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The Cosmological Constant
Limericks by Michael R. Burch
about Einstein, Relativity and other Weighty Matters ...

These are limericks I wrote about relativity, Einstein, Hawking, physics, science, nature, animals, sex, politics, religion, and various other subjects. Most qualify as light verse, humorous verse, and/or nonsense verse, but a few are more serious.

by Michael R. Burch

This famous limerick inspired a number of my limericks on this page:

There was a young lady named Bright
who traveled much faster than light.
She set out one day
in a relative way,
and came back the previous night.

I recently learned this was originally penned in a slightly different version by Arthur Henry Reginald Buller; his limerick appeared in Punch (Dec. 19, 1923). I find it intriguing that one of the best revelations of the weirdness and zaniness of relativity can be found in a limerick. I was inspired to pen multiple rejoinders:

The Cosmological Constant
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein, the frizzy-haired,
said E equals MC squared.
Thus all mass decreases
as activity ceases?
Not my mass, my ass declared!

Ass-tronomical
by Michael R. Burch

Relativity, the theorists’ creed,
says mass increases with speed.
My (m)ass grows when I sit it.
Mr. Einstein, get with it;
equate its deflation, I plead!

Relative to Whom?
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein’s theory, incredibly silly,
says a relative grows willy-nilly
at speeds close to light.
Well, his relatives might,
but mine grow their (m)asses more stilly!

Time Out!
by Michael R. Burch

Hawking’s "Brief History of Time"
is such a relief! How sublime
that time, in reverse,
may un-write this verse
and un-spend my last thin dime!

Time Back In!
by Michael R. Burch

Hawking, who makes my head spin,
says time may flow backward. I grin,
imagining the surprise
in my mother's eyes
when I head for the womb once again!

Some of my earliest limericks were nonsense verse about nature and animals:

Dot Spotted
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a leopardess, Dot,
who indignantly answered: "I’ll not!
The gents are impressed
with the way that I’m dressed.
I wouldn’t change even one spot!"

Clyde Lied!
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a mockingbird, Clyde,
who bragged of his prowess, but lied.
To his new wife he sighed,
"When again, gentle bride?"
"Nevermore!" bright-eyed Raven replied.

The Dromedary and the Very Work-Wary Canary
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a dromedary
who befriended a crafty canary.
Budgie said, "You can’t sing,
but now, here’s the thing—
just think of the tunes you can carry!"

The Mallard
by Michael R. Burch

The mallard is a fellow
whose lips are long and yellow
with which he, honking, kisses
his bawdy, boisterous mistress:
my pond’s their loud bordello!

The Platypus
by Michael R. Burch

The platypus, myopic,
is ungainly, not erotic.
His feet for bed
are over-webbed,
and what of his proboscis?

The platypus, though, is eager
although his means are meager.
His sight is poor;
perhaps he’ll score
with a passing duck or beaver.

Being a peace activist, I once wrote a limerick in an attempt to stop needless wars:

Of Tetley’s and V-2's
(or "Why Not to Bomb the Brits")
by Michael R. Burch

The English are very hospitable,
but tea-less, alas, they grow pitiable ...
or pitiless, rather,
and quite in a lather!
O bother, they're more than formidable.

I have even written a double limerick about writing limericks:

The Better Man
by Michael R. Burch
 
Dear Ed: I don’t understand why
you will publish this other guy—
when I’m brilliant, devoted,
one hell of a poet!
Yet you publish Anonymous. Fie!

Fie! A pox on your head if you favor
this poet who’s dubious, unsavor
y, inconsistent in texts,
no address (I checked!):
since he’s plagiarized Unknown, I’ll wager!

The limerick has often been used for political purposes, and to expose, satirize and savage charlatans. Here are are some such limericks of mine:

The Hair Flap
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

The hair flap was truly a scare:
Trump’s bald as a billiard back there!
The whole nation laughed
At the state of his graft;
Now the man’s wigging out, so beware!

Stumped and Stomped by Trump
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a candidate, Trump,
whose message rang clear at the stump:
"Vote for me, wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!,
because I am ME,
and everyone else is a chump!"

Toupée or Not Toupée, That is the Question
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a brash billionaire
who couldn't afford decent hair.
Vexed voters agreed:
"We're a nation in need!"
But toupée the price, do we dare?

Toupée or Not Toupée, This is the Answer
by Michael R. Burch

Oh crap, we elected Trump prez!
Now he's Simon: we must do what he sez!
For if anyone thinks
And says his "plan" stinks,
He'll wig out 'neath that weird orange fez!

Baked Alaskan
by Michael R. Burch

There is a strange yokel so flirty
she makes whores seem icons of purity.
With all her winkin’ and blinkin’
Palin seems to be thinkin’—
"Ah culd save th’ free world ’cause ah’m purty!"

Copyright 2012 by Michael R. Burch
from Signs of the Apocalypse
all Rights and Violent Shudderings Reserved


Going Rogue in Rouge
by Michael R. Burch

It'll be hard to polish that apple
enough to make her seem palatable.
Though she's sweeter than Snapple
how can my mind grapple
with stupidity so nearly infallible?

Copyright 2012 by Michael R. Burch
from Signs of the Apocalypse
all Rights and Violent Shudderings Reserved


White as a Sheet
by Michael R. Burch

Donald Trump had a real Twitter Scare
then rushed off to fret, vent and share:
“How dare Bernie quote
what I just said and wrote?
Like Megyn he’s mean, cruel, unfair!”

“Clintonian” or “Billistic?”
by Michael R. Burch

There is a new term, “Clintonian,”
which means, “Stop your bitchin’ and moanin’.
He’s only a man
doing all that he can
to put kneepads in the Smithsonian.”

Any Woozy Floozy Will Do
by Michael R. Burch

Once Kennedy, as we all know,
bedded a goddess, Monroe;
but a man of less mettle,
Bill Clinton will settle
for Lewinsky and a quick blow.

A Tale of Two Stiffies
by Michael R. Burch

There was an ex-candidate, Gore,
who amazed with his talent to bore.
“He was incredibly stiff,”
interns said, with a sniff,
“though not like his predecessor!”

There continue to be modern sequels of the famous "Nantucket" limericks, including this bawdy one of mine:

There was a lewd whore from Nantucket
who intended to pee in a bucket;
but being a man
she missed the damn can
and her rattled john fled, crying: "Fuck it!"
—Variation on a classic limerick by Michael R. Burch

Here's another take on a golden oldie:

There was an old man from Peru
who dreamed he was eating his shoe.
He awoke one dark night
from a terrible fright
to discover his dream had come true!
—Variation on a classic limerick by Michael R. Burch

Here are some lewd, crude originals:

There once was a multi-pierced Bull,
who found playing hoops far too dull,
so he dated Madonna
but observed, “I don’t wanna
get married . . . the things she might pull!”
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a forward named Rodman
who said to his best man—“No problem!
When I marry Electra,
if the ring costs extra,
just yank a loop right off my knob, man!”
by Michael R. Burch

A formidable pugilist, Mike,
in a fit of pique called his mom “Dyke.”
She frowned ear to ear,
then said, “You listen here,
I can still whip your butt, you dumb tyke!”
by Michael R. Burch

A cross-dressing dancer, “Dee Lite,”
wore gowns luciferously bright
till he washed them one day
the old-fashioned way ...
in bleach. Now he’s “Sister Off-White.”
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a bubbly bartender,
a transvestite who went on a bender.
“So I cut myself off,”
she cried with a sob,
“There’s the evidence, there in the blender!”
by Michael R. Burch

I have even written limericks about religion, casting doubt on Christianity and its grotesque "eternal hell" ...

Pell-Mell for Hell Mel
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a Baptist named Mel
who condemned all non-Christians to hell.
When he stood before God
he felt like a clod
to discover His Love couldn’t fail!

Why I Left the Religious Right
by Michael R. Burch

He's got Jesus's name on a wallet insert
and "Hell is for Queers" on the back of his shirt
and he upholds the Law,
for grace has a flaw:
the Church must have someone to drag through the dirt.

Hell to Pay
by Michael R. Burch

A messiah named Jesus, returning
from heaven, found the whole world burning
with children unfed,
so he suggested: “Instead
of war, why not consider cheek-turning?”

Indignant right-wingers retorted:
“Sir, your pacifist views are distorted!
Just pull the plug quickly
on someone who’s sickly!
Our pursuit of war can’t be aborted!”

But alas! the world is unlikely to be saved by poets:

The Heimlich Limerick
by Michael R. Burch

for T. M.

The sanest of poets once wrote:
"Friend, why be a sheep or a goat?
Why follow the leader
or be a blind breeder?"
But almost no one took note.

At times I have distilled longer poems down to the approximate size of a limerick:

Dry Hump

by Michael R. Burch

You came to me as rain breaks on the desert
when every flower springs to life at once,
but joy is an illusion to the expert:
the Bedouin has learned how not to want.


While most limericks are humorous, the form has been adapted for more serious purposes. Here's a poem of mine that can be shared with anyone it might help . . .

Self Reflection
by Michael R. Burch

for anyone struggling with self-image

She has a comely form
and a smile that brightens her dorm . . .
but she’s grossly unthin
when seen from within;
soon all the campus will mourn.

Yet she’d never once criticize
a friend for the size of her thighs.
Do unto others—
sisters and brothers?
Yes, but also ourselves, likewise.

This limerick more or less sums up my approach to writing limericks:

Grave Thoughts
by Michael R. Burch

as a poet i’m rather subVerse-ive;
as a writer i much prefer Curse-ive.
and why not be brave
on my way to the grave
since i doubt that i’ll end up reHearse-ive?

NOTE: “Subversive,” “cursive” and “rehearse-ive” are double entendres: subversive/below verse, cursive/curse, rehearsed/recited and re-hearsed (reincarnated to end up in a hearse again).

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