Category Archives: Doggerel & Pastiches

Although we count on space and time

Although we count on space and time
To honour all that is sublime
And use oblivion to punish art
That makes no difference to the heart,
The time a writer needs to last —
The synapse-leaping flash — is fast.
And space is tiny; we can find
A universe inside the mind.

It’s with these smallest measures we
Decide the fate of what we see.
The generations come apace
But each must choose its time and space.

Originally posted on Making Light


lolcat n lolcat++
is in ur prezentz
watchin u play,
heerin u purr.

i can has sense?
o noes!
sintz i sees u
noe kitteh is u++.

noe meow left,
fur al on end,
pointy earz ringin,
green eyes clozin.

im in my sunbeamz
dreamin of u
makin me worse
lik ded katz befor.

– o0o –

don likz
but likz.
ask why
an how?
me don’
quait knoe
but ow!

Originally posted on Making Light

Teh Dai teh Saucerz Kame

u can has saucerz
fallin lik sno
bringin u futur
no1 kno what
u can has zombiez
shamblin about
smellin lik deth and rotn dekay
they can has brains?
u can has godz
bigger than big thingz
fitin the giantz
n serpent n wolf
u can has fery talez
lvs n spiritz
u can has bootz
play ur part
u can has NEthing
citiez like glass
skynet aliv
angels n devils
humanz be hearin u talk
timlords n yeti

LOLCats version of Neil Gaiman’s The Day the Saucers Came, originally posted on the Making Light LOLCats thread.

Ping Brother Richard

> i is king.
> i can has sanwich.
> i is king & i is hungry.
> ping brother richard
> [AFK]
> i can has kipr from brkfst?
> i can has cold kfc, k?
> i is king
> i can has sanwich.
> why ur in my country fitin?
> were in tewx.
> no mustard!
> o noes!
> ping brother richard
> [AFK]
> tuna pasta?
> stfu
> i can has bacon?
> blt?
> i is king.
> i can has sanwich.
> WTF?
> woodvilles in pantry?
> clarence is drinkin my boozes?
> ping brother richard.
> [AFK]
> i is king
> know how 2 run things
> so wtf is with this place?
> i is king
> i can has sanwich
> ping brother richard
> [AFK]

This is a pastiche of a John M Ford villanelle.  It was originally posted on the Making Light LOLCats thread.

Nil sub sole novum

Martin sent me a rather silly YouTube link, mostly about Horatio Caine’s one-line quips at the end of the prologues of CSI: Miami. The sameness of his delivery, episode after episode, reminded me irresistibly of Aristophanes’ The Frogs. Indeed, I could not resist setting it all out. How would Aristophanes have tackled the rivalry among the three CSI shows?1

Dionysus, patron of drama, descends into the underworld to bring one of the great dramatists back to earth with him, to inspire the people of Athens to their former greatness. In the land of the dead, Aeschylus and Euripides are contending for the seat of honour, at Hades’ left hand, awarded to the greatest tragedian; it was Aeschylus, but Euripides is trying to take it over. In the background, Sophocles is staying out of the battle.

Like Dionysus, Dr Quincy, ME goes into the TV studios to bring one of the current crop of detectives with him, to solve the crimes of the modern era. There, Gil Grissom and Horatio Caine are arguing over who should get the largest dressing room, awarded to the best CSI; it was Gil’s, but Caine is trying to take it over. In the backdrop, Mac is staying out of the battle.

The two playwrights’ works are compared to one another in a variety of ways. After opening prayers, each dramatist describes the other’s weaknesses and his own strengths. It becomes clear that Dionysus prefers Aeschylus, the more traditional and methodical playwright, over the more modern Eurypides.

The two detectives’ shows are also compared to one another. After a brief introduction covering their education and work experience, each CSI describes the other’s weaknesses and his own strengths2. It becomes clear that Quincy prefers Grissom, the scientist, over the flashier Caine.

Then the true contest begins. A nit-picking analysis of each dramatist’s best prologue, for logic and for style. The best3 part is when Aeschylus proves that, metrically and structurally, one can insert “lost his bottle of oil” into the line-ends of his opponent’s prologues.

Again, the key comparison is a nit-picking analysis of each detective’s investigative techniques, for protocol and for style. The best part is when Gil proves that, dramatically and stylistically, one can put one’s sunglasses on and sidle like a crab at any point in his opponent’s exchanges with other characters2, again.

The final contest takes place over a set of scales, as each dramatist recites a single line of one of his plays. The weightiest line wins. In each case, Aeschylus’ works outweigh Euripides’.

Like Dionysus, Quincy uses scales for a quantitiative analysis. Each CSI recounts one of his one-line end of prologue quips. The heaviest line wins. This bit, I’ll do.4

Come here, then, if I have to do this —
treating detectives just like cheese for sale.
Such clever men as these use clever tools:
Forensic science as is taught in schools
Can only show a fraction of the art.
It’s innovation that’s the greater part
And so when other testing stalls and fails
We turn to systematic means like scales.
Come on. Stand beside the balance scales.
GRISSOM & CAINE [together]:
All right.
Now, each of you grab hold and don’t let go
until I yell at you like Roger Daltrey.
GRISSOM & CAINE [each one holding a scale pan]:
We’re holding on.
Speak your line into the scale.

CAINE [reciting]:
I am going…to get to the truth.
GRISSOM [reciting]:
“Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him.”5
Yaaaaar! Let go. [inspects scales] The pan on Grissom’s side
has gone much further down.
And why is that?
Why? Because he put blood into it.
He wet his words the way wool-sellers do —
whereas you put in a word with wings.
All right, let him speak again and match me.
Grab hold again.
We’re ready.
So speak down.
CAINE [reciting]:
You don’t spend $1,000 on clothes…you’re never going to wear.
GRISSOM [reciting]:
Man versus Gravity. Man lost.
Let go. Let go. This one’s going down again.
He put gravity in — the heaviest of forces.
But I put in money…and my line
was…better phrased.
Yeah, but money’s light.
It’s got no staying power at all. Say something else,
a heavy line, immense and ponderous,
to make you sink.
A really heavy line…
where can I find such a thing among my cases?
I’ll tell you. “We’ve got to move quickly.
The tide is rising, and we have a sinking crime scene.”
You’d better speak —
it’s the last time the two of you get weighed.
CAINE [reciting]:
The verdict is in, Frank, but the jury…is out.
GRISSOM [reciting]:
By law you’ve got to disclose everything. Three bedrooms, two baths, and a skeleton.
He got you again.

How so?
He put in a whole house and a stiff.
A hundred weightlifters couldn’t shift that load.

This last contest gives Dionysus the excuse he needs to bring back the playwright he really prefers, Aeschylus. As a final, stinging rebuke of Euripides’ preference of style over substance, he negotiates for Sophocles to have the seat of honour by Hades.

Like Dionysus, Quincy prefers Grissom6, and declares him the winner. As a final, stinging rebuke of Horatio Caine’s flashy style, he negotiates for Mac to have the coveted trailer.

  1. Paragraphs in italics are a summary of The Frogs. Following paragraphs are, um, translations.
  2. Of course I was tempted. But I do have a life.
  3. And most famous. Justly.
  4. All of Quincy’s lines are minimally adapted from Dionysus’. The Chorus song has been rewritten, but the essence is retained. And all of Caine and Grissom’s lines are from their shows, of course.
  5. Macbeth, Act V, Scene 1
  6. As, clearly, do I

The Lady of Khazad-dûm

Someone on a website I frequent mentioned that she often gets the urge to cross The Lady of Shallot with the story of Gandalf battling the Balrog in the Mines of Moria.

I confess, I had never found myself prone to that urge. Until she mentioned it, at which point it ate my brain.

The result:

Beneath the mountains, white with snow,
The orcs about their business go
Their orders to maintain below,
In the depths of Khazad-dûm,
A sleeping evil, left to lie
Until required by the Eye.
They care for it and ask not why
They toil in the gloom.

But one who labours in its lair
Has found the Balrog in his care
To be – to orcish senses – fair.
Fires burn in Khazad-dûm
And warm the darkness of the deeps
While he his tender vigil keeps.
His charge, protected, deeply sleeps
Inside its rocky tomb.

The other orcs, freed from its side,
Have different tasks, their might applied
To warlike training, side on side.
Underneath deep Khazad-dûm
The caverns echo with their song
While artificers labour long
To forge them armour, thick and strong,
For when the wars resume.

The flames beneath Caradhras burn
While up above, the seasons turn
Until, in time, the dwarves return.
Plundering rich Khazad-dûm.
At first they linger at the top
Above the yawning chasm’s drop
But then they dig, and do not stop
And thereby seal their doom.

They fill their halls with men and elves
And carve great rooms to please themselves
While underneath, a miner delves
Far too deep in Khazad-dûm.
The orc at practice stops his blow
As pickaxe noises grow and grow.
And then to muster-points they go
Lest dwarves their charge exhume.

The beaters start to pound their drums
So from the deeps the great sound comes
And in each chest, the breastbone thrums
Roaring out, “O Khazad-dûm!”
They rush into the glaring light
And, overwhelming with their might
The feasting dwarves, restore the night,
And then their work resume.

The battle in the past belongs:
Another chapter in their songs
Of dwarven deaths and ancient wrongs.
Deep in shadowed Khazad-dûm
The Balrog shifts its mighty frame
At dreams of swords, and fear, and flame.
Its keeper strokes it, rasps its name,
And turns to leave its room.

But then, a sound. A single stone
Comes clattering from where it’s thrown
Into a well, and this alone
Rouses all of Khazad-dûm.
And as the drummers beat and pound
The battle-rhythm shakes the ground.
The orcs come swarming all around
To Balin’s stony tomb.

Then, in its room, the sleeper wakes
And with one blow, its prison breaks.
So from the depths, its coming shakes
All the stones of Khazad-dûm.
It sees the fleeing figures hide
And casts its shadows far and wide
Like wings unfurled from either side
To smother them in gloom.

And then he comes, as from its dreams:
A bearded figure whose sword gleams
With silver light. Its lancing beams
Bringing day to Khazad-dûm.
The Balrog roars with blinded eyes.
The grey-robed form its way denies:
“You shall not pass,” the wizard cries.
And still the drumbeats boom.

They struggle then, the swordsman small
Against his foe, but brave withal.
He strikes the Balrog, and they fall
Into deepest Khazad-dûm.
The fighters plunging, dark and bright,
Leave eight companions, put to flight,
To scramble upward, to the light
And, grieved, their quest resume.

Behind them, howling hordes surround
The broken bridge, while all around
From depths to heights the battles sound
Echoing through Khazad-dûm.
They clash their blades and stamp their feet
And roar defiance and defeat
At enemies they cannot meet,
Then silence fills the gloom.

But one orc gives a keening call:
He somehow sees the Balrog’s fall.
And terror comes upon them all
Standing massed in Khazad-dûm.
The wizard is of no concern,
But should the Dark Lord come to learn
Their charge is dead, then they will burn.
The Eye will be their doom.

And so the orcs depart the mines.
At night, when only moonlight shines
They march away in scattered lines
Fleeing from black Khazad-dûm.
While in the lonely, lightless deeps
The Balrog-keeper howls and weeps
Then in the depthless chasm leaps
In empty Khazad-dûm.

For my next trick, I will harness the twin engines of Tolkien and Tennyson spinning in their graves and provide unlimited power for the world.

The Bill of Rights, in Quatrains

We start with God (or Gods, or none)
Then speech and press, assembling:
The ways and means that anyone
Can ask for change to anything.

But might makes right, or helps it thrive
Against the worst ill wishers.
So guns can keep the State alive
In well-regulated Militias.

The homely castle where you live
Affords no soldier boarder.
The third amendment lets you give
New meaning to “No quarter!”

Your property and self are your own
And none may search or take them
Unless probable cause can be shown
And warrants evidence make them.

Due process of law is next in our reach
As part of the health of the nation.
Trials are needed, and only one each
Without any self incrimination.

In criminal trials, a jury must sit
And witnesses be openly heard.
Counsel assists, and the state will commit
To compel defence witnesses’ word.

Where common law suits are tried
And sums are more than a score
A jury request cannot be denied
Nor appeals their findings ignore.

Excessive bail shall not be imposed
Lest poverty tyranny fuel.
And punishments, however composed,
Should not be unusual or cruel.

Naming rights here does not deny
That for the people others exist.
And inclusion herein does not imply
Disparagement to the ones missed.

Our Federal nation is made of States
To whom other powers are reserved.
The People as well, in any debates,
Must have their control preserved.

Originally posted on Making Light


Alex has been going to his nursery, Mother Goose, for almost four years now. As he has become more verbal, he’s brought nursery rhymes and songs home with him. Sometimes they’re the standard ones – “Baa baa black sheep” and suchlike. Sometimes, they’re not.

His favourites right now are “Heyyy, baby…I want to know-ow-ow….will you be my girl?” and “Jadda”, which is a string of nonsense syllables I can’t reproduce, but which does NOT finish “bing bop pop.” (I think it should and add it in when he sings that, to his massive indignation.)

He brought home another verse to “Row, row, row your boat” the other month. I understand that it’s become common, but I had never heard it before:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
If you see a crocodile
Don’t forget to scream

Now, this is the sort of thing that gets me going on inventing my own doggerel. I quickly added another verse:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
If you see a hippo there
Feed it some ice cream

He loves it. He’s tried to convince Goose that it’s an official verse, with about as much success as he had sellng this rewrite I did of Hey Diddle Diddle:

Hey Diddle Dat
The fiddle and the cat
The moon slid under the cow
The little dog cried ’cause he was sad
And the dish and the spoon said, “What now?”

I can’t wait to see him try to get them to accept my latest offering, invented last night with Fiona in my arms:

Rockabye baby, in your mom’s lap
When the wind blows, your arms go flap flap
When the bough breaks, it’s a good thing you fly
Since otherwise you’ll fall, and then you would cry

And yes, I know I am messing with my descendents unto the tenth generation with this stuff. But it’s so much fun!