It was a dark and stormy day—

And the state senate was plodding through its long list of not-particularly significant bills, nearing the time as the legislative session starts measuring its life in days when neither legislative chamber is quite ready to start serious work on bills passed at the other end of the capitol.  Deep, dark clouds inched across the sky from the west, erasing a narrowing band of light to the east.  Every now and then those of us working in the deep interior of the great stone building could hear the rumble of thunder and brief trips outside the Senate chamber to visit a window showed gloom and storms.   

The Senate chamber is normally a  place of men in dark suits, the room dotted by an occasional bright jacket worn by one of the women senators. The fact that some members think it is really, really special after Easter to wear seersucker suits on Wednesdays only emphasizes the general feeling at times that the Senate appears as a convocation of undertakers, most of whom resist the urge to break out in seersucker.  “I take too much pride in my appearance,” one dark-gray clad Senator said one day last week. .  

But on this dark day outside as well as inside, a single word brought lightness and a spirit of color to the place.   It was a made-up word spoken by one of the dark-clad Senators.  “Quorange,” came from the mouth of Senator Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, clad in his dark suit, blue shirt, and dark tie.  Even his hair is gray.  

The Senate was debating a bill from Senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal of University City, herself clad in a dark dress, that would make it legal for people to vote in meetings of public bodies if that person was attending by teleconference.  

The important language that Sen. Schaaf decided needed not only some color but also some literary embroidery dealt with quorum requirements for the transaction of public business.  He sought to define the situation in which the body needed one more person for a quorum, a situation he proposed calling a “quorange.” 

As you will hear if you listen to the audio link at the end of this entry, He not only suggested a new word in the world of parliamentary procedure, he proudly proclaims that he had solved the ages-old problem of poets.   To underline the importance of his contribution to the language, Schaaf blessed the Senate with a poem.  If you listen to the audio link you will hear the world premiere of the reading of that poem which is so magnificent that a title is unnecessary. But if you lack the patience to devote nine minutes of your life to this historic event, recorded live and on the scene by the Missourinet recording device, here it is.


Late at night in flick’rin light

A poet sat composing

Shadows dancing and entrancing

Flustered thoughts imposing.


After lines of sublime rhymes

His work was near to ending

But his trouble doubled double

And his heart was rending.


Work was dropped, the poem stopped

His hopes were torn and tattered

A simple word, like “rock” or “bird”

That rhymed was all that mattered.


As he cried, his poem died

The effort lay unfinished

Twas no rhyme in space or time

That left it undiminished


The word that fit, the one he writ

/That made the poem perfect

Stood alone, no rhyme was known

The absence left a defect.


To end sublime, jsut one more line

The end must rhyme with orange

But sad to say there was no way

To make a rhyme with orange.


And to this day the poets say

That poets suffer sadly

When orange works but sadness lurks

In lines thus ending badly


And so I say that now, today,

Their orange pain is ending

Because this bill’s amendment will

A cure to them be sending


For now a word–a glorious word

To make a rhyme with orange

A quorum less one–the job is done

The rhyming word is quorange.


And so my friends, this story ends

Our poets have contentment

I hope you’ll vote for the word I wrote

And support this fine amendment. 


Senator Schaaf made sure his amendment joined all of the other amendments to all of the other bills that are published in the Senate journal, thus giving his word a presence in an official document, there perhaps to be discovered someday by lost wordsmith wandering in the dryness of legislative journals.   The amendment is preserved in the journal but the poetic plea for acceptance will not be there for that wandering wordsmith to discover. The journal of the Senate for April 10, 2013 will not contain the important context that brings life to that contribution to the English language.   More’s the shame.  But we, here, at the Missourinet Blog are taking care to make sure this noble effort is not left unexplained.  The laureate of Quorange will be remembered for as long as this entry survives on the internet.  

Alas, the Senate did not adopt the amendment, which would have given the word a chance to enter the hallowed ground of state statutes.  

Senator Schaaf is a physician in St. Joseph when he is not serving in the Senate.  We suggested after hearing him argue for his word and read his great poem that he not give up his day job.

AUDIO: the ballad of quorange 9:08

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