On Nonsense Poetry

By Adam J. Pearson

One of my favourite poetry exercises is writing nonsense poetry. Essentially, you simply set a piece of paper or blank Word document in front of you and begin writing. You write whatever nonsense comes to mind without censoring a word. It is essentially automatic writing in poetic form. It is pure expression, dictated only by free association, random bursts of creativity, and unconscious memory unhindered by the organizing intellect. When you do this exercise of writing a nonsense poem, you get to watch as striking connections are made and words tumble together in strangely beautiful bouquets.

Sometimes, the results of this exercise are illuminating, inspiring, amusing. Sometimes, they can be disturbing. One never knows what one is going to say until the poem is over and one is in a position to appreciate it.  While this exercise is fun in and of itself, it has an added benefit; it frees up your poetic imagination. It inspires you to play with different word combinations and striking images without caring about the seriousness of subject matter or theme. You simply let the words fall out of you and onto the page, like ripe fruit from a healthy tree.

Here are some nonsense poems I’ve written recently. What do they mean? I’d love to hear your interpretations. Feel free to post your own nonsense poems in the commments as well!


Oh, how I arrowed
Along the mire
Peddling ripples to Jupiter,
For in the darkness of a blazing tire
I found my dead aunt, Juniper.

For there was a time
Of my design
When a nickel could swallow a shark,
And a donkey would duck
And a pickle would pluck
And a kettle’d carouse in the park.

Oh if you would but kiss my foghorn
I’d sing you a wonderful song,
Of Moses and Grendel and the boldness of blue,
Yes I mean the colour
But don’t tell your mother,
Or she’ll spoil my tentacle stew.

I’ve told all the maidens
Sub Zeroes and Raidens,
Of the terrible torrents of time
For up on the clock face
An ant and a fly race
To drink all the verity wine.


The toxic earlobe slithers
Into the tonka truck
While a paisley Ice Cream vendor
Sells needles to swollen screwdrivers.
Who will save this dying world?
Certainly the jiggling gigolos
That jiggle through the doorways of the monasteries,
Ring bells, and spray firehoses all over the belfry.
Long has it been since the snake first ate
His first monument And defecated apartments all over the city.
And I hope It will be long again
Before that event reiterates
In a tumultous
Eternal Return.


I once petered through Pan

With an old Irishman

Who sold donkeys to monkeys for cheap

He was rich with fine tales

Of his critter slave sales,

Which he’d scatter about as he’d leap.

He wore a bustling green hat

And a bright pendant that

Would bright-glisten through the fire of the noon.

But tucked behind his smile,

Up his sadness would pile,

In a frown that would bubble up soon.

And oh! —

How sad he grew,

How somber,

How mellow,

How sad.

When the night fell upon us

Like drapes on the chorus

And tidings grew grim and not glad.

Then that once sprightly man

Sprinkled grapes through the land

While he’d whistle a tune to Macbeth

Enjoy these! he’d say

As he’d wither away

In the great, bright green youth of his death.

Still I wait for his letter

Oh, his memory’s a tether!

But I hope that he’s free off somewhere

Free from slavery and creatures

Free from prisons and teachers,

Free to wonder like thunder and dare.

He must have met his end,

Oh, my old Irish friend,

Who once grunted and hunted and flew

With the birds that he slaughtered

While his young blond-haired daughter

Offered hope of a life fresh and new.

Now they’re long dead and gone

While I hobble along

Through the streets that we once called our home.

All I have are my memories

Of Daria and Emory,

To the ends of the Earth I will roam,

With my memories all stuffed in a tome.


Up goes the umpire,
up through the clouds
Look at him soar and whirl and twirl!
Drizzling gemstones all over the ground
Hollering at hobos and winking at girls.

Such is the way of the genocidal dictators
That rule the pantry where my spice resides.

For who can predict when their last day will be?
Who can signal the dawning of the grapefruit
On the car-caked highway?

Not even the elephan- juggling infant
Can herald that day,
Nor draw the bugle of the coming end,
The time when a McDonald’s Rip Van Winkle
Will waltz in, a Don Quixote in the dark,
A horseless horseback rider,
Riding bareback In cowboy slacks,
To save us from our (non)Self.


Ripshod McGraw was a tittering tatter
He’d eat and he’d eat
But he’d never grow fatter
And on he would wobble
Like a turkey, he’d gobble
And toggle a goggle or two.
Oh Ripshod McGraw was a wonderful man
With a band that could play the kazoo
They’d sing and they’d dance
In a frenzied, wild trance
Until one of them founded a zoo.

I once saw old Ripshod
Fast tango in slipshod
While a dinosaur towered above.
He’d bimble and bumble
And cook apple crumble
And pour out his garlands of love.

For once old McGraw
Had a bear in his jaw
He would never release it, oh no,
He’d make it live there
Without giving a care
Until tyrants killed migrants below.

Oh what does it mean,
When the truth starts to gleam
Through the lies that we plant and we sow?
The grass is scant greener
Where faces grown meaner
And there’s blindness from dollars and dough.

Oh Ripshod McGraw
With his horse and his saw
Was a sight to behold and to see
Never would he tarry
Without sword blades to parry
Or a bucket of duckets for me.

But Ripshod, the fool
Was adept at each tool
That the clown and mechanic both use
He’d wrench at a wench
And with fire he’d drench
All the rolling green hills of Toulouse.

But poor old Ripshod
With his cast-iron rod
Took a tumble, at last, off a cliff
Out through nothing he lunged
And his horse took a plunge
And he landed alone, cold, and stiff.



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