About this Blog

The Coming of the Toads blog is written by Joe Linker.Joe Pizza Face by Emily

I attended El Camino College and California State University at Dominguez Hills, earning a BA in English, with a minor in 20th Century Thought and Expression, and an MA in English, while putting in six years in the ACNG. Over a decade of adjunct work bookends 25 years in what Han-shan called the “red dust” of business (CPCU, 1992). I was a Hawthorne Fellow at the Attic Institute from April to August, 2012.

“The Coming of the Toads” is the title of a short poem by E. L. Mayo (1904-1979):

“The very rich are not like you and me,”
Sad Fitzgerald said, who could not guess
The coming of the vast and gleaming toads
With precious heads which, at a button’s press,
The flick of a switch, hop only to convey
To you and me and even the very rich
The perfect jewel of equality.

(E. L. Mayo. Collected Poems. New Letters, University of Missouri – Kansas City. Volume 47, Nos. 2 & 3, Winter-Spring, 1980-81.)

The young toads were ugly televisions, but those eerily glowing tubes contained a lovely irony. The toads invaded indiscriminately. The bluish-green light emitted from the eyes of the toads emerged from every class of home, all experiencing the same medium for their evening massage. Mayo’s poem is a figurative evaluation of the effects of media on culture.

In Fitzgerald’s short story “The Rich Boy” (1926), the narrator says, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” But Mayo doesn’t seem to be quoting from Fitzgerald’s story. He seems to be referencing the famous, rumored exchange by the two rich-obsessed, repartee aficionados Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Hemingway wrote, in his short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” (1936),

“He remembered poor Julian and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, ‘The very rich are different from you and me.’ And how some one had said to Julian, Yes, they have more money. But that was not humorous to Julian. He thought they were a special glamourous race and when he found they weren’t it wrecked him just as much as any other thing that wrecked him.”

Did TV have a democratizing effect, or are its effects numbing? In Act 2, Scene 1, of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” Duke Senior, just sent to the woods without TV, mentions the toad’s jewel:

“Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile, hath not old custom made this life more sweet than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods more free from peril than the envious court? Here feel we but the penalty of Adam, the seasons’ difference, as the icy fang and churlish chiding of the winter’s wind, which, when it bites and blows upon my body, even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say ‘This is no flattery: these are counselors that feelingly persuade me what I am.’ Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head; and this our life exempt from public haunt finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones and good in every thing. I would not change it.”

As you like it – it’s all good, Duke.

Poor Fitzgerald didn’t embrace television, but today he would cradle a metamorph tadpole in his lap. What would it convey? The toad’s jewel is more than a metaphor; the churlish shows of television are today the Duke’s counselors. We enter the space of the light box, and the toad’s jewel poisons us to the paradox of staying put, to electronic exile, but does it contain its own antidote (“rather ask the poet“)? The short Mayo poem captures the concerns The Coming of the Toads blog amplifies: the effects of media on culture; reading and writing; the technologically engaged sensorium encaged in light-show effects; the anecdotal essay; the poem as pun, metaphor as doubt; what to read, and how; and what to write, and how.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
The Coming of the Toads blog is Copyright 2007-2014, Joe Linker.
To contact, comment on any post, or email: thecomingofthetoads@gmail.com.

Read outside the blog:

Posts selected by WordPress editors for Freshly Pressed:
Poem for Stevie Smith in a Manner of Stevie Smith” (6 Feb 2014);
Notes on the Difficulty of Reading a New Poem” (2 Dec 2013);
Notes on Experience, Story, and Voice” (22 Mar 2013).

Below: A page from Silent Quicksand: “Wailing Rail,” JAZZSKIN,” and “Amuse and Abuse,” appeared in Silent Quicksand, Fall 1973, #3 (a poetry and art magazine of El Camino College).

Recent Posts

Frames and Paints

Apropos pickle
Butte barely there in tumbleweed distance
Colloquial circus on edge of town
Drab hard rust
Emergent sea
Fish scale sliver
Glass stippled bass dress
Hercules sleeping like a cat
I don’t know slick
Just relax
Kairos
Let there be dark
Maroon full of water
Noun ironing board
Oh peel up
Preen winged words
Quick thick sailboats pass across a canvas
Red banal rose
Startled pimientos brush along a landscape
Thesis slope mint
U-pick raspberry squeeze
Very faraway pink
White lime yellow summer clouds
X marks tableau vivant spot
Yield sudden silk
Zeus striped sock lint

  1. At the Beach with Peepa and Moopa 8 Replies
  2. A Cat’s Argument 6 Replies
  3. An Academic Argument 8 Replies
  4. The Assumption: A Graphic Post 15 Replies
  5. Hoot and Nani: Music for Halloween 7 Replies
  6. Two Graphic Novels: Gipi’s “Notes for a War Story,” and Rutu Modan’s “Exit Wounds” 8 Replies
  7. Costume Chitchat 9 Replies
  8. Baseball Pitch Sequence Tracking and Guitar Chord and Scale Illustrations 6 Replies
  9. The Poet Who Would Rhyme Orange 14 Replies
  10. “Therapy”: A Kierkegaardian Sitcom 2 Replies
  11. Old Towels 20 Replies
  12. The Syllabication of Desire 8 Replies
  13. Ruddy Rubescent Red 17 Replies
  14. C 10 Replies
  15. Punk Villanelle 9 Replies
  16. The Sneeze 2 Replies
  17. Cadmean Victory 7 Replies
  18. A Pepper & Tomato Graphic Story 12 Replies
  19. On the Moon 18 Replies
  20. The Forest, the Haircut, the Pothole, and the Hedgehog 12 Replies
  21. Actually, Clarice Lispector 2 Replies
  22. The Ballad of the Happy Cafe: Mimi Pond’s “Over Easy” 8 Replies
  23. Abaft the Blues Fest 4 Replies
  24. Baseball and the run-on sentence 6 Replies
  25. Sidewalk Chalk Pastel with Haiku 7 Replies
  26. Flaubert’s “A Simple Heart” 5 Replies
  27. Allotment of Melancholy 6 Replies
  28. Sea Chanty at the Wave Door Inn 2 Replies
  29. Baseball Poem with Hidden Asterisk 6 Replies
  30. Fickle Moon 10 Replies
  31. Chatterbox 2 Replies
  32. On Discussion 8 Replies