Category Archives: topographia

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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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].


It wasn’t far. It wasn’t near. It was nowhere. The great absence. It’s where he exists. Tubes. Respirators. Eyes closed. Comatose. The hospital room is brightly lit day and night—like a greenhouse growing flowers or tomatoes. The bed is high off the floor. With the push of a button you can raise and lower the head-end like an expensive media room settee. But, there’s no television, no radio, no connection to the outside world, and why should there be? The man in the bed is in another world. He hasn’t opened his eyes or shown any interest in anything since he was wheeled in two weeks ago.

The floors are so clean and shiny you can see up your pant leg when you look down. The tiles are brown and yellow—earthy, solid, pastoral even. When you look out the window you see a sprawling parking lot and the Jersey City skyline—it’s early evening so the office buildings are twinkling and bits of New York City are peeking through the gaps in Jersey City’s spacious architectural sprawl.

There are flowers delivered fresh every day with a note attached: “Love, Susie.” He has his own personal woolen blanket with a giant red letter “B” woven into it. His name is Franky Silt. What’s the “B” stand for, everybody asks? Bastard? Boyfriend? Bankrupt? What?

There is one chair by the bed telling you “One visitor at a time.” Beige metal with a fake black leather seat, worn by years of vigils held over the dying and the healing, and those like him, in neither neither land: alive and dead, binding and void, null and valid.

Time for bed, which is ironic since just about everybody’s been in bed all day. Soft and soothing music starts to play over the hospital’s PA system. It’s a richly layered instrumental version of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” Somebody has a sense of humor. I touch Franky on the forehead. His life-sign monitors beep wildly and a alarm goes off. I look up, take a breath, and disappear. Franky is dead.


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

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.

A video reading of this figure is on YouTube: Johnnie Anaphora

Topograhpia

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].


She clicked her heels together and said, “There’s no place like Olive Garden.” For some bizarre reason she expected to be transported to the ersatz piece of Italy hunkered in the mall: the epitome of coopted culture draped in a death-defying stereotype embroidered with profit-making glitz.

All the salad you can eat—oh, what an inauthentic touch! Olive Garden doesn’t even meet the standards of a low-budget movie set. From entry to exit—from the plaster portico to the plastic grapes, it’s a middle class muddle of layer fake.


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

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].

We lived on the edge–the edge of life, the edge of time. I took solace in the small red feathers that were left to me by my insane father before he jumped in front of a red Jeep Cheorkee and exploded into fragments of red flesh. The irony was in the color: red. Red feathers floating gently on a summer’s breeze; a red bubbly puddle glistening and barely steaming on the black asphalt, my tearful eye mirrored in its ooze.

Blood and feathers compliment each other, up and down. Feathers borne upward on a breeze. Blood dripping toward earth as a display of gravity’s power to bring us, and everything else down.

Sadly, the shared color red is an accident whose meaning is solely in the color shared.

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

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].

A tattered carpet with images of Russian helicopters spraying bullets on small crumbling villages. Young girls with shiny black eyes and jingling coins draped from green and red and purple and blue dresses, and boys in baggy pants, white tunics and every color vests. It’s not suburban New Jersey (although it could be). It’s somewhere in Afghanistan where war has been raging for as long as I can remember and it is a miracle that anybody is still left alive.

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

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].

Red velour towels. Purple velvet bedspread. Dark blue carpet (wool) with big orange flowers, flying lips and circling cupids with little bows and arrows pointed outward toward the walls.

This was my getaway–my secret paradise hidden on the back side of an elevator shaft, accessible by my little fingerprints or by my guest yelling “let me out of here” when the elevator reached the secret floor.

Tonight was my ‘encounter’ with Stony–a tall, blond, well-built porn star with long blond hair–the kind you see in shampoo ads–beautiful beyond your imagination.

I heard her yelling “let me out of here” and I flipped the tiny black switch. As the elevator doors opened, I opened my red cashmere bathrobe. She stood there looking at me like I was some kind of circus freak.

“Wow! It’s even smaller than your hands would indicate, and they indicate a micro-penis.”

I was humiliated and closed my robe. I picked up the green glass champagne bottle from the chrome and glass end table and hit her over the head. It made a thudding sound and she made a thudding sound when she hit the floor.

She was dead. I was screwed. I thought, “If I were President of the United States, I could pardon myself. But I’m not, and I can’t. Damn.”

So, my Plan B was to escape. I would hide out in a third-rate nursing home disguised as David Dump, half demented cranky old man. Once things cooled off, I would buy a camper van and drive to Venezuela and get a job as a mid-level dictator. “Plenty of prostitutes there,” I thought as I washed my hands, smiled,  and prepared to call a cab.

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

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].

It had one smeared window overlooking a crowded parking lot. It smelled like stale cigarette smoke. The carpet was shaggy brown–I’m sure it absorbed and hid the dirt. The bed was small–a single about as wide as a tight kitchen countertop. The green bedspread looked like a wilted spinach salad–all rumpled up like the last occupant had just jumped out of it as I came through the door. The walls were light yellow–smoke stained. There was a small plastic plant on the dresser and the TV was small–not much larger than a cereal box.

This was the “free room” that I earned by winning the contest where I had to write a vivid description of my ideal motel room.

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

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].

Dante did a pretty good job of describing hell.

But there is a hell he never imagined:

15-year-olds sitting in a classroom, eager to learn. Teacher teaching, asking questions, getting spirited well-framed answers. All is well.

Big windows. Brightly polished floors. Sun streams in on a warm Autumn day.

You know what happens next. They didn’t–they were growing, thriving angels filled with wonder and vexed by the awkwardness of being 15–just like we were when we were teens.

Over as fast as a trigger can be pulled: the banging, the flashing, the wounding, the dying.

15 year-olds in a classroom. Broken windows. Blood-stained floors. Sun streams in on a warm Autumn day.

Dreams disintegrate in the warm Autumn air.

Nothing is left but grief, anger, fear, and despair.

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

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].

The Blue Lagoon

Iceland—nice land! That’s where the Blue Lagoon is. It is at least two acres of water—but not just any water! As its name suggests, it’s blue—turquoise blue—like a lovely liquid pendant set in volcanic stone!

It springs hot.

It’s silky warmth unfurls and curls around the naked flesh below and flashes and splashes the bobbing heads set like shiny little moving speckles on its surface, in the night, under the stars—lit by the small slice of ice-white moon lying low on the horizon, resting on the fuzzy rising steam. 

Iceland—nice land!

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

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].

The Field

I have a seven-acre field that I’ve landscaped in what what I call the “controlled chaos” mode. It’s pretty much on its own with goldenrod, wild grasses, milkweed, nettles, giant thistles, daisies, phlox, alfalfa, foxglove, wild roses, field ferns, wild strawberries, and more. All I do is pull enough of the plants that tend toward making a mono-culture of it–mainly the goldenrod and milkweed–to enable the other plants to thrive. It is populated and visited by birds (goldfinches, field sparrows, crows, a pair of king birds, buzzing hummingbirds and more), butterflies (monarchs, admirals, yellow and black swallowtails, checkered butterflies, sulfur butterflies, and a number of different kinds of moths), dragonflies, spiders, ants, garter snakes, ladybugs, the occasional tick, and more. Turkeys wander across the field.  Foxes hunt for mice. Deer come to graze in the early evening. Yesterday, as I was walking along the field’s edge, curled up sound asleep by a trail leading into the woods was a tiny little fawn.

The field hosts a vernal pond in March when the snow melts–a breeding place for black yellow-spotted salamanders.

At the field’s edge there are two bird boxes spaced about 100 meters apart.  Currently, there’s a tree swallow family nesting in one box and a bluebird family nesting in the other. If things go like they usually do, after the bluebirds move out, a pair of house wrens will take up residence.  I love to listen to the male when he shows up and perches on top of the box and starts to loudly sing for a mate.

I have mowed a trail that winds through the field.  The grass grows shoulder high alongside it. One of our favorite family adventures is walking the trail at night in late spring when there are thousands of fireflies flashing all around us. We stop every few feet and stand there oohing–awestruck over and over again by hundreds and hundreds of tiny random bursts of light.

The field is a hobby, a place to wander and wonder together, and a natural home for insects, birds, plants, herptiles, reptiles, and mammals.

In sum, that’s the field.

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

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].

Our cabin in the woods is one mile off the road over a narrow dirt track with a locked chain across its entrance that says in big red letters “Keep Out”. The road winds up a steep hill past huge white pines, maples, birches, and a few scraggly cherry trees. The cabin is one room–12 by 18 feet.  It has no plumbing or electricity. Outside, it’s covered by bat & board pine siding–inside, rough unfinished plywood panels. It has dark-green shingles and a rusty stove-pipe sticking out of the roof. There are seven windows looking in all directions–through the woods, over the valley, across the lake, down the hill. There’s a wood-stove with a dirty blue carpet in front of it, and pushed up against two windows looking over the valley is an old chipped-up white porcelain-topped table with three squeaky white chairs around it. There’s a gun rack, fishing poles, two canoe paddles, a fold out queen-sized bed, a folded-up cot, three sets of snowshoes, and a narrow counter with a Coleman stove on it along with mugs, and a tea kettle.  Hanging from one of the rafters is a kerosene lamp–black and gold.  There’s a small bookcase by the couch filled with children’s books on the top shelf and firewood on the bottom.

Many happy family memories live in that cabin in the woods–hot chocolate, reading out loud, listening to sounds at night–the waterfall, the crickets, the coyotes, the owls. What a place!

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