Polyptoton (po-lyp-to’-ton): Repeating a word, but in a different form. Using a cognate of a given word in close proximity.
I stole. I was stealing. I had nothing but my own two hands to keep me alive. Sure, every once in awhile some kind souls would hand me money as they passed my plastic bag home on the street by the park. I would spend the money on cigarettes, muscatel, and food, in that order. Every once-a-while I’d have to spring for a new Bic lighter when mine ran out of gas. So, I stole a pram. I was going to sell it at the flea market, I would be loaded. Then, I noticed there was a sleeping baby in the pram. Now, in addition to all the other shit I was buried in, I was a kidnapper. As fast as I could, I pushed the pram up to somebody who looked kind, and then, ran away.
It was Monday. It was “fishing day” when I waded around in the park’s Jacob Astor Memorial Fountain collecting coins that people had thrown in over the weekend. It seems that fountain-pitching is the only thing pennies are used for any more. I had an old sock that I put the coins in; so far, I had about fifty-cents, and I’d just about cleaned out the fountain. I figured I would snag around seventy-five cents. Maybe, with a little whining, I could get a banana at the bodega.
Then I noticed a rather large coin. It was bigger than a silver dollar. I bent over and picked it up. Although the water was cold, the coin was warm to the touch. I looked it over. On one side it said “I AM WORTH EVERYTHING” inscribed in an arch paralleling the coin’s rim. Below the inscription there was a cornucopia with three tigers pictured jumping out of it. On the other side it said “BUY WHAT YOU WANT” paralleling the coin’s rim. Pictured below the inscription was an infinity sign set up like a seesaw with two frogs playing on it—sitting on either end.
I decided that the coin was magical. Why not? And why not give it a go for something really expensive that would last me awhile? My first thought was two cartons of Marlboro 27s. No, I would buy five! I’d have a smoke-a-thon with my buddies under the bridge. Just as I was ready to go for it, a little old man in a pointed red hat yelled “Stop you idiot!” I stopped and looked at him—he looked like one those little statues you can get at Walmart to put in your garden. “You can buy anything in the world with that coin!” He yelled. “Yeah, I know. I’m loading up on smokes” I answered. He yelled, “Get over here!” When I got there he stuck his index finger in my ear. I felt something like a washcloth whirring around inside my head washing away my stupidity, lack of ambition, and tendency to fail at everything I ever tried, except stealing. The little guy yelled, “Think big you idiot. This is your only chance!” I yelled, “A car!” The little guy looked like he was going to have a heart attack. I started toward the Subaru dealership and he tripped me. I hit the pavement pretty hard and skinned my knee. He didn’t even apologize, but at that second, I realized what he meant by “think big.” Like a garbage truck or a bus, or a tractor trailer truck. “No!” He yelled “Bigger!”
Ah ha, I had it! The Empire State Building! “No, no, no!” He yelled. This was driving me crazy. Who was this little guy, anyway? Out of frustration, I said “I’ll buy planet Earth.” The little guy said “Beautiful” and disappeared. Now, I own Earth, but nobody believes me. When I tell them, they say things like “Yeah, I own Mars.” Now, when I say “I’d give the world for a cigarette,” I mean it.
I’ve gone back to my old life. Even though I own the world, things are no better. People think I’m crazy. I decided to try stealing a pram again with the intention of selling it at the flea market. So I grabbed what looked like the most expensive one parked by the gate. I started walking at a fast pace, but not running, so as not to attract attention. I looked down and to my horror, there was the little guy, red hat and all, smiling and looking up at me. I let go of the pram, but it turned around and came after me of its own accord. It was faster than me and scooped me up from behind. I shrunk to little guy size as we took off into the sky. I tried to jump out, but I couldn’t move. I passed out. When I woke up I was still little and I was sitting on a giant mushroom wearing a red pointed hat like everybody else.
I like my new buddies and doing contract work for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)
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