This section contains a large sampling of my (Dean
Blehert's) light verse poems not all, but probably
all you can eat. (Index is to the right of these introductory
notes -- in case you want to skip to the poems.)
By "light verse" I mean, mainly, the following:
1. Formal (rhymed and metered) poems that aim at humor,
satire, nonsense and/or wit.
2. Poems with similar aims that are in the very loose-lined
form created, or at least made familiar by Ogden Nash.
That is, the lines have no obvious meter (though they
are not without hints of it at times) and may be very
long and very short with no predictable pattern, but
they are rhymed, and rhymed with a vengeance, using
multi-syllabic and often intentionally strained rhymes
(as in Nash's "When called by a panther/Don't anther."
Note: Because some of these poems, especially those
that emulate Nash, include some very long lines, and
their length is part of the intended humor, it helps
if you read these poems with the view-window opened
wide, so that the lines aren't broken up.
3. I've written many humorous poems that I do not include
in this section, mainly because they are free verse
(no rhyme or meter) and because if I included here every
poem of mine with light elements (humor, wit, etc.),
that would be most of my work (or play), since there's
usually a humorous or satiric element in even my darkest
work. Therefore, I've concentrated here on the work
that one might find in a poetry magazine specializing
in light verse, for example, LIGHT Quarterly, published
in Chicago, which has printed several of the poems in
this section. I have, however, included here a few free
verse poems that seem a little too outrageously silly
to go anywhere else.
I have arranged these poems in 20-some categories (more
or less arbitrarily, since some could fit into more
than one category). Thus, you'll find here light verse
poems that focus on characters or specific "real"
people; there's another category for slightly or not
so slightly racy poems a light look at sex. Another
category deals with the media. And so on.
The category that deals with poets and poetry is a
hint of what you'll find in my longest book, PLEASE,
LORD, MAKE ME A FAMOUS POET OR AT LEAST LESS FAT. The
subsection on poetry here includes many poems from that
book, but only about a 50th of the total.
A few of these categories are for specialized forms,
perhaps unfamiliar to non-devotees of light verse. I'll
define them here:
1. Limericks: That's a popular form, and you probably
know it already. Usually humorous, often racy; rhyme
scheme AABBA; uses all or nearly all anapestic feet
(da da DA), lines one, two and 5 use three anapests,
while lines 4 and 5 use 2 anapests:
da da DA da da DA da da DA
da da DA da da DA da da DA
da da DA da da DA
da da DA da da DA
da da DA da da DA da da DA
Now They're Runaways On Hollywood Bolivar
There was once a young lover, Bolivian,
Who with warmth urged his sweetheart: "O Vivian!
Let us flee from La Paz
And our pas and our mas --
In our love let us live...or oblivion!"
2. Double Dactyls. A double dactyl is 8 lines long,
two stanzas of 4 lines each. Lines one through 3 and
lines 5 through 7 are double dactyls. A dactyl is a
poetic foot with a "DUM da da" beat, so a
double dactyl is DUM da da DUM da da. The last line
of each stanza is "DUM da da DUM. There are a few
more rules for double dactyls (hellish things, really):
A. The first line must be nonsense (for example, "Higgledy
Piggledy:"). It may or may not have something to
do with the rest of the poem. For example, if the poem
mentioned someone "piggish", the Piggledy
would foreshadow that.
B. The second line must be the name of a person (usually
a real one living or historical, but I suppose
it could be a fictional character as well. So the poet
must dig up a person whose name happens to be a double
dactyl, for example, Eleanor Roosevelt or pad
the name with initials or whatever to achieve that result.
C. The second stanza (usually line 7 of the poem) must
contain a single word that is a double dactyl; for example:
Mesopotamian or Unhesitatingly. Some double dactyl buffs
say that each new one written must find a new double
dactyl word that no one has ever used. I don't know
how they keep track, and have not striven for such exclusiveness.
I don't borrow words from other Double Dactyls. I just
find them and use them, without researching them to
see if they've been used before. (Possibly some Double
Dactyls use the big word in stanza one. I haven't seen
D. Line 4 rhymes with line 8.
William H. Harrison
("H" is for Henry) was
Born to be bold,
Won bloody battles, was
President briefly, then
Died of a cold.
[Note: Tippeca because he was victor at a battle that
got him a nickname, "Tippecanoe, name of a river
in Indiana near which he led troops that defeated Tecumseh.
His electioneering slogan was "Tippecanoe and Tyler
Too!" Tyler was his vice president for about
a month before he died of pneumonia he caught after
standing outside without a hat to be sworn in as president
on a cold, sleety day. Apparently, the name Tippecanoe
does NOT mean that he won the battle by tipping Indians
out of their canoes, as I assumed when I learned all
this in elementary school.]
3. Tailgaters are poems (usually 2 lines long and usually
rhymed) where a line from a classic or well-known poem,
usually the first line of that poem, is paired with
a second line (by the tailgater me, in this case)
to make a new, short poem that leads line one down the
garden path and tricks it into becoming something quite
unintended by the classic poet who wrote it. I think
of it as a Froggie-the-Gremlin poem. Froggie was an
old radio and TV character who would interrupt people
and complete their sentences for them in ways that shocked
and dismayed them.
Example (first line taken from the start of a Dylan
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Is out right now. Please call back in one hour.
4. Schuttelrimes are spoonerisms; that is, poems made
by swapping the initial letters of words or syllables.
It's a traditional German light verse form looks
easy, but is tougher than it looks. You take two syllables
(for example: Yogi) and swap the initial letters of
each syllable. Thus "Yogi" or Yo gi becomes
"Go ye" (Goyi, but the yi sounds like Ye).
Then you pair the four syllables to make a short poem
that is expected to make sense:
Silly, but you'll find it a bit tricky. I usually add
titles to make the sense clearer, cheating, perhaps,
but you judge that. Here's an example:
Is She Flirting With Me?
You'll also find a subsection that consists of a few
forms of my own invention, each explained therein. Three
sections contain palindrome poems, explained in the
first palindrome section. You'll find other light verse
of mine elsewhere on this website under other topics,
but this section is the mother lode. (Poor Mom.)
This has not been a light introduction. In fact, it's
been dry as dust. Apologies. But it'll make the poems
a relief, probably a base relief, if not a BAH! relief.
(Haut Haut Haut!)