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Light Verse Introduction

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 that.)

D. Line 4 rhymes with line 8.


Tippeca Nippeca,
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 Thomas poem):

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:

Go ye,

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?

Knee shows...
She knows.

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!)

Dean Blehert



Bestiary - 2



The Poetry Game

Everyday Irritations

Nasty Stuff


Slightly Sexy

Spiritual Ditties

Word Romps

Somewhat Satirical

The Media

Grand Occasions



Double Dactyls



New Forms (Deanerisms)

Palindromes -1

Palindromes - 2

Palindromes - 3

Terrible Puns


Last updated: January 7, 2006