The HyperTexts

The Best Limericks of All Time
Limerick Definitions and Limerick Examples
A Brief History of the Limerick with a Limerick Timeline/Chronology

Who wrote the best limericks in the English language? Here's a top candidate for the best limerick writer of all time ...

There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comments arose
On the state of her clothes,
She replied, "When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez."
—Ogden Nash

Which limericks are the raciest, the raunchiest, the bawdiest, the weirdest, the zaniest, the coolest, the most heretical and the most irreverent? Here's a big clue which way we're heading ...

A pious young lady of Chichester
Made all the pale saints in their niches stir.
And each morning at matin
Her breast in pink satin
Made the bishop of Chichester's breeches stir.
—Anonymous (I touched this one up slightly)

This page attempts to answer such questions for students, educators and anyone interested in the most entertaining and least-buttoned-down of the English poetic forms. Here you will find limericks by the expected masters of the form, including Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and Ogden Nash. But you will also find limericks by unexpected authors like Salman Rushdie and Dean Martin! If you like raunchy jokes, you have certainly found the right page. (However, children are advised to stop reading after the four Ogden Nash limericks.) There are examples of double limericks and triple limericks. I also have a Limerick Timeline that goes back much further than you might suspect. But please keep in mind that this page reflects one fan of the form's opinion, for whatever that's worth.

I have a new page devoted to everyone's favorite coronavirus conqueror: Donald Trump Limericks

I also have a section of free verse limericks, after the more conventional ones.

compiled by Michael R. Burch

My top ten limerick writers are: (#10) Rudyard Kipling, (#9) Dr. Seuss (who employed anapestic limerick meter in much of his humorous verse), (#8) Algernon Charles Swinburne, (#7) W. H. Auden, (#6) William Shakespeare, (#5) Hilaire Belloc, (#4) Lewis Carroll, (#3) Edward Lear, (#2) Anonymous, including the poets of Mother Goose fame, and (#1) Ogden Nash, my landslide winner.

Honorable Mention: Thomas Aquinas, Isaac Asimov, Morris Bishop, Robert Conquest, Wendy Cope, T. S. Eliot, Queen Elizabeth I, Eugene Field, W. S. Gilbert, Robert Herrick, Leigh Hunt, Erica Jong, James Joyce, Spike Milligan, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Mark Twain, John Updike, H. G. Wells, James Whistler

My top ten limericks and limerick-like poems, all included here: (#10) "There Was a Young Lady of Niger" attributed to Edward Lear; (#9) the "Nantucket" limericks by various authors; (#8) "The Ant" by Ogden Nash; (#7) "The Bee" by Edward Lear; (#6) a number of "naughty" limericks by various authors; (#5) "Mother Goose" limericks by various authors; (#4) "The Pelican" by assorted authors; (#3) "The Hippopotamus" by Hilaire Belloc; (#2) "The Turtle" by Ogden Nash; (#1) "Tom O'Bedlam's Song" written in limerick meter by Anonymous (or was Shakespeare perhaps the author?) Harold Bloom suggested that Shakespeare may have been the author of "Tom O'Bedlam's Song." If so, that would move Shakespeare up to number one on my list of the top limerick writers. I will explore this intriguing idea when I get to the poem, later on this page. And what an amazing poem it is!

Concise definition of the limerick: "A typically humorous, bawdy and/or nonsensical verse written in anapestic meter with three longer and two shorter lines that usually rhyme AABBA." There is a more detailed definition later on this page which identifies a curious difference between modern limericks and those of the "father of the limerick," Edward Lear. (As you read his limericks on this page, please see if you can identify the difference.)

To begin with a stellar example of the limerick, here's one of my all-time favorites, which illustrates how punning wordplay can "spice up" limericks:

A wonderful bird is the pelican;
His beak can hold more than his belican.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week,
Though I’m damned if I know how the helican!
—C. M. Marshton? Dixon Lanier Merritt? Jeff McLemore? George Lizotte? Willis B. Powell? Bennett Cerf? Ogden Nash?

There are a number of versions of the bit of oddball humor above. One version begins with "A wondrous bird is the pelican," another with the questionable line "A gorgeous bird is the pelican." Are pelicans gorgeous, really? Saner souls soon settled on more believable adjectives. The second line can end with "belican" or "bellican." The last line can end with "hell he can," "hellecan," "hellican" or "helican." The earliest version appeared in the Tampa Morning Tribune on April 2, 1913 and was ascribed to C. M. Marshton, who said he had received it from relatives. When the Dixon Lanier Merritt version appeared in the Nashville Banner on April 22, 1913, he claimed it was a "postcard poem" sent by a gentleman's "best girl" in Clarksville. Col. Jeff McLemore was temporarily given credit for writing the poem, but he too blamed it on some unknown person. When LIFE magazine published yet another version of the poem, Merritt suggested that LIFE should be blamed in retrospect! The jokes about disowning authorship are almost as entertaining as the orphaned limerick!

I had to get in on the act, however belatedly:

The Pelican't
by Michael R. Burch

Enough with this pitiful pelican!
He’s awkward and stinks! Sense his smellican!
His beak's far too big,
so he eats like a pig,
and his breath reeks of fish, I can tellican!

Before I delve deeper into the colorful history of the limerick, please allow me to share some examples in the form of personal favorites:

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.

This limerick 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. Buller's limerick inspired me to pen―not one―but two rejoinders:

Cosmological Constant
by Michael R. Burch

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

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!

My poetic rejoinders resulted in another:

But Schrodinger’s cat lets us know
That your ass might be massive, although
While it seems like a farce
If you just hide your arse
It’ll neither get smaller, nor grow.
—Gennadiy Gurariy

One thing led to another ...

Relative-ly Speaking
by Michael R. Burch

Einstein’s theory is really quite silly—
it says masses increase, willy-nilly,
at speeds close to light.
Well, his relatives’ might,
but mine grow their (m)asses more stilly!

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 Again!
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!

Parting is such sweet sorrow
by Michael R. Burch

The universe is flying apart.
Hush, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s vexed heart!
Repeat, repeat.
Don’t skip a beat.
Perhaps some new Big Bang will spark?

Neil deGrasse Tyson told Stephen Colbert that what keeps him awake at night is the fear that expansion will cause most of the universe to become invisible to us.

This is a brief history of the limerick, in the form of a Limerick Timeline. More detailed historical information appears later on this page. Some of the dates are approximations or "educated guesses."

561—The name "Limerick" dates back to at least 561 AD.
812—Vikings construct a walled settlement at Limerick.
968—Brian Boru, whose mother was killed by Vikings, loots and burns the Viking settlement at Limerick.
977—The last Viking king of Limerick, known as Ivar of Limerick, dies in a battle with Brian Boru.
1197—King Richard I of England, better known as "Richard the Lionheart," grants the city of Limerick its first charter.
1225—Saint Thomas Aquinas may have written the first limerick: a prayer in Latin! My, how things have changed!
1300—The ancient Anglo-Saxon (Old English) poem "Sumer is i-comen in," also known as the "Cuckoo Song," is limerick-like.
1322—A limerick-like poem "The lion is wondirliche strong" is one of the oldest such poems extant today.
1533—Queen Elizabeth I has been credited with writing a limerick about a "daughter of debate."
1560—Shakespeare employs limerick meter in Othello, King Lear, The Tempest, Anthony and Cleopatra and Henry IV, Part II.
1590—Edmund Spenser publishes "Mother Hubbard's Tale," a precursor to "Mother Goose" poems and stories to come.
1591—Robert Herrick writes a lovely limerick about a glow-worm.
1615—The great anonymous poem about madness, "Tom O'Bedlam's Song," is written in limerick meter.
1626—The first texts containing the French terms mere l’oye or mere oye (Mother Goose).
1697—Charles Perrault publishes the first Mother Goose collection of rhymes and folk tales in France.
1700—By the early 18th century, drinking songs and Gaelic minstrels insulting each other in verse have laid the foundation for the limerick form we know and love.
1706—The Maigue poets are the first Limerick-based poets known to have written limericks, led by Sean O’ Tuama (1706-1775) and Andrias MacCriath (1710-1793).
1729—Robert Samber translates Perrault's fairy tales into English.
1760—Limericks are published in Boston in the book Mother Goose’s Melody, which includes "Jack and Jill," "Seesaw Margery Daw" and "Hey Diddle Diddle."
1821—John Marshall publishes the first English books with limericks: The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women and Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen.
1830—Edward Lear, an artist and illustrator by trade, discovers and reads Marshall's books.
1846—Edward Lear publishes A Book of Nonsense. In his spare time he gives drawing lessons to Queen Victoria.
1863—Lear's book sells well and a third edition is published. Soon notable poets like Algernon Charles Swinburne and Dante Gabriel Rossetti are employing the limerick form, often in "naughty" ways. Around this time Punch publishes limericks until they become too bawdy and sacrilegious for polite English society! But the form endures and thrives.
1865—Inklings for Thinklings is published during the American Civil War. It contains 35 limericks with illustrations.
1896—The first known use of the term "limerick" for the already-popular poetic form appears in a letter by artist Aubrey Beardsley to Leonard Smithers. Previously, contemporaries of Edward Lear had called them "learics" (perhaps a pun on his name and "lyrics").
1902—The first "Nantucket" limerick is published in the Princeton Tiger: The poem inspires a number of witty responses. And in an interesting synchronicity, Ogden Nash is born just in time for the limerick boom.
1907—The London Opinion sparks a "limerick craze" in England, which is suddenly even more jolly. The New York Times reports that "GREAT BRITAIN IS LIMERICK-CRAZY" with "Millions Competing for Prizes Offered by Almost Every Popular Paper in England!" The British post office struggles to keep up with all the submissions. And the rest, as they say, is history ...

Here's a scientific limerick that amuses me:

A mosquito cried out in pain:
"A chemist has poisoned my brain!"
The cause of his sorrow
was para-dichloro-

For our non-chemist readers, paraDichloroDiphenylTrichloroethane is the the full name for DDT.

Edward Lear has been called the "father" and the "poet laureate" of the limerick because he helped popularize the form. To be frank, I believe other poets, particularly Ogden Nash, have penned better limericks, but I do admire this one, which has been attributed to Lear:

There was a young lady of Niger
who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
with the lady inside,
and the smile on the face of the tiger.
—attributed to Edward Lear and William Cosmo Monkhouse

Here's another Lear limerick that I especially like and admire:

There was an Old Man in a tree,
Who was horribly bored by a bee.
When they said "Does it buzz?"
He replied "Yes, it does!
It's a regular brute of a bee!"
—Edward Lear

Lear banked 125 pounds for his Book of Nonsense, a princely sum for a writer in those days. And the title of his book may have inspired our term "nonsense verse." There are more of his limericks later on this page.

While I don't have a limerick about bees, I do have one about other insects with suspicious morals:

A much-needed screed against licentious insects
by Michael R. Burch

Army ants? ARMY ants?
Yet so undisciplined to not wear pants?
How incredibly rude
to wage war in the nude!
We moralists call them SMARMY ants!

Here's a limerick-like poem that has long been a favorite of mine:

I shoot the Hippopotamus
With bullets made of platinum,
Because if I use leaden ones
His hide is sure to flatten 'em.
—Hilaire Belloc

Belloc's nonsense inspired this rejoinder of mine:

The Hippopotami
by Michael R. Burch

There’s no seeing eye to eye
with the awesomely huge Hippopotami:
on the bank, you’re much taller;
going under, you’re smaller
and assuredly destined to die!

The famous pelican limerick reminds me of something Dorothy Parker once said about Oscar Wilde: that when she discovered an especially good epigram, she always assumed that Wilde was its author. Ogden Nash holds a similar place of distinction in the pantheon of limerick writers. One thing Nash did wonderfully well was ignore the "rules" that often result in stiffly-corseted formal poems. Nash's poems tend to be funny, irreverent, whimsical and "loosey-goosy." (Nash is to limericks as e. e. cummings is to sonnets.) Here are a few of Nash's best limericks and limerick-like poems:

There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comments arose
On the state of her clothes,
She replied, "When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez."
—Ogden Nash

A flea and a fly in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the fly, "let us flee!"
"Let us fly!" said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.
—Ogden Nash

The turtle lives 'twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile.
—Ogden Nash

The ant has made himself illustrious
Through constant industry industrious.
So what? Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?
—Ogden Nash

There are more poems by Nash later on this page. If we give credit to Lear for popularizing the form, shouldn't we give even more credit to Nash for perfecting it? Nash wrote some hilariously funny poems about animals and inspired this tribute of mine to his art:

Clyde Lied, or, Honeymoon Not-So-Sweet
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.

While most limericks are humorous, the form has been adapted for more serious purposes. Thus not all limericks are humorous. Take, for instance, this inspirational limerick-like poem recited by Yolanda Renee King, the 9-year-old granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., at the March for Our Lives event in Washington DC, where student activists and their supporters rallied against gun violence:

Spread the word!
Have you heard?
All across the nation,
We are going to be
A great generation!

On a much more somber note, I have a page of poetic elegies from around the globe: Poems for the Victims and Survivors of the Coronavirus

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 a griefstricken 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.

"Self Reflection" analysis, theme and meaning.

This limerick-like poem of mine delves into literary criticism:

Caveat Spender
by Michael R. Burch

It's better not to speculate
"continually" on who is great.
Though relentless awe's
a Célèbre Cause,
please reserve some time for the contemplation
of the perils of

Moving on, some of the best limericks are "naughty" poems written by the greatest and most prolific of all poets, Anonymous. (I caution children to stop reading at this point!)

There was a young man from Savannah
Who died in a curious manner:
He whittled a hole
In a telephone pole
And electrified his banana.

There once was a hermit named Dave
Who kept a dead whore in his cave.
"I know it's a sin,"
He opined with a grin,
"But just think of the money I save!"
—Anonymous (I touched this one up slightly)

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 once was a handyman, Kent,
Whose drill was decidedly bent.
To save himself trouble,
He put it in double
And while he was coming, he went.
—Anonymous (I touched this one up slightly)

Shady Sadie
by Michael R. Burch

A randy young dandy named Sadie
loves sex, but in forms deemed quite shady.
(I cannot, of course,
involve her poor horse,
but it’s safe to infer she's no lady!)

While Titian was mixing rose madder,
His model reclined on a ladder.
Her position to Titian
Suggested coition,
So he leapt up the ladder and had 'er.

There once was a man named O'Doul
Who found red spots dotting his tool.
His doctor (a cynic)
Ran him out of the clinic
Crying, "Wipe off that lipstick, you fool!"
—Anonymous (I touched this one up slightly)

There once was a lady of Totten
Whose tastes grew perverted and rotten.
She cared not for steaks,
Nor for pastries, nor cakes,
But lived solely on penis au gratin
—Anonymous (I touched this one up slightly)

There was a sweet girl of Decatur
who set out to sea on a freighter.
She was screwed by the master
—an utter disaster—
but the crew all made up for it later.
—Isaac Asimov

A man called Percival Lee
Got up one night for a pee.
When he got to the loo
It was quarter to two,
And when he got back it was three.
—Spike Milligan

A germane young German, a dame
with a quite unpronounceable name,
Frenched me a kiss;
I admonished her, "Miss,
you’ve left me twice tongue-tied, for shame!"
—Michael R. Burch

A pirate, the legend relates,
Was horsing around with some mates
When he slipped on a cutlass
Which rendered him nutless
And practically useless on dates.
—Anonymous (I touched this one up slightly)

Shotgun Bedding
by Michael R. Burch

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.

I have long been a fan of limericks about animals. Here are a few more of mine:

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!"

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.

The Sinister Snail
by Michael R. Burch

A sinister sinistral snail
went dextral, to no avail,
spent a week (here's a zinger)
as a right-winger,
but the leftist's now back in jail!

The Flu Fly Flew
by Michael R. Burch

A fly with the flu foully flew
up my nose—thought I’d die—had to sue!
Was the small villain fined?
An abrupt judge declined
my case, since I’d “failed to achoo!”

On the Horns of a Dilemma (I)
by Michael R. Burch

Love has become preposterous
for the over-endowed rhinoceros:
when he meets the right miss
how the hell can he kiss
when his horn is so horny it lofts her thus?

I need an artist or cartoonist to create an image of a male rhino lifting his prospective mate into the air during an abortive kiss. Any takers?

On the Horns of a Dilemma (II)
by Michael R. Burch

Love has become preposterous
for the over-endowed rhinoceros:
when he meets the right miss
how the hell can he kiss
when his huge horn deforms her esophagus?

The next version is a free verse limerick:

On the Horns of a Dilemma (III)
by Michael R. Burch

A wino rhino said, “I know!
I have a horn I cannot blow!
And so,
I’ll watch the lovely spigot flow!

The Horns of a Dilemma Solved, if not Solvent
by Michael R. Burch

A wine-addled rhino debated
the prospect of living unmated
due to the scorn
gals showed for his horn,
then lost it to poachers, sedated.

An intro to the next three limericks was provided by Tom Cushing: "There was a band traveling the college frat house circuit, many years ago, called Doug Clark And The Hot Nuts. They did a bit called the "Dirty Thirty" in which the band vamped a swing beat while various members recited limericks in time. They'd then pass the microphone around to the party goers, and let them have a try."

The Hot Nuts are said to have been the inspiration for Otis Day and the Knights in the movie Animal House. They recorded "My Ding-a-Ling" in 1961, a decade before Chuck Berry made it famous (or infamous).

There once was a couple named Kelly
Who walked around belly to belly
Because, in their haste,
They used library paste
Instead of petroleum jelly!
—Anonymous (Suggested by Tom Cushing)

A lovely young lady named Alice
Used a dynamite stick as a phallus.
They found her vagina
In North Carolina
And bits of her titties in Dallas.
—Anonymous (Suggested by Tom Cushing)

There once was a lovely young lass
Who had a magnificent ass:
Not smooth, round and pink
As you probably think,
But a rough, gray-maned cropper of grass.
—Anonymous (Suggested by Tom Cushing; I touched this one up slightly)

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 an obscene or bawdy one, the form really took off initially, in terms of popularity, as a vehicle for nonsense verse and children's poems, such as the Mother Goose nursery rhymes:

Hickory dickory dock,
the mouse ran up the clock;
the clock struck one
and down he run;
hickory dickory dock.
—Mother Goose, first published in 1744 in Tom Thumb's Pretty Songbook

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, "It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!"
—Edward Lear

There was a Young Lady whose chin
Resembled the point of a pin:
So she had it made sharp,
And purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.
—Edward Lear

There was an old man of the Cape
Who made himself garments of crepe.
When asked, "Do they tear?"
He replied, "Here and there,
But they're perfectly splendid for shape!"
—Robert Louis Stevenson

Karma School

Not everything lost will be found.
I keep my high hopes on the ground.
Despite what we're taught,
More often than not,
What goes around just goes around.
—O.V. Michaelsen

A Postal Tip

Some shippers are hard to out-fox,
And books are as heavy as rocks.
Expensive to mail?
Try cheating the scale.
Pump helium into the box.
—O.V. Michaelsen

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!"

The Trouble with Elephants: a Word to the Wise
by Michael R. Burch

An elephant never forgets
which is why they don’t make the best pets:
Jumbo may well out-live you,
but he’ll never forgive you,
so you may as well save your regrets!

But rules are made to be broken, especially by rebellious, inventive poets. Here's one of my favorite rule-breakers, with the theme of breaking the rules:

This limerick goes in reverse
Unless I’m remiss
The neat thing is this:
If you start from the bottom-most verse
This limerick’s not any worse.
—Zach Weiner

If read from the top down, the limerick "breaks" the rules. If read from the last line up, however, it "obeys." Very clever!

Here's a limerick about one of the universe's greatest ironies: the lack of rhyme words for "poetry" and "limerick." I almost solved the latter, but fell a bit short:

Shelved Elves
by Michael R. Burch

I wanted to rhyme with “limerick”
and settled on “good old Saint Slimmer Nick”
'bout a dieting Claus,
but drawing no “ahs!”
I glumly rescinded the trimmer trick.

To show the flexibility of the limerick form, it has often been used for political purposes, and to expose, satirize and savage charlatans. Here are are two such 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

I have even written limericks about religion, mostly heretical limericks:

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 planet earth burning
& with children unfed,
so he ventured: “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!, poets seem unlikely to save the world from the darkness of human religions:

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.

Expanded Limerick Definition:

The most common form of the limerick is a stanza of five lines, in which the first, second and fifth lines rhyme with each another and have three feet of three syllables each, while the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other, but are shorter, having only two feet of three syllables each. The metrical "foot" employed is usually the anapest, (ta-ta-TUM), but limericks can also be amphibrachic (ta-TUM-ta). The syllable counts for long limericks are typically 99669 while short limericks are usually 88558. However, as you can see from the last two poems by Nash and my poems directly above, there are other variations of the form. While the vast majority of limericks have the rhyme scheme AABBA, some have the scheme ABCCB and there are other variants. For instance, if you examine the limericks of Edward Lear on this page, you will see that the "father of the limerick" would use one rhyming word twice, so that rather than having the rhyme pattern AABBA, his was either A*BB* or *ABB* (where the asterisk denotes a word used twice that rhymes with the ending word of line A). However, this repetition of one rhyme word is not common in modern limericks.

This is an example of a classic amphibrachic limerick:

There was a young lady of Lynn,
Who was so uncommonly thin
That when she essayed
To drink lemonade
She slipped through the straw and fell in!

Expanded History of the Limerick:

The origin of the name "limerick" for this humorous poetic form is still being debated. The term was first officially documented in England in 1898, in the New English Dictionary, but the form itself is much older. The name is generally considered to be a reference to the city or county of Limerick, Ireland, and may derive from a parlor game that included a refrain such as "Will [or won't] you come (up) to Limerick?" The earliest known use of the name "limerick" for a short, humorous lyric is an 1880 reference in a New Brunswick newspaper to a tune apparently well-known at the time, "Won’t you come to Limerick?" That article included this verse:

There was a young rustic named Mallory,
who drew but a very small salary.
When he went to the show,
his purse made him go
to a seat in the uppermost gallery.

The earliest published American limerick appeared in 1902 in the Princeton Tiger:

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

Related "sequels" were soon published. Of these, two of the most famous appeared, respectively, in the Chicago Tribune and the New York Press:

But he followed the pair to Pawtucket,
The man and the girl with the bucket;
And he said to the man,
He was welcome to Nan,
But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.

Then the pair followed Pa to Manhasset,
Where he still held the cash as an asset;
But Nan and the man
Stole the money and ran,
And as for the bucket, Manhasset.

There continue to be modern sequels, 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 johns fled, crying: "Fuck it!"
—Variation on a classic limerick by Michael R. Burch

Here's another bawdy Nantucket limerick, author unknown:

There once was a man from Nantucket
Whose schlong was so long he could sucket
He said with a grin
Wiping spunk off his chin
"If my ear were a cunt I could fucket!"

Here are three "linked" Nantucket limericks of mine:

There was a coarse whore of Nantucket
whose bush needed someone to pluck it
’cause it looked like a chimp’s
and her johns were limp gimps
too timid to touch, suck or fuck it.

So that coarse, canny whore of Nantucket,
once muff-shaved, decided to shuck it
—that thick, wiry pelt
that smelled like wet felt—
and made it a toupee for Luckett.

Now Luckett, once bald as an eagle,
like Samson, stands handsome and regal
with hair to his ass
that smells like his lass,
yet still comes when she calls, like a beagle.

—a triple limerick by Michael R. Burch

Limericks are often associated historically with Edward Lear, whose first published limericks appeared in A Book of Nonsense in 1846, although his poems were not called limericks at the time. But Lear didn’t invent the form. It appears that during his stays at Knowsley Hall in the 1830s, he discovered a book, Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen, which contained limericks published by John Marshall in 1822. Two similar books had been published around the same time: Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Young Ladies and The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women. It seems likely that these books employed a form that was already popular at the time, and that Lear liked the form and began using it himself.

But limericks had already been published in Boston in the 1760 book Mother Goose’s Melody, which included still-popular poems like "Jack and Jill," "Seesaw Margery Daw" and "Hey Diddle Diddle."

Furthermore, we can trace the limerick back to the eighteenth-century Filí na Máighe, or Gaelic poets of the Maigue, a pub in Croom, County Limerick. Seán Ó’Tuama (1709-1775) and Aindrias MacCraith (1710-1793) were members of this group, which sometimes verbally sparred in verses employing limerick meter. Some of their poems were translated into English by the poet James Clarence Mangan and later appeared in both languages in John O’Daly’s The Poets and Poetry of Munster, published in 1850. This is an example of their repartee:

Seán Ó’Tuama:

"I sell the best Brandy and Sherry
To make all my customers merry,
But at times their finances
Run short as it chances,
And then I feel very sad, very".

To which MacCraith replied:

"O’Tuama! You boast yourself handy
At selling good ale and bright Brandy,
But the fact is your liquor
Makes everyone sicker;
I tell you this, I, your friend, Andy".

But where did they discover the limerick? It may be possible that in the early 1700s soldiers returning from the War of the Spanish Succession brought the limerick to Ireland from the European mainland. One possible route was through France. The first texts containing the French terms mere l’oye or mere oye (Mother Goose) date to 1626. Then in 1697, Charles Perrault published the first Mother Goose collection of rhymes and folk tales, essentially creating the fairy tale genre of literature. Later, in 1729, Robert Samber translated Perrault's fairy tales into English. While Perrault's fairy tales were written in prose, the combination of fairy tales and limerick meter could have resulted in interesting "mergers."

But the limerick form may be far older. It has been suggested that the limerick originated in France during the Middle Ages. An 11th century manuscript demonstrates the limerick’s cadence:

The lion is wondrous strong
And full of the wiles of wo; (woe)
And whether he pleye (play)
Or take his preye (prey)
He cannot do but slo. (slay)

One of the oldest English poems, still largely Anglo-Saxon and betraying its Germanic roots, may date to circa 1300 and is limerick-like:

Svmer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed
and bloweþ med
and springþ þe wde nu!
Sing cuccu!

Paraphrased in Modern English, the poem means something like: Summer is coming. Sing loud, cuckoo! The seed is growing and the meadow is blowing and the wood is springing up new. Sing cuckoo!

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) employed limerick meter in Stephano’s drinking song from "The Tempest":

The master, the swabber, the boatswain and I,
The gunner and his mate
Loved Mall, Meg and Marian and Margery,
But none of us cared for Kate;
For she had a tongue with a tang,
Would cry to a sailor, Go hang!
She loved not the savour of tar nor of pitch,
Yet a tailor might scratch her where'er she did itch:
Then to sea, boys, and let her go hang!
—from "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare employed an actual limerick in a drinking song from "Othello":

And let me the canakin clink, clink; (canakin = drinking can)
And let me the canakin clink
A soldier's a man;
A life's but a span;
Why, then, let a soldier drink.
—from "Othello" by William Shakespeare

Another drinking song, this one from “Anthony and Cleopatra,” is limerick-like:

Come, thou monarch of the vine,
Plumpy Bacchus with pink eyne!
In thy fats our cares be drown'd,
With thy grapes our hairs be crown'd:
Cup us, till the world go round,
Cup us, till the world go round!
—from "Anthony and Cleopatra" by William Shakespeare

Yet another drinking song, this one from "Henry IV, Part II," is limerick-like:

Do nothing but eat and make good cheer,
And praise God for the merry year;
When flesh is cheap and females dear,
And lusty lads roam here and there,
So merrily, and ever among so merrily.
—from "Henry IV, Part II" by William Shakespeare

The great poem about madness, "Tom O'Bedlam," circa 1615, was written in limerick meter. Here's an excerpt:

The moon's my constant mistress,
And the lovely owl my marrow;
The flaming drake
and the night crow make
Me music to my sorrow.

The literary critic Harold Bloom has proposed Shakespeare as the author of "Tom O'Bedlam," a poem he calls "the greatest anonymous lyric in the [English] language." As I understand Bloom, his argument is the poem's excellence. (Bloom has been accused of "bardolatry" and has gone so far as to write a book in which he proposed that Shakespeare "invented" the modern human being.) While I don't claim to know that Shakespeare had anything to do with writing "Tom O'Bedlam," he was one of the first English writers to write limericks and incorporate them into plays. And in King Lear, Shakespeare had Edgar disguise himself as mad "Tom o' Bedlam." So I find the idea intriguing, if perhaps unprovable either way.

Edward Lear's A Book of Nonsense (1846) was an important step in the development and popularization of the limerick form, although such lyrics would be called "learics" until the term "limerick" began to appear around 1896. There would be second and third editions of Lear's book in 1855 and 1861. Imitators soon caught the limerick wave. Ye Book of Sense: A Companion to the Book of Nonsense (1863) was followed by The New Book of Sense (1864). The latter book, published in Philadelphia, apparently "spawned a fad for this verse form in America."

The limerick form became very popular in the early 1900s, when limericks were published widely in newspapers, magazines and literary journals.

It's interesting that some of the earliest published limericks, including Shakespeare's, were related to taverns and drinking. One might speculate that people had a few drinks, "loosened up," then began competitions in which they sang or chanted bawdy songs and poems, with the winner getting a free drink, applause, and perhaps a kiss from a serving wench. It may have been hundreds of years before literary types started to take limericks seriously enough to start writing them down. But they eventually "got smart" and did just that.

In modern times limerick meter has been employed in songs. For instance: "You're in the Army Now," "Popeye the Sailor Man" and even the moody "Piano Man" by Billy Joel.

Famous penners of limericks include Shakespeare, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ogden Nash, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, H. G. Wells, T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, James Joyce, Lewis Carroll, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Salman Rushdie and Isaac Asimov. These are examples of limericks by famous writers:

There was a small boy of Quebec
Who was buried in snow to his neck.
When they asked, "Are you friz?"
He replied, "Yes, I is —
But we don't call this cold in Quebec!"
—Rudyard Kipling

Our novels get longa and longa
Their language gets stronga and stronga
There’s much to be said
For a life that is led
In illiterate places like Bonga!
—H. G. Wells

I finally found the perfect girl.
I could not ask for more.
She's deaf and dumb and oversexed.
And owns a liquor store.
—attributed to Dean Martin, who often joked about his excessive drinking

Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good!
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.
—Ogden Nash

The ostrich roams the great Sahara.
Its mouth is wide, its neck is narra.
It has such long and lofty legs,
I'm glad it sits to lay its eggs.
—Ogden Nash

T. S. Eliot is quite at a loss
When clubwomen bustle across
At literary teas
Crying, "What, if you please,
Did you mean by The Mill On the Floss?"
—W. H. Auden

There was a young lady of station
"I love man" was her sole exclamation
But when men cried, "You flatter"
She replied, "Oh! no matter!
Isle of Man is the true explanation."
—Lewis Carroll

There is a poor sneak called Rossetti
As a painter with many kicks met he
With more as a man
But sometimes he ran
And that saved the rear of Rossetti.
—Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The marriage of poor Kim Kardashian
Was krushed like a kar in a krashian.
Her Kris kried, "Not fair!
Why kan't I keep my share?"
But Kardashian fell klean outa fashian.
—Salman Rushdie

There were few who thought him a starter,
Many who thought themselves smarter.
But he ended PM,
CH and OM,
an Earl and a Knight of the Garter.
—British Prime Minister Clement Attlee

There was a young fellow from Ankara,
Who was a terrific wankerer.
Till he sowed his wild oats,
With the help of a goat,
But he didn’t even stop to thankera.
—British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

I have written a number of limericks myself, under the magical spell of the form:
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

NOTE: "The Better Man" is a double limerick.

Attention Span Gap
by Michael R. Burch

What if a poet, Shakespeare,
were still living to tweet to us here?
He couldn't write sonnets,
just couplets, doggonit,
and we wouldn't have Hamlet or Lear!

Yes, a sonnet may end in a couplet,
which we moderns can write in a doublet,
in a flash, like a tweet.
Does that make it complete?
Should a poem be reduced to a stublet?

Bring back that Grand Era when men
had attention spans long as their pens,
or rather the quills
of the monsieurs and fils
who gave us the Dress, not its hem!

NOTE: “Attention Span Gap” is a triple limerick.

Ding Dong ...
by Michael R. Burch

for Fliss

An impertinent bit of sunlight
defeated a goddess, NIGHT.
"Hooray!" cried the clover,
"Her reign is over!
But she certainly gave us a fright!"

Be very careful what you pray for!
by Michael R. Burch

Now that his T’s been depleted
the Saint is upset, feeling cheated.
His once-fiery lust?
Just a chemical bust:
no “devil” cast out or defeated.

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

That Not-So-Mellow Fellow, Othello
by Michael R. Burch

Not sure ’bout that fellow, Othello,
was he a “hero” or merely piss yellow?
He killed his poor wife
over a handkerchief!
Thus Iago proved his heart Jello.

There once was a poet from Nashville
which hockey fans rechristened Smashville,
but his odd limericks
pulled so many weird tricks
his peers now prefer Ogden Gnashville.
Michael R. Burch

There once was a poet from Tennessee
who was known to indulge in straight Hennessey
for his heart had been broken
and cruelly ripped open
by an ice-hoarding Dame of Paree.
Michael R. Burch

There once was a girl with small boobs
who would only go out with young rubes,
but their dicks were too small
so she sentenced them all
to kissing her fallopian tubes.
Michael R. Burch

A coquettish young lady of France
longed to have lusty men in her pants,
but in lieu of real joys
she settled for boys,
then complained of her lack of romance.
Michael R. Burch

A virginal lady of France
longed to have a ménage in her pants
but in lieu of real boys
she settled for toys
& painted pinkies to make her bits dance.
Michael R. Burch

Here's one for the poets:

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.

Here's one for the editors of poets:

That Mella Fella
by Michael R. Burch

for John Mella, former editor of LIGHT

There once was a fella named Mella,
who, if you weren’t funny, would tell ya.
But he was cool, clever, nice,
gave some splendid advice,
and if you did well, he would sell

Here's one for the fundamentalists:

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

Here's one for the Flintstones:

Early Warning System (I)
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a troglodyte, Mary,
whose poots were impressive, but scary.
To her family’s deep shame,
their condo became
the first cave to employ a canary!

Early Warning System (II)
by Michael R. Burch

A hairy thick troglodyte, Mary,
squinched dingles excessively airy.
To her family’s deep shame,
their condo became
the first cave to employ a canary!

Donald Trump Limericks aka Slimericks

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!

Toupée or Not Toupée, That is the Question
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

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 aka "The Loyal Opposition"

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

Stumped and Stomped by Trump
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

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!"

Humpty Trumpty
by Michael R. Burch

Humpty Trumpty called for a wall.
Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Now all the Grand Wizards
and Faux PR men
Can never put Trumpty together again.

Viral Donald
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

Donald Trump is coronaviral:
his brain's in a downward spiral.
That pale nimbus of hair
proves there's nothing up there
but an empty skull, fluff and denial.
Trump’s Saddest Tweet to Date
by Michael R. Burch

I’ve gotten all out of kilter.
My erstwhile yuge tool is a wilter!
I now sleep in bed.
Few hairs on my head.
Inhibitions? I now have no filter!
Jim Crow Pie
by Michael R. Burch

There onst wus a prez who et crow,
which is sorta like blackbird, yuh know,
but bein’ a racist
an’ surely the basest,
he basted the beast with white dough!

by Michael R. Burch

The Donald’s uniquely refined,
for, when threatened with being confined,
as the hammer comes down,
his PAC’s noses (brown)
emerge, and he’s praised, wined and dined.

by Michael R. Burch

The Donald’s uniquely refined,
for, although he’s been frequently fined,
he will say, “I don’t mind,
because, as you’ll find,
I defer all my tabs to the blind!”

15 Seconds
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

Our president’s sex life—atrocious!
His "briefings"—bizarre hocus-pocus!
Politics—a shell game!
My brief moment of fame
flashed by before Oprah could notice!

Trump’s Golden Rule
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

Donald Trump is the victim of leaks!
Golden showers are NOT things he seeks!
Though he dearly loves soaking
the women he’s groping,
get real, 'cause he pees ON the meek!

Trump Dump
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a con man named Trump
who just loved to take dumps at the stump.
“What use is the truth?”
he cried, with real ruth,
“Just come kiss my fat orange rump!”

Limerick-Ode to a Much-Eaten Ass
by Michael R. Burch

There wonst wus a president, Trump,
whose greatest ass (et) wus his rump.
It wus padded ’n’ shiny,
that great orange hiney,
but to drain it we’d need a sump pump!

Interpretation: In this alleged "ode" a southern member of the Trump cult complains that Trump's ass produces so much shit that his legions of ass-kissers can't hope to drain it and need mechanical ass-istance.

Is Trump the ANTICHRIST? When the Hebrew prophets spoke of "the Trump of Doom" and a "little horn" were they speaking literally? (For a YUGE slew of 666 connections, see Is Donald Trump the Antichrist?)

Cancun Cruz
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

There once was a senator, Cruz,
whose whole life was one pus-oozing schmooze.
When Trump called his wife ugly,
Cruz brown-nosed him smugly,
then went on a sweet Cancún cruise!

Anchors Aweigh!
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

There once was an anchor babe, Cruz,
whose deployment was Castro’s bold ruse.
Now the revenge of Fidel
has worked out quite well
as Cruz missiles launch from his caboose!

Canadian Cruz
by Michael R. Burch aka "The Loyal Opposition"

There was a Canadian, Cruz,
an anchor babe with a bold ruse:
he’d take Texas first
and then do his worst
to infect the whole world with his views.

Gore-dom Boredom
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a candidate, Gore,
whose campaign had become quite a bore.
“He’s much too stiff,”
sighed his publicist,
“but not like his predecessor!”

Eerie Dearie

by Michael R. Burch

A trembling 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.

NOTE: Fortune named Enron "America's Most Innovative Company" for six consecutive years, but the company went bankrupt and vanished after its accounting practices were determined to be fraudulent.

Here are some more bawdy limericks of mine:

Dee Lite Full
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.”

The Bender Ender Blender
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!”

No Bull: a Double Limerick
by Michael R. Burch

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!”

So this fast-thinking forward named Rodman
then said to his best man—“No problem!
When I marry Electra,
if the ring costs extra,
just yank a hoop right off my knob, man!”

“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 (I)
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.

Any Woozy Floozy Will Do (II)
by Michael R. Burch

Once Kennedy, as we all know,
bedded a goddess, Monroe;
but Bill Clinton, less choosy,
will take any floozy
and a doozy of a good blow.

Mating Calls, or, Purdy Please!
by Michael R. Burch

Nine-thirty? Feeling flirty (and, indeed, a trifle dirty),
I decided to ring prudish Eleanor Purdy...
When I rang her to bang her,
it seems my words stang her!
She hung up the phone, so I banged off, alone.

Still dreaming to hold something skirty,
I once again rang the reclusive Miss Purdy.
She sounded unhappy,
called me “daffy” and “sappy,”
and that was before the gal heard me!

It was early A.M., ’bout two-thirty,
when again I enquired with the regal Miss Purdy.
With a voice full of hate,
she thundered, “It’s LATE!”
Was I, perhaps, over-wordy?

At 3:42, I was feeling blue,
and so I dialed up Miss You-Know-Who,
thinking to bed her
and quite possibly wed her,
but she summoned the cops; now my bail is due!

It was probably close to four-thirty
the last time I called the miserly Purdy.
Although I’m her boarder,
the restraining order
freezes all assets of that virginity hoarder!

Teeter Tots
by Michael R. Burch

For your spuds to become Tater Tots,
First, artfully cut out the knots,
Then dice them to cubes,
Deep-fried, served to rubes
(but not if they’re acting like snots).

yet another post-partum christmas blues poem
by michael r. burch

ur GAUD created hell; it’s called the earth;
HE mused u briefly, clods of little worth:
let’s make some little monkeys
to be RELIGION’s flunkeys!

GAUD belched, went back to sleep, such was ur birth.

Variation on a Famous Limerick by Edward Lear
by Michael R. Burch

An old man had been terribly gored.
He’d been stung by a bee and then bored.
Friends asked, "Does it buzz?"
He replied "Yes, it does!
It's a brute of a bee!" he deplored.

Turnabout is Unfair Play
by Michael R. Burch

I sent the feds to deport her:
Ms. Sanchez, from south of the border.
Although I’m her board-
er, her restraining ord-
er froze all assets of that virginity hoarder!

Bored Stiff by an Over-Rigid Formalist
by Michael R. Burch

for J. S. S.

The Chairman of the Bored
writes meter as stiff as a board,
so I’ll use each iamb
in lieu of a lamb
then nod off to each numbing chord!

Gore-dom Boredom
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a pale, hopeful Lord
whose campaign has been widely deplored.
“He was much too stiff,”
sighed his publicist,
“but unlike Slick Willy, he bored.”

Ignoble, No Bull
by Michael R. Burch

A young matador who’d been deplored
for having been gouged, gashed and gored
plotted and planned,
then said, “Rules be damned!
I’ll advance on the bulls with a board!”

The Undeterred Lord of the Horde
by Michael R. Burch

A candidate (widely deplored)
exulted, “They’ll still make me Lord!
Although I’m a liah
they’ll make me Messiah
and I’ll control the dull minds of the Horde!”

i can’t believe ur cant
by Michael R. Burch

i can’t believe ur Gaud
could be such a thickheaded clod:
so vain, so cruel,
in need of more school
to learn compassion and the GOLDEN RULE.

Wright-er of Wrongs
by Michael R. Burch

Messin’ with Josephine Wright
is likely to end in a fight.
A spry 93,
she’d take on Ali,
and teach him his left from his right!

Developers after her land
have found Wright to be full of sand.
Though small and petite
(hell, barely five feet)
she’s a towering black firebrand.

by Michael R. Burch

I had a little caterpillar,
it wove a cocoon for its villa.
When I blinked an eye
what did I espy?
It flew off, a regal butterfly!

Untitled Limericks

“Dear Lord,” fretted Adam, depressed,
“did the slut really rupture my chest?”
“Yes she did,” piped his Maker,
“but of course you can’t take her,
or I’d fry you in hell, for incest!”
Michael R. Burch

There was a young lady from France
Who’d let cute boys play in her pants:
When they gave her the finger
She'd let them linger
because that's the point of romance!
Michael R. Burch

A germane young German, a dame
with a quite unpronounceable name,
gave me a kiss;
I admonished her, "Miss,
we haven't been intro'd, for shame!"
Michael R. Burch

A germane young German, a dame
with a quite unpronounceable name,
Frenched me a kiss;
I admonished her, "Miss,
you’ve left me twice tongue-tied, for shame!"
Michael R. Burch

A germane young German, a dame
with a quite unpronounceable name,
Frenched me and left my lips lame.
I lectured her, "Miss,
That's a premature kiss!
We haven't been intro'd, for shame!"
Michael R. Burch

Anais, Anais, why do you betray us?
We immortalize you, yet you slay us?
We praise your small boobage,
Yet you save it for rube-age
While your wit and your beauty enslave us!
Michael R. Burch

There once was a girl named Anais
whose bra was so small it might slay us
by choking off air
as we sob in despair
because she refuses to lay us.
Michael R. Burch


Although I prefer
to bunions,
I still primarily defer
to legal reefer.
Michael R. Burch

Fahr an' Ice
by Michael R. Burch

apologies to Robert Frost and Ogden Nash

From what I know of death, I'll side with those
who'd like to have a say in how it goes:
just make mine cool, cool rocks
(twice drowned in likker),
and real fahr off, instead of quicker.

Originally published by Light Quarterly

These are limericks I have written about Ogden Nash:

by Michael R. Burch

Is Ogden Nash gnashing his teeth?
Is his ghost rolling ’round in wild grief
that the Post would make crimes
of his “imperfect” rhymes?
Call Ripley’s—it beggars belief!

The Washington Post in all its great wisdom would ban Ogden Nash’s imperfect rhymes from its limerick contests!

Grave Offense I
by Michael R. Burch

Is Ogden Nash gnashing his teeth,
upside-down in his grave, full of grief
that his wit and his art
share this name I impart
to my “limericks?” Am I a thief?

Grave Offense II
by Michael R. Burch

Is Ogden Nash gnashing his teeth,
upside-down in his grave, full of grief
that the term “limerick”
has been plagiarized? Quick—
dial 9-1-1; call the police!

Lean Harvests (II)
by Michael R. Burch

for Tom Merrill

the trees are shedding their leaves again: another summer is over.
the Christians are praising their Maker again, but not the disconsolate plover:
i hear him berate
the fate of his mate;
he claims God is no body's lover.
The Limerick as Parody:

The Vampire's Spa Day Dream
by Michael R. Burch

O, to swim in vats of blood!
I wish I could, I wish I could!
O, 'twould be
so heavenly
to swim in lovely vats of blood!

The poem above was inspired by a Josh Parkinson depiction of Elizabeth Bathory swimming up to her nostrils in the blood of her victims, with their skulls floating in the background.

Marvell-Less (I)
by Michael R. Burch

Mr. Marvell was ill-named? Inform us!
Alas, his crude writings deform us:
for, when trying to bed
chaste virgins, he led
right off with his iron balls ginormous!

Marvell-Less (II)
by Michael R. Burch

Andrew Marvell was far less than Marvellous;
indeed, he was cold, bold, unchivalrous:
for when trying to bed
chased/chaste virgins, he led
right off with his iron balls ginormous!

When reading the second version of the poem, the reader can select “chased” or “chaste” or read them together, quickly.

Two Post-Mother’s-Day Limericks

We desperately need a Mother Recovers Day!
by Michael R. Burch

Mother’s Day! Lovers’ Day!
Adulation Re-Smothers Day!
Hugs ’n kisses galore
till she’s tired and bone-sore.
Now, like a needle in the hay,
she needs a Recovers Day!

Mother’s Day Replay
by Michael R. Burch

Mother’s Day! Lovers’ Day!
This Hug-and-Kiss Smothers Day
when a roll in the hay
conjures babies, olé!
(Please, children, ignore these crude verses, okay?)

Here are a few more of my favorite anonymous limericks:

A bather whose clothing was strewed
By breezes that left her quite nude,
Saw a man come along
And, unless I am wrong,
You expect this last line to be lewd!
(I touched this one up slightly)

There was a young lady named Alice
Who was known to have peed in a chalice.
'Twas the common belief
It was done for relief,
And not out of protestant malice.

There was a young lady named Yanker,
Who slept while her ship lay at anchor;
She awoke in dismay,
When she heard the mate say,
"Now hoist up the topsheet and spanker."
(I touched this one up slightly)

There was a young lady named Cager
Who, as the result of a wager,
Consented to fart
The complete oboe part
Of Mozart's quartet in F major.
(I touched this one up slightly)

A bobby of Nottingham Junction
Whose organ had long ceased to function
Deceived his good wife
For the rest of her life
With the aid of his constable's truncheon.

More limericks and limerick-like poems of mine...

This is my randy version of a classic limerick originally published by Arthur Henry Reginald Buller in Punch on Dec. 19, 1923.

An incestuous physicist, Bright,
made love at speeds faster than light.
She had sex one day
in her relative way,
then came on the previous night!
—Michael R. Burch

There was a young porn star of Ghent
whose get-up just got up and went.
Too sleepy for sex,
her fans became ex-
subscribers, and no checks were sent.
—Michael R. Burch

Fair Elle was an eely lover
who squiggled beneath the covers ...
She was hard to pin down!
When I did it, she’d frown,
then wouldn’t do none of my druthers!
—Michael R. Burch

Antsy kids of the world, unite!
You don't like the facts, so fight!
Call them all “haters,”
those cool, calm debaters,
then your mommies can tuck you in tight.
—Michael R. Burch

Helen Keller
saw more than the stellar-
and the televisioned.
—Michael R. Burch

Bowl-less Fans’ Dilemma

So much talent,
yet so many losses!
Do we blame the damned players
or fire their bosses?


The New Year approaches, with goals
Prancing about like wild foals;
But they dodge the damn harness,
Retreat into farness ...
Now I’ll have to walk home, I suppose.

A cowboy exclaimed, “Fiddle-faddle!
Who cares if I ‘date’ my own cattle?”
But his wife cried, “You chump!”
Kicked him hard in the rump,
And now he can’t sit in the saddle.

A cowboy confessed to his brother
That he’d taken his horse as his lover.
But the mare neighed, of course.
It was rape, and by force.
Then the prick was killed by the nag’s mother.

A cowboy confessed to his priest
That he’d screwed twenty cattle, at least.
“Father, am I forgiven?”
But the dude died unshriven,
Since the thunderbolt left him deceased.

by Michael R. Burch

The world’s first antinatalist limerick?

Life comes with a terrible catch:
It’s like starting a fire with a match.
Though the flames may delight
In the dark of the night,
In the end what remains from the scratch?

Devil’s Wheel
by Michael R. Burch

A billion men saw your pink undies.
What will the pard say to you, Sundays?
Yes, your panties were cute,
but the shocked Devil, mute,
now worries about reckless fundies.

A Prude Goes Nude
by Michael R. Burch

She wore near-invisible panties
and, my, she looked good in her scanties!
But the real nudists claimed
she was “over-framed.”
Now she’s bare-assed and shocking her aunties!

by Michael R. Burch

Will Ohtani hit 65 homers,
win the Cy Young by striking out Gomers,
make it cute and okay
to write KKK
while inspiring rhyme-challenged poemers?

Will Ohtani hit 65 homers,
win the Cy Young by striking out Gomers,
prove the nemesis
of white supremacists
while inspiring rhyme-challenged poemers?

Will Ohtani hit 65 homers,
win the Cy Young by striking out Gomers,
cause supremacists
to cease and desist
while inspiring rhyme-challenged poemers?

Preposterous Eros
by Michael R. Burch

“Preposterous Eros” – Patricia Falanga

Preposterous Eros shot me in
the buttocks, with a Devilish grin,
spent all my money in a rush,
then left my heart effete pink mush.

Eros was the Greek god of love, equivalent to Cupid, the Roman god of love.

A Possible Explanation for the Madness of March Hares
by Michael R. Burch

March hares,
Spring’s a tease, a flirt!

This is yet another late freeze alert.
Better comfort your babies;
the weather has rabies.

This poem was inspired by a sonnet by Vera Ignatowitsch in which she called Spring “the cruellest flirt.”

Cold Snap Coin Flip
by Michael R. Burch

Rise and shine,
The world is mine!
Let’s get ahead!

Or ...

Back to bed,
Old sleepyhead,
Dull and supine.

Less Heroic Couplets: Shell Game
by Michael R. Burch

I saw a turtle squirtle!
Before you ask, “How fertile?”
The squirt came from its mouth.
Why do your thoughts fly south?

Harem Scare'm
by Michael R. Burch

I wanted to live like a sheik, in a harem.
But I live like a monk without gals ’cause I scare ’em.

Less Heroic Couplets: Word to the Unwise
by Michael R. Burch

I wanted to be good as gold,
but being good, as I’ve been told,
requires something, discipline,
I simply have no interest in!

Villanelle of an Opportunist
by Michael R. Burch

I’m not looking for someone to save.
A gal has to do what a gal has to do:
I’m looking for a man with one foot in the grave.

How many highways to hell must I pave
with intentions imagined, not true?
I’m not looking for someone to save.

Fools praise compassion while weaklings rave,
but a gal has to do what a gal has to do.
I’m looking for a man with one foot in the grave.

Some praise the Lord but the Devil’s my fave
because he has led me to you!
I’m not looking for someone to save.

In the land of the free and the home of the brave,
a gal has to do what a gal has to do.
I’m looking for a man with one foot in the grave.

Every day without meds becomes a close shave
and the razor keeps tempting me too.
I’m not looking for someone to save:
I’m looking for a man with one foot in the grave.

Ireland’s Ire has Landed

The luck of the Irish has failed:
Trump’s landed and cannot be jailed!
From Killarney to Derry
the natives are very
despondent and bombs have been mailed.

Donald Trump has alarmed Country Clare:
the Irish are crying, “Beware!
He won’t pay his tax,
his manners are lax,
and what the hell’s up with his hair?”

The Donald has landed in Doonbeg
(Ireland). Why? For a noon beg:
he’s running real low
on cash, so you know
he’ll fit like a freakin’ square peg.

The luck of the Irish has faltered.
Trump’s there and he cannot be haltered.
From Killarney to Derry
the natives are very
insistent his visa be altered.

Poets laud Justice’s
high principles.
Trump just gropes
her raw genitals.
—Michael R. Burch

Zip It
by Michael R. Burch

Trump pulled a stunt,
wore his pants back-to-front,
and now he’s the butt of bald jokes:

“Is he coming, or going?”
“Eeek! His diaper is showing!”
But it’s all much ado, says Snopes.

Limerick-Ode to a Much-Eaten Ass
by Michael R. Burch

There wonst wus a president, Trump,
whose greatest ass (et) wus his rump.
It was padded ’n’ shiny,
that great orange hiney,
but to drain it we’d need a sump pump!

Song Cycle
by Michael R. Burch

Sing us a song of seasons—
of April’s and May’s gay greetings;
let Winter release her sting.
Sing us a song of Spring!

Nay, the future is looking glummer.
Sing us a song of Summer!

Too late, there’s a pall over all;
sing us a song of Fall!

Desist, since the icicles splinter;
sing us a song of Winter!

Sing us a song of seasons—
of April’s and May’s gay greetings;
let Winter release her sting.
Sing us a song of Spring!

The Unregal Beagle vs. The Voracious Eagle
by Michael R. Burch

I’d rather see an eagle
than a beagle
because they’re so damn regal.

But when it’s time to wiggle
and to giggle,
I’d rather embrace an angel
than an evil.

And when it’s time to share the same small space,
I’d much rather have a beagle lick my face!

Over(t) Simplification
by Michael R. Burch

“Keep it simple, stupid.”

A sonnet is not simple, but the rule
is simply this: let poems be beautiful,
or comforting, or horrifying. Move
the reader, and the world will not reprove
the idiosyncrasies of too few lines,
too many syllables, or offbeat beats.

It only matters that she taps her feet
or that he frowns, or smiles, or grimaces,
or sits bemused—a child—as images
of worlds he’d lost come flooding back, and then ...
they’ll cheer the poet’s insubordinate pen.

A sonnet is not simple, but the rule
is simply this: let poems be beautiful.

Related pages: The Best Donald Trump Limericks, The Cosmological Constant: Limericks by Michael R. Burch, Perfect Poems, The Best Sonnets, The Best Villanelles, The Best Ballads, The Best Sestinas, The Best Rondels and Roundels, The Best Kyrielles, The Best Couplets, The Best Quatrains, The Best Haiku, The Best Limericks, The Best Nonsense Verse, The Best Poems for Kids, The Best Light Verse, The Best Poem of All Time, The Best Poems Ever Written, The Best Poets, The Best of the Masters, The Most Popular Poems of All Time, The Best American Poetry, The Best Poetry Translations, The Best Ancient Greek Epigrams and Epitaphs, The Best Anglo-Saxon Riddles and Kennings, The Best Old English Poetry, The Best Lyric Poetry, The Best Free Verse, The Best Story Poems, The Best Narrative Poems, The Best Epic Poems, The Best Epigrams, The Most Beautiful Poems in the English Language, The Most Beautiful Lines in the English Language, The Most Beautiful Sonnets in the English Language, The Best Elegies, Dirges & Laments, The Best Poems about Death and Loss, The Best Holocaust Poetry, The Best Hiroshima Poetry, The Best Anti-War Poetry, The Best Religious Poetry, The Best Spiritual Poetry, The Best Heretical Poetry, The Best Thanksgiving Poems, The Best Autumnal Poems, The Best Fall/Autumn Poetry, The Best Dark Poetry, The Best Halloween Poetry, The Best Supernatural Poetry, The Best Dark Christmas Poems, The Best Vampire Poetry, The Best Love Poems, The Best Urdu Love Poetry, The Best Erotic Poems, The Best Romantic Poetry, The Best Love Songs, The Ten Greatest Poems Ever Written, The Greatest Movies of All Time, England's Greatest Artists, Visions of Beauty, What is Poetry?, The Best Abstract Poetry, The Best Antinatalist Poems and Prose, Early Poems: The Best Juvenilia, Human Perfection: Is It Possible?, The Best Book Titles of All Time, The Best Writing in the English Language, The Best Poems about Mothers, Erotic Poems by Michael R. Burch, Poems for Children by Michael R. Burch, Poems for Poets by Michael R. Burch, Cowboy Poems by Michael R. Burch, Did Lord Bryon inspire Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein?

The HyperTexts