Simile

Simile (si’-mi-lee): An explicit comparison, often (but not necessarily) employing “like” or “as.”


You’re like a bicycle with one wheel missing, scraping a groove in my heart. It hurts like the time you sanded my left butt cheek with #80 garnet grit sandpaper. You crumbled my butt’s smooth skin like a piece of cheddar on a cheese grater. It hurt. I think I need to get away from you before I end up in a frying pan with a couple of eggs.

But for some reason, stemming from some kind mild mental illness, I am unable to leave her. I want to think that her propensity for inflicting pain is a passing thing. But then, I realize we’ve been together for five years and she’s been marking me up the whole time—that’s more than “passing,” it’s become officially chronic. Now, she wants to amputate my little toe, cure it with some kind of chemical concoction, mount a jump-ring on it, thread it with a piece of rawhide, and wear it around her neck, making a fashion statement on love’s commitment. The only objection I had was that she wanted to paint my toenail “Essie—Easily Red.” I thought that shade of red was too festive. I thought “Shades of Red—Rust” was more appropriate for an amputated toe. It had a somber tone to it. After a brief argument, we settled on Rust.

The time came to amputate my toe. We decided that since I was right-handed I would miss my right toe more than my left toe, so we went with the left toe. I was wearing shorts and removed my Birkenstock from my left foot. Everything for the “operation” was laid out on the TV tray table: a zip-loc bag, a roll of surgical bandage, adhesive tape, scissors, a washcloth, and hedge clippers. Everything was fine until I saw the hedge clippers. They reminded me of the hell my father put me through clipping our twelve-foot high hedge. I was 14 and I would fall off the ladder, once enduring a mild concussion that set me back learning arithmetic—a setback I never quite recovered from. I would get blisters on my hands from the clippers, and knock birds’ nests to the ground at my father’s prompting. It was truly devilish work. Now, my toe was to be amputated with hedge clippers! “No!” I yelled and ran out the door and down the stairs wearing only my right Birkenstock. Halfway down, I tripped a fell and rolled onto the lawn.

I think my girlfriend had given me some kind of sedative in my Matcha to prepare me for surgery. I was having trouble moving, and through my double vision, I saw Mr. Rainy the maintenance man headed straight at me on his zero-turn lawnmower! He was hoisting a bottle of beer to his lips and wasn’t watching where he was going. I yelled as loud as I could, but between the engine noise and his noise-cancelling earmuffs, Mr. Rainy couldn’t hear me.

I caught a glimpse of my girlfriend standing on the stairs, doing nothing. Mr. Rainy saw me at the last second and whipped off to the left and shut the mower down. He helped me up and called a cab. I was going to stay with my friend Jessica. She was a geek—not the nerdy type, but the circus sideshow type. She raised hamsters for her act and was notorious for her performance reprising “Nightmare Alley.” We got along well. One day, I looked out the window and there was my old girlfriend down at the street slowly making a cutting motion with her hedge clippers. She did this every day for a week. Then, she disappeared forever. Luckily, I had gotten my stuff out of the apartment one day when she was at work at the tattoo parlor.

I never saw her again after what turned out to be her last hedge clipper performance. I had my life back. When I talked about her to people who asked I would say “I severed my relationship with her. I cut off all ties. It wasn’t brain surgery.” Nobody got the jokes. I didn’t care. Living with Jessica was wonderful. Her biting sense of humor headed off all my gloom.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Skotison

Skotison (sko’-ti-son): Purposeful obscurity.


Ever since I went to work for the Agency, I’ve been at risk of being compromised. I shouldn’t even be writing this. But I think you have a need to know. After all, your tax dollars are funding my activities—you should know, to some extent, where those dollars are going. Sure, we have poison candy bars, knock out gas, minuscule video cameras, sonic shock wave brain mooshers and a whole pharmacy’s worth of pills and injectables. You want your target to think they’re a raccoon? We’ve got it. You want your target to tell you everything they know? We’ve got it. You want your target to beg to die. We’ve got it. In sum, you name it, we’ve got it, or we’ll make it. Then there are the weapons. My all-time favorite is the poison-tipped umbrella. The exploding condom is fierce too. It can be programmed with its special timer to explode pre- or post-sexual activity. The exploding soup spoon works in a similar way, but it is detonated by the operator squeezing their thighs together. The list of lethal devices is nearly endless. One of the newest devices we have is the mosquito bomb. It isn’t a spray, ha, ha. It is a perfect replica of a mosquito, down to its blood-sucking bite. When a target is bitten by it and slaps it, it explodes, causing severe pain and rendering the target vulnerable to capture or termination. It works great in warm climates where mosquitos are rampant. But it’s been used successfully in New Jersey too.

So, how do we communicate with each other when we are on clandestine missions, or we want to cheat on our spouses? Ha ha! The cheating thing is a joke. How can I feel “safe” talking about a target that’s in view, when my position could be comprised, and I could be identified and killed or captured? It’s easy. We use a code that changes daily. The hard part is receiving the daily code. In most parts of the world, we have resorted to trained birds to deliver the codes. For example, in Venice, Italy we use pigeons. The operator goes to Piazza San Marco early in the morning, pretending to be a tourist—wearing shorts. He throws a handful of bread out on the ground. The pigeons flock, but one lands on his hand clutching the daily code in a little plastic capsule. The operative grabs and pockets the capsule, and is ready for the day. So, it’s pretty much the same everywhere: Magpies in London, England; Pelicans in Florida and California, Flamingos in Africa, Penguins in Australia and Argentina. Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list—our bird operators are everywhere.

The code is used for voice radio transmissions. But what about the code itself? It is called the WHACK Code. It got its name because it produces nonsense to people who don’t have the code. Two people must possess the code for it to be coherent. The code consists of randomly generated words paired with other randomly generated words. So, you may have “armpit” paired with “bicycle.” So, you might say “My—I WHACK—armpit—I UNWHACK—has a flat tire.” Of course, in a real message, the WHACKING would be more lengthy. In the example “flat tire” would be WHACKED too. One of the most interesting encryption devices, though, is the M-6 A1 Cootie Catcher/Paper.

The M-6 A1 was first used by the Union precursor of CIA. Like a traditional cootie catcher, it had a series of answers printed on it that were vague enough to accommodate questions regarding the future and the past, but not specific facts. In the M-6 A1, this was a ruse—a cover for what the Union operator was doing. As we know, the cootie catcher’s points are manipulated by the “Teller’s” fingers which are inserted in the cootie catcher’s folds, and squeezed in and out a few times before revealing the answer. The Union spies learned what was called the “squeeze code,” a sort of sign language operative in the Teller’s squeezes and communicating intelligence to the “Reader.”

Since I’ve been in the hospital, I am starting to see that everything isn’t an encrypted message, it’s just natural phenomena like the wind blowing, or something said that means what it says, like “Hi.” For example, I heard the wind “cry Mary,” but my name is Edwin, so I wasn’t troubled one bit. Or, my therapist said “bowling ball” yesterday. It was clear that he has talking about his head. Normally, “cueball” would be used, but as my condition improves I can pick up a few nuances of meaning that don’t have to be attributed to spies following me around speaking in code.

Soon, I’ll get out of this place. I will complete my MFA and continue my waltz with words and dip my duct tape soul shoe in lightly battered posey.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Syllepsis

Syllepsis (sil-lep’-sis): When a single word that governs or modifies two or more others must be understood differently with respect to each of those words. A combination of grammatical parallelism and semantic incongruity, often with a witty or comical effect. Not to be confused with zeugma: [a general term describing when one part of speech {most often the main verb, but sometimes a noun} governs two or more other parts of a sentence {often in a series}].


When I met with the Dean, I never raised my expectations for what he would have to say, or my estimation of his right to be sitting there in his ostentatious leather swivel chair. My chair, in the Rhetoric Department, was squeaky, and uncomfortable, and it’s wheels had been stolen when I was off-campus on leave. One week after I returned from leave, and was sitting on a bench eating lunch and watching people on the quad, I saw my chair-wheels attached to a skate board rolling past me. I yelled “You thief! Give me back my wheels!” Without even looking at me, the thief gave me the double finger and continued to roll wherever he was going. I yelled “You little shit!” as he headed down the hill. There was an audible “gasp” from the people sitting near me when I said “shit.”

I am here in Dumbo Dean’s office because of what I yelled. According to University Regulation 2.2 under “Prohibited Judgment-Words,” faculty are barred from using “shit, poop, steamer, Lincoln Log, Snake Charmer, Groaner or any other name connoting or denoting a bowel movement and/or fecal matter to refer to and/or demean a student, their family, or their friends.”

Well, I thought, we don’t even know whether this kid is a student. Then I noticed there was a kid sitting outside Dean Numbnuts office. He had a skateboard on his lap—with my chair-wheels screwed onto it. He was the little shit. I recognized him. It was Puster Twupe. His ancestors had paid for and built the university at the beginning of the 19th century. The university charter said all Twupes would be admitted to the university, attend free of charge and be immune from disciplinary charges for their behavior. This last provision was included because the Twupes had a predisposition for misbehavior, up to, and including the fatal bell tower accident in 1888. Many university presidents had tried to have the immunity clause removed from the charter. One President was beaten to death with a field hockey stick, and another was killed when a Bunson burner was stuck up his rectum and turned on. The gas blew him up like a balloon, and then, he exploded in flames.

Bozo the Dean told me if I apologized to “Mr. Twupes” we could forget the entire incident, and, I may get my chair-wheels back. Otherwise, I would be terminated from the university, my pension would be rescinded, and my campus burial plot would be returned to the university. Puster made a little snorting sound when Diaper Dean got to the bit about my burial plot. I didn’t care.

As Chair of the Rhetoric Department for the past 40 years, I had embezzled nearly $2,000,000 from operating funds with fake equipment purchases, trips to nowhere, fake guest speaker fees, and “miscellaneous” supplies. I had also actually purchased a departmental sailboat, “intended” for departmental bonding actives, but really, for my eventual getaway to the Caribbean. I had named it “Freedom.” So, I told Dean Dud to go fuck himself with the apology. Puster said “Wo dude,” as I walked out the door and into the rest of my life. I wanted to murder the little shit, and I thought I had a plan.

We agreed to meet up in the bell tower that night at 11.00. I told him I had an ounce of crack I needed to unload before I disappeared forever. He said “Righteous” which I assumed meant yes. Standing by the tower rail, he told me with a smug look on his face that he wasn’t really a Twupes, and I had been totally duped by him. But I was going to push him into oblivion no matter what. “What’s your mother’s name?” I asked. He said “Marcia Rocnkburg, she was knocked up by a professor, who got away with it because back then faculty and students were allowed to have sex. The University granted her child Twupes status to shut her up. My name was legally changed and I’ve been living as a Twupes ever since. ” “I knew it. You’re my goddamn son!” I yelled as I pushed the little shit over the tower railing and listened for the dull thud when he finished his fall.

As I untied “Freedom” from the dock, and the wind pushed into her sails, I thought about Marcia Rocnkburg, who had disappeared a few days after giving birth, and had been missing for nearly 20 years.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Symploce

Symploce (sim’-plo-see or sim’-plo-kee): The combination of anaphora and epistrophe: beginning a series of lines, clauses, or sentences with the same word or phrase while simultaneously repeating a different word or phrase at the end of each element in this series.


If there was one thing I hated, it was paper towels. They were too easy to tear off and use. They set the expectation that you’d blot up every damn spill, no matter how small. They set the expectation that you’d swish a towel around on droplets of liquid, no matter how small. Well, maybe it wasn’t the towels that set the expectation. It was actually my mother.

There were so many rules about cleaning up I grew up thinking the world is a dirty place—a place where micro-bits of rat poop could be mixed into your breakfast cereal, fingernail clippings in your potato chips, parasites in your lightly grilled cod, microscopic mites in your Graham crackers—the list is nearly endless. Mother wore a jeweler’s loupe around her neck. Even though she cooked it, we had to pass plates to her so she could microscopically examine our food for “potentially fatal” unauthorized ingredients.

If we were watching TV and one of us farted into a couch cushion, mother would yell “Unauthorized emission!” turn off the TV, chase us off the couch, wheel her drum of Lysol up to the couch, and pump and spray until she was satisfied that the “gaseous matter” had been dispelled, and the “nasal and pulmonary dangers” had been eliminated. Then, she’d turn the TV back on like nothing had happened while the rest of us sat on the Lysol-soaked couch. You can imagine what would happen if somebody farted in the family car! Once, we rolled down the windows for 100 miles in winter, even though it was only 25 miles to Grandma’s house. It was 3 below zero and I got frostbite on my ears. My mother told me it was better than being gassed and maybe going blind, or becoming “a basket case.”

When I went away to college, I couldn’t escape Mother’s influence. While other kids got snacks, and socks, and other things in their care packages, I got cleaning supplies. Once, my mother sent me a case of Clorox sanitizing wipes. It would take a normal person a year to use them up, but Mom reckoned she would have to replenish my supply in two weeks. She even sent me a custom-made holster to carry my wipes in—wearing them on my hip like a gunslinger.

Since I have graduated from college, I have broken most contact with my family, especially my mother, whose sanitary mania drove me away. Since the estrangement, I have gone to the other extreme. I smell like a blend of B.O. and unwashed butt. I don’t even look at my food before I eat it. The floor is sticky with untended spills. The bathroom is a mildew garden. The kitchen is a roach rodeo when the lights go out. In short, my apartment is teeming with life, but it smells really bad. So, I bought some Lysol. I told myself, “This is a one-time thing to kill the smell.” I took a shower before I went to the grocery store. When I got back to the apartment, I sprayed a couple of bursts of Lysol around.

I could feel a change was starting to flow over me. Although I had thought I had made a clean break from the past, things were bubbling up, and washing my preconceptions down the drain. I needed balance—we all need balance, everywhere in our lives, or else we wreck our own and others’ lives. I vaguely remembered from college, the Greek blabbermouth Aristotle, who makes us all look feeble minded, came up with the Golden Rule—not too much, not too little. Kind of like Goldilocks’ take on mattresses, and porridge, and other things. I took a sniff of my apartment and it all made sense. After spraying a little Lysol around, the smell had lifted. It hardly smelled at all—it smelled just right. I called my mother for the first time in months and told her what had happened. She told me I was in danger, and not to let my guard down. Just to be safe, I hung up and sprayed some more Lysol around the apartment and wiped down the kitchen counters with disinfectant.

Balance. I needed balance. Everything was going be just right.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Synaloepha

Synaloepha (sin-a-lif’-a): Omitting one of two vowels which occur together at the end of one word and the beginning of another. A contraction of neighboring syllables. A kind of metaplasm.


It was Halloween. The kids were finally old enough to go out on their own. Mickey was going trick or treating as a mower man, pushing our old broken rotary lawnmower around the neighborhood, wearing overhauls, boots, a t-shirt and a New York Yankees ball cap. Our daughter Roxanne was going out as a big lump of bituminous coal with “No Coal” painted on the front and back. We were left at home alone with two big bowls of candy—one filled with little ‘mprinted heart candies left over from Valentine’s Day, the other, filled with homemade candy I had made—cubes of sugar soaked in cherry Kool-Aid with a raisin on top. The raisins had kept falling off so I had glued them on with maple syrup and kept them in the freezer overnight. We were dressed all in black to try to be scary. We were a little eccentric, but that’s what we liked about us. The children headed out, each carrying a laundry basket for the candy they would collect—a family tradition. About five minutes later, the doorbell rang. Three little costumed guests pushed through the door and stood silently by the candy bowls.

They were weird looking. They wore black robes touching the floor, a small fire extinguisher on their backs, eye-masks, and knitted hats with a logo that looked like a liver with feet and raised arms with blue, very hairy, armpits. “What team is that on your hats?“ I asked. Their little eye holes flashed twice, once green once blue. I thought how clever they were to use solar-powered Christmas lights that way, but they didn’t answer my question. I was starting to think they were rude—they barged into our house and didn’t answer my innocuous question. I looked at my husband and he just smiled. I asked them if they were going to take candy. Once again, their eyes flashed twice, this time once red and once yellow. Then they immediately and simultaneously drew what looked like 1950s Buck Rogers Sonic Ray Guns from their robes. Playing along, I raised my hands and cried: “Ooh, don’t shoot me little Moon men!” That was a mistake. There was a flash of light and a tickling feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t move or talk. My husband was gone. A least I was conscious.

I was being dragged toward an old, rusted, dented up green Jeep Cherokee. It had tinted windows all the way around and NY vanity plates reading “BLASTOFF.” After a bit of a struggle, I landed on my back, buckled into a reclining seat, like a chaise lounge. I was shocked when I looked around. The Jeep was loaded with lit up consoles, some with what looked like typical computer and video screens, others I guessed, after all that had happened, with some kind of extraterrestrial technologies. That is, I came to the realization that my cute little “trick or treaters” were abducting me, and there was nothing I could do about it. They were actual space aliens on a mission to earth.

Suddenly I felt I had turned into a warm ocean wave. I closed my eyes and I could see my brain pulsing wildly, pushing out aloha shirt prints and finally turning into a baked ham with pineapple and maraschino cherries. Then it all stopped. We had arrived. My restraint unbuckled. The door opened and I stepped out. It was a beautiful day. The air smelled like jasmine and there was a tall woman walking toward me. She was smiling. It was Amelia Earhart! She reached out and we shook hands. She told me the “one good thing about this place is you don’t age—you’re immortal.” I was completely taken aback and thought I was hallucinating. But I wasn’t. Amelia was really there, but nobody knew why we were there. She invited me to dinner that night with Jimmy Hoffa and Anastasia Romanov. We had a wonderful time and I couldn’t help but wonder why a nobody like me had landed here.

I miss my family, but the longer I am away from them, the less I miss them, especially my husband who is a certified asshole. I have been dating D.B. Cooper for 4 years. We went parachuting again last week. I loved it. He is hot with the parachute and the sunglasses. He wants to get married. I told him I wouldn’t marry him in 100 years. He took off his sunglasses and said, “I can wait.”


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Synathroesmus

Synathroesmus (sin-ath-res’-mus): 1. The conglomeration of many words and expressions either with similar meaning (= synonymia) or not (= congeries). 2. A gathering together of things scattered throughout a speech (= accumulatio [:Bringing together various points made throughout a speech and presenting them again in a forceful, climactic way. A blend of summary and climax.])


Prince Marnold was born to the Duke and Duchess of Oxford on the eve of 1614. There was a chill that arose with his first cries, despite the fact that the massive fireplace in the Duchess’s bedchamber was roaring, producing four-foot high flames. She shivered as she held the infant close and thanked God for his uneventful birth. She could hear the wind whistling through the corridor, and the snow brushing on the chamber’s windowpane as she thought about tiny Marnold’s future: “Music! Music will be his life.”


It was Prince Manold’s 16th birthday, an auspicious time for an Oxford Royal. It was when his childhood commitments were either cast off in favor of more attractive pursuits, or they would be fervently embraced and further developed. Of course, Marnold had been following music almost since he was born. He had mastered nine instruments, but was especially good at musical composition—producing innovative and provocative works, and even inventing a musical instrument, that sadly, had brought scandal and shame to his family. It was a 3-foot long ceramic phallus that was played by sitting on a stool, putting it between one’s legs, and stroking it up and down with both hands, which were resined and made a provocative moaning sound. He called it the The Moaning Maypole. He first played it as a surprise at his mother’s birthday party. When he took it out of its case there were gasps, and applause, and his mother passed out. When she reawakened, the Duchess, in her bed upstairs, was determined that Prince Marnold would never touch a musical instrument again. His birthday choice would take him in a new direction.

When his 16th birthday arrived, she summoned the Prince to tell him of her wish, a wish that was actually a command in the hierarchy of the family. She was a little concerned about his reaction, given that Marnold had some ugly habits, the worst of which was butchering rats and other small animals and hanging their dripping skins from the stables’ rafters.

The Duchess told Marnold of her decision that he take a new turn, and supervise the serfs in the fields. He went mad. His music was everything to him. It was his comfort, his desire, his direction, his life’s meaning, his one love. Then, he thought of his dripping animal skins hanging in the stables. He thought of the shining butcher knife in the drawer in the scullery where rabbits and other small animals were gutted, skinned, and dismembered. Then, he thought of his mother, no better than a rat for what she was doing to him.

The next day, the Duchess and her son took a walk in the fields so she could show him the lay of the land and prepare him to undertake their supervision. When they got down into a gully, out of sight, Marnold pulled out the butcher knife and murdered his mother. He did it swiftly and cut a rectangle from the back of her gown, and then, using his self-taught skinning skills, removed a corresponding rectangle of his mother’s skin from her back. Then, he buried his mother deep in ground. She was never found, but a headstone was placed in memoriam at Wolvercote Cemetery. Marnold kept the flesh rectangle.

Out of pure malevolence, Marnold dried and cured the rectangle of his mother’s skin so it had the consistency of parchment paper, making it into a music sheet upon which he intended to compose her requiem. He died before he could do so when he fell off a balcony at the Jay Bird’s Beak, the village pub. His belongings were stored away in a large trunk, with what proved to be an impenetrable lock. Many, many years later, it was found and sold at auction to an antiques dealer on London’s Portobello Road. He shoved it into a warehouse where it sat untouched for twenty-some years more. One night, thieves broke into the warehouse, spotted the trunk, smashed it open, and stole its contents, including the Duchess-skin music sheet. One of the thieves was an aspiring musician. He was delighted with the music sheet and wrote a composition on it. It was set to debut by his rock band, The Smooths, at the Tornado, a popular pub in Notting Hill. At the first note played, the music sheet screamed as if it were in horrendous pain and fell writhing to the floor. The Tornado cleared out in two seconds, except for a filthy teenaged boy. He screamed “It’s my mother,” snatched up the squirming music sheet, and ran out the pub’s door, where he disappeared into the night.

The band was dumbstruck. There were so many questions. They decided not to ask them, and instead, decided to get ready for their next gig, in Cambridge. The thief-composer swore he would go straight, even if he had to get a real job.

Occasionally, people report a sort of musical moaning sound coming out of High Gate Cemetery. Most people think it’s couples using the cemetery as a secluded place to have sex, but there’s an ethnomusicologist who believes it sounds like Prince Marnold’s “Moaning Maypole” that he had heard played from behind a curtain, due to its salaciousness, at the V&A in London. Could it be the ghost of Prince Marnold seeking further revenge on his murdered mother by playing the moaning musical instrument she hated? Or, is it simply the wind blowing past the large culvert down in the gully by the cemetery’s western wall, which, by the way, has provided shelter to vagrants and scoundrels since the 1840s?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Syecdoche

Synecdoche (si-nek’-do-kee): A whole is represented by naming one of its parts (or genus named for species), or vice versa (or species named for genus).


I pulled my blade out of my pocket, pressed the button and felt it open firmly in my hand, making the lovely dull clicking sound a switchblade is known for. The steel blade gives me goosebumps as it flashes in the candle light. We’re at our favorite Italian restaurant—Parmesan Party—where my great-grandfather’s crew met for Sunday dinners back in the late 1940s. The waiter knew if he gave me any shit about my knife, I’d have one of his kidneys for dinner, and he would be lying dead in a back room somewhere, wrapped in a sheet, resting in peace.

The red plaid table cloth, the basket of bread and breadsticks, the tub of butter, the little pitchers of wine and water, the soft cloth napkins, the shining plates and silverware, and Dean Martin wafting through the air, were like traveling through time in a time machine made in Jersey City. I always had the veal saltimbocca. I could see my Great Grandfather sitting there with two goons standing behind him, ready to take a bullet if there was any trouble. I was sitting there in my short pants with suspenders and a white short sleeve shirt, like Pinocchio, our family’s guardian imp. I was so glad I didn’t have to wear the stupid hat, and that I was a “real” boy.

My father, the youngest member of the crew, was fidgeting in his chair and looking over his shoulder toward the restaurant’s entrance. Suddenly, four guys burst through the front door, pointing pistols out in front of them and firing as fast as they could pull their triggers. They killed everybody except me and my dad. In an act of treachery almost as bad as Pearl Harbor, my father had conspired with the Pronto family to have his own family whacked.

Revenge, vendetta and all the other stretched out hatreds were a normal part of life in my culture, but apparently not any more. I was marrying Mary Pronto the next day, 20 years later. This was an instance of hatchet burying on a par with a signature on a treaty. Mary and I didn’t like each other, but we had to do what we had to do. Taking no chances myself, on our wedding day I was wrapped in three layers of Kevlar underneath my monkey suit. When we got to the part of the ceremony where we put on rings, I reached in my pocket, pulled out my switchblade—my great grand father’s switchblade—pushed the button and jammed the blade into Mary’s chest. I ran out of the church in the middle of a phalanx of my family’s good fellas. The Pronto’s dared not shoot, afraid of killing one of their own. Also, in typical mob fashion, no investigation was undertaken, and no charges were pressed out of respect for my “balls.” I still hold a grudge against my father though, but he’s my father. So, I leave him alone.

The family’ next job is the Trump campaign. He’s a piece of shit, but the money’s good and his daughter Ivanka is a real piece of ass.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Synomia

Synonymia (si-no-ni’-mi-a): In general, the use of several synonyms together to amplify or explain a given subject or term. A kind of repetition that adds emotional force or intellectual clarity. Synonymia often occurs in parallel fashion. The Latin synonym, interpretatio, suggests the expository and rational nature of this figure, while another Greek synonym, congeries, suggests the emotive possibilities of this figure.


Big, large, voluminous. That’s how I thought of my mind, somehow equating spaciousness with intelligence. I thought, the more room, the more intelligence. I thought my mind was like Grand Central Station in NYC. But then I realized Grand Central Station was like a toilet—filling and flushing over and over with noisy crowds of human beings, until it quieted at night, whittling down to the P.A. system’s solo announcements of arrivals and departures, offered to the trickle of people coming and going on the late night trains.

Then, I thought “Why do I need a metaphor for my mind anyway?” I was racking my brain, and in mid-rack I was startled. I was metaphorically subjecting my brain to a form of torture—the rack— invented c. 1420 “to extract confessions and incriminating information from suspected traitors, heretics, and conspirators.” I was now experiencing my mind as a rebellious, secret-keeping, traitor. But who was the “I” doing the torturing—inflicting pain on my mind and “racking” it to get it to tell me it’s hidden secrets, revelations, and insights, knowing full well that it could be lying to shield me from some unpalatable trait that I would otherwise manifest. Could it’s revelation change my life? What if I was a serial killer, inactive because I didn’t know I was one—saved by my lying mind’s sublime misdirection? It was almost like “I” was The Grand Inquisitor stretching my mind, until, it would snap and spill out the truth. It seemed like it would be similar to a malfunctioning washing machine flooding a laundromat floor with a foaming mess and offering freedom in an organic blend of scented powders.

The guy who sold me the little pink pill with Porky Pig imprinted on it, had assured me it was recreational, just what I needed to “see” and to answer the big questions. As far as I could see, I was asking questions, but I wasn’t able to see the value, or even possibility, of answering my own questions. The dangerous obsessions with the size of my head induced by the Porky Pig Pill were trickling into the workday when I was supposed to be a hairstylist, snipping and clipping my clientele—restoring their beauty, and sweeping up afterwards. To properly cut hair, I had to be in control—I could wreck somebody’s ‘look’ for a month with just, as they say, “A slip of the wrist.”

Today, my wrist was slipping. I had to make up new names for the hairstyle messes my errant wrists snipped and clipped into being: “Sideburn Ire,” “Boxcar Bangs,” and “Cranial Zig-Zag” are just a few. I pulled it off for a couple of hours, and had to go home so I could put my mind back on the rack. I got to my apartment. I unlocked the door and opened it. I wasn’t surprised. There was big fat man standing in my living room wearing a cheap, frayed, black Inquisitor’s suit. “You called?” he asked in a pleasant and cheerful voice, as if he had been invited to my birthday party. He sat on my couch and asked for something to drink. That’s when I noticed his portable rack set up in my bedroom. I got him a gin and tonic and headed for the bathroom where I could look in the mirror and see me seeing me, and find the “emergency come-down pills” my brother had given me in my Christmas stocking last year. They were guaranteed to stem the psychedelic tide. I slammed down five, and in minutes they started to take effect. I looked across the living room and the Inquisitor was starting to tile like a broken image streaming on a computer screen. Then, he disappeared. I was a little rattled by the glass left on the coffee table—“I put that there,” I told myself. I went into my bedroom to take a nap—this had been a harrowing day. But it wasn’t over: the portable torture rack was still sitting by the window. I folded it up a threw it out the window. It sounded like it landed with a dull thud on top of my wonderful neighbor Edwina. I ran downstairs. Edwina was dead. Somehow, the portable rack had become my bowling ball. It was embedded in the top of Edwina’s head. I am out on bail now and going on trial next week for negligent homicide. I am certain that my testimony and my doctor’s testimony will secure me a place in Gracie Square Hospital.

I will never rack my brain again. Instead, I think I’ll cultivate it like a tomato. I will have ripe and juicy thoughts.

And oh, no more Porky Pig Pills unless it’s a long weekend and I’m tied to a chair.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Synthesis

Synthesis (sin’-the-sis): An apt arrangement of a composition, especially regarding the sounds of adjoining syllables and words.


I dreamed again of fields of diamonds glistening in the sun—projecting fiery shards of a powerfully colored spectrum of light. I was harvesting diamonds, picking up the biggest ones from the ground and stuffing them in the red silk sack hanging from my shoulder. The sack said “Three Beers,” the name of the mining company growing the diamonds in the fields, which were in Southern New Jersey, in the Pine Barrens near Buddtown. The fields are surrounded by electrified fences, CCTV, minefields and patrolling thugs from Philadelphia and New York armed with grenade launchers, 60mm mortars, and AR15s.

The harvested diamonds were loaded into armored dump trucks, covered with tarps, driven in a heavily armed convoy to New York, and delivered to The Diamond District to be cut, polished, graded, and sold.

My vivid detailed dreams, recurring over and over again became an obsession. Alone, I began scouring the Pine Barrens in my imagination, knowing I was acting like a mad man, and knowing I would never find the Diamond fields. Yet, my dream wouldn’t cease, as though it somehow connected to my waking life. I dropped out of school when I was sixteen so I could devote every minute of my life to the diamond hunt. My father called me a moron, my mother cried and my little brother wanted to quit the 3rd grade and come with me. I went to Dick’s and bought a back pack, a tent, a sleeping bag, a lantern, a cook stove, eating utensils, a water bottle, a can opener, a Swiss Army knife, some fishing gear, Bic lighters, and a single-barrel .410 shotgun. I had a Sportsman’s license, so I thought I would bag the occasional bass or squirrel, or rabbit and make a meal. I spent all the money I had. I hitch-hiked to Buddtown, found a trailhead, and started walking.

I was like a human bloodhound—sweeping every inch of sand and dirt in front of me, sometimes on my knees. After two weeks, I was ready to quit and go back to school. Since I’d been diamond hunting, my dreams had gone away. Then, one early morning I saw an old main kneeling by the trail and holding something between his thumb and forefinger and holding it up to the light, moving it around, and looking at it.

When he saw me, he pulled out a pistol, pointed it at me, and yelled “Get the hell outta here!” The pistol was old and rusty, and I was sure it wouldn’t work—it looked like something from the 18th century, and so did he. When I called his bluff, he disappeared. But he left what he had been peering at on the ground. It was a shard from a Coke bottle, probably from the early 20th century. That did it! I yelled “Glass!” I flipped out. I lit my backpack on fire, left all my stuff at my camp, except for the .410. Then I woke up—it was another damn dream. I felt a stinging in my hand. I had a small cut on the palm of my hand. There was blood on my sheet, but my hand had scabbed over. I jumped out of bed, fearful that I’d be cut again. I examined the sheets and found a small piece of greenish glass.

The cut hand drove the Diamond Dream Demons out of my head. Now, I have recurring dreams about my 7th Grade teacher. In the dreams, we sit naked on the beach at the Jersey Shore, and she tutors me in math while I sip a bottle of Coke.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Syntheton

Syntheton (sin’-the-ton): When by convention two words are joined by a conjunction for emphasis.


Peanut butter and jelly. Perhaps our first lesson in taking delight in the melding of unlike things—we see and taste the compounded edibles juxtaposed on two slices of bread—making a sandwich—a handwhich holding the potentially conflicted elements in a baked vise tightened by our fingertips as we pull out little semicircles following the curvature of our chomping teeth, then swallowing the mashed up mess, and maybe taking a gulp of milk to speed it down our throat.

You can choose what to slap on a sandwich. Whatever lands there, for better and for worse, is held there in your grip. In a way it’s like a belief—you hold it and it projects a future, but you don’t know how it’s going to work out—until you take it up, bite it, and chew it, and swallow it: until you eat it.


But all prepared food, except grilled meat, fowl, and fish, is a mixture—a mixture that is calibrated to the measure of the tongue and the gradual development of taste. Taste: a compelling inducement—maybe the most compelling inducement. The palate is a powerful competitor for truth’s clear gruel-like substance. Truth’s lack of flair, it’s flavorless presentation, it’s nearly invisible presence, has set it above taste in cultures that devalue desire and it’s earthly foundation, even if it may fail to influence anybody to do what’s right or good. But, truth can be put into a sandwich—a sloppy, dripping, tomato-laden, mayonnaise-soaked sandwich. Yum! The truth can taste good when it’s surrounded by condiments. Even baloney can help make the truth effective when it’s smeared with the right kind of mustard.! And perhaps, served with a slice of cheese on freshly baked rye bread.

A Parable of Desire

Once there was a man who loved Subway Sandwiches. He had eaten every sandwich Subway makes and became wise. If he had a decision to make, he would look at the Subway Menu, and remember each sandwich’s effect. One day, he had a particularly difficult decision to make. He had never been circumcised. His girlfriend was pressuring him to have his tip snipped even though he had just turned thirty. He had been studying his wrinkled Subway menu for hours, looking for a sandwich that would help him decide what to do. His eye fell on the Tuna sandwich: “Bite into it, and experience flavour that’s as fresh as an ocean breeze. Submerge yourself in its waves of unique taste!” He thought: “That’s it! I must free myself from staid misconceptions and leap into a new me as a circumcised man, with a fresh loaf of love! My girlfriend will hold me in higher esteem and will court my hooter in an attitude of total desire. Thank you Subway!”

Well, there we have it. For the man in the parable, happiness is a warm bun, packed with tuna salad. It is important to note that palates are as diverse as there are tastebuds. One man’s tuna is another man’s snot. So, you’ve got to discover the non-destructive desires that drive you ahead—the things you like that like you. When I’m in trouble and I need direction, I eat two or three brain-scarring jalapeños. I wear gloves and have a lot of water by my side. When I’m half-blinded and feel like I have a nuclear reactor melting down in my throat, the answer inevitably comes to me in the form of crying and running out the front door yelling “¡eureka!”

So, nobody’s perfect. If you can remember that, you have a chance.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Synzeugma

Synzeugma (sin-zoog’-ma): That kind of zeugma in which a verb joins (and governs) two phrases by coming between them. A synonym for mesozeugma.


I didn’t know what to do. I was cold, going into the cold, hard night, following nothing, aimless, rootless free of all restraint yet lost like a puppy. I wanted to whine—to sing the song of lost souls, to bang my head on the sidewalk, to tear at my already tattered custom-tailored suit, so lovingly and joyfully purchased in Paris last spring. I wore it to the opening of my play: “One Size Fits All.”

The play was about the invention of Spandex, and the threat it posed to cotton, linen, polyester, silk, and even leather. Tailors, cutters, and fitters would be doomed by a material needing none of the above to be made and sold. It was attractive and could carry any shape, color, or design. People started wearing Spandex “onesies” imprinted with the NYC skyline, their pets, themselves, and anything else that could be custom imprinted—some of it fairly disgusting. Spandex went to war with cotton t-shirts as a canvas for self-absorbed images. It was brutal and unprecedented in the history of fabrics. Cotton fields were poisoned. Spandex, being a polyether-polyurea copolymer, was impossible to easily destroy. It’s manufacturers’ factories in the US became armed garrisons, surrounded by electrified barbed wire fences, trenches filled with acid, and .50 caliber machine guns arrayed along newly constructed ramparts.

Of course, as any idiot could easily see, “One Size Fits All” was totally fictional! It is an allegory of capitalist competition run wild. It was intended as entertaining with a slight didactic edge. But the world we live in is crazy. An anonymous conspiracy theorist, whose screen name is Dr. Bite and who is remarkably influential, claimed on his website, “You Don’t Know, Do you?” that my play was a communist inducement to the Apocalypse—he implicated me as a propagandist and aspiring contributor to the end of the world, claiming that “one size fits all” is a cryptic reference to communist ideology, advocating the death of individualism; the first sign of the Apocalypse. Given the politics of the 21st century, my play was closed. The script was burned in public all over the US, and it’s burning had become the grand finale of torchlight parades. I was stripped of my MFA, and I was forever banned from the Dramatists Guild of America. But I was going to fight back!

Despite being, lost, alone, and depressed, and the Pariah King of New York, I had a handful of faithful friends who were funding my exit of the US and supporting my sojourn in Cuba, where I was to be protected like Salman Rushdie. I was supposed leave in one day.

I looked up from my pitiful reflection in the muddy puddle I was standing in. There was a man standing in front of me in a Spandex suit imprinted with a picture of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Also, he was holding a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. We locked eyes. I was terrified. He smiled and pointed a chicken drumstick at my head. “Here, take it. You must be hungry.” I recognized the voice—it was a guy I went to high school with—we called him Dimmy. He was stupid. He was on the football team, He was always weird. This was a coincidence from hell. I thanked him for he chicken and told him that I had to go and secure my place under the bridge underpass for the night. He said: “No, you’re leaving tonight.” I got an instant rush of total joy. We went to Newark and boarded a chartered jet. When I got off the jet, I knew I wasn’t in Cuba. It looked more like Texas, and I was introduced to Dr. Bite. “You work for me now,” he said with a grim look on his face. I got down on my knees and started banging my head on the tarmac, hoping my head would crack. It didn’t.

I have everything I need here except my freedom. I’m writing another “apocalyptic” play for Dr. Bite. He’s going to have it translated into Arabic and claim he found it in Saudi Arabia on the site of an excavation for a used-car lot in Riyadh. The play’s title is “Oil and Water.” It’s about Arab countries cornering the market on bottled water, charging outrageous prices, and forcing half the world’s population to die of thirst. Who would believe it? Would you believe it?

Hovering everywhere in Dr. Bite’s lair, there is a very old man in a wheelchair who’s clad in a sort of olive-brown suit. He is small and skinny. He said to me one day: ‘You know, son, in political speech, effectiveness is more important than the truth.” I could hardly understand him through his accent. His name was Glubbles or Gobbles or something like that and he had been “rescued and reincarnated” by Dr. Bite so he could continue his “good works.” I thought he was crazy like all of Dr. Bite’s associates. He looked familiar, though, but I couldn’t place him. He had a weird tic. When he would get excited, he would stick his right arm up in the air. Sometimes, even though he was in a wheelchair, he would click his heels together and yell “yah vol.”


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Systrophe

Systrophe (si’-stro-fee): The listing of many qualities or descriptions of someone or something, without providing an explicit definition.


Christmas’s was coming!

“Suit of red, big fat head.” “Felice nasal hair.” “Deck your balls with boughs of holly.” “Jingle bells, Santa smells.” “Rudolph the red-nose reindeer had a weeny like a hose.” “Away in a pager, no room for his meds.” “Walking in a wiener wonderland.” “Frosty the hit man.” “I am a poor boy, too, pa rum pum pum pum, I have no gift to bring, except this cheap Appleton rum.”

I thought I was so funny making fun of Christmas songs. Every year, I’d parade around the house insulting Sanata and blaspheming Jesus on his birthday. I was the only one who thought I was funny. I sang my version of “Felice Navidad” right before closing at the “Drunkin Do-nots” bar. The guy on the stool next to me, who I thought was my friend, whacked me on the head with a beer mug. On the way to the hospital, barely conscious, I started mumbling my version of “Jingle Bells.” The driver pulled the ambulance over to the side of the road. The EMT hovering over me told me “You’ll be rolling out the back door if you don’t shut the hell up.” I shut the hell up, the ambulance’s siren came back on, and off we went. I though I had only a mild concussion. I wasn’t going press charges against the jerk who had bopped me, although I wanted to. What kind of psychopath tries to murder somebody over a Christmas song? Santa? Ha! Ha!

The ambulance went silent. The driver and the EMT were gone. I was barely able to sit up. I looked out the window. Holy Shit! We were flying through the sky. There was an elf in a little green suit driving the ambulance now. And there was Santa, his reindeer and his sleigh keeping pace alongside us. Santa looked me in the eye gave me the finger, and peeled away. Instantly, the ambulance was back to normal, but I wasn’t. Everybody on board denied that anything unusual had happened. I was devastated: Santa had given me the bird. Why didn’t I listen?

For years, when I sang “Jingle bells Santa smells,” my little daughter would get REALLY upset. She would tell me that Santa will get really mad and may not come to our house. I thought what she said was really funny, and told her she shouldn’t believe stuff like that—it was stupid—there wasn’t even such a thing as Santa Claus. That was a huge mistake. I don’t know if she’ll ever forgive me. However, after my ambulance Santa experience, I became a believer, but she didn’t believe I believed. Truly a conundrum from hell.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I went to the mall to apologize to Santa, and have a picture taken of me on his lap as proof that we got along. When I sat on Santa’s lap, the mall disappeared in a flash of red and green light. We were sitting on a snowbank by a giant red and green striped candy cane with a sign that said “North Pole.” Santa told me to mellow out and quit acting like such an immature asshole. He told me to show more respect for my daughter’s feelings. He told me to hug her every day and tell her I love her. There were some other things he told me to do that I can’t disclose here, but suffice it to say I promised to do everything Santa told me to do.

Santa laughed his signature laugh—Ho, Ho, Ho—and we were back in the mall. Nobody seemed to have noticed what transpired. I went home and hugged my daughter and told her I love her, and this was just the beginning! I left Santa a gift under our tree. It was a new digital camera to replace the piece of crap he was using at the mall.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Tapinosis

Tapinosis (ta-pi-no’-sis): Giving a name to something which diminishes it in importance.


I’m 29 and they call me “Goo Goo.” It has got to be the worst nickname ever or anywhere. It is worse than “Dooley Burger” or “Biltong Butt” or, for sure, “Cabbage Breath.” As far as I know, it comes from the sound I made before I could talk. It was cute back then, but now I carry it everywhere—my boss at work even calls me Goo Goo: “Hey Goo Goo, bring me the Potcher real estate file.” The nickname has faded into the woodwork. It just seems “normal” to everybody to call a 29-year-old man Goo Goo. I used to say “please don’t call me that,” but I gave up. People would say “Ok Goo Goo,” or “Whatever you want Goo Goo,” and then just go on calling me Goo Goo. I thought, maybe if I changed my nickname I could escape Goo Goo. My Name is George Matlock. I though that “Mat” would be a good nickname. When people called me “Goo Goo,” I would say “Please call me Mat, it’s short for Matlock, my last name.” Not a single person honored my request, not even my mother. In fact, she was insulted and threatened to die at home instead of St. Martyr’s Nursing Home, where all I would have to do is visit every month, pawning off her end-of-life care on the good Sisters.

After exhausting all my nickname excising strategies, I decided to move somewhere far, far away from where “everybody knew my name.” I settled on Botswana, where I could get a job as a broker working in a diamond exchange. As far as I knew I was a complete stranger to everybody in the whole country of Botswana. I became Mat Matlock. Good solid Mat Matlock. Every time I said my name was “Mat,” a chill ran down my spine. I had “Mat” monogrammed on my shirt cuffs. I had a white hat that had “Mat” embroidered on it in giant red letters. I wore it to play golf. I had a water bottle that said “Mat.” Next, sitting in my living room on a Saturday afternoon, I was considering a “Mat” tattoo. The doorbell rang. I opened the door. It was a postman hand-delivering a piece of mail “forwarded all the way from the USA.” As the postman handed it over, to my horror I saw it was addressed to Goo Goo Matlock and it was from Publisher’s Clearing House. I asked the postman if anybody else had seen it. He said, “Well, Mr. Goo Goo, of course.” When I heard him say “Mr. Goo Goo,” a pain shot through my chest and I fell on the floor. I woke up in a hospital room. My wristband said “Goo Goo Matlock.” I tried to smother myself with my pillow, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. A nurse came in my room to administer my meds. She said, “Now, now Goo Goo, I’ll be taking care of you. We’ll get that mean old heart attack fixed.”

When my nurse said “Goo Goo,” all my anxieties faded away. Her “Goo Goo” had a magical effect. “How did you find me?” I asked. She looked shyly at the floor. She said, “I’ve always been here Goo Goo.” Again, I felt the magical inflow. She told me she was the guardian spirit I had unwittingly conjured as a little boy when I had said “Goo Goo” in my crib. She had nicknamed me “Goo Goo” and had implanted it in my mother’s head, and had spread it far and wide. I was dumbfounded, a little scared, but mostly angry. “Why did you make me suffer all those years, hating it, and being humiliated, every time I was called Goo Goo?” Tears came to her eyes—they were beautiful as they sparkled in the hospital room’s institutional light. “It’s about the lessons we must learn in life” That did it! All the suffering bullshit. It hurt. It was awful. I didn’t learn shit. I grabbed the water bottle from the bedside table, and aimed it for her head. The bottle hit her square on the forehead and her head burst into pastel-colored flames. There was a little man’s head inside her head yelling “Goo Goo” and laughing maniacally. Suddenly, she disappeared and my hospital wristband said “Mat Matlock.” The postman came to visit and he called me “Mat.” I was free!

Everybody was happy to see me when I came back to work at the diamond exchange. A huge blue diamond had been mined while I was gone. I was anxious to see it, so I went down to the vault to check it out. It was in a glass case with a name card leaning against it: “Goo Goo.” I felt like I was falling down an elevator shaft. I was shaking, pounding my forehead, and laughing maniacally. I was given an additional 2 weeks leave from work. I sought out a famous shaman from Zimbabwe. Together, we got on the internet and, along with numerous charms and potions, we Googled, and we found the Goo Goo spirit hiding as a photo of a Caramel Gooey Bite on a Quest Candy site—a very clever ruse for a Goo Goo. The Shaman whipped up a piece of anti-Goo Goo code, spoke an incantation, released the code on the Quest Candy site, and scrambled the Goo Goo once and for all.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Tasis

Tasis (ta’-sis): Sustaining the pronunciation of a word or phrase because of its pleasant sound. A figure apparent in delivery.


My mother was obsessed with Pandas. For her, they were “the cuuu-test creatures on God’s green earth.” She had a bamboo garden in the basement, lit by purple grow lights. She called it “Panda Acres” even though the “Acres” were growing in a 3-foot square box. She fervently hoped to feed a Panda in the basement some day. She had a gallery of “famous pandas” hanging on the living room wall. Andy Panda was most prominently displayed. In one picture Andy, and his sidekick Charlie Chicken, are pictured hoisting beer steins with their chests puffed way out. I always thought it was because they were proud of something, but my mom was convinced they were doing “healthy” breathing exercises.

She was concerned with panda health. Whenever a new panda was born in China, or at the zoo, we would hold a vigil, praying for the baby panda’s survival. Mom had a portable shrine mounted on roller skates. She would pull it out of my bedroom and make bamboo offerings and say brief prayers. My favorite was “Dear baby panda, listen to your mother, stand up straight, and don’t j-walk.” Sometimes we’d sit up all night, burning incense, drinking tea, and making up panda stories. Dad made up “The little panda who got a tattoo.” It was about a panda who joined a biker gang and raised hell all over New York. He had a tattoo of a devil-horned pangolin on his butt and swore a lot. For obvious reasons, my mother hated the tattoo story and would go “na, na, na” whenever my father started telling it.

One of my earliest memories is riding in a stroller on a warm spring morning wearing my panda suit. I wasn’t allowed to talk. I was only allowed to grunt like what we thought a panda would sound like. I was expected to hold my hands out too, like I was begging for bamboo. People thought I looked cute, but they did’t know what hell it was inside the suit. The worst was that the panda suit’s eyeholes weren’t lined up with my eyes. So, everything was sort of cut in half. When I got older, I had to wear a panda snowsuit when I walked to school. Mom made me carry a piece of bamboo and swish it around like a fly swatter. One day I couldn’t get my snowsuit off at school. After that, everybody called me Poo-Poo Panda. I didn’t like it.

But then the seventies came. I finished high school and moved away from home. I formed a rock band called “The Primo Pandas.” We wore panda face paint and had back-up dancers in full-on panda suits who frequently fainted in the middle of a set. The audience expected it, so the fainting always got some heavy applause. Our biggest hit was “Bam-bam-boo-boo, I’m gonna’ Chew ya’ Right Down.” John Lee Hooker’s lawyer told us he would’ve sued us for infringing on his “Boom, Boom,” but we were too pitiful to mess with. Despite that, John Lee sat in on a gig with us in Oakland, CA. He was truly a great man.

When things opened up further with China, we made millions touring—Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, etc. We merchandised the hell out of the panda suits and other items, like panda eye masks. When it was all over, I opened a Chinese restaurant back in New York with Xiu, the woman I had met (and married) on the tour in Shanghai. Along with other pictures (for example, me and Ringo waving bamboo branches) mom’s panda gallery graces the restaurant’s wall. All the staff wear panda suits, and the name of the restaurant is “Panda’s Trough,” and it’s themed like an upscale zoo cage. People love it!

Xiu and I are going to have a baby in about five months. She’s afraid it will look like a panda. So am I.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Thaumasmus

Thaumasmus (thau-mas’-mus): To marvel at something rather than to state it in a matter of fact way.


I had a real problem with envy. No matter what it was, I envied it. No matter what it was, I’d stand there with a frown on my face and say “Wow, that is sooo amazing, I want it. It will change my life.” My father mistakenly called my problem “greed.” He’d say “You’re a greedy little bastard, but at least you’re my little bastard.” It gave me great solace knowing that his figurative ownership of me helped soften his disappointment and disrespect. My Priest, Father Trinity, called it covetousness. He told me not to covet my neighbor’s house or wife. It had never occurred to me before he mentioned it. But, I vowed that when I got a little older, I would covet Mrs. Ringer, my next door neighbor. She always smiled at me when I peered over the fence at her when she was hanging out laundry. My high school gym teacher told me “There’s no I in envy.” He was completely wrong, but he used the “There’s no I in . . .” saying for everything. Once he said “There’s no I in dump truck.” It was true, but nobody understood the point he was trying to make.

So, I had this nagging pain in the pit of my stomach all the time. It was like I was constantly competing in a game that I couldn’t win. In the “enveysphere“ you never win, instead, you want. When the envy switch is turned on, you can’t or don’t have what you envy. For material possessions, if you obtain them, the envy may may fade away—your new Maserati, yacht, or Rolex may bring you peace. Nevertheless, one incentive to push hard through life, is to get rich and be envied, but, envy-inducing tokens are nearly endless—from underpants to undersea adventures, they add up to nothing. My problem is endless: I don’t care what you have. As long as I don’t have it, I envy it. The worst has to do with my looks: I am a godsend to my plastic surgeon. I’ve had my body adjusted and readjusted so many times, you wouldn’t recognize me from 10 years ago. I’ve even had things undone; my fat lips for example. I had them drained and they’ve yet to return to “normal.” My hair has been dyed so many colors that it has become an “unknown” color and it is being studied by Sherwin Williams technicians as a possible new hue for their paint palette. They’re considering calling it “Wall of Mystery.” It’ll be used to paint garage interiors or closets.

So, now I’m dying of envy. I used to say that as a metaphor that I never really thought about. But, now I am dying of envy. At some point, last year, I started envying dead people. I started going to funerals as a hobby. The deceased seemed to have it made, especially the ones reduced to portable urns. Since envying the dead has induced me to follow the dead, I feel like every day I’m more conscious of being closer to death, which, without the consciousness, is true of us all anyway. The problem is I can’t ask an urn of ashes, “How’s it going in there?” Unlike, asking “How’s your new condo?” with an answer returned by its owner, dead people don’t answer. But anyway, I’m still dying of envy. If it was cancer or COVID, it would be a different story. But for now, no matter how indiscernible or incremental, I am dying of envy because I envy the dead.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Timesis

Tmesis (tmee’-sis): Interjecting a word or phrase between parts of a compound word or between syllables of a word.


He threw the Barbie Doll at the wall with such force that it left Barbie’s face print in the plaster. My little sister screamed and I ran outside, I got on my tricycle, and sped down the street. My brother was knocking on the front door of the loony-boingo-bin. He was big for 12 and scared the hell out of people. Violence was always pending on his to-do list—like brushing his teeth, getting dressed, or breathing. My poor Ma spent most of her time hiding in the basement with my little sister. Dad worked 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week, at the GM plant making Chevy station wagons. When he got off work, no matter when it was, my brother would disappear, often with his friend Tucky.

Tucky was 5 years older than my brother, and a poisonous influence. As far as I was concerned he was a psychopath—I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew it was connected to crazy. I thought, maybe, that craziness was contagious, and that my brother was catching it from Tucky. The most horrendous thing they did was play catch with dead animals. If there was a road kill nearby, they scraped its flattened dried corpse off the street and tossed it back and forth between them. One day Tucky himself became roadkill, hit by a garbage truck he ran in front of on a dare, seeing how close he could come to the truck without being hit. I saw it all from the curb. It was horrifying and disgusting all at once. When his head hit the pavement, it was like a pumpkin smashed on the sidewalk on Mischief Night—but instead of seeds, there were brains. I threw up all over my shirt. My brother just stood there like a great burden had been lifted from his shoulders.

My brother was bad no more. He learned how to cook, made dinner frequently, and washed the dinner dishes every night. He helped Ma with the laundry, and read our little sister a story every night before tucking her in. She loved “The Cat in The Hat.” Dad and my brother finally crossed paths, actually got to know each other, and Dad would do things with my brother when he could, like play hit the bat, or Poker.

My brother had gone on an overnight “camporee” with his Boy Scout Troop, somewhere along the Passaic River. That night, I was headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth when I glanced into my brother’s bedroom and I saw a little piece of fur hanging from between his bed’s mattress and box spring. Curious, I went into his room and lifted the mattress. There were four dried out flattened animals under his mattress—all roadkills: 2 squirrels, 1 Starling, and 1 toad. I didn’t know what to do.

When he returned from his camporee, I asked him about the flattened animals he was sleeping with. He laughed and told me not to worry. He told me one of his Superman comics had an ad for a mail order taxidermy/leather crafting school. He had sent away for the “kit,” paying for it with his earnings from mowing lawns and his paper route. A couple of days later, he made a hat like Davy Crockett’s out of one of the squirrels, and wore it to school. He was an instant celebrity, and more. He had given the squirrel skin hat glow-in-the-dark button eyes. Everybody wanted to get in the janitor’s closet with him to see them glow.

I was still worried about my brother. Then, a mystery creep showed up in our town: “The Pinkie Chopper.” He wore a balaclava and would follow his victims from the GM plant, chop off their pinkies, and bag them. At first, I thought my brother was involved, but no, he had become a model human being! On the other hand, his room was starting to smell pretty bad, and there was a balaclava hanging from his bedpost.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99.

Topographia

Topographia (top-o-graf’-i-a): Description of a place. A kind of enargia [: {en-ar’-gi-a} generic name for a group of figures aiming at vivid, lively description].


“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” I knock the heels of my laceless sneakers together. I don’t even know where home is anymore: not like Dorothy. It was Kansas where she was from and it was Kansas she went back to. I’m not going back to anywhere except a mess hall, a license plate machine, and an exercise yard. But, I can hope. I don’t have ruby slippers, but I can hope.

I shot my boss between the eyes when I caught him with my sleaze-ball wife at a low budget motel—Dream Weaver—on Rte. 46 outside of Dover. I’d bought the Glock down in South Carolina, “just in case.” It was initially for home defense, but it ended up serving a higher purpose.

I’d had an eye on my wife and boss since the office Christmas party when they disappeared just long enough to “do the deed.” So, I started following my wife, and one Saturday, she went “grocery shopping” at Dream Weaver Motel. The boss’s Land Rover was parked next to my wife’s Ford Fiesta. That was it! I jacked a round into the Glock, ran to the door, shot the hell out of it, and kicked it open. The two of them were huddled naked in a corner of the room, begging. I shot out the TV, then I stuck the gun out in front of me, marched up to my boss, and blew a hole in his forehead. At least he said he was sorry before I offed him. The only reason I didn’t shoot my wife was because I didn’t want our kid to end up in an orphanage, or our dog Rusty in an animal shelter.

The murder earned me a home for life, by the grace of the state of New Jersey. My “home” is about the size of two windowless refrigerator boxes—the whole thing is made of stainless steel, except for the floor, which is sealed concrete. My en-suite toilet has no seat and it affords me the convenience of not having to remember to put anything down after going. I have a narrow bed sticking out of the wall with a 2” thick mattress with no sheet, just a suicide-proof blanket. There’s also a tiny pillow with no pillow case— it’s like trying to rest your head on a doormat. I have a small desk that sticks out of the wall, with a hurl-proof chair affixed to rails. I also have a laptop with no internet connection, and the world’s smallest flat screen TV. I watch FOX News all day, and at night too. I find the truth refreshing.

Believe it or not, my wife comes to visit. It has something to do with her therapy. I ask her about the kid and the dog and if she was able to easily wash off the boss’s blood. She inevitably starts to gag, and then I make my hand into a gun shape and point it at her. She picks up her purse and runs for the exit. This happens every time she visits. Since she keeps coming back, her therapy must be working. I know mine is!


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Traductio

Traductio (tra-duk’-ti-o): Repeating the same word variously throughout a sentence or thought. Some authorities restrict traductio further to mean repeating the same word but with a different meaning (see ploce, antanaclasis, and diaphora), or in a different form (polyptoton). If the repeated word occurs in parallel fashion at the beginnings of phrases or clauses, it becomes anaphora; at the endings of phrases or clauses, epistrophe.


I went into Bohm’s Department store. I was looking for some socks, and maybe, some kind of appliance—a blender? A pasta machine? Anything, maybe, to plug in the kitchen wall. I could feel a pee coming on, so I ducked into the “anybody goes” restroom and locked the door. For some reason I had to pee really badly. I stood in front of the urinal, spread my feet, unbuttoned my pants and pulled them halfway down my butt, fished around for my weenie, pulled it out and started to pee into the urinal, imagining it was my Life Coach Brad’s face. I peed, and then I peed some more, and some more, and some more. I just kept peeing and peeing. I had peed for at least five minutes when I became panic stricken. Was I going to dry out and die? Would I ever stop peeing? Should I call 911? Should I just walk out of the restroom peeing, get in my car, pee in my car and drive home? What would I do when I got there? Pee all over my house? Pee in the bathtub with the drain open? I couldn’t go to work and pee all over my desk. I would be panhandling in a month—“The Peeing Panhandler” standing in a puddle of pee on the street, near a storm drain. I decided the hospital’s Emergency Room was my best bet.

As I walked through Bohm’s heading for the exit, customers were yelling at me things like “disgusting pervert,” showing no mercy. As I walked, I tried to pull up my pants, but I couldn’t get my weenie back in my pants and it swung back and forth, spraying a swath of pee in front of me, making it look like I was purposely peeing on the floor. Leaving a glistening trail behind me, I finally found my car. I heard police sirens headed for Bohm’s. I had to get to the emergency room. I set my GPS and headed out. I got to the emergency room admission counter and told the receptionist that I couldn’t stop peeing—I had managed to pull my pants up, but I was standing in a growing puddle, so there should’ve been no doubt that I had an emergency. She said curtly, “Wait across the hall in the waiting room.” I sat there for 1 hour and the waiting room was flooded with about 3/4” of pee. The other people in the waiting room were very irritated, especially the ones who were wearing sandals or flip-flops. They went to the reception counter and their spokesperson told the receptionist they would kill her if I wasn’t let out of the waiting room to see a doctor. She capitulated.

The Doctor immediately knew what was wrong. My, and many others’, obsession with hydration and dinking what he called “a shitload” of bottled water every day, had triggered the mutation of a usually benign gene located in the brain, inducing the body to make a continuous stream of urine. No one knows where the quantity of urine comes from, but research is underway at a number of well-known university hospitals. Luckily, the condition can be managed. It is called “Aquapox.” The “pox” erupt on your ears and then immediately disappear. The doctor said I could control my Aquapox by having my gene regularly unmutated by slathering my ears with Neosporin and by having a faucet installed on my weenie.

Everything’s under control now. My faucet is a little unwieldy, and I have to use stalls in public restrooms to keep from scaring people. These days, when I get “turned on” it’s to pee. I have a special set of tools for the other kind of turn on.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Tricolon

Tricolon (tri-co-lon): Three parallel elements of the same length occurring together in a series.


I grew up in a part of New Jersey where it was so fertile that you could plant a corn seed in the ground and yell “Corn!” and a cornstalk would start growing. If you did this in the morning, you’d be having corn on the cob with butter and salt for supper. Ok, I’m exaggerating a little, but I’m not far off the truth. We loved corn, but tomatoes were the holy grail. A big ripe red juicy tomato, warm from the sun, would make older men and women get down on their knees in front of the bush and cry. I was only 14, so I didn’t have those emotions yet. But when August came and the tomatoes ripened, there was a sort of tomato mania that swept the neighborhood.

My neighborhood was predominantly Italian. I was the only Protestant. I traced my ancestry to Scotland. Every one of my friends told me I was going to hell, yet they enjoyed it when I gave them synopses of the condemned movies I saw, that they weren’t permitted to see. We’d meet in the falling-down garage behind my house—they’d sit on dirt floor while I stood and recounted the movies, sometimes acting out scenes.

It was in the garage that our plan unfolded. Mr. Stromboli had magical tomatoes. They looked better than the tomatoes pictured on the plant markers by each plant. They were so red. They were so big. They we so beautiful. All five of us wanted to eat one, but Mr. Stromboli was stingy. Every time we asked, he’d yell “No! Get outta here you little bums!” And then he’d pet one of his tomatoes just to taunt us. So, we came up with a plan.

We would hop his little wire fence that night. There was no moon. It would be very dark and would provide us with cover. We would each carry a shaker of salt, pick a tomato, bite it, and sprinkle it with salt, and keep sprinkling and biting until the tomato was gone, throw down the remains, jump back over the fence, and go home.

That night we met at the garage, checked our salt shakers and headed off to Mr. Stromboli’s garden. I was first over the fence and landed on Mr. Stromboli. He had a tomato stake driven through his chest. He was dead. We stood there for about five seconds and then ran home. This was New Jersey where you learned at a very young age not to report, talk about, or acknowledge the existence of a murder. In short, none of us respected the law that much. All of our fathers were, in one way or another, involved in crime—from tax evasion to protection rackets. All I could think was that Mr. Stromboli was mobbed up somehow too. When I thought about how he dressed—black banlon shirts and a black stingy brim hat. He drove a black Coup de Ville, smoked Di Nobili cigars, and supposedly ran the produce stand at Fortunado’s supermarket, but he was never there.

Then, we heard that Mrs. Stromboli had torn up all the tomato plants and stomped them into the ground, without picking a single tomato. Then, we saw a young woman dressed in black wearing a veil and crying by Mr. Stromboli’s fence. I put two and two together and it added up to three. That’s the wrong number for a marriage, especially a Catholic marriage.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Abating

Abating: English term for anesis: adding a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what has been said previously. The opposite of epitasis (the addition of a concluding sentence that merely emphasizes what has already been stated. A kind of amplification).


I was 9 and I wanted to go fishing. In between the dead Bears, Mountain Goats, and Deer, Outdoor Life magazine was loaded with pictures of people holding up dead fish, or ropes tied around the tails of hoisted-up dead fish—Sharks, Marlin, Tuna, and more. The fishermen and women stood there by their hanging fish, with big-billed hats and super-dark sun glasses, holding fishing poles that looked like small trees with “reels” mounted on the poles that were used to crank in the fish; caught in the mouth by a giant hook that looked like one of the shower curtain holders in our bathroom, except it was barbed and it punctured the fish’s lip, which, in the pictures, was dripping blood, and which, had caught the fish so it could be cranked in and pulled from the water by a gaff hook—an even bigger, but barbless hook with a handle like a fat broomstick.

I knew I would never catch a giant fish. As far as I knew, they all lived in the ocean. I didn’t live anywhere near the ocean. But, I pestered my Dad until he bought me a fishing pole. It wasn’t what I expected. It was a Mickey Mouse fishing pole. The pole was about 3 feet long and the reel was push-button. The reel was a replica of Micky’s head with the fishing line coming out of his mouth. I didn’t care. I just wanted to go fishing. We lived in a small city with a “park.” It had a lake in the middle that people laughingly called “Dire Lake.” Every once in a while it would catch on fire and burn for days. Dad decided we were going fishing at Dire Lake. Nobody had caught a fish there in a long time—I thought “Thanks Dad—there’s something wrong with you.”

But I was determined. We got up at 6:00 am and walked to Dire Lake. It was surprisingly quiet. I shoved a squirming worm on my little hook. I reached back and threw my line about 5 feet from shore where it sank slowly to the bottom. I learned later (no help from my father) that I should have had a bobber to alert me of fish nibbles and a weight on the line to make it cast farther. Anyway, Dad sat down on the muddy bank and lit a joint—I could smell it. I turned to tell him he was on his way to jail, when boom! I got a bite! Boom! I reeled in the fish on the end of my line! It had blond hair and was making a chirping sound. A man took a picture. Just as I was ready to lay the fish down on the ground, it fell off the hook, flopped back into Dire Lake and swam away, still chirping. The man sold the picture to The Daily Record and I was interviewed for a story about the fish. All I could say was it was some kind of “scary mutant.” The next thing I know, the Admissions Deans from Princeton and Rutgers offered me “a seat” and a scholarship in Environmental Biology when I graduated from high school—I had no idea why they made the offer, but when the time came, I went to Princeton, eventually earning a Ph.D.

The “Mystery Fish of Dire Lake” is still a mystery. Countless hundreds of people have tried to catch the fish, now called “Blondie,” but to no avail. My current scholarly research takes place from a shack on Dire Lake’s shore, where I’m trying to communicate with Blondie by chirping like she did all those years ago. When I found strands of blond wig hair floating off the shore, I started to think there’s nothing ‘fishy’ about Blondie, but rather, she’s some kind of remote-controlled automaton. But, the life changing thrill I felt when I almost caught her won’t let me believe she’s a lie. Sometimes I think I hear the chirping sound when the dogs living on the other side of the lake finally shut the hell up around 2:00 am.

My Dad is still alive. He has my Mickey Mouse fishing pole mounted on his tiny apartment’s living room wall, along with the news clipping from the Daily Record and our family portrait. The fist thing he says when I come to visit is “Did you get him yet?” I say, “No.” He yells, “You goddamn moron. All these years, you can’t catch the fish.” Then, we have lunch: tuna-fish sandwiches on white bread with a pickle, potato chips, and a cold root beer. We reminisce about Mom for awhile, then, I drive back to my shack on Dire Lake.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Abbaser

Abbaser [George] Puttenham’s English term for tapinosis. Also equivalent to meiosis: reference to something with a name disproportionately lesser than its nature (a kind of litotes: deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite).


When I was a boy, my father worked as a New Jersey lineman. He climbed telephone poles, which he called “little toothpicks with wires,” and repaired whatever was wrong with the wires and cables. He worked for New Jersey Bell System, driving his truck from Elizabeth to Linden, where he did most of his work. He worked 6 days a week while I stayed with my Aunt Barbara. Mother had died at the shore 3 years before. She drowned when she choked on a jelly donut she had eaten for breakfast along with scrambled eggs. She had just wrapped a towel around my shoulders and ran back into the ocean and started choking, fell down into the water, and died. Me and Dad were lonely.

Dad started taking me to work with him on Saturdays to take some pressure off Aunt Barbara. I would sit in the giant green truck and read comics, color in my coloring book, or play solitaire. Dad taught me solitaire. He said it was a fun game for people who’re all alone. As I was shuffling the cards one day, I saw a dog sitting on the sidewalk outside the truck. It was nodding its head at me! I got out of the truck to pet him and he turned and slowly walked away, looking over his shoulder. I followed him.

We came to an old broken down building. It smelled like cigar smoke. He scratched on the door twice and something scratched back. He gave little yip and the door opened. Inside, there was a group of dogs at a table playing poker. It was just like the picture in Grandpa’s bathroom! And now, the dog could talk. They were a trained troupe of dogs who were rescued by Miss Bruke (an American) after their German master, and her father, Hans was killed in a bombing raid on Bremen at the end of WWII. She had been able to get the dogs into the US by paying off some US Army officers. “She is so lonely,” the dog said. So, we devised a plan to bring Miss Bruke and my father together. As soon as we left the poker game, the dog stopped talking. We got to the truck just as my Dad started climbing down the pole. I told my dad I had found a lost dog, and showed him the dog. He told me I couldn’t keep it, but we should try to find its owner. So, we took off following the dog. We came to a mansion! The dog scratched twice and the door opened to the sound of barking dogs and the face of a kind and beautiful woman. She invited us in, and basically, we never left. I have a baby sister now.

The dog has never spoken again. I’ve never seen the pack playing poker again either. When I say “speak to me,” they all bark. When me and dad first moved in though, I thought I heard the Schnauzer say, “willkommen.”


Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Abecedarian

Abecedarian (a-be-ce-da’-ri-an): An acrostic whose letters do not spell a word but follow the order (more or less) of the alphabet.


BM. Crap. Dump. Excrement. Feces. Guano. I’ve placed these words in alphabetical order to emphasize their importance. We come into contact with poop, one way or another, every day (with luck). Accompanied by toilet paper we send the poops away, draining in a whirlpool of water, sometimes leaving a crusty stain on the back of the toilet bowl.

I am chronically constipated. It started when I was around sixty-five. I would sit on the toilet for twenty minutes, pushing and grunting. Eventually I would let loose little poops that looked like M&Ms, without the colored candy shells. My colonoscopy doctor, Dr. Canal, recommended I take “Mirapoop.” Accordingly, I’ve been taking “Mirapoop” every night for 15 years. Now, when I poop in the morning, after my coffee, its like a peeled hard-boiled egg shooting out my ass. There’s one short bleating sound and the toilet quakes a little, followed by a loud splashing sound, and finally, the sound of waves gently lapping the sides of the toilet bowl. It’s quite spectacular. I considered posting it on TikTok, but couldn’t because I am unable to figure out how to mount my cellphone under my toilet seat.

Anyway, when I first learned I was chronically constipated, I did some research on the World Wide Web. I found an organization that offered a certificate in “Constipology.” I applied, was accepted, paid the fee, and diligently studied. I received my certificate and became a Constipologist. I decided to do some research into the cultural foundations of constipation, mainly, it’s meaning and place in different cultures. I ran across a cult located in Montana, “Stools of Faith,” that revered its chronically constipated members, respecting their toilet bravery and believing their little hard-won poops had the power to bring luck. So, they made bracelets, charms, and earrings out of the little poops and wore them for good luck. Many of them had more than one piece of poop jewelry believing the more little poops they wore, the more luck they would have. I saw some pictures of cult members covered in poop jewelry, and they looked quite attractive. Some of the poop had been studded with semiprecious stones, and also, mounted with precious gems. The lucky poop thing may have been true. Members of the cult repeatedly won the lotto and they each drove a black Maserati. Unfortunately, the jewelry is only available to cult members and not for sale outside of the cult.

When I told my wife what I had learned she said “No shit?” and laughed.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Accismus

Accismus (ak-iz’-mus): A feigned refusal of that which is earnestly desired.


I have been on earth for 78 years. I’m not from another planet, but sometimes I feel like I am. On my 78th birthday, my wife and daughter gave me an attachment for my car’s exhaust pipe that would allow me to “skip” my next birthday. They are a couple of greedy little pack rats who just wanted all my stuff as soon as they could get their hands on it. I hade made millions in the kitty litter business. My “Jolly Boom Drop” was the benchmark kitty litter that all manufacturers aspired to produce. In 1985, I won an award from World Kitty Litter Manufacturers—in my acceptance speech, to shut up all the envious whiners, I said I didn’t really deserve the award. They nodded their heads and applauded. The ploy worked like a charm.

I was smart enough to have a proprietary kitty litter formula, and keep it secret for over 50 years. I was a homeless Vietnam vet when I discovered it. I can’t go into detail, but I was living in a filthy alley, lined with garbage cans and heavily populated by cats, who lived there, hunting vermin, mating, and raising piles of kittens. I’ve aways had a cat. I love my current cat, Uptick—an aging black cat with two white hind feet.

As I got older, my eyesight started to go bad. I looked at ads for service dogs and they all just looked like big, fawning, barking slobberers. So unlike cats—fastidious, standoffish, musically purring, maybe letting you pet them twice a week. I knew this guy named Jonathan who had trained his cat to jump through a hoop, play dead, roll over, and speak—all dog tricks, but what else is there? I resolved to teach Uptick to be a service cat so I could go for walks without getting lost. I got a leash for Uptick that I clipped to his collar. I was ready. We were going to practice by walking around the perimeter of my mansion. We went out the front door and Uptick immediately sat on the sidewalk and started licking his butt. I yelled “No” and he looked at me for a second and then went back to licking his butt.


I was determined to make this work! By now, Uptick had curled up and gone to sleep, giving up on butt licking, and instead, snoring his signature cat snore, which sounded like a bumble bee trapped in a paper bag. Then, I got an idea! I had been studying Medieval history. The day before I was reading about catapults. Uptick loves his “Seafood Explosion” kitty treats, and he even chases after them. I could build a small catapult and mount it on Uptick like a saddle, pitching “Seafood Explosion” in front of him to keep him moving forward. I made the device in collaboration with Norm, from “This Old House.” He is an excellent carpenter, but has a gambling problem. I have bailed him out many times and we are very good friends. I tried to come up with a name that punned on catapult, but I couldn’t come up with anything, so I named the invention the “Mete-a-Treat.”

Norm and I loaded its hopper with “Seafood Explosion” and I pressed the “Hurl” button on the remote control. Perfect! A four foot hurl. Now it was time to give it a test run. Uptick was sleeping on the couch. Norm picked him up and I strapped the Mete-a-Treat on his back. He yowled and scratched Norm’s arm and started rolling on the floor and scratching the Mete-a-Treat. It’s velcro cinch came loose and “Seafood Explosion” treats went flying all over. Uptick calmly ate his fill and crawled under the couch, peering out between his paws.

So, I got a service dog. I named him Downtick.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Accismus

Accismus (ak-iz’-mus): A feigned refusal of that which is earnestly desired.


I have been on earth for 78 years. I’m not from another planet, but sometimes I feel like I am. On my 78th birthday, my wife and daughter gave me an attachment for my car’s exhaust pipe that would allow me to “skip” my next birthday. They were a couple of greedy little pack rats who just wanted all my stuff as soon as they could get their hands on it. I hade made millions in the kitty litter business. My “Jolly Boom Drop” was the benchmark kitty litter that all manufacturers aspired to produce. In 1985, I won an award from World Kitty Litter Manufacturers—in my acceptance speech, to shut up all the envious whiners, I said I didn’t really deserve the award. They nodded their heads and applauded. The ploy worked like a charm.

I was smart enough to have a proprietary kitty litter formula, and keep it secret for over 50 years. I was a homeless Vietnam vet when I discovered it. I can’t go into detail, but I was living in a filthy alley, lined with garbage cans and heavily populated by cats, who lived there, hunting vermin, mating and, raising piles of kittens. I’ve aways had a cat. I love my current cat, Uptick—an aging black cat with two white hind feet.

As I got older, my eyesight started to go bad. I looked at ads for service dogs and they all just looked like big, fawning, barking slobberers. So unlike cats—fastidious, standoffish, musically purring, maybe letting you pet them twice a week. I knew this guy named Jonathan who had trained his cat to jump through a hoop, play dead, roll over, and speak—all dog tricks, but what else is there? I resolved to teach Uptick to be a service cat so I could go for walks without getting lost. I got a leash for Uptick that I clipped to his collar. I was ready. We were going to practice by walking around the perimeter of my mansion. We went out the front door and Uptick immediately sat on the sidewalk and started licking his butt. I yelled “No” and he looked at me for a second and then went back to licking his butt.


I was determined to make this work! By now, Uptick had curled up and gone to sleep, giving up on butt licking and snoring his signature cat snore, which sounded like a bumble bee trapped in a paper bag. Then, I got an idea! I had been studying Medieval history. The day before I was reading about catapults. Uptick loves his “Seafood Explosion” kitty treats, and he even chases after them. I could build a small catapult and mount it on Uptick like a saddle, pitching “Seafood Explosion” in front of him to keep him moving forward. I made the device in collaboration with Norm, from “This Old House.” He is an excellent carpenter, but has a gambling problem. I have bailed him out many times and we are very good friends. I named the catapult the “Mete-a-Treat.” So, Norm and I loaded its hopper with “Seafood Explosion” and I pressed the “Hurl” button on the remote control. Perfect! A four foot hurl. Now it was time to give it a test run. Uptick was sleeping on the couch. Norm picked him up and I strapped the Mete-a-Treat on his back. He yowled and scratched Norm’s arm and stared rolling on the floor and scratching the Mete-a-Treat. It’s velcro cinch came loose and “Seafood Explosion” treats went flying all over. Uptick ate his fill and crawled under the couch, peering out between his paws.

So, I got a service dog. I named him Downtick.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Acervatio

Acervatio (ak-er-va’-ti-o): Latin term Quintilian employs for both asyndeton (acervatio dissoluta: a loose heap) and polysyndeton (acervatio iuncta:a conjoined heap).


I am a big, bold, beer swilling man from Binghamton. I roll my cigarettes with comic book covers—Batman, Archie, Little LuLu, Flash Gordon, and Donald Duck. I eat cold soup from the can. I am the man! That is, until I have to go to the Post Office.

First—there are the wanted posters. I robbed a mail truck five years ago. My baklava got caught on the truck’s door and pulled off. The driver told me he’d “”keep it quiet” and never say what I look like to anybody, not even the FBI. I told him I really appreciated it, and from now on I would send all my mail overnight express, to help the postal service compete more effectively with FEDEX or UPS. Of course, I was lying, but under the circumstances it was all I could come up with. He was lying too. Soon, I saw an artist’s sketch of a guy that looked a lot like me hanging in my neighborhood Post Office. I was described as armed and dangerous—if you saw me you were supposed to call 911. But the only arms I had were hanging out of my shoulders, and dangerous? I was about as dangerous as an earthworm.

Second—I met my 4th wife Luletta in line at the Post Office. I was there to mail mother’s birthday present. I had gotten my mother an electric potato masher. The box said it could be used to mash vegetables, and also provide “a deep massage.” I have since found out what “deep message” means. Mother never complained. Luletta was holding a fairly large, and poorly taped, and scuffed up, and unwieldy cardboard box. It was wet on one of the bottom corners, and it was dripping almost imperceptibly, and I knew that the postal clerk would refuse it. I had my packing tape in my back pack, so I offered to help. Lulleta and I cut out of line and went over to a corner. We knelt down with our backs to the cue and added tape to her box, to try to seal the leak. Weirdly, it seemed to stop leaking. I asked her what was in the box. She looked around furtively and whispered “Stolen snow globes from Macy’s. I’m sending them to the orphanage where my son lives.” “Wait! You’re alive! How can your son be in an orphanage!” Luletta answered, “I might as well be dead. I ran away from an ICU after I fell out a window. I wanted to disappear. They were too understaffed to look for me, so they declared me dead. Everybody felt sorry for the hospital orderlies, so the coroner colluded, eventually burying a big wad of dirty laundry as me.” Luletta’s package passed muster and we left the Post Office and went to my apartment, and smoked some weed, and decided to get married. She was insane and actually thought she was dead. She spent most of her days lying her back on the couch with her hands crossed over her chest, with somber organ music playing on our CD player. I divorced her as soon as I could.

Third—so, between the wanted poster and memories of Luletta, the Post Office repelled me. I was very patriotic, so I did not want to turn to FEDEX or to UPS to pick up and deliver my packages. So, I decided to wear a disguise when I had to go to the Post Office: big buck teeth, thick black rimmed glasses, and a black Beatles wig. I thought I had it covered. When I wore my disguise to the post office for the first time, the guy in line in front of me started pointing toward the wanted posters and nodding his head. The post office clerk was gesturing and speaking excitedly into his cellphone. Suddenly, one of the other postal clerks appeared outside the door and locked it. I looked at the wanted posters and there was one with a man’s picture on it that looked like he had stolen my disguise! We looked like twins. I was arrested. When I removed my disguise, the Fed realized who I really was. I was tried and convicted of stealing US Mail.

After serving 1 year, I was recently paroled. Even though I’ve served my time, trips to the post office still make me shudder. I have started collecting postage stamps as a way of confronting my fears. Today, I found a Pee Wee Herman stamp. It made me feel better.


Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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