Resolutions should be painful
Otherwise they wouldn’t require you to be resolute, they’d only require acquiescence, like all the activities that lead to resolutions, you know, activities that are, shall we say, gainful
So that now your middle
Resembles a fiddle
Of the bass variety
And contra propriety
Announces your entrance into rooms before you’ve even entirely arrived
So that your wife starts in eyeing you like maybe she’s considering becoming unwived.
So you wait for January 1
To come and end your fun
And resolve to start slow so as not to overdo it
Because at your age, the thing about pain is you can’t always play, walk, run, or jog through it.
But far more discouraging than the next-day soreness that wracks you
Is the fact that your dog is so confused and upset by the sight of you getting down on the ground to attempt a sit-up that it goes and attacks you.


  1. Rufus McCain says

    I feel as though the photo must be some perverse rorschach test.

    Caterwaul or a doggerel?

  2. Most readers will already have met [Ogden Nash’s] stylistic patent: the uneven lines shuttling suddenly like a pair of lop-sided nutcrackers with half an assonance still hanging out[…].

    Or sometimes the second line is the longer, and one waits suspensefully as the rhyme slowly teeters down the incline like a pin-table ball, knocking into every obstruction before holing up in the 20,000 […].

    This inherently ludicrous device gathers force when the verse is read in quantity, however, because one begins to sense a parallel between it and Nash’s normal subject-matter. ‘What is Life?’ he asks:

    Life is stepping down a step or sitting in a chair
    And it isn’t there.
    Life is not having been told that the man has just waxed the floor,
    It is pulling doors marked PUSH and pushing doors marked PULL and not noticing notices which say PLEASE USE OTHER DOOR . . .

    Nash’s let-down rhymes and wait-for-it metrics are perfect stylistic equivalents for the missing chairs and slow burns of which civilized masculine living is compounded: waiting for women, putting up with children, social boredom and humiliation, having to work, the agenbite of inwit. […]

    He is, in fact, in line with those humorists who make you laugh at things not because they are funny but because laughing at them makes it easier to stand them — which is, I suppose, the same as calling him a sort of honorary serious writer after all. […]

    [Nash’s Collected Verse from 1929 On] is an ideal present for the middle-aged, respectable, hard-working husband and parent — in fact, for you. […]

    Philip Larkin, ‘Missing Chairs’, in Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982 (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1984), 134-135.


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