Desiderata – Poetry or Prose?

Do you recognize when poets use imaginary and rhythm to convey meanings and emotions? Do you know the differences between poetry and prose?

The main difference between Poetry and Prose is…

1. Poetry has rhythm, cadence and rhyming words.

2. Prose has a more natural flow, like speaking.

3. Then in the early 19th century, some poets began using what became known as Prose-Poetry:  written in prose but keeps the poetic qualities such as heightened imagery and emotional effects.

calm lake
Tranquility helps beat depression.

Written in 1927 by American writer Max Ehrmannin, the poem “Desiderata” is written in the style of Prose-Poetry. Desiderata, by the way, means something desired as a necessity.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Although penned in 1927, “Desiderata” didn’t become very well known until the 60’s and 70s when it was widely distributed as a poster and recorded by popular artists of the time.  Ahh, the 60’s 70’s… Free Love, Rock & Roll, and especially the Satire.

Do you remember “The National Lampoon?”  This was a magazine that parodied almost everything, including the “Desiderata.”  I’d like to present the National Lampoon’s  “Deteriorata,”  which is almost as relevant today as it was 50+ years ago!


Go placidly Amid the noise and waste. And remember what comfort there may be In owning a piece thereof.

Avoid quiet and passive persons Unless you are in need of sleep. Rotate your tires.

Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself And heed well their advice, Even though they be turkeys.   Know what to kiss… and when!

Consider that two wrongs never make a right But that THREE… do.

Wherever possible, put people on hold.

Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment, And despite the changing fortunes of time, There is always a big future in computer maintenance.

Remember the Pueblo.   Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle and mutilate.

Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI. Exercise caution in your daily affairs,

Especially with those persons closest to you. That lemon on your left, for instance.

Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet.

Fall not in love therefore; It will stick to your face.

Gracefully surrender the things of youth: The birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan

And let not the sands of time, Get in your lunch.  Hire people with hooks.

For a good time call 606-4311; Ask for “Ken.”   Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese.

And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, It could only be worse in Milwaukee.

You are a fluke of the universe.   You have no right to be here.

And whether you can hear it or not the universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god whatever you conceive him to be:

Hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin. With all its hopes, dreams, promises and urban renewal The world continues to deteriorate.  GIVE UP!

My Wedding Ceremony

For our 30th wedding anniversary, and as a public speaking project for Toastmasters, I decided to relive my wedding day and publicly reveal the final moments leading up to the words “You may now kiss the bride.”   It’s performed as if standing at the altar, everyone in place waiting for the Bride’s grand entrance.

My Wedding Ceremony.
A Mono-Drama by Doug Bayliss


This necktie is so tight. I feel like I’ve been standing here for hours.

Is it hot in here? [looks at watch]

Where is Michelle?

She should have been here 20 minutes ago.

[looks around the room reassuringly nodding at guests]

Did the car break down? Flat tire? Engine trouble? I love that old Cadillac her Dad drives but it’s not in the best of shape.

What if it overheated?


Look at everyone, they are starting to think she left me at the altar. Whispering in other’s ears.

I can hear you, you know!  Where is she? What could have happened?

Maybe she is leaving me at the altar! Maybe I should leave HER at the altar!

“Excuse me everyone. No one knows where my Bride is, I guess she left me at alter. Thank you for coming but the wedding is off.”

Oh boy, that would surely shock the hell out of everyone!

A Bridesmaid peaks around the corner from the back of the church to catch my eye. She looks worried.

Where IS she? [looks at watch again]

Damn her. This is getting ridiculous.


I can’t believe how many people are here. This church is packed with friends, relatives and a Barbershop Quartet who is going to sing later, along with my best friend who is singing w guitar accompaniment by a gracious 2nd cousin!


What’s that I hear? The organ? Could it be? Yes! She must be here!

The bridesmaids begin their walk…

Look here comes Veronica our flower girl. So cute. And Michelle, walking arm in arm with her father  -get the tissues.

Damn her Dad looks good in that tuxedo.  I’ve never seen him dressed so formal.

But Michelle… What a vision. What a heavenly angel. Long flowing white dress. So pretty. So young. You sly dog you, what a cradle robber!

Look at her beautiful green eyes sparkling… and check out that cleavage! I can’t wait until tonight!

[nod to Father of Bride, shake his hand]


[sound of organ]  Wa wa wa-wa…wa..wa.. waaa…

You may now kiss the Bride!

Doug & Michelle – Sept. 24, 1983
Doug & Michelle – Sept. 24, 1983


Toastmasters Club’s Officer Roles

Each of the officers in a Toastmasters club has certain responsibilities to fulfill in supporting the club and its members. There are several officer positions within each Toastmasters club, both to spread the workload fairly and to expand the leadership opportunities for club members.


Filling an officer role does not mean that you are required to do the job alone. Being an officer simply means that you are responsible for ensuring that the job gets done. As an officer, you are encouraged to ask other members of the club to help you fulfill your duties.

Transferable Skills
Many skills you can develop by being a club officer transfer directly to your job and life outside of Toastmasters. That’s why you joined Toastmasters, right? It’s a win/win!

Here is a table showing the transferable skills for each officer role:

President VP-Education VP-Membership VP-Public Relations
Team Building
Strategic Planning
Conflict Resolution
Project Management
Meeting Facilitation
Time Management
Parliamentary Processes
Conflict Resolution Negotiations
Strategic Planning
Time Management
Recognition Incentives
Event Planning
Personnel Development Career
Personnel Orientation
Personnel Development
Career Planning
Customer Service
Public Relations
Rewards / Incentives
Marketing & Sales
Seminar Development
Media Relations
Rewards / Incentives
Advertising & Promotion
Graphic Design
Seminar Development
Treasurer Secretary Sgt-at-Arms Past President
Budget Preparation
Revenue Tracking
Revenue Forecasting
Revenue Generation
Money Management
Policy Administration
Purchasing Consulting
Report Writing
Policy Administration
Order Processing
Historian / Librarian Research
Document Control
Event Coordination
Inventory Management Master of Ceremonies Communication Skills Customer Service Negotiations
Event Planning
Team Building
Strategic Guidance

Club Executive Team

Collectively, a club’s officers are referred to as the club’s Executive Team. The club officer positions and their respective responsibilities are listed below:

The President is the chief executive officer for the club. The primary responsibilities of this role involve the general supervision and operation of the club.

The President presides at club meetings and directs the club in meeting the members’ needs for educational growth and leadership. In cooperation with the other officers, the President establishes long-term and short-term goals for the club.

Vice President Education
The Vice President Education (VPE) manages all educational programs within the club. The primary responsibilities of this role involve ensuring that all members continue their progress toward their own individual educational goals.

The VPE plans, organizes, and implements meeting schedules to include speeches, educational modules, and other events sufficient to meet both individual and club objectives. When members complete a speech or other major achievement, the VPE will sign or initial the appropriate documentation and contact Toastmasters International to ensure proper recognition. New members will receive orientation and be assigned a mentor by the VPE.

Vice President Membership
The Vice President Membership (VPM) manages the activities that sustain and increase the number of members in the club. The primary responsibilities of this role involve marketing and some administration.

The VPM plans, organizes, and implements a continuous marketing effort to ensure that club membership remains above club charter strength (20 members). This is accomplished both by retaining current members (working with the VPE) and by gaining new members (working with the VPPR). The VPM is responsible for the semi-annual membership reports to Toastmasters International and for keeping the membership roster and attendance records.

Vice President Public Relations
The Vice President Public Relations (VPPR) manages the creation and maintenance of the club’s image. The primary responsibilities of this role involve both internal and external communications.

The VPPR plans, organizes, and implements programs to maintain the positive image of the club and of Toastmasters for an audience consisting of all guests, members and the general public. Common activities in this role include press releases, publicity campaigns, website maintenance, media representation, and club newsletters.

The Secretary manages all record-keeping and correspondence. The primary responsibilities of this role involve handling administrative details between the club and Toastmasters International and keeping the club’s documents available and up-to-date.

The Secretary maintains the club’s records, including club by-laws and the club constitution. Additionally, the Secretary handles and maintains new member applications, updated membership records, supply orders, officer lists, and past club records. The Secretary also records and reads the minutes for club meetings and for meetings of the Executive Team.

The Treasurer manages the club’s financial health. The primary responsibilities of this role involve handling the club’s finances, including the collection of club dues and the payment of all bills.

The Treasurer receives and disburses funds to further the operation of the club and its officers. All club accounts are managed by this office. Twice annually, the Treasurer must notify members of dues collection and then collect club dues from each member.

Sergeant at Arms
The Sergeant at Arms (SAA) manages the club’s meeting facilities and decorum. The primary responsibilities of this role involve all those tasks expected of the host of the meeting.

The SAA arranges the room and setup for all meetings, sets out and cares for the club’s materials and supplies, and greets members – and especially guests – as they come in the door.

Immediate Past President
The Immediate Past President guides and supports the Executive Team. The primary responsibilities of this role involve serving as a resource for new officers and ensuring continuity with past terms.

The Immediate Past President chairs the Nominating Committee, assists in preparing the Club Success Plan, and promotes the club’s efforts to be recognized under the Distinguished Club Program.

Erica Lucille Bayliss

Our “Liss-Kid”
May 2, 1992 – April 5, 2001

April 5 is the anniversary of our daughter Erica’s passing in 2001. She was soon to be 8  years old. Her passing was on by complications relating to her debilitating disease, Lissencephaly.

Catherine, Erica, Jared & Anaise

The “gang” pictured above enjoyed a sunny afternoon of miniature golf. Ever try to get a wheelchair around a miniature golf course? It ain’t easy, but you know what? It was more than well worth it.

You can learn about our life with Erica at our memorial page. It was very therapeutic for me to build the memorial page. I cried often but it was, in fact, a great healing process.

Out story is found here:

Lemon Meringue Pie

A Folk Tale
by Doug Bayliss

Back in my door to door salesman days l met an awful lot of very interesting people and encountered many unique circumstances. Many of you may remember my encounter with Wilbur the 3-legged pig! I’d love to tell that one again someday if you’d like to hear it, but this story is about a visit I had with a chicken farmer out in Lancaster County.

I can smell the bittersweet aroma as I recall driving up the long dirt lane, past the many barns and chicken coops to the farmhouse.

Chicken farmer Joe was waiting for me, patiently rocking in a large old looking wooden rocking chair on the front porch. I knew he was excited to learn about our new patented gizmo to make feeding his thousands of chickens so much easier.

“Hey there Joe,” I yelled. “Afternoon.” He said, “Have you got the new contraption?”

“Sure do. Let me back the truck around and we’ll get it unloaded”

Well, we worked the rest of day into the early evening unpacking and setting up Farmer Joe’s new feeders. He was incredibly happy.

joe“Man this is going to save me so much time!” he exclaimed. Delighted, he invited me to stay for supper just as the dinner bell was ringing. Ding ding ding, ding ding, ding ding!

I politely refused but he convinced me to stay. “My wife is the best cook in the whole county. She wins a 1stplace blue ribbon every year at the county fair with her eggs-quisite lemon meringue pie. And it just so happens she’s making her prize-winning pie today, for tonight’s dessert!” He sure was excited about that lemon meringue pie.

“How can I refuse,” I said, so we dusted off our clothes washed up and went inside. There is nothing like the smell of a good home cooked meal. We sat down at a big country table, and as Joe’s wife was bringing the food in, I recognized her right away. To my surprise, Joe’s wife was my high school girlfriend Mary Joe. She recognized me too, but she said not a word.

After dinner, Mary Joe brought out the oh-so-scrumptious lemon meringue pie and we each ate several slices. As I reached for the last slice Joe smacked his hand down on the table. Whomp! “No sir,” he said. “That last piece of pie is for me. Mary Joe will pack it in my lunch tomorrow.”

Well, we talked and joked for a while, and tasted some of Joe’s dandelion wine, maybe more than we should have. “It’s getting kind of late, why don’t you stay the night and head back into town in the morning,” Joe said.

“You know Joe that doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But I don’t want to impose on you and Mary Joe, you’ve both been so gracious already.” “No problem,” says Joe. But he says “We only got the one bedroom with one bed. You and Mary Joe can just sleep on each side and I’ll sleep in the middle.”

This seemed a little odd, but feeling a bit tipsy from the very tasty dandelion wine, I agreed and we all walked upstairs to the bedroom.

Mary Jo and I took our places on each side of the bed when suddenly Farmer Joe jumps out of the closet with a shotgun! “What are you doing?” I exclaim, “I thought we were all just gonna share this bed and go to sleep for the night!”

“Don’t make a fuss,” Says Farmer Joe. “ We have a problem with a Coyote sneaking up here at night and eating our chickens. I like to sleep with old iron sides here at the ready.”

With that, he climbed on into the bed. So there we were. Me on one side, Mary Joe on the other side, and old Farmer Joe lying right there between us with his trusty shotgun old Ironsides. Remarkably I dozed off to sleep.

Bang! Bang! I awoke to the sound of old Joe apparently outside shooting at a Coyote. I glanced over at Mary Joe who was also awake and looking affectionately back at me, enticingly said, “Now’s your chance.”

Thinking for a moment, I realized she was right. Quickly I dashed down the stairs, grabbed the last piece of the delicious lemon meringue pie and sped away fast!


Gettysburg Addressers

As part of a membership drive, our Toastmasters club in Gettysburg, PA hosted an open house in 2010. I wrote this original poem for the occasion.

Ode to The Gettysburg Addressers 
by Douglas Bayliss

There’s a club in town. It’s been around. Has a name that sounds quite admirable – The Gettysburg Addressers of Toastmasters International.

It started back in two thousand and five, this year’s the 5th anniversary. The club is fun and casual but doesn’t do things cursory.

On Wednesday nights throughout the year, at the Adams County library, a meeting ensues that helps one grow but nothing that’s too contrary.

Just walk right in and give a speech it’s sure to build your confidence, you’ll soon find out without a doubt it was a decision of great consequence.

In nineteen hundred and twenty-four the 1st club started quite readily. From humble beginnings, the plans were made by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley.

He worked at a Y and realized, as VP of Education, the boys who were there could use some help with their public relations.

So he started a club, a Toastmasters club to teach the boys to think, and they grew confident in their speaking; he must have been a shrink!

The club caught on and started to grow, there’s over 10,000 of them now, The Addressers is one that’s come of late, and that you cannot disavow.

There are speeches to evaluate, a timer to commiserate, ah counter and grammarian; joke-of-the-day; word-of-the-day; thought-of-the-day: Are table topics rational? The Gettysburg Addressers of Toastmasters International!

An officer you might become the leadership has just begun. With a President, Sergeant at Arms, VP of Education. There’s PR of course and Marketing with Public Relations.

A Secretary and Treasurer?… Ahhh… The executive committee!

But don’t stop there, there’s more to come on an area and district level. With a Governor and her Lieutenant; why they deserve a medal! They organize clubs with great ambitions and help to run the competitions.

To raise the toll of one’s body mind and soul is really quite sensational. You gotta admit, and I submit, this is more than recreational.

If you dream of being more ambitious, the International level is most propitious, with more speeches to give and conventions to host, you might have to travel from East to West coast!

But there’s nothing to fear with the confidence gained from all of the leadership drills, just step right up and volunteer –  it turns out you’ve got the skills!

So let’s be thankful for this club of choice, that helps us find our inner voice with a name that is quite admirable:  The Gettysburg Addressers of Toastmasters International!

Words for the day:

toll n. The quality (positive or negative) that renders something desirable or valuable.

propitious adj. Presenting favorable circumstances.

© 2010 Douglas R. Bayliss

My inspiration for this poem comes from “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General,”  a fast-paced patter song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1879 comic opera The Pirates of Penzance:

Improve your public speaking skills. Come visit us!

On A Wing & A Prayer

On A Wing and A Prayer
By Douglas Bayliss

Bringing new-borns into the world must rank high among those events that can cause stress. Here three shorts describing our three stress inducers.

Did you give birth to a Smurf?

Although we arrived at the Hunterdon County Medical Center, in Flemington, NJ without incident, what ensued was something neither one of us was prepared for. We probably should have taken that Lamaze class!

After getting checked in, my wife Michelle, the soon to be the mother of my first child, was all tucked in. As we sat and watched some old black and white movie, I thought to myself: “This isn’t so bad.”

Then I noticed Michelle literally crawling around in circles on the bed. “Are you okay?” I said. She replied something like “No I’m wanna go home.”

This goes on for awhile. Actually a long while, the nurses couldn’t calm her down, and I apparently couldn’t say anything appropriately soothing.

At one point, with a nurse on one side of the bed and me on the other; to keep her on the bed, Michelle tried to crawl right up over the headboard! Well, after that she finally got her wish for a shot of painkiller!

The nurses were against it because it was too close to the delivery time, but she got it -right in the butt!

After a short while, it was baby time! I was standing back out of the way when suddenly … out slips a baby.

It’s a girl! No wait! It’s a Smurf! Why is she blue?
I don’t know!
Why isn’t she crying? I don’t know! Smack her butt! Make her cry!
A sense of panic fills the air (the late pain killer had stopped our new daughter’s breathing)!

Suddenly the nurse turns around holding the little newborn!  She was so cute and wait— listen— you can hear a tiny “mwaaaaaa,” our 1st delivery on a wing and a prayer!

The Reluctant Mother

Now we are in our apartment in Ellicott City, MD where Michelle is pacing the floor. Back and forth, and back and forth. It’s been 3 years but I recognize the panic. “Michelle,” I would say, “we should go to the hospital.” “Nooo,” would be the reply, “I’m okay.” “No, you’re not, we should go.” “No, I don’t wanna.”

Finally, I called Judy (our neighbor and friend). She comes over, and taking one look says right away, “Michelle– you’re going to the hospital!” Judy kept our 3-year old, Catherine Lucille, and off we go.

Mind you at this point I’m pretty scared. Michelle is having a baby and I’m driving 90 miles an hour down the outer loop of the Baltimore Beltway, to get to St. Agnes Hospital ASAP.

I always wanted an excuse to drive fast “woo-hoo!”  Reel it in there Speed Racer; your wife is having a baby! “Hold on Michelle no, no, do not push!”

Arriving at the front door, we scurry up to the front desk as I exclaim “we’re having a bab!” It must have been obvious because the receptionist yelled out, “You’re having a baby!” In seconds someone is there with a wheelchair, we’re in an elevator,  I’m tossed a hospital gown, Michelle is whisked into a room.

“Put that gown on and you can come in.”

In my clumsy, hurried attempt to get the gown on, precious seconds are ticking. I no sooner get in the “delivery room” and out “pops” a little boy. “You want me to cut the umbilical cord?” Umm, no thanks. But I am curious about something and ask the doctor: “What’s the big bump on his head?” The Doctor replies: “That’s where his head was bouncing on the seat of your car!”

First Full-Term Pregnancy

This memorable day starts off as any other normal workday but it doesn’t stay normal for long. As I come downstairs for that nice first cup of coffee I find Michelle crawling around in circles on her hands and knees. By now we are in our new home in Catonsville, MD.

Otoh, I think to myself, pausing for a second to reflect; yep that’s the terror crawl I  remember from the 1st delivery. Michelle’s sister was staying with us because we knew the day was near.  I call to her: “Cathy! Where are you? You gotta’ come and see this!”  She takes one look at Michelle and states she is going to the hospital. What do you think Michelle says? Yep. “Nooo, I’m not going.” “Yes, yes you are.”

This was the first pregnancy to go full term. Catherine, our first, was one month early.  Jared, the 2nd one, was two months early! This one? This one was pretty much right on cue.

We get to the hospital without incident (maybe only 80 mph around the beltway this time), Michelle was checked in and declared to be in full labor.

The doctor wasn’t allowing any shenanigans from Michelle. All I could do was watch as Michelle, obviously in great discomfort, endured her longest delivery yet. I remember not enjoying the sight of Michelle in so much discomfort. After about 4 hours we had our 3rd baby; a darling baby girl.

Jared holding his new born baby sister Erica.
Jared holding his new baby sister Erica. 5/2/92

All said this was the most “normal” of the three deliveries. Little did we know, however, our 3rd “wing and a prayer” was the beginning of a truly unique and frigtingly challenging chapter of all our lives. But that’s another story.

Keeping it real

More information on how we kept our young famiy united and turned heart-breaking challenges into a fun adventure can found here: