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Rhymes With Else

by Dear Jon
June 28, 2002

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Sort 151_Dear Jon-Rhymes With Else ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

Not to seem callous about a journalistic institution, but there's an opening for an advice column in the Tribune syndicate. Do you plan on trying for the job?

Sincerely,
Nimrod


Dear Nimrod,

No, I don’t have enough closet space for all the fan mail I would get. Besides, I prefer working for free and only two days a week.


ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

How come there are no words in the English language that rhyme with orange, silver, or purple? How did these words find their way into the English language in the first place? And how come our government hasn't done something about this?

Sincerely,
Rhymes without Reason


Dear Reason,

Congress ought to pass a law that every word in American Standard English must rhyme with something else. The reason that Congress hesitates, is that they cannot find a word to rhyme with “else.” The closest they could get to rhyming “something else” was “drumming pulse” which is really lame.

If every word also had a rhyme, poetry would be much easier to write. Of course, I am not referring to the kind of poetry composed by people like S.E. Shepherd. S.E. Shepherd comes from a particular school of composition that claims that all poetry does NOT have to rhyme. These poets, instead, seek a deeper rhythm to language discovered in the clarity of image. This, of course, is exactly why Western Civilization is going to heck faster than a bat out of --well -- heck, I suppose. First, people did not think they needed to rhyme their poetry. Then, people did not think they needed to paint pictures of anything that looked like anything else. After that, we slid down the slippery slope. Twisted scrap metal sold as art and displayed in city parks; novels which describe people instead of events; movies that make us feel sorry for drug addicts; Public Radio.

It is not that the “high-brow” are ruining this country. Happily, there are plenty enough real folks who keep Hallmark Greeting Cards a booming business. My only complaint is that the “high-brow” do not understand what is pretty, what is fun to look at, or what is exciting to read. Now they spend their time telling everybody else and controlling who gets which awards.

The truth is, high-brow folks have NEVER known what is pretty. They think that things that “evoke” are more worthwhile than things that are pretty or fun. I say, things that are pretty sure do evoke a lot from me. Anyway, high-brow people need to come over to my place for hot-dogs and beer imported from the fine state of Missouri and they need to lighten up.

REAL poetry, as any sensible six year-old can tell you, is the kind that ends with rhyme and can always be sung to the tune of “Gilligan’s Island.” This is the poetry that celebrates the spirit of all those who hail from Nantucket. This is part of a wider stream of American culture, a flood of creativity that evokes a lot of stuff, including national pride. I am referring to the art that makes America great: the songs of Irving Berlin, the painting of Norman Rockwell, the novels of Zane Grey, the movies of John Woo.

To give you an example, I thought I would try my own hand at evoking my heart-felt emotions in poetry.

Once on an American time,
our poets wrote verses in rhyme.
Whose fault: Waldens’ or Frost?
Somewhere something got lost.
Rhymeless stanzas just ain’t worth a dime.

And nor is that scrap metal mass
of iron, chrome, steel and brass,
aluminum and rust;
bought with tax-payer’s trust,
it sits down-town on City Hall’s grass.

This picture of random spilt paint?
Confirms that my tastes are just quaint.
Art critics love it
but they can all shove it,
the price-tag alone makes me faint.

The prize for a writer’s success,
depends on the market and press.
400 pages of fiction,
are a character’s description,
and plots are for gardens, I guess.

Could you pass me a hot dog and the remote, please?

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