Tag Archives: Education

“To My Lucky Readers”

You reading prose and poetry I write
Belong among the fortunate of Earth—
But not because I share profound insight
And not because my work’s of special worth.
Then why? Because some person clearly cared
Enough to see you’d have the skills you’d need
To understand what other minds have shared
And freely water learning’s fertile seed.
The food by which a hungry head’s enriched
Might rest untouched atop your dinner plate
If birth had found you and another switched
By circumstance, a god, or luckless fate.
When filled with pride for all the things you’ve learned,
Reflect on your advantages unearned.

an Elizabethan sonnet by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess


“The Squeaky Wheel”

“The Squeaky Wheel” an epigram by Paul Burgess

Once people, early in their youth,
Have learned the vital, timeless truth
Of squeaky wheels receiving grease,
Their squeaking seems to never cease.

5 Limericks a Day (To Keep the Dr. Away)–By Paul O’Burgess [Day 8]

“An Aspiring Cardinal”
A man whose behavior’s absurd
Insists he’s becoming a bird.
“In Rome, by the sea,
A card’nal I’ll be”
Says that man whose behavior’s absurd.

“Mr. ________, Teacher of Middle School English”
There was once a man whose career
Induced him to drink lots of beer.
Whenever he’d teach,
There were bottles in reach
To help him endure his career.

“Tithonus of Dell”
There was an old miser from Dell
Whose age no person could tell.
He was freakishly old
And all covered with mold
And was better to see than to smell.

“A Boring, Moral, and Clean Limerick”

There was once a man who enjoyed
To do what most others avoid.
To repay what he’d owe
And be kind to a foe
Were some things that this person enjoyed.

“A Less Boring, Moral, and Clean Limerick–About a Beaver [Castor]

I saw once a beaver so big
It could swallow the whole of a pig.
It knew lots of tricks
With berries and sticks.
What a sight was that beaver so big!

Wholesome Verse for the Little Children [“Little Willie” and “Brats” Poems] (Installment 1)

Before sharing my contributions to the venerable “Little Willie” and “Brats” traditions, I want to provide a brief history of the forms from William Baer’s Writing Metrical Poetry:

In 1899, the British author Harry Graham, under the pseudonym Col. D. Streamer, published a little book entitled Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes….As his tiles promised, the poems…were ruthless little black-humor poems, which often included violence or death, often at the expense of children. Graham’s fiendish poems, which clearly poked fun at both British reserve and human insensibility, delighted the British public…This little poem [“Tender-Heartedness,” included below] spawned countless imitations, and (like the limerick) the numbers of Little Willie poems wax and wane over the years…the poems, always composed of two tetrameter couplets, begin with “Little Willie” or just “Willie.” [188-89]


Billy, in one of his nice new sashes,

Fell in the fire and was burnt to ashes;

Now, although the room grows chilly,

I haven’t the heart to poke poor Billy.


An anonymous example:

Little Willie full of hell

Pushed his sister in the well

Said his mother drawing water

“It’s so hard to raise a daughter.


Describing “brats” poems, Baer notes that “the first line of these couplet poems (usually composed in quatrains) generally contains the name of the bratty child who, with the next three lines, faces the music” (189).

Baer provides the following example from X.J. Kennedy:

Stupid little Lucy Wankett

Washed her automatic blanket

while the thing was still plugged in.

Notify her next of kin.

I take credit for being the sick bastard behind the rest of the “Little Willie” and “Brats” Poems posted here. To make iambic tetrameter flow more smoothly, I have often changed “Willie” to “Will.”

[Little Willie] “Playing with Father’s Gun”

Willie showed his siblings Father’s gun.

“Oh, Russian Roulette sounds like fun!”

Exclaimed his sister Mary Lynn.

Will said, “You first. I hope you win.”

[Little Willie] “An Apple for Teacher”

An apple Will gave Missus Cox
While smiling like a hungry fox.
As teacher swallowed her first bite,
Will quipped, “I hope you’ve seen Snow White!”

[Little Willie] “Five, six/Pick up Sticks”

Will thought he’d grabbed a slimy stick
Until he felt a painful prick.
For Will had made the big mistake
Of picking up a rattlesnake.

[Little Willie] “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider”

Willie once thought it’d be a hoot
To hide a spider in Dad’s boot.
Dad’s body’s been of little use
Since meeting Willie’s brown recluse.

[Little Willie] “Who?”

For Will it was a hoot and howl
To murder sis then, like an owl,
Respond by saying only, “Who?”
When asked by Mom, “Where’s Mary Lou?”

[Little Willie] “Playing with Rubber Bands”

Will thought no game to be as grand
As pulling taut a rubber band.
‘Til back at him a band did fly
And left him with a useless eye.

[Brats] Jake’s Snake

One day to school was brought by Jake
A very large constrictor snake.
He found himself in quite a squeeze
With Boa Bob around his knees.

[Brats] Brett […whose malicious mother’s words sound mild compared to the things I have heard some of my students say about their children…]

Incontinent was little Brett.
His mother said, when quite upset,
“To your bed, I’ll tie you down.
Keep on wetting, and you’ll drown.”


5 Limericks a Day (to Keep the Dr. Away) [Day 3]–By Paul O’Burgess

“Sex Ed.?”
There was a young person from Cork
Who wanted a child from the stork.
In the eyes of that bird,
It seemed quite absurd
To be wooed by that person from Cork.

“A Kindly Priest”
There was once a priest who would pray
the following words ev’ry day:
“Be you all at peace
In Rome and in Greece
With exception of anyone gay.”

“A Representative’s Plight”
A Rep, who’d become quite annoyed,
Asserted: “This bill should be void!
If more taxes I paid,
I’d have one less maid,
And a person would be unemployed.”

“Marie Antoinette”
Marie, when preparing to die,
Was heard to declare with a sigh,
“I’d lose not my head,
If only I’d said,
To the mob, ‘Oh, let them eat pie.’”

“A Well-Stocked Kitchen in the Middle East” [Today’s ‘dirty limerick;’ it is only dirty if, unlike its angelic author, you are perverted and hell-bound;)]

There was once a gal from Iraq
Who had her so lovely a rack.
Its space did suffice
To hold ev’ry spice
Required for cuisine in Iraq.