I’ve heard it claimed limericks don’t lend themselves to dark subjects. In the spirit of “don’t tell me what to do!”, I present two depressing examples1.
In a town by the shore—Port Mahoning—
Once lived a young girl—Ida Douning.
She perished at sea, and they say at the lee
Of the churchyard you still hear her moaning.
Afar, mourners from hymnals are singing—
Here, Jack from the gallows is swinging—
He swings there alone to the dolorous tone
of the crows ’round the scaffolding winging.
1. A fellow wordy person (who’s commented here as Nasa) suggested that people expect a punchline or a twist in limericks partially because of the structure. I’m not sure I buy it, but on reflection, I do think the poems read better as limerick-structured quatrains.