Who rhymed naughty words like "suck it!"

Here at Quahog we try to keep things fairly clean because we're well aware that our site is perused by people of all ages and persuasions. But we also strive to revel in the minutiae of the funky Rhode Island thang, so we'd be seriously remiss if we did not touch upon the phenomenon that is the Man from Pawtucket limerick. Some may take us to task for posting these licentious and misogynistic rhymes where children can see them, but we say that if persons of innocence have the intelligence, imagination, or experience to fill in the blanks below, it's already too late to protect them from the rougher elements of the English language. That being said, here we go...

There once was a man from Pawtucket,
Who stuck his ---- in a socket.
Some son of a -----,
Switched on the switch,
And off went his ---- like a rocket.

We warned you. If you didn't know that limericks are supposed to be dirty, you do now. Per Wikipedia: "Gershon Legman, who compiled the largest and most scholarly anthology, held that the true limerick as a folk form is always obscene, and cites similar opinions by Arnold Bennett and George Bernard Shaw, describing the clean limerick as a 'periodic fad and object of magazine contests, rarely rising above mediocrity.' From a folkloric point of view, the form is essentially transgressive; violation of taboo is part of its function."

There once was a man from Pawtucket,
Who, with women, said "---- it!"
But with an evil, insane cackle,
He dipped his parts into spackle,
Slapped it to the wall and stuck it.

There once was a man from Pawtucket,
Who had one so long he could ---- it.
He said with a grin,
As he wiped off his chin,
If my ear was a ---- I would ---- it!

There was a young man from Pawtucket,
Lured a pig to a thicket to ---- it.
The pig, with a leer,
Said, "Beg pardon; I'm -----.
If you'll breeze around front, I shall ---- it."

A truculent guy from Pawtucket,
Inquired of a girl if she'd ---- it.
She exclaimed with surprise,
"Why it makes my gorge rise!"
He replied with a snarl, "Well then, ---- it!"

There was a young girl of Pawtucket,
Whose box was as big as a bucket.
Her boyfriend said, "Toots,
I'll have to wear boots,
For I see I must muck it, not ---- it!"

There once was a man from Pawtucket,
Who as fate would have, couldn't luck it.
He climbed a great wall,
And had a big fall,
Broke his leg, and said, "Aw ---- it!"

Here are some tamer ones:

There once was a man from Pawtucket,
Who lived his whole life in a bucket.
When life got too hard,
He'd go out in the yard,
He'd pick up his pail and he'd chuck it.

There was an old dame from Pawtucket,
Who everyday peed in a bucket.
When her neighbors asked why,
She defiled their water supply,
By dumping the bucket where she drunk it.

There once was a man from Pawtucket,
Where it rained with no way to duck it.
But when it gets nice,
He takes the advice,
To vacation close by at Nantucket.

Pa followed them down to Pawtucket,
(Nan and the man and the bucket).
And he said to the man,
"You're welcome to Nan,"
But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.

This variation comes from the February 1932 issue of The Killonian, the magazine of Killingly High School in Danielson, Connecticut. It's attributed to "R.A.L., '34":

There once was a man from Pawtucket,
Who kept all his cash in a bucket;
But his daughter named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

For good measure, here's a locally-relevant limerick that doesn't fall back on the obvious rhyme possibilities offered by our state's fourth largest city:

Now hear this fair lass from Rhode Isle,
Who said with a wink and a smile,
"Sure, please stick it in,
Be it thick, be it thin,
But if's rough I won't do as a file."

Here's another specimen, somewhat ill-crafted, from the "What Cheer Jottings" column in the April 6, 1930, issue of the Providence Sunday Journal Magazine:

A young man named Bill lived in Olneyville,
Who attempted to pass off a phoney bill.
"I am innocent, judge,"
He declared. "But, "Oh, fudge,"
Said the judge, "that's a lot of baloney, Bill."

This one was posted on the FertileUnderground Pvd Facebook page on September 7, 2012:

You Rhode Islanders are funny. A CABINET??
That which wraps your tongue like silken tabinet?
So creamy and cold...
"It's a milkshake!" I'm told.
Whatever, it's delicious. I'm grabbin' it!

Francis I. Baratta, of Arlington, Massachusetts, dismayed by what he perceived as a certain cartoonist's constant belittlement of poor Rhode Island in the pages of Yankee magazine, wondered why the magazine never printed any complaints from outraged Ocean Staters, and attempted the following defense on the July 1996 letters page:

There once was a Yankee cartoonist named Bousquet:
With each issue he drew a demeaning 'Little Rhody' joke, I say.
From that poor little state,
One he loved to hate,
He would have been banned by Roger Williams without delay!

Yankee's editor responded:

From Woonsocket to the south shore,
We have Ocean State readers galore.
But they're tolerant folk.
They can all take a joke;
And they're laughing too hard to get sore.

This article last edited July 2, 2016

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