Love, a play in one act. One scene, actually

Curtains open to reveal a kitchen.
Man: Dude, are you fucking your lettuce?
Tortoise: What? No.
Man: Cause it looks like it.
Tortoise: Erk, erk, erk.
(Woman enters)
Woman: Good morning.
Man: Good morning. Would you like a cup of coffee?
Woman: Sure.
(Woman sits down at table)
Woman: Is the tortoise stuck on his lettuce?
Man: That’s what I thought at first. Remember when he was little and he tried to walk over a leaf of lettuce and it rolled up into a cigar and he got high-centered on top of it?
Man: Here’s your coffee.
Man: But he doesn’t appear to be stuck this time, strictly speaking.
Man: I mean, I think it’s optional.
Tortoise: Erk, erk, erk.

2018 International St. Valentine’s Day Limerick Contest


This year’s contest is closed. Thanks to all entrants, and all visitors.
I originally planned to announce the winners earlier, but then I got busy at work, and when I got home I had to make a couscous/vegetable dish that seemed as if it would go quickly, but involved a lot of peeling and chopping so here we are.

The winners:
First of all, our sincere appreciation here at to everyone who entered. For the second year in a row (at least!) Eeveryone had sweet dispositions this year despite a few abrupt but unavoidable random (but mostly minor) rule changes, and there was no fighting or bickering, which was a big relief. So thank you, dudes, it was a lot of fun reading your poetry.
Before I continue: should the entry period be longer next year? It seemed to flash past this time, but maybe I’m just getting older, old people are always talking about how fast time goes by. Or maybe I was just busy (I was). Are two weeks Was an entire month enough? Would three weeks be better?

Ok, the winners:
First of all, to each entrant I say: we should get together for a coffee or a drink or something sometime. I know a bar where they open the champagne with a sword, for example.
By the way, when we were in Ireland two years ago early last year, my wife and I – my wife is investigating our ancestors and we hired a genealogy butler and she claimed to have found the village my Irish ancestors came from, a few miles outside Limerick.
Where else could they possibly have come from.
It felt like in that one movie where the cities fold up only it was generations of my family history, folding up neatly on themselves. <--- I have no idea what I meant by that.

Ok, anyway, the winners:
Oh, PS: do you think the creepy little clown drove people away How did you like this year’s banner? I still love last year’s creepy clown gif, but maybe it was a little too psycho, so I tried to keep it romantic this year. I thought it sort of captures the shadow side of the holiday, you know? But maybe that is better left to the limericks instead. I’ll try to have a more attractive graphic next year.
Here we are:
Honorable mention goes to Kimmy Alan. Thanks for participating!Cj for an autobiographical work about having Georgia on your mind. NICE TO SEE YOU AROUND AGAIN CJ!!! Have fun in Tbilisi.
Second place goes to KayO for five daunting entries spanning Wittgenstein, Amy Sherald, Oulipo and Stendahl among others. It was damn close this year, but…
Third place goes to TH who is apparently saving those worse limericks he was working on for next year’s contest. See you next year TH (if not before).
Dee gets the silver medal: three really fine limericks and hit a lot of the bonus themes as well. I was really happy to see you contributing, Dee.

Perry Iles takes first place this year, due only secondarily to one of the secret rules of this contest (“Perry always wins”) (Perry, it seems, has been winning since 1979, when the pre-Internet version of the contest was conducted in spray paint on Italian monuments) and primarily to both the quality and quantity of his entries, and his admirable ability to turn on a dime and incorporate new bonus themes as they arise, and also his occasional fucking with scansion, which made me LOL, especially, as KayO also mentioned, his Cormac McCarthy entry.
See you all next year. Thanks again!

Welcome to the 2018 edition of the International Limerick Contest.
Please leave your entries in the comments to this post.
Enter as often as you like.
This year’s theme: LOVE AND SEXUNCERTAINTY NON-ATTACHMENT AS IT PERTAINS TO ENLIGHTENMENT, plus bonus themes to be added as the contest progresses
All participants, young and old, are encouraged to consult the combined FAQ/rules below BECAUSE THEY CHANGE WHILE THE CONTEST IS GOING ON.
Like every year.
It’s just that way.


  • Does it have to be a limerick? YES. This is strictly enforced, and non-limericks will not be accepted. Google proper limerick form if you are not sure.
  • How do I enter? POST YOUR ENTRY OR ENTRIES in the comments to this post. Click on comment, or whatever is down there, and add a new comment.
  • When is the deadline? THE DEADLINE is 14 February 2018
  • Do you mean 12 midnight on the night of the 13th or midnight on the night of the 14th? And which time zone shall have seisin of jurisdiction? We have had considerably confusion in the past! NINE AM (CENTRAL EUROPEAN TIME) 14 February 2017.
  • Is there a prize? NOT YET but that might change. YES THERE IS A PRIZE! I will send you the newest album of your choice by O’R.P, “Eidetic Memory“.
  • Is there a limit to how often I can enter? NO. Enter as often as you like. The more often you enter, the better your chances.
  • Can entries be bawdy? YES, absolutely. These are limericks, they can be bawdy, gross, you name it. It’s not required, but it is in the nature of the genre. ALSO: this is for St. Valentine’s Day so points awarded for love/romance/sex-related poetry.
  • Complaints will be deleted. There is no avenue of appeal. Decisions of the judges are final. Be nice, and have fun, and don’t take this too seriously.
  • Is there anything else I can do to be deleted? Yes. Besides complaints, anything else that is not a limerick will also be deleted, especially anything remotely similar to trolling, nastiness or disagreeing with me. That will get you deleted, and whatever else our technicians here can think up. This is meant to be a fun, light-hearted, non-political past-time.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yes.

  • Bonus points are awarded for any of the following (No limit to how many themes you may include, the more the better):
  • The Deep State conspiracy to thwart #45 (or aspects thereof)
  • Famous murdersThe best thing about being Perry Iles
  • Notorious criminalsAn okra recipe
  • Ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day
  • The first work of art to give you Stockholm Stendhal Syndrom
  • OzymandiasThe art of Georgia O’Keefe
  • Contemporary female artists
  • Philosophers of the 20th centuryComical misunderstandings
  • Conspiracy theories
  • OulipoHome depression cures
  • Current events
  • Musical genres
  • William Gibson, Cormac McCarthy
  • Disagreements over theoretical physics
  • What to do if you find yourself in the Bardo
  • Catholic doctrine
  • The worst thing about catsBeing Perry Iles
  • Sexual acts popularized by or associated with the 45th President of the United States
  • Sexual acts not popularized by nor associated with #45
  • (More themes to come, watch this space.)

By entering you grant permission to publish your entry electronically on, in social media (including but not limited to, and anything else) as well as in book form, although the latter is REALLY unlikely, without compensation (this is a non-profit venture, and any possible, although unlikely, book would be, you know, for charity most likely).

Being invisible was just the tip of the iceberg

Suddenly the Invisible Man is besieged by old snapshots.

Snapshots on the walls of his daughter’s empty apartment when he drops off something.

Including one of his wife wearing fairy wings and waving a magic wand while his daughter, as a child, regards the camera with a sober expression.

Snapshots in frames on his desk, or taped to the walls.

Including one of his wife smiling in a blue swimming pool, holding his daughter as a toddler, also smiling.

So much sunshine and smiling.

There are more. In one he carries his daughter on his shoulders. It is from before he became invisible. It is underexposed and he has black hair and a black beard and looks scary. His daughter is hugging his head. They are surrounded by flowers.

(It is the older daughter in most of the pictures, because the pictures of the younger daughter are mostly digital, and lost forever, or somewhere hard to recover).

Looking at all these pictures would be bad enough for the Invisible Man for the nostalgia alone but it’s worse.

The Invisible Man thought being invisible was bad, but it was just the tip of the iceberg. The snapshots goof up time and the Invisible Man becomes unstuck and encounters all his past selves, and the past selves of those he loves.

If you think being invisible is bad – and listen, it is, robbing banks is fun only so long – becoming unstuck in time and encountering all your past selves really sucks.

Because it turns out every single one is a stranger.

Those past selves you remember don’t even exist.

Memory is funny that way.

And in many cases, not every single one of these past selves is someone you’d care to remember.

There is a reason memory does that.

This is why forgiveness is so important.

Because sometime the snapshots add up and time dissolves and then what?

He calls his wife and apologizes.

Water under the bridge, she says.

Sunk cost.

Careers in Science: Hymnology

What was I talking about just now? asks the hymnologist.

Ffff, dunno, says his daughter.

Neither one of us is listening to me, he says.

I’m really tired, says his daughter.

Oh, right, slugs, he says.

Right, she says.

I feel better about killing them with beer traps than catching them and salting them on the sidewalk. Because one is murder, and the other one is their choice — hey look, beer! you know?

Right, she says. OTOH they end up dead either way. Although drowning in beer is maybe nicer?

But we’ll never know. Maybe they are paralysed and drown slowly and in great terror, he says.

It is a beautiful morning, with a variegated sky. They discuss meteorology. From there (spurred in part by their previous discussion of the ethics of killing slugs) they discuss human values, the nature of existence, the existence (or non-existence) of god, the relation between atheism and faith and agnosticism, astrophysics and the Big Bang, and economics.

At one point, the hymnologist avers that it makes no difference whether god exists or not because he does not intervene (since what would be the sense in that? If there is a god who creates the universe, it would only make sense if he did not intervene), and his daughter tells him he is an Epicurean.

We should like go to Colorado or Washington State and get high and talk about this stuff, says the hymnologist to his daughter. Once you’re over 21, of course.

They discuss the value of philosophy, and how impoverished a life without art and philosophy and other goofing around is.

Some days they sit in the car and don’t say a word to each other, but some days are like this.


What did the crow say

It is, in May, a pleasure to fly above a city aburst with life, juicy leaves and rooftops, worms in gutters garbage in backyards a god just standing there taking it all in and when it turns to June and just as green and warm sky blue or gray or rainy and animals and people doing their thing, it’s a pleasure it is.

And to sit on a wire or branch at midday and cars drive past below and dogs on leashes and people some fast some slow and the god of lunch sits on his bench and shares a sausage or crispy chicken, the sweet-sour sauce is sticky on the beak and must be wiped in grass, but the chicken is tender and still hot from the wok.

Skwerls clink to bark, they and everything else are in their place, the slain are on the battlefield the hanged hang everything is as it should be. A girl walks with her father and declaims the doom of all existence or at least humanity and right she may be and he puts an arm around her for a second or two and lets her go again.


It’s Friday and on Fridays everyone has a two-hour lunch break (you do, right? If not, send a letter to your Congressman) and because Odin  has time to meander a roundabout path he almost makes it to the store before the crow notices him.

Let me tell you something: having largish birds swoop around you close enough to hear their feathers on the air quickens the heart with joy, as long as they’re not pecking at you or shitting on you or something belonging to you or where you wanted to sit.

Heart quickened, Odin buys a mylar bag of cashew nuts and dried cranberries, and a small plastic bag of miniature dried sausages.

Odin eats some nuts and eats a sausage on his way back to the bench to share with the crow.

The atmosphere is cycling back and forth between the poles of nice, sunny, late-spring day and Is it maybe going to rain or not, without ever actually raining.

When he arrives at the bench, Odin is thinking about writing a love scene with the sentence, They kissed so hard a piece of dried sausage trapped between two molars was dislodged.

The grey crow has its rules of engagement, and they include not approaching closer than four feet. It will not come onto the bench for a bite of sausage. It hides the big pieces, and some of the nuts, and eats the small pieces and the rest of the nuts and cranberries.

On a two-hour lunch break, you have time to just sit on a bench in the sun/shade/sun/shade and rejoice in being a living thing.

Part of all this.

Just a part, one part among many.

What say the slain?

How fortunate you are, this very second.

And how I love you.

Der Traumpolizist

You are whining in your sleep. I pat your head and you stop.

At breakfast I ask you about the dream.

You tell me: powerlessness and loss, violation and theft, paralysis and loss of voice. Weakness, hopelessness and fear. Exhaustion and failure.

Every living thing must have dreams like this. Especially after a week like the one we just had. Fear of this disease or that, fear of going broke, fear of getting old and having nothing. Fear of cancer in me, or — a thousand times worse — fear of cancer in a 16 year old boy.

But then yesterday the reprieve: alles okay. Everybody healthy for now. Sometimes the universe just wants to give you a good scare.

Tonight I will be the dream police. I will find the robbers and get back your purse.