Some years ago I entered a literary-limericks competition 1. I assumed I was a winner, since they were all published, but I never got any money 2.


Robert Frost was a slave to the should ‘s.

When his wife sent him out for some goods,

He wanted adventure

But, fearing her censure,

Went home and wrote “Stopping By Woods.” 3


Herr Erich Maria Remarque

Sought a tryst with a star for a lark.

Though Marlene Dietrich

Knew many a neat trick,

Paulette Goddard was gemütlich in the dark 4.


A Boston bluestocking named Dorcas

Had a delectable torkus.

It inspired the worse

Half of Eliot’s verse

And the finest of Garcia Lorca’s5.

garcia lorca


1. In the Woodstock Journal.

2. I’m still waiting, Ed Sanders.

3. Frost’s daughter said the poem was about a trip to buy groceries in town. Her statement definitively solves the mystical mystery of the poem.

4. This was my summary of Julie Gilbert’s Opposite Attraction, her biography of Remarque and Goddard. See also Maria Riva’s wonderful memoir of her mother, Marlene Dietrich.

5. None of this is true (as far as I know). I always liked the quintessential New England name Dorcas, and was glad to find a way to use it in verse. I acknowledge the distortion of tookhus into torkus as an extreme exercise of poetic license.


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