Annamaria on Monday
For many years now, I have written limericks to let off steam. Perhaps the rigidity of the form forces me into a more logical place in my brain, which would be very helpful when I am about to go over an emotional cliff. Limericks have been a source of glee and groans and, I think, sanity in our house since my husband and I got together. Though he was always a classy man and often hilarious at the higher levels of humor, there ran beneath his quick wit an indomitable sophomoric streak, often fueled by the limericks he memorized in his youth. Those included many I cannot publish here. According to Wikipedia:
“A limerick is a kind of a witty, humorous, or nonsense poem, especially one in five-line anapestic or amphibrachic meter with a strict rhyme scheme (AABBA), which is sometimes obscene with humorous intent. The form can be found in England as of the early years of the 18th century. It was popularized by Edward Lear in the 19th century, although he did not use the term.
The following example of a limerick is of unknown origin.
The lim'rick packs laughs anatomical
In space that is quite economical,
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.”
Here is one of David’s unclean favorites that (with two small changes) I think I can safely include. He recited it whenever anyone mentioned the woman’s name:
There once was a woman named Harriet,
Who dreamed she made love in a chariot
With seventeen sailors
A monk and two tailors
Dick Cheney and Judas Iscariot
David and I once won a limerick contest. We were traveling in Wales and stayed at a hotel that had once been a castle. The hotel staged a fake medieval dinner each evening in which, in addition to eating lamb stew with one’s fingers, the guests were invited to submit a limerick to a contest. The first line was given. The weekend we were there, the required first line was: “A Squire with a hole in his shoe.”
The wittiest Brit wrote took second place with:
"A Squire with a hole in his shoe
Invented a substance called glue.
The source was a horse.
He boiled it, of course,
And the smell killed a family in Crewe."
But to the great surprise of all, David and I – two Yanks, no less – took first place with this little ditty:
"A Squire with a hole in his shoe
Was badly in need of a screw.
With his tool in his hand,
He scoured the land,
But decided a small nail would do."
A few years ago, while renovating our apartment, an architect appointed by the building management was delaying our simple project for months and running up his bill, which we were required to pay. It was costing me sleep as well as lucre. While I lay awake at night fuming, I preserved my sanity by writing a cycle of twelve limericks describing how an architect by that SOB's name destroyed every great building project in history. I give you one stanza of my poem, concealing his identity by substituting the words “Sir Note:”
To span an English river of renown,
“Let’s build London Bridge,” decreed the Crown.
But then enter Sir Note,
Who declared and I quote,
“If we never put it up, it can’t fall down.”
By the way, I gave him a Spanish-i-fied moniker and killed him in my second novel—Invisible Country. That character, Ricardo Yotte’ is so hideous that it is almost impossible to figure out who killed him, since everyone in the village wanted to.
Not all my limericks have been pejorative. Some celebrated my friends—their birthdays, their achievements. But I wrote my favorite one just for fun. Here is my proudest limerick achievement:
In the subways of Paris, his home
This elf forever will roam.
So if you hear “Tick tock.”
Don’t think it’s a clock
Undoubtedly, it’s Metro Gnome.
I should apologize, but I can’t.