Triadic Tongue-Twisters*
(after the style of Algernon Charles Swinburn’s “Nephelidia” – a self-parody, 1880)

In a totalitarian tenure the torture transgresses theatrical themes thought to threaten,
What once were the wonders of widely held wisdom which won’t work a week if the world wages war.
Do the billionaire bribes and campaign contributions combine to corrupt the Congressional cretins
Whose grubbing for goodies, grotesque genuflections, and greed for some graft guarantee gruesome gore?

At the Temple of Mammon, of course, all that money collapses the currency, causing inflation,
Which baffles the bankers who’ve bet on The Bubble believing their bullshit about rogue roulette.
The gamblers and grifters who grin at their gains call their intrigue “investments” to cloak their creative
Collusion with crooks who conspire to concoct clever crime complicated, derived from a debt.

Now, Danny DeVito and Arnold the Austrian Oak are the actors who added amusement
To cinema scenes where they waltzed through the mayhem made merry by tunes like “I’d die for this dance.”
The “Twins” took a trip with their girlfriends who gladly gave up their employment to help on the highway
In hopes of reviving a ruined relationship resting on rumor and raunchy romance.

“Digression,” you say? What has this screen seduction to do with design of a dogma deriding
Deliberate doses of downbeats defining desired expectation occurring on time?
Not to mention assistance from alliteration and assonance aiding the ear to assemble
The sounds of the song in their sequence which signals the anticipation of end-stopping rhyme.

In a poem by Algernon Swinburne we sometimes suspect that he’s putting us on for a purpose,
To savor how silly his syllables sound when he stretches them out to a ludicrous length.
Anapests, dactyls, and iambic-trochees confuse, by their counting, the rhythm restricting
The accents to four per each lineal measure, a simple solution that should be a strength.

Accentual Verse with its signature stresses has fallen from favor, effectively absent,
From post-modern poetry, palpably personal, pledging profundity easy and quick.
“We can already do it,” the students exalt in an excess of ecstasy prior to penning
Their premier Panglossian paean to perfect, pronounced as preferred, to the ear sounding sick.

Like the playing of tennis without net or racquet, required by the rules of the contest consisting
Of carefully parsing peripheral problems like how did the lack of a melody maim
The sense and the feeling, the tone and intention, with strange silent symbols surviving on paper?
For arithmetic, sure. Not so much for those lyricists sculpting with sound in the blind Milton’s name.

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Note *: "Tongue-twisters are phrases or sentences which are hard to speak fast, usually because of alliteration or a sequence of words with very similar sounds. Tongue twisters help develop speech skills in young children as well as older children who need additional help with speech therapy." -- kidspot

"If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickeled peppers,
How many peppers were in the peck that Peter piper picked?" -- traditional

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2019