Limericks and other Poetry

Brown_Country rainbow_2012-0904

I know y’all came for the limericks . . . but here’s some of my other poetry first:

Pray Apart
It was written that, since we pray apart,
My love and I must stay apart.

My god, named Milk, and her god, named Meat, agree to one thing only:
That each of us “hath” our separate way—apart.

A life of keeping kosher, no mixing meat and milk,
No mixing beef and cheese; they say it’s in our DNA—Apart!

But what’s the end of ritual stricture
While our swirling strands give way apart?

Does the god named Milk sustain?
Or god named Meat give more than a feast day apart?

No, we hunger for something more!
A simple cheeseburger calls us to disobey apart!

And so we say to jealous gods, “no more!”
“Our love is stronger than thou! It’s thou we cast away. Apart!”

Read (and written) for the Poetry Pentathlon at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, Chicago, October 19, 2019.

Fever Burns 

Placid, flaccid sleep of
Nightmare sweats and sticky sheets
From heat not there.
A touch of skin, a sweet caress,
Becomes a scrape of chalk on slate
To paper skin –
Sunburnt skin, burnt by a fire within,
Bleeding, dry and wet reversed.
A piston pulse of heat’s mirage
Sews needles’ chills of misery
And whirring beats of sound unheard –
A honking horn, a smoke alarm,
A child’s moans unanswered –
Are nighttime omens come amidst the heat
Of woe and misery complete.

So gasp and strain and shuffle,
I fuzzily stumble, groping for relief,
Looking for a pill or dose
To keep what’s in within,
What’s out without,
And let me nod awhile and doze.
A splash, a glass, a pill, a gulp
Of water’s quench and aspirin’s aspiration,
And back again to bed to wait
For blessed dispensation.

By light of night the acid works
As minutes trick like hours,
While the shade of indecision grows
For up or bed, the question of the night,
Demands an answer. Then late
A spiral pyre dies,
A spirit bathes my face,
My bleary lucid grasp infers
A sweet, albeit real, turn:
Idyllic sheets of sweat wherein
My fever bates, my pain is gone,
And sleep awaits,
Its healing grace restored.]

First verse read for the Poetry Pentathlon at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, Chicago, October 19, 2019. Written so long ago I can’t remember.


[City-specific poem]
Looking for a Bike Shop in Oz

You can get your head stuffed with straw,
Get your chest polished, your joints re-oiled.
You can get your mane permed, your claws manicured.
You can even get your hair washed and combed.
But where can you get your bike fixed in Oz?

To me that’s all very bourge-w-Oz.
My problem: my bike’s been despoiled;
It’s turned into a broomstick. It’s not even insured!
Not kidding at all. I’m not even stoned.
So, tell me, where do you get a bike fixed in Oz?

I really don’t see the worth of this magic
That turns two good wheels into straw.
To me that is, well, rather tragic.
The lack of a bike’s become my fatal flaw.
What can I do with a flock of wingéd monkeys
If they can’t repair a bike frame made of steel?
And what can you do with hoard of yellow winkies
If they can’t tell a sprocket from a wheel?

They all gawk at the Emerald City in awe,
But I walk the streets and I’m really getting broiled.
It’s all a fake, a fraud, a phony place to where we’ve all been lured.
There really is no wizard. I feel disowned.
‘Cause I can’t find a bike shop in Oz.

Read (and written) for the Poetry Pentathlon at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, Chicago, October 19, 2019.

[Epistle –
NOTE: I may add this one to my Haggadah as an addendum to the Four Questioners section on p. 15.]
Proof that You Suffered

Dear Valentina:
Soy el abogado designado para su caso.
The agency designated me to be the lawyer for your case.
Pero, hablo muy poco español, I speak very little Spanish.
But I can communicate con usted by mensaje de texto.
By text message, using Google to translate.
Nuestra reunión primera, our first meeting,
Will be next Martes, Tuesday, en las cuatro o’clock,
En la Biblioteca Harold Washington, fifth floor.
Busca un hombre con barba gris y anteojos.
Look for a guy with a gray beard and glasses.
Algunas personas dicen que me parezco a Steven Spielberg.
Some people say I look like Steven Spielberg.
Entonce, me pondré un sombrero azul, so I will wear a blue hat,
Y tendré un intérprete para que podamos conversar.
And I will have an interpreter so we can converse.
Smiley face.

Dear Valentina:
El objetivo de nuestras reuniónes, the aim of our meetings
Es conocerlo, to get to know you,
Para poder preparar una petición de visa efectiva para usted.
To prepare an effective visa petition for you.
We have several long forms to fill out,
But, the most important part de su petición es
Una declaración jurada en la que cuenta su historia,
An affidavit in which you tell your story.
I will spend several sessions en la Biblioteca Harold Washington
Preguntándole, asking you:
¿How did you come to Estados Unidos?
¿Y por qué? ¿And why?
¿And what is your life like aquí?
¿Quienes son tus amigos? tus hijos?
¿Who are your friends? Your children?
¿Donde trabajaste?
¿Where did you work?
¿Cuánto dinero tienes?
¿How much money do you have?
Y sobre el crimen, and about the crime,
Que lo hizo elegible para una visa para quedarte aquí.
The crime that made you eligible for a visa to stay here.

Dear Valentina:
The law requires you to prove that
Sufriste del  crimen,
You suffered from the crime.
So I must ask for detalles íntimos,
Intimate details of the crime.
I must ask cómo te destrozó.
How it tore you apart.
I must ask: ¿How did this violador, this violator,
Destrozó tus sueños,
Shatter the dreams you had
When you crossed into our country?
For, if the autoridades, the authorities, are convinced
De que sufriste lo suficiente,
If they are convinced that you suffered enough,
They will perdonarán tu inadmisibilidad,
Forgive the grounds of your inadmissibility,
Y te permitirán que te quedes aquí.
They will let you stay.
Smiley face.

Dear Valentina:
Como su abogado, as your lawyer,
I want you to know that estoy obligado por ley,
I am bound by law a mantener su dolor para mí.
I am bound to keep your pain to myself.
Nuestras reuniónes son completamente confidenciales.
Our meetings are entirely confidential.
It will take two or three months para preparar tu petición.
Then we will wait three years, o mas, para recibir una respuesta,
To receive a response.
Durante este tiempo, during this time,
Si tiene alguna pregunta o inquietud,
If you have any questions or unquiet,
Puede enviarme un mensaje de texto, you may text them to me.
Y Google Translate me ayudará a responder.
And I will use Google Translate to help me answer.

Dear Valentina:
You remind me of mi abuela,
My grandma, my bobbe.
¿Sufrió ella lo suficiente?
¿Did she suffer enough?
¿Y qué autoridad midió su sufrimiento?
¿And what authority measured her suffering?
No sabia preguntar,
I didn’t know to ask.
Sinceramente, tu abogado.
Sincerely, your advocate.

Read (and written) for the Poetry Pentathlon at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln, Chicago, October 19, 2019.

. . .

Now for the limericks:

Limeriques du Journal

A word or a song brings forth mirth.
A talent—or curse—from my birth.
Why try to suppress it?
A sneeze, not to bless it?
I think that’s my place on this Earth.

From: “Unexpressed Mirth—A Ticking Time Bomb? Or Forgotten?” – 2014-08-05

Your exit looms near in the rain,
It’s dark and you’re in the wrong lane,
You look in the mirror
And the cars that appear
Are closer, I need to explain.

From: “Reflecting on the 2014 Israel-Hamas War” – 2014-07-30

I check for my cell phone and car key.
You laugh and your comments are snarky.
The oven is off.
I check, and you scoff,
But your words are a load of malarkey.

From: “Plus or Minus 3%” – 2012-10-12


Red_Papier Mache_2010-01-03

Limericks Posted On July 29, 2014 – And Written Long Before That!

Gone cold wind, gone gray sky, gone icicle.
Come sunshine, come green leaf, come bicycle.
We’ll go to the seaboard
To set up my keyboard,
And play a sad song once or twicicle.

His thoughts and his words don’t cohere.
There’s calm in his voice amidst fear.
He’s right when we’re left,
He is warped when we’re weft,
And he’s truthful when we’re insincere.

At twilight the outskirt’s policed,
And the gates sealed and blessed by a priest,
Lest love and compassion
Spell habit and fashion,
And famine give up to the feast.


There’s nothing that makes folks unite
Like a mutually staggering fight.
If you can’t hate your friend,
Then you’ve got to pretend,
Or be nice to your friend just for spite.

A murky, ambiguous sizzle,
Some lightning as clouds roil and swizzle,
And drafts stir the dust
Of the hard earthen crust,
And be gone without even a drizzle.

The grass piled in clumps where it’s mown,
The trash by the curb where it’s blown,
Dead leaves in a creak,
Air conditioner leak,
And you on your bike all alone.

The sudden dark damp of a chill wind
On a bright summer’s day is an ill wind,
An omen to guide
Of when storm clouds collide,
But a worse omen yet is a still wind.


Though life would provide her a plateful,
She wasn’t entirely grateful.
“I can’t eat it all,” she said,
“And the plate is too small,” she said,
“And your manner’s entirely hateful.”

To Einstein the luck of the draw
Was meaner than spiritual awe.
“Gott don’t play mit dice!
“What is r-r-random ain’t nice!
“Dem’s Heisenberg’s natural flaw.”

When feeling and thought and emotion
Aroused a dark, dangerous notion,
“I’ll do this for you,” he sighed,
As he threatened his suicide,
And went for a dip in the ocean.

A rock can resist cruel corrosions.
A heart can persist in explosions.
But either is weak
When it’s stuck up a creek,
For it’s harder to weather erosions.

Orange_Hub cap_2012-07-31

I shook as I stood with my sweetie
And saw that our yard was all weedy.
There’s none horrifyin’
Like a tough dandelion
Yellow now, but they’re practically seedy.

It’s harder each day to be ruthless.
“Compassion!” That word sounds so youthless.
I used to cause fears
With the merest of sneers,
But I better be nice now I’m toothless.

He’d rather a wild hurricane
Than hear her morosely complain.
“There’s calm in its eye,
“You’ve become a stir fry
“With noodles you resemble chow mein!”

Rapport with a brother or sister
Is the perfect emotional twister.
One visit is safe,
The next starts to chafe,
And the next may blow up like a blister.

Blue_fire escapes_2012-08-04

The dangers of life can unnerve us,
Precautions we take may conserve us,
But life will be less
If we never say yes.
Embalming will also preserve us.

The hunter, the crab, and the fishes,
Guard a night sky with thousands of wishes.
With a yawn and two sighs,
Come a dream to your eyes,
“Go to sleep, baby! Don’t be malicious!”

The world’s full of cruisers and freighters
And spark plugs and clogged carburetors.
There’s some that say, “Wow!
“I am doing it now!”
“And there’s some who are doing it “Later.”

While sipping his midmorning brew,
The accountant began to accrue.
Each day’s more hum drummer.
Each number is number.
His big thrill is to post accounts due.


You eat till you want to explode.
Then she asks, “How ‘bout one for the road?”
You can’t eat another,
You say to your mother.
“Understood! How ‘bout pie a la mode?”

You know when you’ve reached your maturity
When you’ve lost that strong need for security.
You’ll know you’re a hit
When you take life with wit,
And you laugh at your rank amateurity.

Au revoir’s what you dit, not adieu,
And bon jour, when you meet in a queue.
Sacré ble” in despair,
Marseillais” in a guerre,
vous, in a hot rendezvous.

‘Tis moody and downcast and wistful,
When a day that begins is so mistful.
But if you’re a frog,
There’s no fear of the fog,
And you croak all the day and are blissful.

Brown_roof tops_2012-07-31

A hot summer day that began still,
The sun on its track seemed to stand still,
Gotta catch those rays soon,
Till I turn to a prune,
So come winter’s dark I’ll be tanned still.

A stylish man’s tie was askew,
The newspaper covered with dew,
The body showed marks
Of four species of sharks—
A mystery without even a clue.

A well-worn and scuffed pair of shoes,
Toe tapping and singing the blues,
A few daubs of polish
Its sorrow abolish.
A ruse, yes, but what’s left to lose?

Had God quit his work on the eighth
We’d all have a simpler faith.
There was no time in seven
To reveal there’s no heaven
But for living, and no hell for the wraith.

Brown caterpillar_2013-02-06

He drank up to quench a great thirst,
He ate up till he nearly burst,
He slept all the day,
Made love in the hay,
And wondered if he was the first.

Her life was a bowl of spaghetti,
From grievances large and not petty.
To unravel the rot,
Like the Gordian knot,
Is a job for a psychic machete.

His good points were largely ignored.
His bad points were noted and scored.
So he joined in their element
By becoming irrelevant,
And they gave him a token award.

In truth the world’s soiled and gritty.
Our destiny’s sorrow and pity.
The salve is habitual
Abuse off ritual,
And cure is referred to committee.

Yellow_book shelf_2012-08-02

Live your life as a wide open story,
And do naught what is not laudatory,
And you won’t go to hell,
But you’ll never do well
At your wealth or your health or amore.

Ms. Maddy’s a master of munch,
A critic of crepes, crabs, and crunch.
She’s brilliant at brunch,
And lucky at lunch,
And pickled and puckered in punch.

She cleared all the dates in his calendar
While he put the last shell in the cylinder.
Then he filled her with lead,
Aimed the gun at his head,
And turned his cranium into a colander.

She hungered to hang the old geezer
When he cornered and started to squeeze her.
Just a knee to his part
Was too much for his heart,
And now he’s laid out in a freezer.

Gray_projector light_2013-04-05

The breeze makes the drapes start to billow
And rustles the leaves of the willow,
But the air is too hot,
It won’t comfort a jot,
And I sweat while I lay on my pillow.

The morning’s when actions are taken
That’re better left lorn and forsaken.
So, if you want to present us
With decisions momentous,
It’s best to wait till we’ve awaken.

The project of penning a poem
Pits heart against with just to show ’em
Your art with a word,
Your flirt with absurd,
And meter and rhyme if you know ‘em.

The question is when, never whether,
The signs that mark spring come together;
It’s opening day,
The clock’s new display,
And there’s finally a change in the weather.

Yellow_Beer bottles_2013-04-07

The sniffles, the fever, the ache
Make illness a hard thing to take.
You hope for a drug
That makes you feel snug.
Those symptoms are so hard to fake!

The truth, it is writ in the Bible,
Its words all you need for survival.
With its words rearranged,
You will find it is changed
From God-snare to forgiving rival.

When writing of love and of passion
There’s never a bar or a ration,
For anything goes,
State your joys or your woes,
And even clichés are in fashion.

Whether preacher or sailor or lovebird,
There’s nothing so fine as a crossword.
For filling the time,
There’s naught so sublime.
At least that’s what I’ve always heard.


“Neither doctor nor lawyer nor tax man,
“Nor artist nor actor nor sax man.”
Said the child, “When I’m older
“I’ll be a stockholder,
“And I won’t have to work, just relax, man!”

“Neither feeble nor frail nor soft,”
He said, “nor weak nor infirm—No!” he scoffed.
With his cold thus neglected
His friends he infected
As he sneezed, “I’m okay!” and he coughed.

A swim in the morning’s a tonic
For all of the aches that are chronic.
The more laps you do
You churn up a brew
And render the water carbonic.

A tree has a summer’s belief
That autumn will bring it relief,
But ease turns to caring
When leaves turn to daring,
And a tree tries to dry the free leaf.

Red_millennium park_2012-08-03

After many long years on the prairie
Her outlook became quite contrary.
She fears most the motive
That’s been self promotive,
And risks that are quite arbitrary.

And author of programs dramatic
Must often be rather emphatic
In ignoring the jerk
Who’s reviewing his work
For the jerk’s not a friend but fanatic.

Despite what you read in the paper
The scandal was no more than a caper.
But it’s best to cry “loose!”
When your own mind’s obtuse
Than to see your creed go up in vapor.

Either sunshine all day or a cloudburst
Is what we expect now it’s March first,
But the rule is a sham,
Neither lion or lamb,
Neither Spring’s best we have nor its worst.

Gray_Elevator message_2013-08-13

For problems of zoning or license
You’re dealing with pols not with giants,
So, if you get caught,
It’s wise to say naught,
For lying’s an art not a science

He basks in the warmth and is easy.
Cool drinks and the shore talk is breezy.
A treat to despise
Brings tears to his eyes
And breathing in air makes him sneezy.

He wanted to be a great writer,
So he drank booze and pulled an all-nighter.
“I’m experiencing life,
All its troubles and strife!”
He explained as his words became triter.

He was sad and she gave him a hug.
He was mad and she gave him a shrug.
And she gave him a scream
When he turned on the steam
And asked her to help clean the rug.

Green_Praying Mantis

He works every day to get started.
His files were all neat and all charted,
His workplace was clean,
All his plants evergreen,
But the impulse to start had departed.

I finished the end of my play!
I start on the middle today.
The beginning’s the future.
The parts, then, I’ll suture.
So delay yesterday, s’il vous plait.

I haven’t the time for crude fashion,
For all that I probe for is passion,
And truth is my end
In calling you friend.
So why does my face make you ashen?

Irv hadn’t the nerve to assert,
Hi feelings were always covert,
He called it reserve,
Thought he didn’t deserve,
And he relished each fanciful hurt.

Black_piano keys

It is bitter to learn of a child
Who has made it where you’ve only whiled . . .
Away all your time,
Avoiding the climb,
Bewitched by “quick” schemes and beguiled.

My love for you’s deep and not shallow.
Your shadow I always shall hallow.
E’en words from above
Can’t recount well, My Love,
The eighty-eight ways you’re my pal-o.

My stomach’s aflaime with desirin’
With rumbles and moans and perspirin’
A green spinach leaf
Or a liver of beef
Or a nail that’s made out of iron.

Neither swimmer nor flier nor sprinter,
The groundhog’s more sleeper than hinter,
But, if his shadow he sees,
Keep waxing those skis,
‘Cause six weeks is added to winter.

red_welding masks

No diet’s enough when you’re slimmin’
To make you attractive to women.
You’re tempted to jog
So you can eat like a hog,
But better than joggin’ is swimmin’.

Said son to the sorrowful father,
“You’re wrong if you think I would rather
“Reproach you will chillness,
“Or shroud you with shrillness.
“If so, do you think I would bother?”

She went for a walk in the garden
To wait for the governor’s pardon,
For, although he’s a flake
His life was at stake,
And he did it to do her discardin’.

She’s blessed by a swift summer breeze.
A drizzle, a dry throat to ease.
The comfort was soft
‘Cept when’er she coughed,
Or whenever that breeze was a sneeze.


The artist demands a unique end.
His suicide’s high is a bleak end.
The point’s not to die,
It’s the tragic goodbye,
An ironic game for the weekend.

The artists were snobbish and snooty,
“You’ll ruin our black and white beauty!”
But they added the color
And the colors were duller
Said the fan, “Man, you’ve got to be fruity!”

The cost of an immortal soul
Is a quarter, a mug, and a hole.
Put two bits in the slot,
Lay your mug on the spot,
Lets your mourners your death to console.

The nine hundred and fifty fourth step
Was the end of my frightening schlep.
I’d gone past the point
Of the strength of my joints,
And I’d definitely run out of pep.


There isn’t a case for suspicion
Like a brake job or a transmission
By a shady mechanic,
With morals aldermanic,
And hands that are like a magician’s.

A tempting sweet treat gustatory
Is my version of chick cacciatore.
It’s made with mimosa
That’s found in Formosa
That’s sprinkled on birds migratory.

Aghast that the unborn are dying,
Our hero, though manly, was crying.
“Let them mature
And when they’re impure
We’ll kill them in war sanctifying.”

Bhutan was a practicing Buddhist
Whose neighbors thought he was the crudest.
They peeked in his home
Each time he said “Om”
For this neighbor was also a nudist.

Gray_space available_2012-07-30

After waiting for hours and hours,
I finally came through with the flowers.
They worked like a charm,
We left arm in arm,
Replace “his” and “hers” now with “ours.”

There’s chopsticks, explosives, and Tao,
And the criminal justice of Mao.
Take one from each column,
To solve our crime problem.
Our freedoms are vain, anyhow.

You can fret that your life’s an impasse,
And stew about folks who are crass,
And brood over prices,
And all sorts of crises,
Or just stop it and get up off your ass.

I hear the phone a-ringing.
What news can it be bringing?
Oh no, it’s a salesman!
I say, “Hit the trail, man!”
And hang up so his ears must be ringing.


The words once inscribed by a monk,
Now sold on the screen by the chunk.
“I’ve no time to read it,
“I’d rather you’d speed it,
“So I don’t have to think,” I just thunk.

You’re smoking cigars in bazaars,
You’re playing guitars under stars,
The water is flowing,
A cool breeze is blowing,
You’re eating an omelet on Mars.

Your pain is your own and you cry,
You stay home alone and you sigh,
The marchers win points,
As they’re smoking their joints,
And tell all the world “occupy!”

Learning the practice of Zen
Makes you the rarest of men.
You make your mind empty,
So nothing will tempt ye,
And sit on an egg like a hen.

 yellow_hanging flowers

2 responses to “Limericks and other Poetry

  1. Pingback: Reflecting on the 2014 Israel-Hamas War | Eightoh9·

  2. Pingback: Unexpressed Mirth—A Ticking Time Bomb? Or Forgotten? | Eightoh9·

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