International Limericks 26

© Can Stock Photo & damedeeso used with permission


As an exercise in mental masochism, I shall attempt to produce, in strict alphabetic sequence, a limerick based on the name of each of the 193 member-states of the United Nations* (using the short name as commonly used in UK English, abbreviated where it is common practice or makes it easier). 

* from the official list available on-line on 5th July, 2021. The addition or removal of countries during the course of this exercise will not be reflected Changes of name will only be reflected if it is in my interests to do so.

Comments or implied comments about countries, including those of a geographical nature, are often the result of my struggle to find a set of words that will satisfy the rhythmic and metric requirements of the format. As such, they don’t necessarily reflect my experiences or opinions, or indeed any form of reality.

Let me know what you think.



In twenty-sixteen we did see
What UK folk wanted to be.
In an act of near-mania
I voted Romania,
But it’s spelt with an o, not an e.


From Moscow to Vladivostok
The Russian train runs like a clock.
The only criteria
When you’re in Siberia
Is don’t post your stuff to Tick-Tock.


I climbed in the clapped-out old Honda
That I swapped for my pet anaconda.
It was green, rust and pink
And I never did think
It would get all the way to Rwanda.


When we got to Saint Kitts and Nevis,
Some villains there tried to relieve us
Of all of our cash,
My head they did bash,
And left a wound I would call grievous.


The flowers grown in Windward Isles
Are the finest that I’ve seen by miles.
I’ve heard that the fuschia
They grow in Saint Lucia
Are the source of a plethora of smiles.


Jo Harrington studied her genes
Kept her busy through most of her teens.
Her friend Henry Pinsent
Had links to Saint Vincent;
Jo’s roots were in the Grenadines.

The camera never lies


They do say, don’t they (whoever they refers to), that the camera never lies.

I have two observations on that.

Firstly, whoever asserted that had no knowledge of digital cameras or familiarity with… I don’t know… Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, GIMP or any of the plethora of image manipulation software, free and paid-for, that make up the photofinishing market these days.

My second observation is that, even were it impossible for a displayed image to show anything other than what was directly accessible to the lens at the time of capture, it has always been open to the photographer to arrange the scene in a way that will convey the impression that he or she wants to convey. In other words, the inability of the camera to lie – were such a concept true – does not preclude and has never precluded the ability of the composer of the image to deceive, to create a reality other than that which is immediately apparent.

Take this image as an example. We see an elderly gentleman holding his dog. The dog is on its back, supine; its eyes closed and its mouth in a relaxed position. What are we to infer from this scene? It is a still image, so we aren’t given the opportunity to observe whether the animal is moving, twitching or even breathing. Is it possible that he is dead? We certainly don’t have enough evidence to exclude that. The man’s face is giving nothing away. We can probably assume, from the expression, or lack of, on the man’s face, that the dog is still alive. Were he dead, we would expect the man to show signs of distress. Unless, of course, the poor pooch had gone to doggy heaven some time prior to the photograph being taken, in which case his owner (can we safely assume the man to be the dog’s owner?) would have cried himself out and would now be merely sad, resigned to the loss of his pet.

Do we believe, then, that the dog is asleep? Let’s look at the evidence with that as our hypothesis. The dog’s position is as consistent with sleep as it is with death. If we suspect, therefore, that the man’s expression leads us away from the assumption of death, then sleep becomes a very real possibility. I’m certainly heading rapidly towards sleep whilst writing this drivel.

Before I go, though, I want to offer an alternative – and we can call it your homework for the week. Consider the attitude of the two characters. Is it within the realm of reason to speculate that the man may have hypnotised the dog?

Or has the dog, perhaps, hypnotised the man?


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 342 published on this site.


Kreative Kue 342

Kreative Kue 341 asked for submissions based on this photograph:


John W Howell is a multiple nominated and award-winning author who blogs at Fiction Favorites. Details of John’s books can be found on his Amazon author page

This Train by John W. Howell © 2022

“Wouldja look at that.”


“That video. Almost looks real.”

“That’s cause it is.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re looking out a window. Everything beyond the window is part of the world.”

“That might be true, but it doesn’t mean it’s real.”

“Oh, come on. Don’t tell me we are going to get caught in a semantics loop?”

“I don’t even know what that is. All I’m saying is just because there is stuff beyond the window doesn’t mean that stuff is real. Look now. It all changed.”

“That’s because we are moving.”

“Moving? What kind of insanity is that?”

“I don’t want to break this to you too hard, but we are on a train.”

“Since when?”

“Last night, we boarded a train.”

“Where was I?”

“Oh my gosh. You were on the end of your leash. You got on the train. We all went to sleep, and here we are.”

“Look at that. It looks like a big city.”

“Yes, it is. We need to go through the city to get to the seashore.”

“Seashore? We going to the seashore?”

“We sure are.”

“Oh boy. I love the seashore.”

“I know you do. That’s why we are going.”


“To the sea— Hold on. Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m just messing with you. I can’t wait until we get there.”

“We should be there tonight.”

“All those smells. The crabs and birds. The sand and sun.”

“You believe it is real then?”

“The seashore?”


“Of course. It’s just looking out this window that doesn’t look real.”

“Maybe you should take a nap then.”

“And miss something.”

“Something that may not be real.”

“Good point. A nap it is.”

“Good dog.”


My effort was:

Not a mere cat

Come camping with us, Trevor, they said. You’ll love it, they said. There’ll be lots of long walks, new smells, new places. You’ll probably meet some more dogs to sniff around or play with. You’ll really have the best time, they said.

That’s what they said, anyway. That’s how they sold it to me,

The reality? The blighters have gone out again and left me. We’re leaving you in charge, they said. Same as they always say. You’re a good little guard dog. You won’t let any bad people come in and steal our stuff will you. And don’t worry, we’ll bring you back a doggy-bag. If you’re really good, there might be some best steak in it.

And I wag my tail and slobber over them, not because it’s what I feel but because it’s what they expect. And it’s true, they’ll be back after two or three hours, and they’ll have a bag of leftovers with them. And they’ll fawn all over me as they give it to me because, of course, I won’t have let anyone in. Nothing will be missing, nothing broken and – not that I’m not tempted at times – nothing chewed. The place will be as clean and as tidy as when they left.

Admittedly, that’s in large part due to the fact that I spent most of their absence sleeping. Well, it’s about the only avenue open to me to stave off the interminable boredom, isn’t it? Oh yes, and the nagging feeling that always gets me, no matter how hard I try to suppress it, that they may never come back, and I’ll be stuck here for the rest of my life.

I did some thinking once. What actually goes into these doggy-bags? Do you know what it is? No? Then I shall enlighten you, I shall add to your education, your knowledge of what’s what, your understanding of reality.

It’s stuff they don’t want!

That’s right. They go to these fancy places and stuff themselves full of all their favourite things. Anything they can’t eat or don’t like, they put in a bag and give to me. What does that say about how much they value me and what I do? And before you say anything, I’ll believe their protestations of love and respect and all the other BS they come out with when they do what they say they’ll do.

What am I talking about?

Where are the long walks, the new smells, the new places they promised? 

What they ask me to do doesn’t need an intelligent and active dog – it could be done by a mere cat!


Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at before 6pm on Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next time.