Monthly Archives: February 2022


Period: The periodic sentence, characterized by the suspension of the completion of sense until its end. This has been more possible and favored in Greek and Latin, languages already favoring the end position for the verb, but has been approximated in uninflected languages such as English. [This figure may also engender surprise or suspense–consequences of what Kenneth Burke views as ‘appeals’ of information.

Because of the openness, trust, common ground, and money, we were friends. I was a little ashamed of the money part. Normally, it wouldn’t be a part of friendship, but we were both in the laundry business, and I don’t mean washing clothes. Instead, we filtered truckloads of cash from bad to good. We own a chain of burger joints, two amusement parks, a bar, and 25 apple orchards. The apple orchards are the best. It is easy to blend dirty cash into the orchards’ harvest: there’s no way to track apples— they grow on trees! We “sell” thousands, and that’s that. Our investors collect their cash and we collect a percentage.

If you ever considered being a successful criminal, money laundering is the way to go. Just think, somebody gives you pile of illegally obtained cash! You stack it up in a storage locker and slowly shove it into your legitimate business, that turns it out at the other end as clean as can be. The only downside is if somebody not connected finds out what you’re doing, you have to kill them. So far, we’ve killed four people. The hardest was my daughter’s fourth grade teacher, Bonnie. I was having an affair with her.

I had to go to the storage locker one afternoon. I told Bonnie to stay in the car. Instead, after I got into the storage locker, she jumped out of the car and peeked inside. She saw about $1,000,000 in cash piled against the wall and asked me “where the hell” it came from. I told her I didn’t know, that I was as surprised as she was— a pretty feeble attempt at lying. The next day we went for a walk along Devil’s Gorge. I pushed Bonnie off a cliff. It was sad. If only she had stayed in the car.

Oh well, now I had to find a new girlfriend. There was a pole dancer at one of our “laundromats” that seemed like she liked me—she stared at me when she climbed the pole as part of her routine. I hoped she would get along with my daughter. I was going to give her a try. Maybe we’d fall in love.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text inserted by Gorgias.

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Periphrasis (per-if’-ra-sis): The substitution of a descriptive word or phrase for a proper name (a species of circumlocution); or, conversely, the use of a proper name as a shorthand to stand for qualities associated with it. (Circumlocutions are rhetorically useful as euphemisms, as a method of amplification, or to hint at something without stating it.)

Here comes God. Just because he won $5000 on Take Five’s evening draw, he thinks he has divine powers. He has easily spent $5,000 over the years on losing tickets. Where were his divine powers all these years as he racked up loss after loss? Also, he won the $5,000 on a quick pick without even choosing the numbers.

It’s amazing the links we forge in chains of causation. We posit ‘reasons’ as effects hijack or influence our lives—we seek motives behind luck and chance: God Loves me, I didn’t eat my vegetables, I am bad/good. The motive elevates the effect giving it moral import, when in fact, luck is luck and chance is chance.

As I turned to grab my beer, my mood candle toppled to the floor, falling from the mantle and soaking the carpet with hot wax. The irony didn’t escape me as I wrote it off to bad luck, and stopped there to see if I could resist my desire to ascertain what motivated the candle’s fall. Was it my fault? Then, unwillingly I started thinking of all the reasons I was to blame—from buying the candle at the Farmers’ Market, to lighting it and setting it on the mantle. In a remote sense, these things contributed to the candle’s fall and the spilling of wax on the carpet: having the candle, putting it on the mantle, lighting it.

Although I ended up attributing the candle’s fall to bad luck, if only I hadn’t bought the candle in the first place none of this would’ve happened and I wouldn’t be out $600 for the carpet’s cleaning. Then I remembered, the guy who sold me the candle told me he had a dry cleaning business and made candles as a hobby. He gave me his business card and, without thinking, I called him to clean my carpet. Damn! Why hadn’t I made this connection before: he sells ‘falling’ candles, gives you his card when you buy one, and then when you call him, charges $600 to clean up the mess. I called the police and they laughed at me: “Mr. Crayola is a regular George Washington. Your candle-thing is psycho.” I hung up, very angry. Then there was a knock on my door. I opened it slowly. It was Mr. Crayola holding a lit candle. “No police! You persist, my son will stick the burning candle down your throat!” Mr. Crayola yelled. His son was gigantic. I knew if I didn’t capitulate, I would die by candle-cide.

So, that was it. I went back to my life, but not until I had burned down Mr. Crayola’s dry cleaning establishment (with his son tied up in the back room). I fled to Costa Rica where there’s no extradition and opened a hobby shop.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Personification: Reference to abstractions or inanimate objects as though they had human qualities or abilities. The English term for prosopopeia (pro-so-po-pe’-i-a) or ethopoeia (e-tho-po’-ia): the description and portrayal of a character (natural propensities, manners and affections, etc.).

The wind cried Larry. My name wasn’t Larry. Maybe the wind confused me with somebody named Larry. I don’t know. I would be thinking about this anomaly for the next three days, confident I would figure it out. Then it dawned on me one day later! When I was around 12 my father bought me a turtle so I would learn “responsibility.” I named the turtle Larry, after my favorite Stooge in the Three Stooges, that I watched every day after school. Larry was the deepest thinker, reserving his twisting of Curley’s nose for the direst of circumstances, or hitting Curly on the head with a two-by-four without seeking Moe’s approval, confidently whacking Curly around until Moe took over. I had Larry for about a year, and he died, like pet turtles do—some sort of bacterial infection from dirty water in Larry’s Turtle Island Turtle Tank.

So, the wind crying Larry was definitely directed at me. I had heard voices before, like the squeaking hinges on the bathroom door that suggested I kill my sister. Or the refrigerator that would hum Christmas carols at night, whenever everybody else was asleep.

Then, a thought smiled on my brain! I could keep a notebook of my paranormal experiences and publish it as a book. The night suddenly opened up it’s arms and embraced me with its quiet. I fell asleep. I dreamed I was the fastest turtle in the world. Top speed 85. My name was Larry.

I was roaring down the NYS Thruway on my way to Albany to pick up my Champion Crown. My little goggles were fogging up. It was raining. A tractor trailer truck cut me off and I started to spin out of control, and I hit the guardrail sideways, making a crunching sound as I bounced onto the pavement, dead.

I woke up screaming, fell out of bed, and hit my head hard on the floor. It was bleeding. As I was slowly losing consciousness, I heard the wind cry Larry, and I knew what it meant. I survived the concussion, but I still have been unable to come out of my shell.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Polyptoton (po-lyp-to’-ton): Repeating a word, but in a different form. Using a cognate of a given word in close proximity.

Statistically speaking, statistics are, for the most part, just simple math. Take percentages for example: what percentage of math teachers hit their students over the head with a ream of printer paper? What percentage of math teachers wear adult diapers and poop during their lectures? What percentage of math teachers go to motels with their secretaries? Although statistics may seem simpler than tying your shoes, they are not so simple. They’re more like wrestling with a struggling coed in a hot tub after a few drinks and some weed. Well, enough of that.

Let’s move on to means. They would be averages that the average person can calculate with a calculator and a collection of things to count, like the average number of rope burns on a kidnapping victim’s wrists and ankles. Or, you could calculate the average number of screams per minute when a person is being treated roughly. These are all important averages. They will help you understand life’s darker side. On the lighter side, you have the average the number of Diet Cokes our leader drinks in an hour. Or, you could calculate the average number of people who go insane after finishing their income tax returns.

Well, that’s it for today. If you’re a female student and have been aroused by my lecture, please make an appointment to meet me this afternoon around 4:30 in the driveway of the abandoned frat house. Odds are, at least two of you will want to meet me there.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Polysyndeton (pol-y-syn’-de-ton): Employing many conjunctions between clauses, often slowing the tempo or rhythm. (Asyndeton is the opposite of polysyndeton: an absence of conjunctions.)

It was a full moon. I looked out the window, and I saw a tree, and a folded up newspaper, and a bicycle, and a lawn grown out of control and I was shocked, and stunned, and panic stricken. I had just mowed the lawn three weeks ago. How did it grow a foot? I’m afraid the lawn vigilantes will get me. They travel the neighborhood at night looking for unruly lawns. They have a fleet of rotary gasoline push mowers with blades set to ground zero. When you hear them starting outside your house, you know your free-range lawn is about to be scalped down to the dirt. It takes months to grow a new lawn, but the lesson is learned: keep your lawn neatly trimmed.

Then I heard the dreaded sound: the fleet of vigilante lawnmowers cranking up. Suddenly they went silent and I heard revved-up weed eaters coming into my yard. It was the resistance—the handful of brave neighbors moving toward the vigilantes in a tight formation holding their roaring weed eaters like lances aimed at the vigilantes’ faces. The vigilantes broke and ran, leaving their mowers behind, driving off in their Jeep Cherokees, Lincoln Navigators, and Ford Explorers. The resistance shut off their weed eaters and stealthily receded through the shrubs planted around my property’s border.

I vowed to mow my lawn the next day. I laughed as I piled up the vigilante lawnmowers in the gutter in front of my house. I had taken their gas caps off and was going to set them on fire. Up they went! Then, boom, one of them exploded. I had forgotten to remove one of the mowers’ gas caps. My shoe caught fire. Instead of stop, drop, and roll, I ran for the garden hose on the side of my house. I put out the fire and called 911. After two weeks in the hospital I came home. Somebody had mowed my lawn and the pile of burnt lawnmowers in the gutter had been hauled away. Marion Phipps, my college professor neighbor, was there to greet me when I got home. We embraced, and embraced some more, and a little bit more. I showed her the video I had made of “The Battle of the Lawn.” Then, we watched some TV, and had a few drinks, and listened to some music, and talked. Eventually, we got married. When he grows up, our son will mow the lawn once a week. In the meantime, Marion is in charge of lawn mowing.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Procatalepsis (pro-cat-a-lep’-sis): Refuting anticipated objections.

We’re going to invade Ukraine, or I should say, accept their invitation to stop the Russians from stealing a pretty big chunk of their country. First, you may say that American soldiers, sailors, and marines will be put in harm’s way. Well, no sailors will be killed unless unless it’s some kind of tragic boating accident, or our ships get blown to bits by Russian missiles. Our intelligence tells us that won’t happen. Putin wants to save his missiles for better things—like Afghanistan. No Marines will be killed because they have been assigned to wait it out in North Carolina and at IKEA in Newark, New Jersey where they will trained in following complex furniture assembly instructions. Now, the Army will responsible for conducting the invasion. There will be soldiers killed. When they sign up, they know it’s possible. They are brave defenders of democracy and should be lauded.

Now, the big question is set, as it has eternally been, under the threadbare business metaphor of costs and benefits. In monetary terms the invasion is cheap—about what Mitch McConnell’s birthday party costs every year. Ha ha. I can’t give you a solid dollar amount, but suffice it to say it’s bigger than a bread box and smaller than South America. And, as you know, I’m not a reckless spender, notwithstanding the Google Glass devices for the Navy. So, we’ve set up a flex account to underwrite the invasion. Given our estimates, it won’t run out for six years, giving us plenty of time to mop up and also, dump dollars into the US economy for military purchases over the course of the conflict.

Now we come to the hardest question: will the invasion’s cost in lives outweigh the gains the invasion will make? To that, I can give you a firm probably. As the great sage Robert Storm Peterson said, “It’s hard to make predictions—especially about the future.” We’ve tried our best to anticipate the human costs, but because military engagement against Russia has never happened before, and we don’t know how resolute they are in their goals, and just how ferocious the shooting and the killing will be, we can’t say with certainty what will happen. We just know that it will happen and it will be what it will be. We’ll know when we get there whether we’re there.

The protection and preservation of Ukraine’s sovereignty is well worth the material and human costs. In sum, victory will most likely be ours. I am pretty hopeful we’ll prevail, and that’s what I told my wife this morning.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Prodiorthosis (pro-di-or-tho’-sis): A statement intended to prepare one’s audience for something shocking or offensive. An extreme example of protherapeia.

Prepare yourselves for the worst. Be steady. Be solid. I have news for you that seems like it happened in hell, not at the mall. 56 people were randomly gunned down. 12 survived their wounds, the rest are dead—women, children and men. Whole families. People on their way to the movies. A mother shopping for a birthday gift for her daughter—the list goes on and weaves a tapestry of grief, anger and fear. Two of the nine shooters were killed, one was captured, the rest are still at large.

As fas as we can tell from interrogating the captured shooter, these fiends were paid $500,000 each for what they did. According to the prisoner, there was no message intended by the shootings. All we know is that there was substantial wealth backing the shooters. The one commonality between the shooters, aside from their lust for money and complete depravity, seems, from what we can gather from our prisoner, unwavering belief in conspiracy theories. But, what does that have to do with taking or destroying the lives of 56 people?

The single most obvious motive was money. To take an innocent human life for a paycheck is an act of soulless, self-absorbed, narcism by a sociopath—alienated from their own humanity.

We will be publicly mourning our community’s loss on Saturday, showing our grief and determination to keep our public places open: to congregate, to shop, and to play.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Proecthesis (pro-ek’-the-sis): When, in conclusion, a justifying reason is provided.

Ok. I admit everything—I cheated, I lied, I blew out the credit card, I hit a raccoon with our car, I spilled coffee on the couch, I broke the back door window, I sold my wedding ring on E-Bay, I made crank calls to your mother, I shot a hole in our wedding picture, I broke the dishwasher, I forgot Georgie’s birthday, my name isn’t really Clay Potts, I was never a policeman, my college diploma is fake, I tapped into our neighbor’s wi-fi network, I stole our car, I don’t know how to raise chickens, I’m actually 45, I don’t have a bad back, I’ve never been to Finland, I’m not a genius, I have an inoperable brain tumor, I’ll be dead in two weeks. If you don’t believe me, here’s a note from Dr. Welby.

According to the doctor, it all adds up. The tumor can influence your behavior for 10 or 20 years. It provides the answer for all the crazy shit I’ve done. I’m not asking for pity or forgiveness. I’m going to sit in my recliner and wait for the end. Or, maybe I’ll take a trip and die somewhere warm, like Ratso in “Midnight Cowboy.” If you can gift me $500, I’ll be on my way.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Prolepsis (pro-lep’-sis): (1) A synonym for procatalepsis [refuting anticipated objections]; (2) speaking of something future as though already done or existing. A figure of anticipation.

Mr. Rustle: You’re going to tell me we can’t afford it. I say we can afford it. We cut what we never use so it doesn’t just sit there earning 1% interest. We use what we cut to make investments with higher returns—like solar power or electric cars.

We are rich! We have invested wisely. Our fortunes have turned around. My advice has paid handsomely.

But of course, there is a handful of affected people who may resist my plan. You, Thaddeus, you’re only 8, you can’t possibly have anything to say. Esmeralda, you’re 16, almost an adult. You are brilliant in school and diligent in helping your mother. But I know you are polite enough never to contradict your father. So, Gretel, my loving wife. Would you contest my well-laid plan?

Mrs. Rustle: We can’t afford it.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Protherapeia (pro-ther-a-pei’-a): Preparing one’s audience for what one is about to say through conciliating words. If what is to come will be shocking, the figure is called prodiorthosis.

It has been a long hard winter: piles of snow and freezing cold have kept us indoors, where we have grown contentious and tired of each other. Yesterday I punched your father in the nose for singing Christmas carols out of season. I regret that and will apologize soon. Maybe in March.

I read the weather forecast today. The temperature is supposed to rise above freezing for the first time since November. The snow has abated. The constant wind is slowing. The days are growing longer. Soon, we will be in the throes of Spring. Can anybody remember what wild strawberries smell like, what ramps taste like, what fiddlehead ferns look like?

Thank God for the changing season, though I would be happy with three: Spring, Summer, and Fall. I think I’ll have a beer to hasten the season’s change. Kids: Why don’t you put on your bathing suits and sit by the fire?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Protrope (pro-tro’-pe): A call to action, often by using threats or promises.

A. If you stop calling me “John Boy” I’ll buy you all the seasons of “The Waltons” and you can go to the motel nearby and watch them all, even if it takes a week. I’ll drop you off and you can call me when you’re done. Watching them all should burn you out on “John Boy” and give you an opening to call me by my real name, “Analon.” As you know, it’s an old family name dating to the 17th century when my family was revered for clearing constipated livestock. It was a professional name that became a surname, and then a first name popular among farmers and practitioners alike. I am proud of my heritage and proud of my whole name: Analon Buttmucker. For you, I will consider changing my last name, but not my first. I am seriously considering changing it to Butt, a shortened version of Buttmucker. I might even drop one of the t’s so as not to call attention to it’s origins in hind ends.

B. Ok Butt Boy. Ha ha. All right, I’m ready to start calling you Analon when I get back from my motel sojourn. But, I could be gone for a month—not a week. I’ll get that nice college boy who lives next store to drive me to the motel and help me move in. When the time comes, you can just stay here and work on your macrame placemats.

The DVDs arrive and she arrives a the Sugar Dunes Motel with the nice college boy.

C. That’s sure a lot of DVDs Ma’m. Where should I put ‘em?

B. On the dresser by the TV. Do you mind if I call you John Boy?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Proverb: One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegm, gnome, maxim, paroemia, and sententia.

A. “If a man can jump through the eye of a camel, he’s very, very small.” I learned that saying from my grandmother, but you could jump through the eye of a bumblebee you slow-moving, small-time excuse for an appliance repairman. My dishwasher has been hemorrhaging for two days. You keep saying the part will be in soon. What’s your idea of soon, never?

B. Madam, please forgive the tardiness of the part. It is coming all the way from China where there is social unrest and a marginal postal system. It can take up to six months for an order to arrive. Also, I know I was not blessed with a tall stature, but you don’t have to call it to my attention with your obscure proverb. I may be small in height, but my heart and one of my appendages are quite large. I had rheumatic fever as a child and it left me with an enlarged heart. My pinkie is one-inch longer than my ring finger. You can see, I am not all small.

A. Wait, wait! Did you say six months? I can go to Home Depot and get the part today. What is wrong with you? How do you stay in business?

B. Stay in business? I’m going to hit you over the head with this pre-cut two-foot half-inch pipe and burglarize your home. I don’t think I have the strength to kill you—I am such a little man. Get over there by the refrigerator. Now, get ready.

C. A chorus of voices: Happy Birthday Marjorie! Music begins. Appliance repairman starts to dance swinging his tool belt over his head. Marjorie is standing by the refrigerator crying. What a mess.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Prozeugma (pro-zoog’-ma): A series of clauses in which the verb employed in the first is elided (and thus implied) in the others.

A. I took the money. The big screen TV. The microwave. The laptop. The coffee grinder. The rubber gloves.

B. Why did you take the rubber gloves Mr. Tronski?

A. I had intended to wash the dishes, so I put on the rubber gloves. When I left, I forgot to take them off. I forgot to wash the dishes too.

B. What were you going to do with what you had in your possession?

A. I was going to donate it to the nursing home where my mother lives. The money will be used for magazine subscriptions. The TV, entertainment. The microwave, popcorn & mac and cheese. The laptop, writing letters and receiving letters, and playing Wordscape. The coffee grinder goes without saying. The rubber gloves, thrown away.

B. Ok Tronski, we are charging you with burglary and locking you up.

A: What? I took all that stuff from my own home—it’s all mine. Just because my insane neighbor calls 911 and you “catch” me with a carload of stuff, doesn’t mean I stole it. Now I understand why I’m here.

B. My apologies Mr. Tronski. You are free to go.

A. No problem.

Mr. Tronski sped away from the police station. He was laughing at the police officer’s total stupidity. He had, indeed, committed burglary and now he was on his way to sell the stuff he had robbed. Then, he heard sirens and saw flashing lights behind him.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Pysma (pys’-ma): The asking of multiple questions successively (which would together require a complex reply). A rhetorical use of the question.

A. Why should I? What’s the use? Why did you choose me? Do you really think I would want to? Have you done it with anyone else before? Will I have to climb any stairs? Is it more than five miles away? Is this your idea? Are you sober? Will it cost me anything?

B. It could cost you your if you life if you don’t shut the hell up with the questions.

A. Does that mean you’re going to answer my questions?

B. I’m warning you, you wise ass. Let me ask you a question. Why do you want to taunt me with your bullshit?

A. Bullshit? How do you get that? Is there something I’m saying that I don’t realize I’m saying? Have I missed or skipped something? Did I misunderstand you?

B. Ok, that’s it. I’m going to ask you again the question I asked you in the first place. Your answer will be yes or no, and NO DAMN QUESTIONS. Here’s the question again: Do you want to go out for sushi?

A. I’m 99% sure that I do. But, can you answer my questions first?

B. No.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Ratiocinatio (ra’-ti-o-cin-a’-ti-o): Reasoning (typically with oneself) by asking questions. Sometimes equivalent to anthypophora. More specifically, ratiocinatio can mean making statements, then asking the reason (ratio) for such an affirmation, then answering oneself. In this latter sense ratiocinatiois closely related to aetiologia. [As a questioning strategy, it is also related to erotima {the general term for a rhetorical question}.]

When I was 10: Can I become a millionaire? Yes! This is America—anything’s possible.

When I was 20: Can I become a millionaire? It’s possible! Finish college and move on up.

When I was 30: Can I become a millionaire? There’s a chance. Manage my investments and take risks.

When I was 40: Can I become a millionaire? Fat chance. I lost everything in the stock market and got laid off. There’s still an outside chance to make a million, but it’s not going to be pretty.

When I was 50: I am a millionaire. I’m living in Costa Rica. I barely escaped the US—I walked across the Tijuana border crossing, took a bus to Mexico City, and flew to Costa Rica. Here in Costa Rica, I “collect” ancient artifacts. I do a service to collectors by displaying them on the dark web. Actually I am a multimillionaire, but I’m stuck in Costa Rica.

When I was 60: When will I be paroled? I just wanted to visit my dying father. Bam: handcuffed at the luggage carousel at LAX. Trial. Conviction. Prison. 10 years. Parole possible in 5 years, and my father’s still alive. Damn.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Repotia (re-po’-ti-a): 1. The repetition of a phrase with slight differences in style, diction, tone, etc. 2. A discourse celebrating a wedding feast.

1. A. Did you kill your neighbor? Did you end his life with a kitchen knife? He’s full of holes—you must’ve been enraged. Did you do your neighbor in? Was it you? Look, all you need to do is answer yes, or no. Did you whack your neighbor?

B. Why would I kill my neighbor. That goddamn piece of crap had everything he wanted and needed. His cute-ass wife supported him with money and affection. She might’ve made a pass at me a couple of times, but nothing to build a relationship on.

A. How do you account for the blood on your hands.

B. I slipped on his blood a fell down, bracing my fall with my hands. It looks bad, but it isn’t.

A. Ok, do you know who might’ve killed your neighbor—who put him in his grave? Who sent him South? Gave him angel wings?

B. As strange as it seems, it might be my wife. We had had sex just once in nine years and then, all of a sudden one Saturday afternoon she pushes me down on the bed & tells me to wait. After five minutes she comes back wearing the Frederick’s of Hollywood nightie I got her for our wedding night nearly twenty years ago. It was unexpected to say the least. It was like having sex with Wonder Woman, or Stormy Daniels, or our pool woman, Sassy. Anyway, about a week later my wife tells me she’s pregnant, and I’m the “naughty” man who did it. She cited our recent sexual activity and complimented my virility. What she didn’t know was that I had had a vasectomy five years ago. I had a lot of reasons, but the most important one was I did not want have children with that shallow, conniving bitch. If I was going to kill anybody it would be her, not Marcus. He was a fun loving guy who probably knocked up my wife. The DNA tests will tell us.

A. Thank you for your cooperation. We’re going to have to take you down to the station. Your wife tells us you confessed to her, and from what she tells us about your drinking, your drug problem, jealousy, physical abuse and explosive homicidal temper, I’m betting you killed Marcus when he affirmed to you that your wife’s baby was his. You had blood on your hands and a pain in your heart. Do you want to confess now, or wait until we get to the station?

B. That bitch. Marcus’ wife gave me a thumb drive with video from their security cam. I was going to toss it, but now I’m going to give it to you. I wanted to protect my wife, but now she can go to hell. When you plug it into your computer, you’ll see my wife murdering Marcus. End of story.

2. You call this a wedding feast? Tater Tots and baloney sandwiches—no cheese, no mustard? Oh, who the hell cares anyway? Definitely not the bride and groom who march to a different drummer, like a couple of Lemmings headed over a cliff into a marital abyss.

I’ve known Bob all my life. I’ve been to all of his weddings—4 I think, but who’s counting? I’m not. Anyway, marriage is a thinly veiled excuse for driving another person crazy. After the vows, everything you’ve kept hidden from each other seeps out. Your chronic jock itch, her prosthetic nose, your hepatitis, her inflated boobs. These can all be game changers, and they often are. I mean, who wants to live with a man with chronic jock itch, right Bob?

And then there’s the in-laws! Bob’s dad is a convicted child molester. His mother’s on probation for nearly beating a 78 year old woman to death over a parking spot. Martha’s dad is a mystery. Nobody knows (or asks) where his money comes from. Martha’s mom sits in her filthy stained house dress, drinks little glasses of wine all day, and swears at the TV.

Well Bob and Martha, if you can steer clear of your families and keep lying to each other, you marriage has a chance. Let’s raise our glasses to the bride and groom. “May your marriage survive the first two weeks.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Restrictio (re-strik’-ti-o): Making an exception to a previously made statement. Restricting or limiting what has already been said.

I said a few weeks ago that the people who stormed the Capitol Building were a group of tourists on their lunch break who were hungry and angry. Well, although I stick to the major framework of my belief, additional information has come to light on FOX News, to wit, the people are members of Militia Clubs of America whose bus dropped them off at the wrong venue. They thought they were at the Washington National Zoo, where they had come to liberate their mascot that had been “kidnapped” by US Government Animal Control Agents. They believed their peacock, Himmler, was being held against its will and subject to government brainwashing.

Given this new information from a highly credible source, I am willing to revise my initial statement to take into account the latest revelations. Choose which version you may, as long as you choose only one version. Even we can’t believe both at the same time, but as loyal Ultra-Conservatives, we are required to believe, and espouse, one. Take your pick and spread the word.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Sarcasmus (sar’kaz’-mus): Use of mockery, verbal taunts, or bitter irony.

“You look like a gerbil in a dress. What are you going to do about it? Cut down on the food pellets? Work out on your hamster wheel more often and more vigorously? Wear a mumu? Hide in your cage? Liposuction?” I was mean. I was angry. I was tired of dating a bowl full of jello.

That said, you’ve got to remember how you got this way and do it in reverse. I think ice cream played a role—you actually did scream for ice cream when I duct-taped you to a chair to keep you out of the refrigerator. Then, you whined like a dog begging for a treat. I turned you loose when you threatened to call the police. With the duct-tape, I didn’t know how you planned to do it, but I cut you loose anyway. You ran for the refrigerator and tore open the freezer door. There it was: a gallon of chocolate marshmallow raspberry pistachio chunky chocolate swirl. I called it swill instead of swirl. Before I could say “Go for it fatso,” you had the soup spoon going like a jackhammer and your mouth and chin were smeared with ice cream. I could almost see your girth growing. You finished one gallon of fat-laden ice crap in 25 minutes.

That was it, I said “Goodbye fatty. Have fun at the trough” and headed for the door. You stuck your finger down your throat and a torrent of melted ice cream spewed out between your chocolate-stained lips. “Oh God, now it’s bulimia?” I yelled. This was exactly the moment I realized that I loved you. Together, we could beat this fat lard-ass thing. With your consent, I locked you in the bedroom. It had a bathroom attached. I fed you healthy meals 2 times a day. In three months you had your old body back again—after we had the sagging skin tucked. When we had sex now, I had no trouble funding your vagina. Life was perfect.

Then, I came home early one day and there was a huge fat guy on the couch feeding you M&Ms through a funnel. I called you lots of names, but I think the best was “fudge sucker.” I packed my bags and left. I will never call anybody sweetheart ever again, and it’s all your fault, you blubber-breathed scale buster. You brain dead butt wind blower.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Scesis Onomaton

Scesis Onomaton (ske’-sis-o-no’-ma-ton): 1. A sentence constructed only of nouns and adjectives (typically in a regular pattern). 2. A series of successive, synonymous expressions.

Speeding Cars, roaring trucks, whooshing bicycles, squeaky scooters, rolling roller skates, clunking big wheels, chugging trains. I know this is crazy, but I’ve been thinking about wheels for the past couple of weeks. I ran over a grey squirrel with my truck. I can’t stop thinking about rolling along, and then suddenly a squirrel ran out of some bushes right by my truck. He was under my front wheel before I could even hit the brakes. I pulled over and looked out the back window. He was flatted and his eyeballs had popped out. I was nearly sick to my stomach. I got out of my truck and kicked him into the gutter so he wouldn’t get run over any more, or cause somebody to swerve and get into an accident. I picked up some leaves from the road shoulder and covered his corpse, which was steaming in the late October chill.

That night, I had a nightmare. I had befriended the dead squirrel and named him Nutty. He was alive. We were riding down the street in my truck when, all of a sudden, Nutty jumped out the the truck window. I heard the rear tire go budda-bump. “Oh my God it’s Nutty. I’ve run him over again!” I stopped and jumped out of my truck, only to be sickened by what I saw: A little girl with a tire track across her stomach and blood trickling from her mouth. I called 911, but I kept getting the same message over and over: “You have killed a little girl with your big truck. You had better call Triple-A.” I called Triple-A. I got a recording: “We are unable to dispose of any corpses right now. Please call back later.” I woke up screaming. I was terrified. I was totally freaked out. I was fear itself!

That’s when I started thinking about wheels. I’m not sure why. I got a thick notebook and started writing down everything I could think of that has wheels. I organized it alphabetically A-Z. Airplanes were my fist entry. When I got to an alphabet letter that I couldn’t think of a wheel for, I drew a frowny face and moved on. Then, one evening there was a knock on my door: “Girl scout cookies.” I opened the door. It was a little girl and what I assumed was her mother. I was startled. The little girl looked almost identical to the little girl I had run over in my nightmare! It was weird. I tried to hold back, but I was so glad to see her that I took a step toward her with my arms open wide. She backed up and fell down my porch steps. Luckily, her mother was there to help her up. As she limped away holding her mother’s hand, she turned and said, “I’m glad you didn’t call 911. It’s not like I’m dead or anything.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Sententia (sen-ten’-ti-a): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegem, gnome, maxim, paroemia, and proverb.

“Always do what you’re afraid to do.” Because of that saying I am a different person. I used to be cautious and calculating—steering around my fear. Safety was all that mattered. When it was cold I wore mittens. When the speed limit was 25, I went twenty five. I paid my bills on time and ate the same healthy food night after night. I had my oil changed regularly. I crossed at the crosswalk when the light said “Go.” I always wore a condom. I took a cab late at night, even if I was only a block from where I lived. I always wore my seatbelt. I wore my face mask and got all my vaccinations. I wore sunglasses. I wore SPF 90 sun block. I had a colonoscopy every year. I wore Birkenstocks. I kept the batteries fresh in my smoke detectors. I sprayed my legs with DEET when I went hiking in the woods. I bought my cars on the basis of their safety ratings.

Then I met her.

The first thing she asked me was “What are you afraid to do?” I said, “The usual. Meeting Freddy Krueger, jumping out of airplanes, climbing mountains, diving off a cliff.” I was lying, there were enough more fears to fill a three-ring binder. That’s when she said it: “Always do what you’re afraid to do.” The “always” part of her words of wisdom is what threw me. I think there’s a saying about the pitfalls of “always,” but I don’t know what it is. Also, I am unsure of the benefits of always doing what I’m afraid to do.

So, she talked me into skydiving. We went through a couple of hours of training, donned our helmets and parachutes, got into the plane, and took off. We got up to around 3,000 feet and the instructor told her to “Stand in the door” and then “Go!” and then she jumped. It was my turn next. As I stood in the door, I saw her tumbling through the air and hit the ground with a puff of dust, like a bag of cement. The instructor pulled me away from the door. I sat down and we circled down toward the landing strip. When we landed, there was an ambulance pulling away from the drop zone.

Now, safety matters even more to me. I’ve added hand washing, changing sheets and pillowcases every other day, and spraying disinfectants to my safe-living repertoire. I’m thinking of changing my name to Marty Caution. Although I didn’t go through with the jump, I will not do anything again that I’m the slightest bit scared of. Lately, that means going up and down the stairs.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

Sarah was like a noisy go-kart stuck on a slow track at the mall. Around and around we went, and we never got anywhere, and she wouldn’t shut up. I felt like a beaver with dentures, but I didn’t complain: I couldn’t complain. I was grateful to have somebody who, in my opinion, was beautiful: long blond hair, blue eyes, classic hourglass shape, the whole nine yards. However, she was the stupidest person I’ve ever known. Her brain was like a walnut. She was as articulate as a bathtub. She had the taste of a cockroach. Having a job was, to her, like having cancer.

So, why did I love her? Two reasons. (1) Her parents are filthy crazy rich; (2) She is the most trusting, giving, faithful, caring, gentle, loving human being I have ever known.

We’ll get somewhere someday. We’ll be like two pelicans pumping our wings over the Gulf of Mexico, heading to Cancun or maybe Corpus Christi. Our pelican bills will be filled with money. Our pelican hearts will be filled with joy.

Oh, a text message from Sarah: “I am like a smart shopper. I am returning you.”

I texted: “What the hell did that mean? Return me? Return me where?”

She texted me: “The bar where I found you.”

I threw my phone on the floor. It popped in half, just like me and Sarah.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

A: The elephant has danced with the penguin.

B: It is time to hammer the nail. I am waiting under the old wagon. Can you send me mike clicks so I can confirm your identity?

A: No can do, Soda Bobcat. The click code is compromised. Let me use the belch code: Burp. Barup. Burrrup. Burp. Burp. Burp. Braaaah. Please acknowledge.

B: Roger. Got it. Punting Tuna.

A: I’m headed for the old wagon now. Confirm your location.

B: Under the old wagon. I am removing some drapery to facilitate our maneuvers. Soon, the garden plot will be plowed, and, I suspect, deeply too.

A: Yes, the garden tool is ready as it always is. After maneuvers, let’s debrief at the Shining Lock Pick.

B: Roger that.

A: Roger. I’m almost at the old wagon. I’m holding the garden tool in my hand. Out.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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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}].

I smelled roses as I walked through the arboretum, and danger. It was summer and I was surrounded by blooming flowers and idiots throwing frisbees. Why did I feel this way? Why did my life go on in anticipation of occurrences that never occurred? As I walked along, I remembered years and years ago when I had taken acid and gone to the arboretum. I was accosted by a talking sunflower. The sunflower told me to pick him and him take home with me. He looked like standing liquid, flashing shades of green. His giant yellow head actually looked like the sun! I cut his stem with my Swiss Army knife (everybody had one back then—mine was pink). The sunflower whimpered as he was cut. I almost stopped cutting, but the hapless flower insisted that I go on. If I got caught liberating a flower from the arboretum, there would be a $200 fine, and my mother’s wrath. I hid the sunflower in my Grateful Dead T-shirt, nearly crushing it. I slowly walked home and put it in a vase. It had stopped talking, and that was ok. I petted the flower and it wiggled and cooed. I just stood there for what seemed like an hour (or two). When I became “normal” again I needed herbal tea, to take a shower, and a session with my shrink.

Well, here I am again. Back in the arboretum. I came to the same stand of sunflowers and to my senses. “There is nothing to fear but too much beer!” I yelled at the sunflowers. It was characteristically stupid. There’s so much beyond too much beer to fear; like wearing adult diapers, or forgetting your phone number, or losing things. The arboretum hadn’t changed in 50 years, but I had. That was the danger I had sensed as I walked down the arboretum’s path. I carried the cargo of time.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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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.

Every time I think of you I feel so upset I want to run away and hide, and travel and try to forget. Every time I think of you, like a fool, I make your image so vivid I can’t erase it even though I struggle to forget. Every time I think of you I feel like I’m flipping through a book telling the story of how I failed—the story of my regret—a story with a clear ending, like a wall, or a cliff, or a fence, and still, I can’t forget.

I’m going to your house tonight to cry in the street, like a lunatic, like a sick coyote, like a howler monkey with no self-respect, flailing in the rain out there. Maybe you’ll invite me in for a cup of tea instead of calling the police. I hate getting pushed in the cruiser, laughed at, and driven home, like I’ve got Alzheimer’s or something and shouldn’t be out on my own.

I just keep hearing the Doors’ Jim Morrison singing “baby won’t you light my fire? Our love can be a funeral pyre.” That’s why I was going to ignite myself in front of her house, but it’s raining so hard I can’t get myself lit.

I know Annie could give a shit less if I went up in flames—in fact, she’d probably be relieved. But there she was standing in the doorway, motioning me toward her. I ran toward her, oblivious to everything else. An SUV ran over me. It broke both my legs, my right arm, ruptured my spleen, bruised me all over, and snapped four of my ribs. I’ve been in the hospital for two weeks and Annie hasn’t visited yet. When I get out of the hospital, I think I’ll give igniting myself outside her house another try. Or, maybe I’ll go some place in search of wisdom, like Skippy’s Bar and Grill, the community college, or Tibet.

Oh my God! It’s Annie! She‘s here! Annie!

Annie: “Hi Johnny. I’m here to give you what you need.”

She pulled a water bottle out of her purse, took off the cap and started pouring it’s contents on my bed. It wasn’t water, it was white gas—the stuff you use in Coleman stoves or lanterns. The nurse got the bottle away from her and wrestled her to the floor. The police came and took her away.

At that second, I realized Annie is crazier than me, and I would be so much better off if I never saw her again. But on the other hand, she loved me so much she wanted to murder me; so I would feel better. There’s something to that, right?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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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.

I was scrubbing the cushion like a maniac. I had spilled some of Mother’s special pickle relish on the sofa—‘bout one of the worst things that could possibly happen.

She made the relish in 1993 and it had magically “retained” its freshness. Every morning, Mother used tweezers to put a microscopic bit of her relish on her lightly toasted English muffin, along with Nutella and horseradish. She swore the mix, since it contained the ageless relish, was keeping her young, although to anybody who bothered to look, Mother was aging like the rest of us.

I had spilled the relish on the sofa when I was headed to the kitchen to pour it down the sink; to replace it with a fresh batch. I did that every week. In a way, dumping the relish was mean, but in another way it was a caring gesture that I made to keep Mother feeling good. I thought it was harmless until she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

When she got home from the doctor, instead of being angry and sad, she told me to make ten English muffins. I made them with the usual toppings. Over the course of five hours, she ate them all and then went to bed.

The next morning she ate all of the remaining relish. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the jar was filled with relish I had gotten at the supermarket two days ago. After she vomited, she watched CNN all day, cursing at the TV as usual. Six months later, she died. She was buried in a beautiful cemetery with a valley view. I know this is crazy, but every week I leave a new jar of relish on her grave. I was ashamed for what I had done, but at the same time, I was glad I had done it. Shame and happiness keep grating against each other in my conscience—in my soul. I think the opposition between good and bad engaged by a single deed is operative in everything we do. We may not be aware of it, but “good” may have bad consequences, and “bad” may have good consequences. Emphasis on one, blinds us to the other. But where does the “emphasis” come from? Circumstances. Nothing transcendent. Nothing psychological. Just circumstances: the contestable elements that constitute the human habitat: that surround us and affect us conceptually and physically. Strangely, I want to say I “relish” this insight.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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