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Thomas Cleveland Lane

Reading Thomas Cleveland Lane’s delightful book, Too Many Rhymes, Not Enough Brains, is like eating a box of chocolates. Each page holds a poem with a different texture and flavor, all of them coated with a rich blend of unbridled joy and verbal agility.

Poetry is one of the most difficult writing styles; it requires in-born talent, and Mr. Lane definitely has his share. The range of subjects he tackles with ease and enthusiasm is impressive and truly remarkable. Adults and children alike will smile or laugh at many of the 100-plus verses in this captivating collection. In Lima Beans, for example, Mr. Lane writes: “Weeds and flowers, I don’t mind. To most flora, I am kind. I’m ok with a rose or daisy, but lima beans will make me crazy.” Equally clever and often thought-provoking lines popped up in Mandolin Picks; Ready for Freddy; Mum’s the Verbiage; A Day in the Life of the Planet; Tinkerbelle at 87, and Mother Duck.

Thomas Cleveland Lane’s highly original book, Too May Rhymes, Not Enough Brains, is full of humor, and beautifully written. Reaching the last page is as sad as finding the last chocolate in the box.

~ Irene Woodbury, Author


A Greater Truth is this Book of Beautiful Verse!

Too Many Rhymes, Not Enough Brains
by Thomas Cleveland Lane is a beautifully written book of verse. I suspected this would be the case after I read the author's introduction wherein he intones that much of what he's written is doggerel verse. But this is not true. Humorous, and even sarcastic in places, may be a fair portion of poems in his book, but having no literary value (as defined by doggerel) is simply not true. His humility is rife. But personally speaking, I highly value anything that makes me laugh, makes me feel good and makes me smile.

For these poems are written with style, panache and great cleverness. A fair amount of his poems contain double rhymes and clever, unusual rhymes – what you would expect from an Edgar Allan Poe and Oscar Wilde, along with the clever metaphors and double entendres you learned to expect from the likes of Ogden Nash and Dylan Thomas. Only Lane's poetry, by and large, is not dark and dreary, nor tragic and maudlin. Not even at the end of Part One (the book is divided into two major sections) with A.A.’s Dark Side –is there a side to this tome that is dark or Poe dreary.

If anything, the book as a whole is illuminating, occasionally with a little cynical bite; but more incisively with thought-provoking allusions (literary, commercial and historical) than anything cutting or raw. Lane gets you thinking about the meaning of things you never ever thought to think about. Sometimes like a child, especially with his fables seemingly only for children in Part Two. But what we learn from Lane shows us what we can learn from children is learnable through his verses in "Too Many Rhymes, Not Enough Brains". Actually, at least to me, there aren't too many rhymes; and there is a lot of brains in this book. Just a lot of it is subtle and metaphoric. And sometimes childish, but in a good and fun childish way. Again, very clever and in an "I really got to think about this" kind of way.

Are there flaws? Who cares! No one writes perfection. And damn few write excellence, and that's my point here: Lane has written literary excellence, and with an originality that should remind every critic that the whole is always more important than its parts. Every poem has a punchline - an impact worth remembering and an end worth repeating. Like in the poem Shopping List for Another Day: Little bears that look like gummies/A book: Shoplifting for Dummies. And Ellen Magellan’s Lucky Day: She turned and gave me quite a glare/Is this, she asked, going anywhere?

These poems are two cleverly spun to be nonsensical. Enjoyable examples of this are Lane’s two Jump Rope Shantys, A Tall Tale Indeed (an amazing, short, rhyming prose-poem), Meet + Greet at the All-U-Can-Eat, A Game of Jacks, Your Next Destination and his three shipments of Coming Soon to a Zoo Near You. And especially his fables in the second half. I was particularly impressed by the title poem Too Many Rhymes, Not Enough Brains:

Boola, boola, send us moolah, do not fool around,
An Ivy booster, name of Brewster, yelled to hear the sound.
And though the story’s very pliable,
It’s clear that the poet is certifiable.

There's a lot of music here. Poetry that rolls off the tongue that not only rhymes, but chimes. There's structure here, too, and perhaps a central theme with a sense that it's all right to have fun, even in an intellectual and linguistic-poetic kind of way. But don't take fun too seriously. There are meanings to life deeper than pleasure and enjoyment. One of them is appreciating the simple beauty of cleverly-spun words and well-structured poems. Which reminds me of a greater truth: Poetry needs to make a comeback. Thomas Cleveland Lane and his delightful opus Too Many Rhymes, Not Enough Brains, ought to help make it happen.

~ by Patrick P. Stafford, Poet


Be warned! Thomas Cleveland Lane is out to fool you. In his delightful and totally engaging series of poems, Too Many Rhymes, Not Enough Brains, he would have you believe that he has dashed off a smattering of mere doggerel – good doggeral, but doggeral just the same. Balderdash, as he might say. Don't fall for it, even for a second.

If all good poetry nudges our perspective and shifts our take on the world, then Lane's poetry ranks as very fine poetry indeed. With wit, humor, and playful intelligence, from his rhymes to his remarkable fables in verse, he serves up poems of keen insight and commentary. Further, his creative attention to poetic styles and devices far belies any labeling of his poems as doggeral. And for just sheer fun, "Mother Duck" and "What Little I Know About Amphibian Finance" are a must read.

Under Lane's deft hand, poems masquerading as nonsense make perfect sense.

~ Russell Fee, Author


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