Sunday, July 3, 2011


“Moderation ought never be taken to extremes." – Anonymous

Well, okay. Anonymous didn’t say that. I did, during a recent doomed effort to transform myself into an aphorist along the lines of Messrs. La Rochefoucauld, Lichtenberg, and Wilde. I have always relished the keen or catty bon mot, and so I set out to become a master of the Pithy Truism.

All very well, but I ran into a headwind straight away. These sorts of wise quips and witticisms all have one thing in common: they are succinct. As anyone who knows me will readily confirm, succinctness is not my forte. I have something of a tendency toward volubility; as my spouse is wont to observe, I can “download” until people want to cover their ears and scream. (Just to give you some idea, I could hold forth at great length on the subject of brevity.) True story: When my daughter was about three years old, she made the mistake of asking me an innocent question, whereupon I launched into an encyclopedic discourse about lord knows what. She scrunched up her beautiful little face, rolled her eyes and pleaded, “DAD! Don’t say more words.” I was so stunned and proud that I actually shut up, and that remains one of our most precious father-daughter memories to this day. Which, naturally, I recite in great detail at every opportunity, to her endless chagrin.

Of course, this prolixity shows up in my writing, too. The first draft of SHE’S MY DAD emerged from my fevered mind at over 173 thousand words, from which I then cut almost 24 thousand. A lot of unnecessary long-windedness, to say the least. Determined to write more efficiently as I work on my new book, I sternly order myself to be concise and to the point, with no ruffles and flourishes. The result isn’t fewer ruffles and flourishes, but fewer words at all, since I’ve hamstrung myself from letting the prose flow naturally in a blathering torrent, which is the way I write. (Can you tell? Believe it or not, I heavily edited this entry.) That's what comes of trying to be brief, when one’s natural inclination is to be effusive.

The one area where I did have a bit of luck at keeping things short was in the realm of poetry, even though poetry is the art of saying much in few words, whereas my art involves saying much, period. Nonetheless, I did manage to compose a few reasonably compressed poems, which folks seemed to find engaging rather than embarrassing. (Whew!) Here’s an example of my attempt at poetic concision:

Calming Waters

When the common uncommonly riles
and constant strain of constant pain
pops rivets from sanity's support beams,
I yearn for refuge and renewal
someplace on a solitary seacoast.

Where salty waves mesmerize
with metronomic eternity,
isolated with my transience
I seek to rediscover the serenity
of relative insignificance.

Pretty succinct, right?

But, as is said of the dinosaur DNA in Jurassic Park, “Nature always finds a way.” Before long, this is what I produced:

The Porcine Pedant

It occasionally crosses my mind
-- as a termite will a hotplate--
while I wallow porcine, pompous,
pickling in the brine of my megamorphic rectitude,
that my wonderful existence as Emperor of the Over-Learned Bores,
attained after a lifelong struggle to absorb more useless mental chaff than
any mortal in history
to be spewed as water from a busted hydrant in blathering cascades without end,
may be placed in jeopardy by my own gluttonous disregard
for the mundane verity
that a subsistence upon swollen ego and
oleaginous orotundity and
animal grease
must inevitably result in ghastly bloat of form and deadly stress of ticker...

But then!

Secure in my conviction that the Almighty
daren't apply to my sociopathic rotundity
the laws of physics by which She governs the rest of the Universe,
I reach for yet another fistful of tallow
to pound into my over-clogged capillaries,
bravely marching in Strasbourg goose-step to martial strains
played by McDonald's Cholesterol Band
into a glorious future of back-pain and
wheezing for breath and
double airplane seats
to accommodate a posterior grown broader than a Simmental cow's,
over the cliff of myocardial infarction to that intellectually barren
Land of Rubber Tubes
which lies just short of the
Kingdom of Mental Parsnips
where nary an ignoramus can sight-translate
Trilobite me
from the original Aramaic
and enemas lurk behind green curtains
waiting to pounce with radiator flush
and Vaselined nozzles.

Alas for brevity!

Hmm... perhaps I should try my hand at writing a short story.

Until next we meet,
Be at peace.
Lannie Woulff

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