Let’s All Write Limericks!

by Paul Mathers

I can’t decide if I feel like the limerick is one of the lowest forms of poetry or one of the highest. In writing them, I’ve found them to be one of the quickest shortcuts to sounding clever. They are devilishly easy to compose and great fun. There were moments, as you will see, where I felt like the smartest drunkard in the neighborhood bar.

I think we’re all familiar with the pattern. My first attempt is a theology lesson:


Sinner man, God’s own enthronement

compels you to your conversion moment.

So say Calvin’s Five Points,

but the one that disjoints:

where to fix the limits of atonement?


I often think about the NPR news quiz show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me when I think of limericks. They famously do a weekly news quiz in limerick form where the contestant must fill in the blank at the end of the limerick to reveal the news story. I thought I would try my hand at this and clicked on Google News. Boy oh boy! There is not a lot of material there that I would feel comfortable putting into limerick form. What a wicked evil world we live in. What a daunting job the NPR limerick writer has! So I plucked the first non-tragic headline I saw and had at it.


Stocks Waver, but the Dow hits a record.

The best stock performance in decades has been scored.

It’s just too bad jobs

don’t multiply in such gobs.

There’s already a new head of the Federal Reserve Board.


Ouch! Pretty clunky. Let’s try summing up great literature in limerick form. Here’s Crime and Punishment:


Raskolnikov’s conscience does races

and he puts the police through their paces.

Will he trip on his guilt

over blood he has spilt

putting axes in old lady’s faces?


How about Hamlet?


Said a ghost to son Hamlet, “Remember,

your vengeance should burn like an ember.”

So he went through theatrics

and mental gymnastics.

Now the whole royal court lies dismembered.


How about some Edgar Allan Poe:


To the amontillado cask he was allured

“the finest wine ever” he’d heard.

“Nemo me impune lacessit”

as the masonry was beset

Now he finds himself bloody immured!


How about Proust’s In Search of Lost Time:


Madeleines have such exquisite flavor,

I’m transported by one that I savor

I reflect on affairs

with orphans and heirs

And I’m still laying here 1000 pages later.


Which is all well and good and fun, but if you’re anything like me (and I know I am!) you’re thinking of dirty limericks. My own sense of humor seems to have never passed through puberty. I find bedroom humor to be vulgar. But I find bathroom humor to be hilarious! So, when it came time to try my hand at the dirty limerick, I stuck to poop and fart jokes:


There once was a lady from Naseby

who thought constipation bad, maybe.

So she chugged Metamucil

to loosen up her stool

and crapped out the size of a baby.


How about some of local interest?:


There once was a man from Chico

whose gas would always go “squeek-o.”

The doc said, “Your colon

is probably swollen.

Bend over and I’ll take a peek-o.”


There once was a girl from Grass Valley

who was known as a rather crass gal-y.

She ate onions and steak

with a Tabasco milkshake

and it certainly made her butt howl-y.



Thank you for your kind attention.