The HyperTexts

The Best Doggerel of Michael R. Burch
The Best Nonsense Verse of Michael R. Burch
The Best Subversive Verse of Michael R. Burch
A Brief History of Doggerel and Nonsense Verse

Is it an oxymoron to combine the terms "best" and "doggerel"? Is there such a thing as "good doggerel"? I think so, but I will simply present my work in the genre and let you be the judge ...

by Michael R. Burch

The limerick is one of the most common and most popular forms of doggerel. This is one of my favorite limericks:

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.
—Arthur Henry Reginald Buller

I find it interesting that one of the best revelations of the weirdness and zaniness of relativity can be found in a limerick! The limerick above inspired me to pen a rejoinder:

Ass-Tronomical
by Michael R. Burch

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

If you like any of my poems, you're free to share them for noncommercial purposes, as long as I'm credited as the poet.

These are "subversive" poems of mine, pardon the pun:

Bible Libel
by Michael R. Burch

If God
is good,
half the Bible
is libel.

I came up with this epigram after reading the Bible from cover to cover at age eleven, and wondering how anyone could call the biblical God "good."

What Would Santa Claus Say
by Michael R. Burch

What would Santa Claus say,
I wonder,
about Jesus returning
to Kill and Plunder?

For he’ll likely return
on Christmas Day
to blow the bad
little boys away!

When He flashes like lightning
across the skies
and many a homosexual
dies,

when the harlots and heretics
are ripped asunder,
what will the Easter Bunny think,
I wonder?

A Child’s Christmas Prayer of Despair for a Hindu Saint
by Michael R. Burch

Santa Claus, for Christmas, please,
don’t bring me toys, or games, or candy . . .
just . . . Santa, please,
I’m on my knees! . . .
please don’t let Jesus torture Gandhi!

Willy Nilly
by Michael R. Burch

for the Demiurge, aka Yahweh/Jehovah

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
You made the stallion,
you made the filly,
and now they sleep
in the dark earth, stilly.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
You forced them to run
all their days uphilly.
They ran till they dropped—
life’s a pickle, dilly.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
They say I should worship you!
Oh, really!
They say I should pray
so you’ll not act illy.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Less Heroic Couplets: Murder Most Fowl!
by Michael R. Burch

“Murder most foul!”
cried the mouse to the owl.

“Friend, I’m no sinner;
you’re merely my dinner!”
the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

Originally published by Lighten Up Online and in Potcake Chapbook #7

NOTE: In an attempt to demonstrate that not all couplets are heroic, I have created a series of poems called “Less Heroic Couplets.” I believe even poets should abide by truth-in-advertising laws! And I believe such laws should extend to Creators who claim to be loving, wise, merciful, just, etc., while forcing innocent mice to provide owls with late-night snacks. — Michael R. Burch



A Brief History of Doggerel and Nonsense Verse (the dates are the poets' birthdates, or approximates)

1343 - Geoffrey Chaucer coined the term "rym doggerel" for his Tale of Sir Topas, a burlesque of long-winded medieval romances.
1460 - John Skelton described his rhymes as "ragged, tattered and jagged" in Colin Clout.
1552 - Edmund Spenser wrote Mother Hubberd's Tale, the first known example of the Mother Goose tales.
1564 - William Shakespeare employed limericks and/or limerick meter in Othello, King Lear and The Tempest.
1613 - Samuel Butler employed doggerel in his long narrative satire Hudibras.
1626 - The first texts containing the French terms mere l’oye or mere oye (Mother Goose). 
1812 - Edward Lear popularized the limerick form with his popular Book of Nonsense.
1825 - William McGonagall became famous (or infamous) for his doggerel.
1832 - Lewis Carroll employed doggerel in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
1902 - Ogden Nash would become one of the best-known modern penners of doggerel.
1904 - Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, has probably made more money from doggerel than anyone.

Animal Limericks

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."

Stage Craft-y
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!"

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.

Other Animal Poems

Lance-Lot
by Michael R. Burch

Preposterous bird!
Inelegant! Absurd!

Until the great & mighty heron
brandishes his fearsome sword.

honeybee
by Michael R. Burch

love was a little treble thing—
prone to sing
and sometimes to sting

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’
by Michael R. Burch

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’
the bees rise
in a dizzy circle of two.
Oh, when I’m with you,
I feel like kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’ too.

Don’t ever hug a lobster!
by Michael R. Burch

Don’t ever hug a lobster, if you meet one on the street!
If you hug a lobster to your breast, you're apt to lose a teat!
If you hug a lobster lower down, it’ll snip away your privates!
If you hug a lobster higher up, it’ll leave your cheeks with wide vents!
So don’t ever hug a lobster, if you meet one on the street,
But run away and hope your frenzied feet are very fleet!

Generation Gap
by Michael R. Burch

A quahog clam,
age 405,
said, “Hey, it’s great
to be alive!”

I disagreed,
not feeling nifty,
babe though I am,
just pushing fifty.

Note: A quahog clam found off the coast of Ireland is the longest-lived animal on record, at an estimated age of 405 years.

Nonsense Verse about Writing Verse

The Beat Goes On (and On and On and On ...)
by Michael R. Burch

Bored stiff by his board-stiff attempts
at “meter,” I crossly concluded
I’d use each iamb
in lieu of a lamb,
bedtimes when I’m under-quaaluded.

Originally published by Grand Little Things


Naughty & Bawdy Limericks

There was a young gal name of Sally
Who loved an occasional dally.
She sat on the lap
Of a well-endowed chap
Crying, "Gee, Dick, you're right up my alley!"
—Anonymous (I touched this one up slightly)

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

There once was a manic bartender,
a transvestite who went on a bender.
"I cut myself off,"
she exclaimed with a sob,
"there’s the evidence, there in the blender!"
Michael R. Burch

Shotgun Bedding

A pedestrian pediatrician
set out on a dangerous mission;
though his child bride, Lolita,
was a sweet senorita,
her pa's shotgun cut off his emissions.
Michael R. Burch

As one critic put it, the limerick "is the vehicle of cultivated, unrepressed sexual humor in the English language." But while some experts claim that the only "real" limerick is a bawdy one, the form really took off initially, in terms of popularity, as a vehicle for nonsense verse and children's poems. And the limerick has has frequently been used for political purposes. Here are are three muckraking limericks of mine:

Baked Alaskan

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

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

Pls refudiate

“Refudiate” this,
miffed, misunderstood Ms!—
Shakespeare, you’re not
(more like Yoda, but hot).
Your grammar’s atrocious;
Great Poets would know this.

You lack any plan
save to flatten Iran
like some cute Mini-Me
cloned from G. W. B.

Admit it, Ms. Palin!
Stop your winkin’ and wailin’—
only “heroes” like Nero
fiddle sparks at Ground Zero.


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

I wrote the last poem above after Sarah Palin compared herself to Shakespeare, who coined new words, rather than admit her mistake when she used "refudiate" in a Tweet rather than "repudiate." The copyright notices above are ironic, as the poems above were written and published before 2012.

Nonsense Verse

There was an old man from Peru
who dreamed he was eating his shoe.
He awoke in the night
with a terrible fright
to discover his dream had come true.
—Variation on a classic limerick 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.
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 Better Man" 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.
—"Of Tetley’s and V-2's," or, "Why Not to Bomb the Brits" by Michael R. Burch

Relativity, the theorists’ creed,
proves all mass increases with speed.
My ass grows when I sit it.
Albert Einstein, get with it;
equate its deflation, I plead!
Michael R. Burch
 
Hawking, who makes my head spin,
says time may flow backward. I grin,
imagining the surprise
in my mothers’ eyes
when I head for the womb once again!
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!
Michael R. Burch

A proper young auditor, white
as a sheet, like a ghost in the night,
saw his dreams, his career
in a "poof!" disappear,
and then, strangely Enronic, his wife.
Michael R. Burch
 
There once was a troglodyte, Mary,
whose poots were impressively airy.
To her children’s deep shame,
their foul condo became
the first cave to employ a canary.
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!
Michael R. Burch

Doggerel about Doggerel

The Board
by Michael R. Burch

Accessible rhyme is never good.
The penalty is understood—
soft titters from dark board rooms where
the businessmen paste on their hair
and, Walter Mitties, woo the Muse
with reprimands of Dr. Seuss.

The best book of the age sold two,
or three, or four (but not to you),
strange copies of the ones before,
misreadings that delight the board.
They sit and clap; their revenues
fall trillions short of Mother Goose.


Longer Doggerel

When I Was Small, I Grew
by Michael R. Burch

When I was small,
God held me in thrall:
Yes, He was my All
but my spirit was crushed.

As I grew older
my passions grew bolder
even as Christ grew colder.
My distraught mother blushed:

what was I thinking,
with feral lust stinking?
If I saw a girl winking
my face, heated, flushed.

“Go see the pastor!”
Mom screamed. A disaster.
I whacked away faster,
hellbound, yet nonplused.

Whips! Chains! Domination!
Sweet, sweet, my Elation!
With each new sensation,
blue blood groinward rushed.

Did God disapprove?
Was Christ not behooved?
At least I was moved
by my hellish lust.

Happily Never After
by Michael R. Burch

Happily never after, we lived unmerrily
(write it!—like disaster) in Our Kingdom by the See
as the man from Porlock’s laughter drowned out love’s threnody.

We ditched the red wheelbarrow in slovenly Tennessee
and made a picturebook of poems, a postcard for Tse-Tse,
a list of resolutions we knew we couldn’t keep,
and asylum decorations for the King in his dark sleep.

We made it new so often strange newness, wearing old,
peeled off, and something rotten gleamed yellow, not like gold:—
like carelessness, or cowardice, and redolent of pee.
We stumbled off, our awkwardness—new Keystone comedy.

Huge cloudy symbols blocked the sun; onlookers strained to see.
We said We were the only One. Our gaseous Melody
had made us Joshuas, and so—the Bible, new-rewrit,
with god removed, replaced by Show and Glyphics and Sanskrit,
seemed marvelous to Us, although King Ezra said, “It’s S—t.”

We spent unhappy hours in Our Kingdom of the Pea,
drunk on such Awesome Power only Emperors can See.
We were Imagists and Vorticists, Projectivists, a Dunce,
Anarchists and Antarcticists and anti-Christs, and once
We’d made the world Our oyster and stowed away the pearl
of Our too-, too-polished wisdom, unanchored of the world,
We sailed away to Lilliput, to Our Kingdom by the See
and piped the rats to join Us, to live unmerrily
hereever and hereafter, in Our Kingdom of the Pea,
in the miniature ship Disaster in a jar in Tennessee.

Doggerel about Dogs

Dog Daze
by Michael R. Burch

Sweet Oz is a soulful snuggler;
he really is one of the best.
Sometimes in bed
he snuggles my head,
though he mostly just plops on my chest.

I think Oz was made to love
from the first ray of light to the dark,
but his great love for me
is exceeded (oh gee!)
by his Truly Great Passion: to Bark.

Xander the Joyous
by Michael R. Burch

Xander the Joyous
came here to prove:
Love can be playful!
Love can have moves!

Now Xander the Joyous
bounds around heaven,
waiting for him mommies,
one of the SEVEN —

the Seven Great Saints
of the Great Canine Race
who evangelize Love
throughout all Time and Space.

                        Amen

Oz is the Boss!
by Michael R. Burch

Oz is the boss!
Because? Because ...
Because of the wonderful things he does!

He barks like a tyrant
for treats and a hydrant;
his voice far more regal
than mere greyhound or beagle;
his serfs must obey him
or his yipping will slay them!

Oz is the boss!
Because? Because ...
Because of the wonderful things he does!

Epitaph for a Lambkin
by Michael R. Burch

for Melody, the prettiest, sweetest and fluffiest dog ever

Now that Melody has been laid to rest
Angels will know what it means to be blessed.

                                                Amen

Excoriation of a Treat Slave
by Michael R. Burch

I am his Highness’s dog at Kew.
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?
—Alexander Pope

We practice our fierce Yapping,
for when the treat slaves come
they’ll grant Us our desire.
(They really are that dumb!)

They’ll never catch Us napping —
our Ears pricked, keen and sharp.
When they step into Our parlor,
We’ll leap awake, and Bark.

But one is rather doltish;
he doesn’t understand
the meaning of Our savage,
imperial, wild Command.

The others are quite docile
and bow to Us on cue.
We think the dull one wrote a poem
about some Dog from Kew

who never grasped Our secret,
whose mind stayed think, and dark.
It’s a question of obedience
conveyed by a Lordly Bark.

But as for playing fetch,
well, that’s another matter.
We think the dullard’s also
as mad as any hatter

and doesn’t grasp his duty
to fling Us slobbery balls
which We’d return to him, mincingly,
here in Our royal halls.

Bed Head, or, the Ballad of
Beth and her Fur Babies
by Michael R. Burch

When Beth and her babies
prepare for “good night”
sweet rituals of kisses
and cuddles commence.

First Wickett, the eldest,
whose mane has grown light
with the wisdom of age
and advanced senescence
is tucked in, “just right.”

Then Mary, the mother,
is smothered with kisses
in a way that befits
such an angelic missus.

Then Melody, lambkin,
and sweet, soulful Oz
and cute, clever Xander
all clap their clipped paws
and follow sweet Beth
to their high nightly roost
where they’ll sleep on her head
(or, perhaps, her caboose).

Wickett
by Michael R. Burch

Wickett, sweet Ewok,
Wickett, old Soul,
Wicket, brave Warrior,
though no longer whole . . .

You gave us your All.
You gave us your Best.
You taught us to Love,
like all of the Blessed

Angels and Saints
of good human stock.
You barked the Great Bark.
You walked the True Walk.

Now Wickett, dear Child
and incorrigible Duffer,
we commend you to God
that you no longer suffer.

May you dash through the Stars
like the Wickett of old
and never feel hunger
and never know cold

and be reunited
with all our Good Tribe —
with Harmony and Paw-Paw
and Mary beside.

Go now with our Love
as the great Choir sings
that Wickett, our Wickett,
has at last earned his Wings!

The Resting Place
by Michael R. Burch

for Harmony

Sleep, then, child;
you were dearly loved.

Sleep, and remember
her well-loved face,

strong arms that would lift you,
soft hands that would move

with love’s infinite grace,
such tender caresses!

*

When autumn came early,
you could not stay.

Now, wherever you wander,
the wildflowers bloom

and love is eternal.
Her heart’s great room

is your resting place.

*

Await by the door
her remembered step,

her arms’ warm embraces,
that gathered you in.

Sleep, child, and remember.
Love need not regret

its moment of weakness,
for that is its strength,

And when you awaken,
she will be there,

smiling,
at the Rainbow Bridge.

Lady’s Favor: the Noble Ballad of Sir Dog and the Butterfly
by Michael R. Burch

Sir was such a gallant man!
When he saw his Lady cry
and beg him to send her a Butterfly,
what else could he do, but comply?

From heaven, he found a Monarch
regal and able to defy
north winds and a chilly sky;
now Sir has his wings and can fly!

When our gallant little dog Sir was unable to live any longer, my wife Beth asked him send her a sign, in the form of a butterfly, that Sir and her mother were reunited and together in heaven. It was cold weather, in the thirties. We rarely see Monarch butterflies in our area, even in the warmer months. But after Sir had been put to sleep, to spare him any further suffering, Beth found a Monarch butterfly in our back yard. It appeared to be lifeless, but she brought it inside, breathed on it, and it returned to life. The Monarch lived with us for another five days, with Beth feeding it fruit juice and Gatorade on a Scrubbie that it could crawl on like a flower. Beth is convinced that Sir sent her the message she had requested.

Solo’s Watch
by Michael R. Burch

Solo was a stray
who found a safe place to stay
with a warm and loving band,
safe at last from whatever cruel hand
made him flinch in his dreams.

Now he wanders the clear-running streams
that converge at the Rainbow’s End
and the Bridge where kind Angels attend
to all souls who are ready to ascend.

And always he looks for those
who hugged him and held him close,
who kissed him and called him dear
and gave him a home free of fear,
to welcome them to his home, here.


The HyperTexts