:
1-2-3 o’clock, 4 o’clock, guac!

This old-time rock ’n’ roll number uses US rhymes; in the UK, guac rhymes with either shark or quack.

In our castle, the soldiers hang out
In the guardhouse, until we all shout,
“Call the guards! An attack!”—
When they run out the back
While invaders are out and about.

In Star Wars, there would, without fail,
Be a worrying lack of a rail
To prevent one from falling
And dying. Installing
A guardrail would temper the tale.

I mean, you wouldn’t want those stormtroopers to trip or anyth... oh.

“I’ll be back,” voters heard Arnie say,
“California, I won’t go away!
Having governed for one
Term, I’ll once again run.
Call it Gubernator II: Judgment Day.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger (b. 1947) served two terms as Governor of California from 2003 to 2011 and five terms as Terminator in the famous movie franchise.

The word on the streets is guerrilla
Art rules. Take the piece on this pillar:
A stencil by Banksy,
For which we give thanks—he
Makes work that’s all killer, no filler.

His graffiti self-portrait’s a thriller:
It’s him as King Kong with Godzilla
In a fight to the end.
“Well, Joe,” says his friend,
“As an artist, you are a guerrilla.”

“Lignum vitae is, most are agreein’,
Now scarce in the whole Caribbean.”
He replied, “That is why I come
To harvest this guaiacum.
There’s hardly much left, I been seein’.”

Lignum vitae is a dense and durable wood, also called guaiacum, guaiacum wood, or guayacan, obtained chiefly from Guaiacum officinale and Guaiacum sanctum. It was historically an important export from the Caribbean, used in shipbuilding and to make croquet mallets, cricket balls, British police truncheons, and the neck of Pete Seeger’s banjo. All species of Guaiacum are now listed as potentially endangered.

There’s hardly a Bornean kayak
That’s made from the wood known as guaiac.
South American wood
Used to make us smell good
Is unknown to a typical Dayak.

You once wouldn’t have seen people from Borneo in kayaks at all, given that they were Arctic vessels, but nowadays you can kayak throughout Southeast Asia, although not likely in ones made of wood. Guaiac wood is the heartwood of Gonopterodendron sarmientoi (formerly Bulnesia sarmientoi), often traded as Paraguay lignum vitae because of its similarity to Caribbean guaiacum (true lignum vitae) timber. The tree and its wood are also known as vera, verawood, or palo santo (“holy wood”), although other species share these names. The wood’s essential oils are used in perfumery and incense, and also have medicinal uses, and its resin is used in varnishes.

The guillemot dives in the seas
Around Shetland and Orkney. Oh, please,
Coastal black-and-white bird,
Swim with caution: I’ve heard
It gets cold in those waters; you’ll freeze.

The common murre, a large auk, is known as the (common) guillemot in Britain, where it nests on coastal cliffs, mostly in the north of England and Scotland, and has main breeding colonies on the islands of Handa, Shetland and Orkney. The species is found across the North Atlantic and North Pacific. Its chocolate-brown feathers are only apparent at close range; from a distance, it looks black, with a white lower body. A few Brünnich’s guillemots or thick-billed murres, which truly are black and white, have also been spotted in Shetland.

Beyond Britain, guillemot refers broadly to the two species of murre or turr (genus Uria) and three species of guillemots (genus Cepphus), one of which—the black guillemot or tystie—lives in the North Atlantic and two—the pigeon guillemot and the spectacled or sooty guillemot—in the North Pacific.

Bahrain, UAE, and Kuwait:
Each of these is a Persian Gulf state.
Iran and Qatar
And Iraq also are,
And Oman and then Saudi: that’s eight.

For woodchipping, eucalypt’s dumb;
It’s a hardwood, so not much good, gum.
But for woodwork and such,
It’s a better wood, much
Better: gumtrees are plum trees for some.

Eucalypts are the members of Eucalypteae, a large tribe of flowering plants in the family Myrtaceae, which includes the genera Angophora, Corymbia, and Eucalyptus. In Australia, where most eucalypt species are found, these genera are commonly known as gumtrees; until 1990, Corymbia species were assigned to Eucalyptus, and some believe that all three genera still should be.

Clear-felling native eucalypt forests to produce woodchips for paper production, known as woodchipping, has provoked heated environmental battles in Australia for decades. Producing hardwood pulp from eucalypts is energy intensive, requires the use of bleaches and other toxic chemicals that pollute waterways, and provides a low return compared with other potential uses for native forests and their trees. Eucalypt timber is hard and strong, and invaluable for building, woodturning and cabinetmaking.

If you’re stuck up a gumtree, look quick
At its bark: is it stringy, or thick?
Is it smooth? Is it red?
Somewhat fibrous instead?
Won’t be hard to tell which name to pick.

The hundreds of eucalypt species in Australia were classified by European settlers according to their bark, as gums, stringybarks, ironbarks, boxes, peppermints and bloodwoods. These names are still in use in the forestry and timber industries, along with others such as ashes and mahoganies; some of the terms overlap, with gums spanning all but the bloodwoods (now classified as Corymbia rather than Eucalyptus).

The hardwood in Tassie called oak
In Victoria’s ash: not a joke
About bushfires, just one
Of those differences, son,
That reflects about whose gum you spoke.

Different eucalypt timbers go by different local names in Australia. The hardwood produced by Eucalyptus regnans (mountain ash in Victoria, swamp gum or stringy gum in Tasmania) and Eucalyptus delegatensis (alpine ash or woollybutt in Victoria, also Australian oak, blue leaf, mountain white gum, white-top and whitetop stringybark, and in Tasmania gum-top stringy bark for its endemic subspecies) is called Tasmanian oak in Tasmania and Victorian ash in Victoria. The timbers aren’t identical, as Tassie oak can also include the timber of Eucalyptus obliqua, known as messmate, stringybark, browntop, browntop stringybark, or Tasmanian or Tassie oak. Eucalyptus obliqua was the first named of all Eucalyptus species, from a specimen collected at Bruny Island in southeast Tasmania on Cook’s third voyage.

Gumbo-limbo? O, wonderful word!
Surely something that’s simply absurd,
Like a dance using soup
Made from okra? (Oh, poop—
It’s a tree from the tropics, I’ve heard.)

Bursera simaruba, also known as copperwood, chaca, West Indian birch, naked Indian and turpentine tree, is native to Florida, Mexico, Central America, Brazil, Nicaragua and Venezuela. It has smooth coppery bark, and its resin is used in cements and varnishes.

Gummosis: Appearance of gummy
Goo globs on a fruit tree ain’t yummy,
It shows the plant’s ailing.
The reason it’s failing?
Some bits have gone down a bug’s tummy.

Gummosis, the formation of globs of oozing sap on the surface of certain plants, particularly fruit trees, is a possible symptom of environmental stress, injury, disease or (as here) insect infestation.

Gummous means gum-like or gummy,
While hummus is dip-like and yummy.
Squamous means scaly
(A word I use daily),
While pumice is igneous, dummy.

An Australian, a Scot and a Yank
All walked into a bar, lookin’ swank.
“Mate, I’m gunna get pissed.”
“Aye, ah’m gauny persist.”
“Yeah, I’m gonna, too.” (Twist: no one drank.)

As I was going to explain, gunna is the Australian and New Zealand equivalent of gonna, while gunnae, gunner, gonnae, goin’ a and gauny are Scottish versions. Geordies say ganna, while in the English Midlands it’s goana. There are many other variants.

Her training consisted of gunnery—
Projectile and general gun-fun-ery,
Lots of shooting and strafing—
Which is why she was chafing
At guns being shunned in her nunnery.

A gurgitator races to eat
The most hamburgers, hoping to beat
The world record by stuffing
His face with ’em. Nuffing
Could tempt me to follow this feat.

Gurgitators, gustatory athletes, competitive eaters or speed eaters engage in competitive eating, which can mean anything 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.

The British would send in the gunships
(And usually more than just one): ships
Designed to lay waste
To a navy post-haste.
For the victims, they weren’t very fun ships.

“These city blokes sure do look flash,”
Said me mate. “Must be splashin’ the cash.
Get a load of them yuppies,
Wearin’ suits and Hush Puppies,
Gussied up—makin’ us look like trash.”

When I fancy an outing, I like to
Gussy up in my lycra and bike to
The end of my street,
Looking dapper and neat.
It’s too far for a smart chap to hike to.

As I plied her with pleasures gustatory,
My girlfriend was most approbatory.
Her taste for my food
Meant we ended up nude,
And the night took a turn copulatory.

In Australian English, many words ending with -atory are stressed on the -a-, usually if they have related -ation words which also would be (so not laboratory, luh-BOH-ruh-tree). The -atory words here, which are all stressed on their first syllables in the US and UK, are cases in point; approbatory and copulatory have some stress on their first syllables in Australia, but both rhyme with gustatory, gus-TAY-tuh-ree (or gus-TAY-tree—Aussies sometimes collapse -tory to -t’ry, as shown for laboratory before).

A cowardly fellah Down Under
Gets commonly called gutless wonder.
He runs from a fight
At the hint of a slight,
And he’ll never own up to a blunder.

On our highways, a low-powered car
Gets called gutless as well, plus there are
Gutless powertools, hoovers
An’ electrical doovers:
Gutless wonders, the lot of ’em are.

The word guttate means covered with drops
Or resembling them. Visit a copse
Of old trees, and you might
On their leaves see this sight,
Till guttation, gut-wrenchingly, stops.

In the gardening community, guttation has given rise to the back-formed verb to guttate, although other dictionaries haven’t yet noticed. The adjective (from the Latin gutta, meaning drop) dates to the early nineteenth century.

In plants, we describe exudation
Of water from leaves as guttation.
With pressure from roots,
H2O quickly shoots
To the top, where there’s droplet formation.

When I said to my mater, “Don’t mutter, o
Mother of mine,” heard her utter, “Oh,
Daughter, take note:
There’s a frog in my throat—
Hence my croak.” (Throat-related? That’s gutturo-.)

It tightens my stomach. So sad!
I can see from his X-rays that Dad
Has a bolt and a nut
Threading down through his gut—
Looks really gut-wrenchingly bad.

Gorblimey! When push comes to shove,
Bein’ Cockney’s a gift from above.
“Love a duck! Leave it out,
Guv!” is something we’d spout,
Should the guv’nor declare his duck love.

This colloquial form of address
Is heard mainly in prisons, unless
You’re from London and male:
If you happen to hail
A black cab, you might hear it. Gor’ bless.

Kai Gable, the cable guy, went
On a camping trip once, where he spent
Forty minutes adjusting,
Against the wind’s gusting,
The guy cable bracing his tent.

“Stick around for my GVT sermon,”
Said Arnold. “The way to determine
A workout for all
Is to simply recall
That the best bodybuilders speak German.”

Even if they’re Austrian. German Volume Training, commonly referred to as the 10x10 workout, is a form of weight training employing high set counts and moderate repetitions.

I drink cendol and bandung and Milo;
Play mah-jongg at casinos, and high-low.
I’m no foreigner here,
Yet the locals still sneer
I’m a “ghost man”—in Asia, a gweilo.

In Southeast Asian English, gweilo, gwailo or gwailou (from the Cantonese for “ghost man”) are Westerners, especially white people. Although the label has a history of pejorative use, Western residents of Hong Kong, Singapore and other Cantonese-speaking areas will often use it of themselves in a more neutral way; some consider it more disrespectful than offensive.

Cendol (CHEN-doll) is made of coconut milk and palm sugar syrup, while bandung (BAN-doong) is made of evaporated or condensed milk and rose syrup; both are delicious, as is Milo, a drink made from chocolate-flavoured malted milk powder popular in Australia (where it was invented), New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and many other countries. Mah-jongg or mahjong is a Chinese tile-based game popular with gamblers, while high-low is a game of poker in which the highest ranking and lowest ranking hands divide the pot equally.

As a term, GXL is quite strange:
It’s a Language for standard eXchange
Of Graphs, with no E.
It’s like XML, see,
Where the X and the E rearrange.

GXL (Graph eXchange Language) isn’t just like XML (eXtensible Markup Language): it’s a sublanguage of XML, used to support interoperability between graph-based software tools.

This man was a legend to me
And my friends back in high school: you see,
Gary’s main claim to fame’s
Making role-playing games—
Without Gygax, there’s no D&D.

Gary Gygax (1938–2008) co-created Dungeons & Dragons (with Dave Arneson) in the 1970s, and co-founded TSR, the company that brought it to market. Gygax wrote many of the game’s early rulebooks and adventures (or modules). Despite huge sales in the late 1970s and early 1980s, TSR ran into financial difficulties and Gygax was forced out of the company. He went on to develop further games, but none matched the success of D&D.

In Britain, before I was born,
These pinafores—gymslips—were worn
By our schoolgirls. They’re gone,
But their memory lives on
In our uniform-fetishist porn.

These sleeveless tunics with pleated skirts emerged in the 1900s, and by the 1920s had become compulsory for girls in many private, convent and high schools in Britain. Now largely replaced by modern-style uniforms, their use by The Sun in 1991 on its notorious Page 3 led MP Clare Short to condemn such imagery as “clearly intended to present schoolgirls as sexual objects”.

“This suffix, young lady, relates
To having some feminine mates:
Like monogynous, one.
Do you get it now, hon?”
She responds, “Your misogyny grates.”

Mates here can refer to animals or, in the past, to people (monogynous meant what we now mean by monogamous). The suffix -gynous also has a botanical sense of “having female organs or pistils”, so monogynous in that sense means having one pistil, tetragynous having four, and androgynous having stamens and pistils on the same flower or plant (a later meaning than the sense applying to people’s behaviour or appearance). Then there was the famous punk LP from Virgynous Records, Never Mind the Stamens, Here’s the Sex Pistils... no, not really.

As they came to our table, our waiters
Were whirling around. Walking straighter’s
Much better when serving:
It’s pretty unnerving
When soup is dispensed by gyrators.

Those spiralling servers’ accursed
Revolutions were badly rehearsed.
The course that at first
They dispensed got dispersed:
Their centrifugal soup was the worst.

A gyratory’s bigger than most
Other roundabouts; many will host
A few lanes of cars driving
In circles. Surviving
One takes local knowledge, Brits boast.

Modern roundabouts or traffic circles (which rely on right-of-way rules rather than traffic lights to manage the flow of traffic, as older ones did) are more common in some countries than others; the USA saw its first in 1990, while Britain has built tens of thousands since the 1960s, including some so large that the islands in the middle contain buildings. These large roundabouts, known in Britain as gyratories, aren’t unique to the UK, though; Australia’s federal parliament in Canberra, for example, is surrounded by one.

The family crest of Lord Byron, ’e
Found numerous parts to admire on; ’e
Adored its bold flowers—
Could peruse ’em for hours—
But ’e mostly liked how it was gyronny.

A gyron (or gyronny, which can also be a noun rather than the adjective used above) is a triangular form on a heraldic crest with one side along the edge of the escutcheon (the shield) and the other corner at its fess point (its centre) or occasionally on the other edge; shields usually have eight gyrons, but can have six, ten or twelve. Lord Byron’s family crest had stripes across the shield rather than gyrons, and instead of flowers had horses either side, a crown on top, and a mermaid hovering above it, so this is entirely fanciful. Call it poetic licence.

Liquid Swords is the album to play
For some GZA—he’s Genius, some say.
The Wu-Tang Clan rapper
Made a gritty foot-tapper
That hip-hop fans still love today.

GZA is pronounced JIZZ-ah, which easily embarrassed fans must pretend not to hear when others chant it at his concerts. His 1995 solo album features on many lists of essential hip-hop albums.

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