King of Diamonds: Anniversary cards

The following are variations of ‘Roses are red‘ based on the songs Jonathan Coulton wrote for his Thing a Week.

anniv1. See You All in Hell

Eyeballs are red,
water is blue.
Arm’s gone to hell
and so will you.

2. My Monkey

Monkey saw red,
monkey feels blue.
Bananas are yummy,
but monkey loves you.

3. W’s Duty

Let’s do our duty
to red, white, and blue.
If you do a duty
then I’ll do a poo.

4. Shop Vac

Picket fence white,
flower beds purple.
Shop vac sucks nicely,
just like the suburb’ll.

5. Baby Got Back

JC likes big butts,
as if he were black;
hope they were covered
before baby got back.

6. Someone is Crazy

Violets are red,
roses are blue.
That’s clearly crazy
and so are you.

7. Brand New Sucker

You’re not pure white,
and I’m not that green.
This can’t continue
the way that it’s been.

8. Sibling Rivalry

Jane’s wearing orange,
Joan’s wearing slate,
soon they’ll face off
and then separate.

9. The Town Crotch

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
She’s well deflowered,
but our love was true.

10. When I’m 25 or 64

25’s square,
64 cubic.
A mashup of both
released intertubic.

11. Podsafe Christmas Song

Some bite like redbacks
protecting their greenbacks.
Your present this Christmas
is taking the scene back.

12. Furry Old Lobster

Lobsters are red.
Once they were brown.
Don’t doubt this knowledge
when Hodgman’s around.

13. Drive

Fast cars red
Mine infrared
drive like sexy
not get dead

14. Flickr

Red Green and Blue,
or CMYK,
These pixels are free,

15. Resolutions

Reasoning’s solid,
guidance is clear.
These tips will bring you
An excellent year.

16. You Could Be Her

Pretzels are brown
beer is brown too.
Someone will love them,
will it be you?

17. I Will

Sugar- and heartbeats
covered in honey,
this song is sweet;
no need to be funny.

18. Dance, Soterios Johnson, Dance.

Strobe lights are green,
with reds and with blues.
When they turn off,
you’ll bring us the news.

19. So Far So Good

Roses are red,
(so far, so good)
didn’t quite last
as long as they could.

20. Curl

Dreaming of gold,
for red, white and blue,
wake from dream early,
make it come true.

21. Chiron Beta Prime

Bots’ eyes are red,
Soylent is green.
Our Christmas crackers
are full of protein.


Snow’s hooloovoo,
snowrocks are orange.
Our family is trapped

22. Take Care of Me

Roses are red,
water is blue.
Separate beside me
waiting for you.

23. A Talk With George

Stories aren’t read
of days people blew.
George made it count,
and so can you.

24. Don’t Talk to Strangers

Lavender’s purple,
mint flowers white.
Big city men
won’t treat you right.

25. Stroller Town

Stop when it’s red,
go when it’s green.
I’ve got the fastest
pram on the scene.

26. Re: Your Brains

Matters are grey,
Irises blue.
Rathole the eyes-scream,
a dinner is you.

27. Madelaine

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Which do you want?
It’s up to you.

28. When You Go

Roses are red
chrysanthemums white.
Flowers have withered
and nothing is right.

29. Code Monkey

Fritos are yellow
so’s Mountain Dew.
Code Monkey like them,
but mostly like you.

30. The Presidents

A whole lot of whites,
some red and some blue,
it’s time for a change
now Obama’s there too.

31. Just as Long as Me

Most lovers’ roses are red,
French tulips are coloured like crème.
I don’t really care who she is,
as long as she has a long stem.

32. Till the Money Comes

I’ll wait for our golden,
I’ll wait for our silver.
When she gets them both
I’ll no longer think ill of ‘er.

33. Tom Cruise Crazy

Violet are reds,
rose are blues.
Messed up and crazy,
it’s just like Tom Cruise.

34. Famous Blue Raincoat

Roses are red,
Raincoats are blue.
Rain-covered streets,
Jane covered you.

35. Soft Rocked By Me

Roses are yellow
wine is rosé.
Think you won’t need me?
No way, Jose.

36. Not About You

Roses are red,
violets are blue,
dumped on your doorstep
’cause they’re not for you.

37. Rock and Roll Boy

Young boys like toys,
old boys like drums.
Rock and roll boys
should love their mums.

38. Drinking With You

Let’s show our true colours
without much ado.
Beer would be sweet,
while drinking with you.

39. Pizza Day

Maybe you’re friendless,
maybe you’re blue.
Remember, it’s Friday,
there’s pizza for you!

40. Skymall

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
These gold-dipped roses
last longer than you!

41. Seahorse

She’s getting tail,
he’s getting screwed.
Since he’s a seahorse
he’s stuck with the brood.

42. Creepy Doll

Eye is ruined,
mouth is pretty.
You should have stayed
in your big city.

43. Under The Pines

Roses are red,
suet is white.
I hope you remember
our big hairy night.

44. Big Bad World One

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
I know you won’t like them.
Big bad world two.

45. Mr. Fancy Pants

Your pants are rainbows,
his pants are brown.
You know that your pants
never gonna let you down.

46. You Ruined Everything

Girls dress in pink,
Boys dress in blue.
Conceding defeat,
but all for you.

47. I’m Your Moon

Some friends are rare,
some moons are blue.
You’re here for me,
and I’m here for you.

48. The Big Boom

Something goes boom,
car alarms scream
all of these noises
are worse than they seem.

49. Make You Cry

Roses are red,
bought them for you.
Revenge is sweet:
I brought thorns too.

50. Pull the String

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
One single aphid
would eat through you.

51. Summer’s Over

Leaves turn to red,
trees’ turn to grieve,
watching them fall,
watching you leave.

52. We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions

Rose to the challenge,
vibe fifty-two.
Clap for JC
if he has rocked you.

When I saw the card of the week, I hoped that it was the anniversary of Jonathan Coulton’s Thing a Week, so I could continue the project which a nine of hearts featuring a purple violet gave me the idea for a while ago. It wasn’t, so I looked at the Wikipedia page for December 14 for other things I could write about the anniversary of. I discovered that December 14 is Monkey Day, a Coulton connection if ever there was one; for those not familiar with his work, here’s the Wordle cloud of his Thing a Week song lyrics. Still, I thought  there were so many ideas on that page, I should perhaps write something about other things that happened on December 14 instead. I presented the two options in vague terms to a friend, and he chose this, so I got cracking.

Of course, it’s all very well to say I’m going to write 52 ‘Roses are Red’ poems, but what is a ‘Roses are Red’ poem? We’ve all seen them, probably written them. But what are they? Here are some features of the original, each of which were maintained at least a few of in each of my poems:

  • The poem is four lines long.
  • Lines 2 and 4 rhyme.
  • Lines 1 to 3 have four syllables each, with stress on the first and last.
  • Line 4 also has four syllables, but with the stress on the second and last ones.
  • Lines 1 and 2 end with names of colours.
  • Lines 1 and 2 begin with names of flowers.
  • Liines 1 and 2 have the same grammatical structure.
  • Specifically, lines 1 and 2 are of the form <plural noun> are <adjective>.
  • Line 1 ends with ‘red’
  • Line 2 ends with ‘blue’
  • Line 3 ends with ‘sweet’
  • Line 4 ends with ‘you’

For most of them, I tried to capture the essence of each song in a poem matching some of these constraints. For others, I wrote more about the blog entry which accompanied the song. I also tried to use the word ‘cover’ in each of the ones about cover songs, though I didn’t manage that for Things 24 and 52. I felt kind of uncomfortable doing this for cover songs, for some reason (I really don’t like my summary of Famous Blue Raincoat, and I guess the idea of Leonard Cohen getting annoyed with me about it is scarier than the thought of Jonathan Coulton being annoyed with me) so there is some overlap betweeen the last two categories.

I’ll go through and give each of my poems a score based on the points above if I have time… not right now though, since at the time of writing this I still have 16 left to write in less than five hours. And at the time of writing this sentence, I just finished the last one, The Big Boom, which would get a very low score.

A few notes for people not so familiar with Jonathan Coulton’s work: When I’m 25 or 64 is available on the internet (known as ‘intertubes‘ by some) but is not on the Thing a Week CDs, presumably because of copyright issues. Mr. Fancy Pants also includes a lyric from Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up‘ (that link is not a Rickroll) which Jonathan often includes in the middle of live versions of the song.

For some of them I used a little floriography. White chrysanthemums are flowers of mourning, yellow roses a sign of friendship (that’s what soft rocking guy wants you to think, anyway.) Mint flowers supposedly signify suspicion, while lavender stands for devotion or distrust.

‘Rathole’ is managerese for ‘talk about after the meeting’ which is managerese for ‘promise to talk about after the meeting but then ignore, because nobody cares anyway’. I learnt this at my first programming job, from a new manager who had only recently learnt the term himself.

A few of these are rearrangements of ones I wrote for other purposes. Most obviously, Tom Cruise Crazy is essentially a remix of Someone Is Crazy. I had nine songs and two and a half hours left when I wrote it. The other ones you wouldn’t know about if I weren’t crazy enough to admit it. Till the Money Comes is a bad copy of one I wrote for Millionaire Girlfriend before realising that that wasn’t in Thing a Week:

Some friends are gold,
others are silver.
If mine has them both,
I wouldn’t think ill of ‘er.

Which in turn is based on a song I remember from a camp I went on as a kid:

Make new friends
but keep the old.
One is silver
and the other gold.

And my desire to complete the unrhymable colour trifecta after rhyming orange way back in the six of hearts. Near the end, I wrote a second Chiron Beta Prime poem specifically so I could use the colour hooloovoo, and realised I could rhyme orange there as well. I wrote that one so quickly that I accidentally wrote snowclouds when of course there were only snowrocks, and edited it after midnight. If you saw it, forget you did.

My first summary of Chiron Beta Prime also borrows heavily from something I wrote to a friend a while ago, not long after seeing Soylent Green:

Roses are red,
Soylent is green.
You’re clearly crackers,
and full of protein.

Maybe this is why I don’t have a boyfriend.

On the subject of lasting romance, Skymall really does sell gold-dipped roses. They last for a lifetime — and then some!

, , ,

  1. #1 by mtgordon on December 16, 2008 - 12:16 am



  2. #2 by William Brett on December 17, 2008 - 10:17 pm



  3. #3 by Angela Brett on December 17, 2008 - 10:37 pm



  4. #4 by borismc on December 20, 2008 - 8:25 pm

    Seahorse is touching
    Flickr’s so clever
    Some day I might try this
    But most likely, never.

    Great job!


  5. #5 by Angela Brett on December 20, 2008 - 9:11 pm

    While pondering how to respond to that, I came up with one about wikis:

    Dead links are red,
    Good links are blue.
    Experts can edit,
    and so can you.

    Replace ‘experts’ with ‘vandals’ or ‘anyone’ if preferred.


  6. #6 by Joe Covenant on December 21, 2008 - 3:34 am

    ‘Read’ were these poems
    created by you.
    *Love* Someone Is Crazy
    and My Monkey too!


  1. Video: Anniversary Cards Redux « Creative Output

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