In the Art of Rhetore there are no fixed rules. Except for gravity, of course, that and some kid standing outside the room wanting to add the very class you just announced as full. Kid has a page-boy haircut like early Mia Farrow, though. Might as well add him. Never thumb wrestle with your instincts, or with a Eurasian Sparrowhawk. Never sleep on an escalator. Confucius says you can get beer real cheap in Wisconsin, but keep that one tight. Hey, pay attention! Seven Elements of Loam Later Named. Remember? Time just passed you by like a gut-shot wolverine in the night. Feel that shiver? That was your soul.
The Seven Elements of Loam are: Narrative, Compare and Contrast, Persuasion, Process, Definition, Exemplification, and Livestock.
1.) When I say Narrative I mean story. There are five traits deadly to a story. These traits are calamitous and will result in ruin. First is excessive courage. If reckless, the story will run crazy into the night and be bludgeoned by a camel buggy. People say it’s great to be bold. Small children are bold, too; where does that get them?
Second is fear. Meet with your students individually on cold winter Wednesday afternoons and tell them this: If you bring a cat to a yak fight you better have one wonderful cat. Third is impulsivity. One day Confucius is riding his yellowish moped very fast through a small town in Florida. Sheriff pulls him over. Sheriff says, “Son, why you going so fast?” Confucius say, “To arrive home quickly.” Sheriff smiles. “How quick you moving right now?” Fourth. Fourth? My legs feel all tingly; sometimes they soar. Gulls, funny balloons, etc. To be honest I just finished a bottle of fermented arachnid and I’m rather sleepy. I was up, and now I’m down. I did mention gravity, right? A teacher prefers high ground. Fifth is a sense of humor. I forget why. One morning I awoke anew and saw a sparrow taking a bath in dust. Same morning I saw the sunlight off Mia Farrow’s goose-bumped arms: it was pebbled gold. Where is Jeff Goldblum? Gone away, maybe. Pebbled gold, I swear. Sometimes I wish I was a poet so I could freeze it all. But I digress.
2.) When I say Compare and Contrast I mean watch your back. Bottled water never beat gasoline per gallon without petrol helping drink the bottle. Do not gobble proffered goat, if blue. One day Confucius sells me a leopard only I get home and the spots fall off. Now what? I could tell some god but which one would I tell? When lesson planning, drink only oxygen and doubt. When grading, only ale. When teaching, drink nothing but horse milk from a tall horse. This is what I mean by Comparison.
3.) When I say Persuasion I mean have you ever closed your eyes and listened as several hundred thousand musk deer stampede a pizza parlor? Ditty sat on the edge of a cliff and cried for seventy days. How’s that fashionable sweater feeling now, Mr. P? Then Mia Farrow appeared and planted him a garden. She looked tan, her face lean, cheekbones a manifesto to themselves, as she knelt and planted potatoes, and nearby a row of onions. “Tranquility,” she said, brushing the soil from her hands. “The onions will make the potatoes’ eyes water and you will never need to toil again.” Diddy ceased his crying. Mia handed him a cheese pie. It had waves of white meringue and colorful sprinkles. She said it was made from the tears of a sad lamb. Diddy ate the pie. Mia dove off the cliff, into the river. I watched from a shrubbery and wondered. The sun lowered. Rodents scurried by. So silent was I, an owl perched atop my head and phoned his mother, collect. Now you understand Persuasion.
4.) When I say Process I mean watch where you’re going. One student is a single, two a pair, three a trio. You grow old; they remain young. A village will pave a forest for a subdivision and then name the roads Leaping Deer and Green Meadow. Never shoot an arrow straight up into the sky. Never rely on a cloud. If a rock moves on its own, it isn’t a rock. Every day now, Goldblum takes long walks, hunting and fishing. Once he was stalking musk deer in the icy highlands of Snog. I followed, as is my way. Goldblum saw a mighty stag far away and took it with his bow. A lucky shot. Only as he neared did he see the flooded river. Now you know what I mean of Process.
5.) When I say Definition I mean no parking on the dance floor. One day Confucius invited his bocce club over for dinner. In preparation, he attempted to cook three meals at once. One was a lobster roll pastry shell stuffed with Wellfleet oysters, duck breasts, venison cutlets, ham hocks, and horse ribs. The second was an ostrich egg omelet of herbs, sorrels, mustard greens, and truffles. The third was nachos. In the end, all went fine, but many words were spoken about the omelets as just a tad bit runny. Also a dove entered the dining hall, flew into the ceiling fan. Goldblum grabbed it and bit off its head—always an ill omen. This is what I mean by Definition.
6.) When I say Exemplification I mean listen to the lips of Mia Farrow. She says, “The way of the wind is only revealed in the arms of the trees.” Otherwise have a point. Stay focused. Not what story do you know; rather, what story do you tell? Mia loses me now in her morning strolls—all these double backs, cliff-climbs, thrown shrubberies, and twice fording of rivers. Does she know I follow? No one can answer. I ask Confucius and he stares at my forehead in silence. Then he tells me in America the universities have cows with windows cut in the sides so you can see their stomachs. I’d like to have a window for my heart. Or my liver, curtains, too. I know something is going on in there. One season Mia wore a bikini made of bark. That was a good season.
7.) When I say Livestock I mean the use of eloquent speech. There they are, strolling like blue cranes along the frozen edges of Lake Toyota. The moon is an obese moon tonight. Goldblum looks tanned and healthy. Even the cast on his arm seems to glow. Mia Farrow looks like Mia Farrow. A dog barks in the distance, a cougar retches, and I miss my pet yak. I look up again—their hands together make a triangle. A sort of theory. Numbers alone confer no advantage. Maybe. My heart feels like a Man Purse picked from the gullet of a swan. There goes a shooting star, or most likely a sigh. Yes, it was a sigh—I can see my breath in the air.
I need a drink or two,
but I’ll have 14.