Friday, August 19, 2016

Lucy Welcomes Her Cousin Tom for Limerick Mania!

Cousin Tom, Sister Sue, Cousin Joan
LUCY BURDETTE: As I mentioned on Monday, my cousin Tom is a limerick genius. (In photo to left, they must be laughing at one of his wondrous poems!) He also works as a professor at a school in NC--I won't say more as he thought they might not appreciate this kind of publicity. Lucky for all of us, he's agreed to help us get started on JRW limerick mania. Thanks for agreeing to visit, Tom! Is there a certain structure that the limerick should follow?

TOM ISLEIB: Generally, a limerick has five lines with syllable content and rhyme scheme 8a, 8a, 5b, 5b, 8a.  If you read a lot of limericks, you will find that there is some variation in the numbers of syllables in lines, usually within one or two of the eight or five.  As for the rhyming, I have seen some real stretches, and I think it unsporting when the fifth line simply repeats the last word of the first or second line, e.g., one attributed to Rudyard Kipling:

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

I imagine that Kipling would punch me out for calling that "unsporting." 

LUCY: When you, Tom, are beginning a poem, how do you start? With the important rhyming words for lines 1, 2, and 5, or somewhere else?

TOM:  I usually start with a word that is critical to the particular limerick, say, a name, and try to think of words that rhyme with it that could end lines 1, 2, and 5.  Some names are hard to rhyme, for example, "Martha" (my newly married cousin) although the shortened version "Mart" or "Marty" is easier.  If a critical word is difficult to rhyme, you can bury it within a line that ends with a more easily rhymed word, e.g.,

"When Martha was going to be wed
She asked, "Will it go to my head? 
I caught me a mister
Then gloated to Sister. 
Should I have just shacked up instead?"

LUCY: Any other tips for limerick novices?

TOM:  A memorable limerick is off-color, some of them downright nasty dirty.  We all know the famous dirty one about the man from Nantucket, although I have heard a perfectly clean version of that one.  "There once was a man from Nantucket who kept all his cash in a bucket..."  If not off-color, a limerick usually has a pun, a joke, or some other cleverness built into it that makes the reader groan.  Consider Mark Twain's famous one: 

"A man hired by John Smith and Co.
Loudly declared that he’d tho.
Men that he saw
Dumping dirt near his door
The drivers, therefore, didn’t do."

See how he did that?  Jot down your first try, then let it fester in your subconscious mind for a day or two.  You may come up with a better variation or rhyme if you do.

LUCY: And ps, in case you think my cuz can’t take a harder name like “Martha” and do something with it, here’s the limerick he dashed off just before the wedding:

“There once was a woman named Martha
Who was hunting a guy like Siddhartha,
And then she met Rich,
A nice sonofabitch,
Now they'll marry and snooze by the heartha.”

And in case (like me) you didn’t get Mark Twain’s cleverness, here’s the key:
Co. = Company
Tho. = Thump any
Do. = Dump any

Now for the contest…come up with your best shot at a limerick and post in the comments. There’ll be prizes, and celebration for your daring, I guarantee you!


Joan Emerson said...

Wow . . . I am in awe of Tom. Limericks are NOT easy!
After much struggle, the best I can say is that the syllables and rhymes follow the pattern.

I once knew a girl from Dupree:
With Alice I walked by the sea.
She gave me a look,
then called me a schnook,
and flounced off to sip some marsh tea.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Joan, that's a very good start for so early in the morning! You've set the bar for the day...

Edith Maxwell said...

So fun! Thanks, Tom. I have written a few celebratory limericks, a page of them each, once for a friend's eightieth birthday, and once for a couple's fiftieth wedding anniversary. Goofy, but they loved them.

Here's my bio:

There once was a girl from C A
Who landed a job in M A
She now writes crime books,
Gets lots of strange looks
When talking about whom to slay

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Go Edith--goofy is the word of the day:)

Ann in Rochester said...

Remember cousins Tom and Lucy?
Both were incredibly choosy.
But they always agreed,
On a Japanese cuisine feed,
And got woozy on sake and sushi.

OK people, this is too much for my head this early in the morning. Now what do I win?

Here's my favorite, expurgated of course, and not original by any means:

There once was a Bishop of Buckingham,
Who stood on the bridge at Uppingham?
Watching the stunts of the c*nts in the punts,
And the tricks of the pr*cks who were f*ckingham.

Am I kicked out?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

This is so great! I will think. But I know Tom will be familiar with my favorite Limerick, which I can't remember the beginning of, only the end, which is :

The Mr. kr. sr.

Does he know it? Or can any of you guess? I will find the beginning!

John said...

The lassies from Jungle Red always scribbling
That they were talented and famous, no quibbling
Reds so hard they labored on their blog
To the sisters this project no slog
Set their readers each day a giggling!

Hallie Ephron said...

Yay, John!
Hank, I know you're going to hit this out of the park.

This is so out of my ken, but here's one:

Though poetically challenged, a writer
Wrote limericks that only got triter
So she tried writing dirty
But only got flirty
And caused her blog partners to smite her.

Hallie Ephron said...

And another

Lucy made me, the brave Jungle Red,
Pointed to bad limericks and said,
And that cousin Tom
Who wrote with aplomb
They made me try rhyming instead.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

I'm thinking I'm thinking! Pass the baton to Julia, though, who you know will kill this…

Mary Sutton said...

There is no way. Just--no way. Not at 8:18am with only one cup of tea.

But thanks for the early morning laugh, Reds and Tom. I sorely need it today.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Hallie, you've got what it takes! Here's one

There once was a girl with Meniere's
Only roaring was heard in her ears
So she stopped eating salt
Her food bland to a fault
Now she'll be poisoning people for years

Hmmm, last line needs an editor...

Ann you are definitely in the winner's far!

Hallie Ephron said...

Lucy, feels like "assaulting" belongs in there somewhere.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

In the shower--all lathered and soapy
There's a rhyme I can think of, I hopey!
But each time brain mine
Mines a line that's divine
I decide it's decidedly dopey.

Deborah Romano said...

This is fun! I took today off from work. When I'm done with breakfast I'll go off and think for a little while, and see if I can come up with something! (For now, I need more caffeine:-)

Deb Romano

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

yay Hank! Deb R, drink up and do come back! Did you take the day off just to write limericks???

Karen in Ohio said...

Hank, I found your mystery limerick:

She frowned and called him Mr.
Because, in sport, he kr.
And so, in spite,
That very night,
This Mr. kr. sr.

The author seems to be that slippery old Anonymous.

Karen in Ohio said...

And I found this wonderful one by Zach Weiner, a top-down and bottom-up limerick:

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.

I have no talent whatsoever for poems of any kind, but enjoy reading these. Thanks!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

those are fun Karen, thanks!

Susan D said...

Well, I'm clearly not going to get much work done today. But I'll start with the one I wrote about a million years ago, after I first heard the Kipling-attributed limerick about about the boy from Quebec.

There once was a man named Levesque
Who ambitiously built a xebec.
He sailed the St. Lawrence
With his girlfriend Florence
From Montreal down to Quebec.

(and for anyone who loves D E Stevenson's books, a bunch of her readers decided to encapsulate her plots in limericks.

Recommended fun to try with any author.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Love the reverse Limerick, Karen! That's fine! And yes, thank you that's exactly the Limerick I was thinking… I meant fun not fine, but this email will not let me change it :-)

Deborah Romano said...

Deb fell asleep on her deck.
Some spiders alit on her neck.
She woke up with a start
and a fast beating heart.
My goodness! That gal was a wreck!

Deb Romano...I may try again later!

FChurch said...

There once was a writer named Julia
whose Mom said, 'Come over, I'll fuel ya.

Don't give me that look--
Just finish yer book!'

Don't bother her or we'll duel ya!

from a fan..... ;-)

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Susan D, that's such fun! It would be very flattering to have fans putting your plots into limericks. I had to look up what a xebec was--very clever.

Deb, excellent for your first try!

FChurch, LOL, so perfect!

Celia Fowler said...

As I sit here writing in my pajamas
I find myself thinking of llamas
I know that they spit
But at least they don't hit
And they bring joy for many mananas

spell check really wanted to change mananas into bananas, but if you said the limerick with an accent it could be:

As I sit here writing in my pajamas (think jam)
I find myself thinking of llamas (lamb-as)
I know that they spit
And on command will not sit
But they love to eat my bananas

Didn't get any better -- oh well

Nancy Wolter said...

I'm breaking the rules...all in fun!
Swamp poems from SW FL

ELVIS the Lizard

Elvis the lizard was singin’ one day,
“I’m jus a lizard from El Paso way…”
Admirin’ his looks and lookin’ pretty sleek
Grinnin’ in the mirror
Elvis combed back his hair in a style quite unique.

Now Elvis, it’s said, is one of a kind­­—
Got caught in a swamp of industrial slime.
Knowin’ he’s special, growin’ hair like he’s done
Made Elvis an outcast
Shunned from day one.

Elvis the lizard was singin’ one day,
“I’m jus’ countin’ my pesos coming my way…”
Stackin’ coins in a row, he smiles and said
“No dumb lizard here—gotta brain in my head…”

Now Elvis, it’s said, is one a kind,
Knew how to make money with his hair so fine.
Went back to that swamp and scooped up some swill.
Smiled as he packaged it and put it up for sale.
As the Hair Growin’ Wonder got quite a name
Soon many a lizard was sportin’ a mane.

Now Elvis, it’s said is one of kind,
Singin’ “…got it made in the shade, yessiree…”
Pourin’ the tonic so carefully
He made a mistake and spilled swill on his feet.
Hair started sproutin’ and growin’ so long.

He tripped and fell into the vat that made
Elvis a legend, a wonder--and all that.
Now Elvis was heard singin’ a tune one day,
“I’m the Great Roadside Attraction from El Paso way…”

Tom Isleib said...

"Orange" and "silver" famously do not have perfect rhyming partners, but you can resort to "eye" or "sight" rhyming where the words have the same ending letters even tough they are pronounced differently. Or some other imperfect rhyming scheme like assonance (similar vowel sounds) or consonance (similar ending consonants).

I do not like duck a l'orange.
I find French cuisine to be strange.
Just give me a steak
Or a fish from the lake
Or boiled beans if I'm home on the range.

It would be quite an achievement to use three different rhyme types for lines 1, 2, and 5, and a different one for the couplet in lines 3 and 4.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Celia, what if the third line in that first Limerick was "but if it's me that they hit,
They won't be around for MaƱanas"

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

I meant fourth line, sorry! And just a silly LOL

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Yay Tom! Don't we have a clever and brave group of writers here? Thanks so much for all your tips

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Enjoying your swamp poetry very much!

Tom Isleib said...

A limerick's good if it's raw
Dirty words will not stick in your craw.
Don't sign no petition:
Join the competition.
Don't be namby-pamby, grandmaw!

Tom Isleib said...

When you're mentally ill, you speak rhyme.
I hear this a lot of the time.
But it's good to write verses
Not spout off in curses
Or kick the soup out of some mime.

Tom Isleib said...

I like to wear clothes that are red.
Red socks or red cap for my head.
I know an odd fellow
Who prefers to wear yellow
But Fred should opt for red instead.

Anonymous said...

Please don't call me a state-funded jerk
Who can only dodge hard jobs and shirk.
I could write limericks
'Til I get very sick
But I really must get back to work.

Rhys said...

For this challenge I'm taking the bait
But in AZ it was 108
I've tried and I've tried
But my brain is still fried
So I guess y'all just have to wait!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

I knew you'd come through Rhys!

Karen in Ohio said...

Rhys, you are bard-ass! :-)

Rhys said...

By favorite old limerick (that can be repeated here) is

There once was a girl from Madras
Who had a most peculiar ass
It was not round and pink
As well you may think
But was gray, with long ears, and ate grass

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Plus you read "strange" as "strawnge". Which is funny, because it's strange! And kind of French…

Nancy Wolter said...

Thank you, Lucy!

Rhys said...

John came up with one:
There once was a writer named Rhys
Who had been asked to write a piece
By the authors at Jungle
She said "I can't bungle
My first attempt at a limerick!

Steve I. said...

A geneticist from Carolina
Wrote rhymes, I've never read finer.
Hence bald-headed Steve
From his stupor did heave
And offered his own five liner.

Tom Isleib said...

Those Jungle Red Writers are smart
So their limericks ought to be tart.
They're even more purty
When they're downright dirty:
Yes, filthy jokes can be an art.

Tom Isleib said...

Brer Steve is a mighty fine nurse
He'll administer meds with a curse.
But he sent in a poem
That needed a home
That wasn't got to in a hearse.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Hooray for John!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Welcome cousin Steve! You are no slouch

Anonymous said...

Our grandmother was half Irish, half German Swiss; her maternal grandparents were immigrants from Ireland. Our grandfather was a pure German. His father came to America as a child in 1852. They settled in New Jersey where the state conducted a census in 1895. The form had columns to be checked off by the census taker: Foreign born? Is this person German? Is this person Irish? We are proudly both. Wanna fight about it?

Almost every day I wear some green.
Irish ancestry isn't obscene.
In America Germans
May be treated like vermin,
But the Irish are treated real keen.

Tom Isleib said...

My great-great grandmother's brother, Orange Frost Small, was a veteran of the famous 20th Maine regiment that held the end of the Union line in the face of repeated Confederate charges at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War. But Uncle Orange wasn't there: he went insane after the horrors of Fredericksburg.

Had an Unk in the 20th Maine.
Wonder if he knew Buster Kilrain?
He went crazy in V A,
Didn't make it to P A,
Where the regiment had its big day.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

That was Tom again, so my ancestry would be the same as his on that side! He is our Genealogy Guy as well as being the limerick master

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

We are still looking for a big winner
Why shouldn't it be a beginner?
So lay out some nibbles
And jot down some scribbles
Take your writing bring out for a spinner!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Bring should be brain

Deborah Romano said...

Snow is my nightmare come true,
When it falls I don't know what to do.
Stay in and read books
about killers and crooks,
Or go out and shovel til blue.

Deb Romano

Mary Sutton said...

Oh, you are all making me feel incredibly incompetent in the area of limericks! I am thoroughly enjoying reading them all, though. =)

Mary Sutton said...

When a writer, you are, who can't rhyme
No matter how long given time,
You're likely to feel
Just like a schlameil,
So just go back to sipping your wine.

Mary Sutton said...

Yes, yes - I know "wine" and "time" don't exactly rhyme, but isn't there an escape clause for that? LOL

Anonymous said...

What fun this is for the brain
Wish mine could be more profane
Love reading the smut
Always laugh from the gut
But this was enough of a strain.


Coralee Hicks said...

There once was a woman named Coralee
Refined she lived quite morally
Until one day
She decided to play
And now does it quite orally

Okay it's naughty; not much rhymes with Coralee

Anonymous said...

for Butterman, perhaps?

There once was a brainy mind fixer
Who cured with wise words not elixir
Her patients talked it all out
Her patience ne'er faced a drought
But I hear she traded that job for... a mixer!


Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

You guys are wonderful--thanks for playing!

Laura DiSilverio said...

I just got back from a hike and saw this. Such fun. Here's my attempt:

An author who stuck to his writing
In hopes of eventual knighting
Said, "Screw it, I'm through,
My royalties are few.
I'll see if the big fish are biting!"

Kathy Reel said...

Late here again today, but what fun you all are having. I think your cousin Tom is a genius, Lucy! He must be a hit at all the family gatherings. I appreciate his instruction on how to create a limerick, too. And, everyone has written great limericks in the comments!

Reading has always been my thing
I spend money on books not bling
When the bookshelves are full
I just have to retool
And build for my house a new wing.

Ann in Rochester said...

Most excellent.

Tom Isleib said...

Jungle Red Writers have some big names.
They don't need poetry to earn fame.
They might sharpen their wits
And write some nasty bits
But to them, limerick writing's a game.

Tom Isleib said...

So I'm sitting here at my flight gate.
Dammit, looks like the plane will be late.
If I catch my next flight
It'll be after midnight
When I get to Empire by the lake.

As I wait here I just want to say
Traverse City is far, far away.
If I am not adroit
Changing planes in Detroit
I may have to get there the next day.

Traveling often gives me the blues.
TSA makes you take off your shoes
Like you carry a rocket
In your back trouser pocket
Those bastards are nothing but rude.

Rosemarie said...

She packed the Grim Reaper a bowl
When he came to lay claim to her soul
He got so nicely baked
That his vengeance was slaked
Now he'll have to sign up for the dole

(Writing this has taught me that not much rhymes with scythe.)

Doug Isleib said...

Jungle Red writers are quite a hoot,
writing verses will not earn them loot,
Now I won't be crass,
and say their rhymes give me gas,
or that like eating beans, makes me "toot"

OK, admittedly, I don't have cousin Tom's limickeral talent

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Love it Carla, thank you!!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Oh ho Reds, meet my brotheršŸ˜ Even my 89 year old uncle sent a few. I'll try to get them up

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Nice Rosemary!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Perfectly done Kathy!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Love it Laura!

Deborah Romano said...

You have quite a talented family, Roberta/Lucy! It's been an entertaining day here at JRW!

Deb Romano

Robin Burcell said...

There once was a blog, Jungle Red,
That I used to read before bed.
Till hubby caught me
And soundly stopped me,
Saying read all their books instead.

Tom Isleib said...

I want to meet Coralee.

Hallie Ephron said...

Yay, Robin Burcell (waving)!

charlene said...

there once was girl named colleen
and oh she was ever so mean
she liked to pour water
on everyone's daughter
and then she met me
Now she's free

Reine said...

I once wrote a limerick at work,
Not mine, my husband's. I'm a jerk.
His boss looked at me,
Then asked him, who's she?
Don't know, said he. Not with me!

True story. The boss was the resident limerick writer who started each presentation with one he wrote especially for his opening speech. We were invited to one other party at his new boss's house and were enjoying the evening when his teenage daughter pointed at me, like Mary Warren at the Salem witch trials, and said "That's her, Daddy. She's the one who gave me my first ticket and made me go back to driving school!"