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Syndic Literary Journal

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The Art of the Spoken Word



Written by Paul M. Levitt


Narrated by Syndic Literary Journal Poets

Published by LeRoy Chatfield


Introduction by the Publisher

Paul. M. Levitt, Professor Emeritus of English,  University of Colorado at Boulder, has written 14 Moral Fables that I have agreed to publish ~ and narrate ~  in serial-fashion in Syndic Literary Journal.

The titles of these Moral Fables are: Bad Words; Crybaby; Making Believe and Day Dreaming; Drawing the Line; Eating; Pocket Money; Nay Saying; Practice; Respect; Shouting; Tidiness; Telling the Truth; Whining; and No Bullying

The narration for each Moral Fable is  provided by a Poet  from Syndic Literary Journal.

I hope you will enjoy these moral fables as much as I do.

~ LeRoy Chatfield, Publisher





Written by Paul M. Levitt, University of Colorado at Boulder;

Narrated by LeRoy Chatfield,Publisher Syndic Literary Journal.

     Brucie Blastoff had a voice like the roar of a volcano.  At home when he spoke, the whole house shook.  Lamps blew over, pictures flew off the walls, knickknacks toppled, dishes tumbled, and the dust under the rug rose like a cloud.  Out of doors, his voice shook the tree leaves and flower blossoms; it raised the fur of cats and caused papers in the street to swirl in the air.

     His parents had to wear ear plugs.  They also had to nail down the furniture and tie up the dishes.  They put shutters on the windows to prevent the glass from breaking and padded the walls to keep Brucie’s voice from wrecking the whole house.

     A thousand times a day his parents politely asked him to lower his voice.  But he kept right on shouting.  His mother softly pointed out that children should speak sweet and low.  But he kept right on shouting.  His father gently reminded him that children should be seen and not heard.  But he kept right on shouting.  His grandfather, who was rather old-fashioned, suggested he try self-control.  But nothing helped.  Brucie continued to howl and yell.

     His father thought that a doctor needed to be called to do something about Brucie’s vocal cords.  His mother disagreed and said that what Brucie needed was a soft word.  Brucie’s grandfather had another idea, a good old-fashioned spanking.  But the doctor was not called; Brucie was not scolded; and he was certainly not spanked.

     Everything changed, though, the day the new cleaning lady came to the house.  The first time she heard Brucie blast off, she shook him by the shoulders and bellowed:  “BE QUIET—OR ELSE!!!”

     Suddenly the house was silent.  Nothing stirred, not even a dish or a knickknack.  All was still.  Sound waves no longer bounced from wall to wall.  The lamps and pictures no longer tossed about; the dust no longer swirled.  Brucie’s parents, who were scandalized by the cleaning lady’s threat, couldn’t believe their eyes—or rather their ears.  Brucie had, for the first time, stopped shouting.  He was quiet.  And when, at last, he was asked to speak, he wouldn’t.  In fact, he refused to speak even a single word.

     “What’s wrong?” his father asked.  “Speak!  Talk to me!”

     Brucie merely stared at his father—and said nothing.

     “Answer your father,” commanded his mother.  “You’ll have to speak sooner or later, particularly when you want your allowance.”

     But Brucie remained still as stone.

     “Say something!” ordered his father.


     “I must need a hearing aid,” said his grandfather, shaking his head from side to side, as if he were trying to clear his ears.  “I can’t hear a word.”

     “That’s because he didn’t say anything,” said Brucie’s father.

     “This is carrying self-control too far,” remarked his grandfather.

     “I’ll double your pocket money if you speak,” said his mother.

     But Brucie spoke not a word, not at home, not at school, and not at play.  His parents took him to see a doctor to determine if he had lost his speech.  But when the doctor said that he could find nothing physically wrong with Brucie, they were stumped.  Every night the topic of conversation was the same:  why was Brucie refusing to speak?  Needless to say, every person in the family had an explanation.

     “His feelings are hurt,” said his mother.  “He’s a sensitive creature, unaccustomed to having anyone yell at him.”

     Brucie’s father agreed.  “Yes,” he said, “Brucie’s like a delicate flower.  And we’ve bruised the bloom.”

     “Rubbish and nonsense,” exploded Brucie’s grandfather.  “Sensitive, my foot!  A delicate flower, in a pig’s eye!  He’s just spiteful.  I say ignore him—and he’ll start talking soon enough.”

     When the cleaning lady was asked her opinion, she said, “Just enjoy the quiet.”


What would you advise?

  1. that Brucie continue to remain silent;
  2. that Brucie start to yell again;
  3. that Brucie take voice lessons;
  4. that Mrs. and Mrs. Blastoff shout at Brucie;
  5. that Mr. and Mrs. Blastoff not speak to Brucie;
  6. that Mr. and Mrs. Blastoff take the cleaning lady’s advice?




Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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