There were 137 entries in the Space Western Limerick Contest. I didn’t envy the judges’ task of selecting the best ones. — ed, N.E. Lilly

First Place

There once was a cowboy whose horse,

Had the power to leap with great force,

Into space she would jump,

Then the cowboy would slump,

As he died in the vacuum, of course.

†  Keith’s Pick: This one made me snarf my iced tea. Perfect meter, good punchline, fit the theme beautifully. Nicely done!

Jane Espenson: I love the idea of taking fanciful notions and applying real-world consequences to them. Funny!

Gary Trainer: This limerick is a dark, humorous space western tale. A parable of a man’s horse that can leap with such great force that “she” leaps into space. But, this action by his horse causes “him” to die in the vacuum of space. Like a space western Greek fable, I can imagine our space cowboy doomed to experience this fate over and over.

Second Place

A lunar inn called Three Tartan Stars,

Had the best range of booze near or far.

In senseless depravity,

and rather low gravity,

We would slurp down green whiskey from Mars.

Gary Trainer: This limerick deserves points for “We would slurp down green whisky from Mars”, alone. The image here is an example of the need for a good place for senseless depraved behavior, after those lonely light years out on the Milky Way trail.

Honorable Mentions

Get a stiff drink at the Space Bar None,

And carry a six-shot laser gun.

Riding our rockets far

Into a setting star.

Who knew planet wranglin’ was such fun?

†  Gary’s Pick: This limerick succeeds in evoking the atmosphere of both genres. Space saloons, six gun lasers, and planet wrangling. Who knew judging this contest would be “Such Fun”!!

Dear Wash, can you keep me from anger?

I beg you, do not bump or bang her

Just soar like a leaf

Or you’ll have ground beef

I’m a cow in Serenity’s hanger!

†  Jane’s Pick: This is my “Judge’s Pick” because I simply can’t resist the point of view. So funny!

Black Bart was a man never sorry

For what he’d done back on Beta Centauri

Shot a man ’tween the eyes

then cast off for the skies

To a wormhole–through a dark neutron star, he.

Gary Trainer: This limerick conveys so much in 5 lines. It succeeds in evoking the atmosphere of both the “Western” and the “Space” genre.

I’ve been to the most distant of stars

And had drinks with locals in bars

I’ve met interesting creatures

With unusual features

That I removed and collected in jars

Jane Espenson: This made me smile.

As Simon glanced up at the sky,

He looked to his sis with a sigh:

“They’ve taken our land,

And we cannot stand.”

“But brother,” she said, “we can fly.”

Jane Espenson: Limericks don’t usually provoke emotion, but this one does. Absolutely gorgeous. Perfect.

A young Captain John Carter on Mars

Kept the peace on his beat ’mongst the stars

Said to Dejah, his bride

Would you care for a ride

In a suped up old extra from Cars?

There are people I’m longing to meet

Not at work, on the train or the street

But out in the black

On the screen in my flat

With Serenity under their feet

Jane Espenson: This one really captures the best sense of being a fan, and it flows beautifully. You didn’t have to twist the syntax to reach your rhymes.

The glare of our suns on the dunes

Is intense, and our passion balloons

Till we’re rampant with hate

(Seven times normal rate)

And each day we have seven high noons.

Jane Espenson: Great sci-fi concept and humor. A number of entries played with the “high noon” idea and this one did it the best.

Ride ’em cowboy, ride the space tether

Through ion storms and other space weather

I program my droids

And gather up roids

Aint no job I’d like to have better

Gary Trainer: This limerick gives me the feeling of being a lone space cowboy, out on the space planet range, programming my ”droids” to round up my “riods”. This is the essential cowboy archetype transported into space.

Two cowboys are stood on the moon

Trigger fingers awaiting high noon

The sun inches higher

Draw weapons and fire

And blasted themselves to Neptune

Gary Trainer: Another entry that takes a “Zane Gray” and Louis L’Amour” like tale, and tells it by an intergalactic space campfire.

When cows graze on Olympus Mons,

Their cowbells give very faint bongs.

But the rustlers must stay

A long way away

From the methane-rich low-pressure pongs!

Lament of the Alien Dance Hall Girl

A barmaid from Nerus Omega

once mourned in her sea-swamped bodega,

“If we fishfolk had feet

my life might be complete —

I’d cancan from Rigel to Vega”

Jane Espenson: Can’t resist the rhymes, and the idea is very funny.

My horse just ran out of rocket fuel

I checked my spacesuit and left that mule

Sucked on my tube of gin

Feeling everything spin

I cursed the stars for being so cruel

Gary Trainer: What would a “space western” be, without the image of a down on his luck space cowboy?

There once were some heroes in space

Whose exploits did make your heart race

a Shepherd sans flock

a River that rocked

But the tush on that Captain was ace!

This Space Western tale, I should mention

Takes place in another dimension.

Besides Space and Time

The other is Rhyme.

It just needs a saloon and some tension.

Jane Espenson: Very Twilight Zone.

It was noon at the OK Corral

At the far-away planet called Qwal.

I rode in of course

On my six-legged horse

As the moons rose on this pastorale.

A Colt 45 in his pocket,

The cowboy could fly on his rocket,

Till the unhappy day,

It was stolen away,

Because he’d forgotten to lock it.

What brings ungrammatical planet

To us landing this, dear my Janet?

Tractor beam us got, Brad,

But it be can so bad?

Escaped least us at castle, Dammit!

The Importance of Tradition

The lone marshal of Zinnemann’s Moon,

when forewarned of a vengeance-mad goon,

showed no trepidation—

his world’s slow rotation

meant that he’d be long dead by High Noon.

The eyestalk poked out of the Nexus,

Observing a back road of Texas,

Then a cowboy rode by,

Saw the alien eye,

Until it was squooshed by a Lexus.

Lunar farming takes real gumption

When colonists die of consumption.

When soil’s not arable,

Shove your damn parables

Unless psalms help moon tractors function.

Jane Espenson: The rhymes! Love the rhymes!

Jane Espenson is a former writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and has written episodes for shows including: Angel, Firefly, Gilmore Girls, Ellen, The O.C., Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dinosaurs, Andy Barker PI and others. She is currently under a development deal with NBC/Universal television while working as Co-Executive Producer on Battlestar Galactica.
Keith R.A. DeCandido has written several billion novels, short stories, eBooks, essays, and comic books in a huge variety of media universes, as well as editing anthologies, playing percussion, and generally making trouble.
Gary Trainer is currently a songwriter, producer, and bass player for The Atomic Swindlers. Trainer began as a main songwriter and founding member of New Math and Jet Black Berries. In 1987 Gary Trainer attended the summer creative writing program at Naropa University’s, Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. There he studied with Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs, whose beat writing styles continue to influence his writing and art to this day.

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