Monday, April 13, 2009

Opposite Poems & A Little Light Verse

Last Monday, I wrote a post about Opposite Poems. It included excerpts from Richard Wilbur’s book Opposites, More Opposites, and a Few Differences, some of my original opposite poems, and a suggestion for writing opposite poems in the classroom.

Here’s one of the poems I wrote for that post:

The opposite of engine? Trunk.
It has no parts that clank or clunk.
It’s a resting place for spare tires
And a body when your spouse expires.

I also asked blog readers to write their own opposite poems and to submit them to me for future posting at Wild Rose Reader. Well, just one person took up my writing challenge—award-winning poet Julie Larios. Her poem, The Opposite of Hot Dog, is a pure delight from beginning to end—and a fine example of adeptly written light verse.

The Opposite of Hot Dog
By Julie Larios

A hot dog’s opposite is prone
to play the alto saxophone
in night clubs— he’s a real cool cat.
It’s also, oddly, quite true that
the opposite of hot dog is,
on summer days, a sloe gin fizz,
which goes down smooth and unembellished,
not gobbled up on a bun with relish.
And if the fate of old hotdoggers
is telling tales and quaffing lagers,
could be their opposites are the nerds
who drink alone and play with words.
I think that does it for the frank,
whose furter stands alone. I thank
all vegetarians, at whose behest,
the opposite of bratwurst is best.

I truly enjoy reading humorous poetry. There are a number of different forms in which a poet can write light verse—including the double dactyl, clerihew, parody, and limerick. Let’s take a look at them.

Here’s the first stanza of a double dactyl that J. Patrick Lewis wrote about George Stephanopoulos, which I posted at Political Verses:

by J. Patrick Lewis

Psychophant sycophant
George Stephaopoulos
Traded dark secrets at
Washington's door.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Click here to read a description of the double dactyl and more examples of this light verse form at Doggerel Daze.

Here are two clerihews that I wrote some time ago for one of Tricia’s Poetry Stretches at the Miss Rumphius Effect:

So naive
In her birthday suit,
Tempted Adam with forbidden fruit.

Were deducted, so they say,
Through an interminable series of Q and A.

Click here to read a description of the clerihew and five more examples of this verse form at Doggerel Daze.

Here’s a parody I wrote a couple of years ago for a contest at Book Buds. We were asked to submit the words we thought the first astronaut to set foot on Mars might utter.


Whose planet’s this? I know I know.
His home’s on Mount Olympus so
He will not see me stopping here
To go exploring to and fro.

The polar ice cap’s very near.
I spy three skaters. Drat! I fear
Some other life forms came before.
I’m NOT the first Mars pioneer.

I see a Super Star Trek Store…
And garish neon signs galore!
There’s garbage everywhere I tread.
Don’t want to be here anymore.

This trip’s a bust to “Planet Red.”
Yo, Earth, give me the go-ahead
To visit Jupiter instead,
To visit Jupiter instead.

Here are more parodies that I wrote and posted previously at Wild Rose Reader:


This little piggy went to Saturn.
This little piggy went to Mars.
This little piggy zoomed his rocket ship
Around a zillion stars.
But THIS little piggy read comic books
At home
And smoked cigars.


Mary had a little moon.
It shone just like a star.
And everywhere that Mary went
She brought it in a jar.

She sneaked it into class one day,
Which was against the rule—
But teacher smiled because it was
The brightest thing in school.


Jack and June went to the moon,
Crash-landed in a crater.
Jack broke his nose and seven toes.
(He’s a crummy navigator!)

Jack cried in pain. June tried in vain
To soothe her injured mate.
She bound his toes and kissed his nose
And asked him for a date.

Jack and June began to swoon…
Fell mad in love and they
Returned to Earth, their place of birth…
And wed the very next day.


Humpty Dumpty sat on a star.
Humpty Dumpty started to char.
All of the astronauts raced to his side…
But when they reached him
Poor Humpty was fried!

Here’s an excerpt of a parody I wrote of Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussy-Cat for Political Verses:

Rush and the Pussy-Cat
(With apologies to Edward Lear)

Rush and his Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a humongous pea-green boat.
They took some victuals and plenty of Skittles
Zipped up in big blue tote.
Rush looked up to the stars above
And croaked like frog in heat:
“O lovely pussy, O Pussy, my pet
What a purr-fect little pussy! You’re sweet,
So sweet!
What a purr-fect little pussy! Let’s eat!!!”

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Here are links to three other parodies I wrote for Political Verses:
Potent Political Pottage a la Shakespeare
A Hunting He Will Go: A Poem about Dick Cheney
A Lobbying I'll Go: A D. C. Ditty
Journalistawocky: A Poem Inspired by Bill O'Reilly

Here's a limerick I posted during National Poetry Month in 2007:

Gorillas and camels and gnus
All hurried to line up by twos—
Couldn’t wait to embark
Upon Noah’s new ark
And relax on a forty-day cruise.

You can read a description of the limerick and more examples of this light verse form here.

Looking to read more light verse? Try Light Quarterly!

From the Light Quarterly Website: LIGHT is the only magazine available in this country devoted exclusively to Light Verse. Our contributors include not only well-known poets, but exciting new talent. (We've published John Updike, William Stafford, Donald Hall, Michael Benedikt, John Frederick Nims, Tom Disch, W. D. Snodgrass, Wendy Cope, William Jay Smith, and William Matthews, among many others.)

Light Quarterly: Main Page

Light Quarterly: Issues Page—On this page, you’ll find links to partial issues of Light Quarterly that were published in past years in pdf format.


Sara said...

Thanks for all the laughs. I didn't know about Light Quarterly either. What fun!

Elaine Magliaro said...


Glad you enjoyed the light verse here. I just wish there was more of it being published for adults today.

Mary Lee said...

Great poem, Julie! Love the frank without his furter!

Great post, Elaine! Loads of fun!

Elaine Magliaro said...

Mary Lee,

I thought Julie's poem was great too! I'm a true lover of cleverly written light verse.

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