For Elizabeth

La Cienega slept on a muted afternoon
At old Las Golodrinas, when I spied a nest
Of swallows beneath the age-worn latias, hewn
By a hand that is gone with the days that were blessed;

And I promised to knit for you a pair of gloves
From the cotton that falls from the cottonwood trees
Like the snows of antaño, and send them with doves
Through your heart’s open window on late summer’s breeze;

And to make for you the finest purse from the skin
Of the coy trout that feed on the soft floating seeds
That fall on the river, to put my sonnets in
With a Rosary of the bluest turquoise beads;

And to go up the ancient ladder very high,
Atop el torreon, to catch a roving cloud
And gently wrap it in an azure sheet of sky
To place beneath your feet as proof of love avowed;

And from the golden light of the adobe’s straw
To fashion for your head a magnificent crown
Surmounted with crystals I saved from winter’s thaw,
And sew from veils of desert rain your satin gown.

But when the swallows of La Cienega return,
And the acequias are full with summer’s stream,
And the still marshes grow dense with cattail and fern,
You shall wake me, from this and every idle dream.

© Joseph Charles MacKenzie

latias = Lateral wooden slats that form part or the ceiling of a traditional New Mexican building.
antaño = Yesteryear.
torreon = A look-out tower made of adobe used to guard a settlement or watch for the arrival of wagon trains coming up the Camino Real.
acequias = Man-made irrigation ditches for farming.
adobe = A building material made up of earth and straw and other organic matter. In New Mexico, the straw under certain lighting conditions can give an adobe wall a golden radiance when seen from a distance.


Joseph Charles MacKenzie is a traditional lyric poet, the only American to have won Scottish International Poetry Competition. His poetry has appeared in The New York Times, The Scotsman (Edinburgh), The Independent (London), US News and World Report, Google News, and many other outlets. He writes primarily for the Society of Classical Poets (New York) and Trinacria (New York). MacKenzie has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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92 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    Having lived in Arizona & New Mexico for several years a long time ago, I am familiar with the landscape and the fixtures found in the ranchos there. But the way you wove these local threads into the tapestry of your poem was sheer magic. More than just a love poem, “The Swallows of La Cienega” is a masterful representation of the electrifying American Southwest. I wish I could go back, but, if only for a few moments, you have taken me there.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      I hope, Mr. Anderson, that you will please contact me whenever you have the inclination to return as I would be honored to give you a wee tour of my beloved world of Nueva Mexico, my Penitente land.

      • C.B. Anderson

        I thank you for that kind offer, and if perchance such an occasion should ever occur, I shall accept your offer, provided our path is lit with many a candelaria.

      • Galia

        Ode to my beloved estranged brother.
        Your voice and lyrics sang to me with tears streaming down my face as raindrops lay. on a dewy day upon leaves of God’s land.
        I shall cherish your words and dance along with glee knowing ii am blessed to have danced with you.
        Your humbled sister

  2. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    The Setting of “The Swallows of La Cienega”

    “cienega” : a spring and associated marsh. In this case, the name of the 17th-century Spanish hamlet, La Cienega, containing such a feature which feeds the Santa Fe River.

    “Las Golondrinas (El Rancho de las Golondrinas)” : The Ranch of the Swallows, a historic rancho and now a living history museum, is located at La Cienega on what was once the Camino Real, the Royal Road that extended from Mexico City to Santa Fe. The ranch provided goods for trade when the caravans would stop on their journey coming from or going to Santa Fe. It was a “paraje,” an official rest stop for travelers, as mentioned by one of our colonial military leaders and fifty-sixth governor, Don Juan Bautista de Anza, when he stopped here with his expeditionary force in 1780.

    Note on De Anza:

    De Anza was the Conquistador who established the location for the Presidio de San Francisco (now the famous city of San Francisco) during his expedition to Alta California. He also saved the northern New Mexico pueblo of Taos by winning a decisive victory against the savages of southern Colorado. So efficient were his military tactics, that, by 1784, he had the barbarians suing for peace, eventually concluding a treaty with them at Pecos, near Santa Fe, in 1786.

    Juan Bautista de Anza died in Arizpe Mexico, and was buried in the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Arizpe. In 1963, with the participation of delegations from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco, he was disinterred and reburied in a magnificent marble memorial mausoleum at the same Church.

    • James A. Tweedie

      The poem is lovely and tender and exquisite along with every other superlative one might choose to use. It is everything that the SCP seeks to promote and which every contributor strives for in their poetry. If it is true that “love poems” were once discouraged on this site (?) I am so glad there are no such restrictions at the present! After all, poetry is the very language of love!

      I must add, however, that as regards Mr. McKenzie’s otherwise interesting and informative comment, his use of the words “savages” and “barbarians” stung me. While I can understand the historical, contemporaneous usage of such terms in the 18th and 19th centuries I find their appearance in a 21st century context (even in a retrospective reference) to be jarring.

      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        Thank you, Mr. Tweedie, for your most generous assessment and your affirmation of the lyrical genre of love poetry which is almost lost in our day.

        To address your question about the savages, I can assure you that only my Puebloan ancestors, by embracing the Catholic faith, were able to progress along the path of true civilization which, in a most interesting manner, they had already undertaken, within the limits of their technical knowledge, prior to the arrival of my Spanish ancestors.

        Ray Alonso de Benevides, the holy Franciscan “custos” of our kingdom, in his all-important Memorial to our Most Christian King Philip IV, speaks of miraculous conversions and the general piety of the Puebloans and other Indians, including those whom Sor Maria de Agreda had catechized through her miraculous bilocations.

        The very opposite, however, was true of those other, more nomadic tribes, enemies of all peace and civilization, whose monstrous behavior extended to abominable rites of witchcraft and even cannibalism. “Savage” is almost too kind a word for these, as we see in the history of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, a vicious, calculated attack against the Christianized Indians of our then 21 pueblos, the atrocities of which are too horrible even to be described.

        It is not by virtue of a people’s race that they are savages, but by dint of their behavior.

        It was only Rousseau, Fenelon, and others, whose false myth of the “Noble Savage” has drained history of all reality.

      • C.B. Anderson

        Jesus! James, have you ever been scalped, or had your home burned out from under you? Native Americans warred against each other long before white settlers entered the continent. And I’m sure that any Apache would have been embarrassed, had anyone thought his atrocities were anything less than horrendous. This does not lessen at all the horror of what the Europeans eventually did to them, but you must understand why the corn-growing Pueblo Indians built those cliff-side abodes, long before the white man entered the scene.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Mr. Tweedie —

        Words are only jarring if you accept an ideology that tells you to react to them as if they were jarring. Today, that world-encircling ideology is political correctness. You are told that you cannot use certain words, and that if you hear them you must go into an emotional fit.

        In fact, the word “savage” has a precise meaning. As its etymology reveals, it refers to forest-dwelling people who live by hunting and gathering, who are semi-nomadic, who have a very rudimentary technology, and who engage in rapine and sporadic warfare (with no rules concerning proper behavior) against those tribes around them.

        English colonial accounts from both Virginia and New England refer to such people as “selvages,” and our Declaration of Independence also calls them “the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an indiscriminate killing of all sexes, ages, and conditions.”

        As for the term “barbarian,” it refers to a cultural level advanced beyond the savage, usually including the wheel, the use of some metals, pottery, textiles, the domestication of animals, and somewhat more permanent dwellings.

        Both of these terms are perfectly good and useful, and to reject them is to surrender to the left-wing crackpots who surround us.

      • C.B. Anderson

        Thank you, Joe. You said it much better than I did in an earlier reply to J.A.T. Although we all profess to believe in freedom of speech, few of us are experts in the practice thereof.

      • James A. Tweedie

        “Jesus! James, have you ever been scalped, or had your home burned out from under you?”

        Interesting question, as a matter of fact, on September 19, 1757, in west central Pennsylvania, the family of one of my direct ancestors was attacked by Delaware Indians. Their cabin was burned down on top of them and, after surviving the blaze, they were captured. The mother was stabbed and scalped on the spot along with one son and one daughter who were also scalped. The father and the two remaining sons were taken as captives. The sons were soon “adopted” into the tribe and raised as Delawares. After several years the father made a successful, although harrowing, escape. The two sons, after seven years, also returned, one voluntarily, one captured along with other tribal members in a British raid on their village. Both returned with mixed feelings, and with reluctance, having been treated well and with great respect by their captors.

        I am not particularly P.C.-inclined nor am I aware of having surrendered to any crackpots of any professed ideological persuasion. I am simply saying that, I view language as something which evolves over time. Words that meant one thing at one time no longer communicate the same meaning in other times and in other contexts. I do not dispute that the words “savage” and “barbarian” mean what you say that they mean. Indeed, my own ancestor who was taken captive along with his two sons, described his own existence and life-style in the wilderness of 18th century Pennsylvania as “savage.”

        I would also not be one to embrace the romanticized image of the “noble savage” (although there is much to be found in Indian cultures that can be deemed “noble” in the same way that such attributes are readily ascribed to certain aspects of Greek, Roman, Chinese, Japanese, and other so-called, “pagan” cultures).

        Nor do I dispute the “savagery” of Indian assaults on the Spanish in the Southwest, against European settlers in New England, during the extended so-called “Western expansion,” or in the context of the nearly constant inter-tribal wars between Kiowa/Comanche/Apache/Utes/Pawnees in the Southwest, the Blackfeet/Blackfoot against virtually every other tribe in the northern plains, etc. etc.

        Indeed, my own Presbyterian heritage remembers the massacre of the defenseless Whitman and Spaulding missionary families near modern day Walla Walla, Washington, in 1847 following a smallpox epidemic. (Interestingly, the two wives were the first White women to cross the northern Rocky Mountains, in 1836).

        Having said this, however, I would suggest that historically, the words “savage” and “barbarian” have been used by European “invaders/Conquistadors/immigrants/settlers/explorers”–choose the word you prefer) to justify their own ignoble displacement, debasement, enslavement, marginalization, and genocidal suppression of indigenous cultures in nearly every corner of the globe–including the American Southwest.

        The Spanish vanguard in the New World were not called Conquistadors for nothing. They were armed and armored armies whose sole purpose was to conquer, defeat, destroy and subdue whatever people stood in their way. Priests accompanied these armies and justified the colonial expansion with their blessing. Other priests followed and built churches and missions to teach and to lead the defeated (and sometimes captive) native remnants into the Christian faith.

        As one recent research study points out, ” . . . in view of substantial scholarship on American Indian Christianity . . . such work argues that American Indian attitudes toward this introduced faith (i.e. Christianity) have often been characterized by a ‘pragmatic’ orientation that relies upon the colonizers’ religion as a survival tool as much as a repository for personal conviction . . . .” Native American Christian leaders I have known personally have affirmed this as an accurate observation.

        In any case, it may be relevant to this conversation to point out that the aforementioned treaty of 1786 came about only after Anza, marching from Sante Fe towards a Comanche stronghold near Taos, surprised a Comanche encampment and not only killed eighteen warriors but also slaughtered thirty women and children.

        From the perspective of Native American history, the term “savage” and “barbarian” can just as easily be applied to the Spanish as regards the way their indigenous tribal cultures were contained, constrained, and then systematically dismantled.

        Is this historical revisionism? Perhaps. But it is not necessarily untrue, either, or even “politically correct.” It has been said that “history is written by the victors.” On the other hand, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Now you know the rest of the story.” I might even go so far as suggest that what I have written here could be considered as “alternative facts.”

        After all of this, I’ll simply close by saying that my first thought after reading Mr. McKenzie’s comment was to think how easy it would have been to write the word, ‘Comanche,’ instead.

        Once again, in closing, I wish to commend Mr. McKenzie on his beautify and lyric poem.

      • Evan Mantyk

        Dear Mr. Tweedie,
        It’s true. We did discourage love poetry. That reference was recently removed. It was a relic from the first four or so years of the Society, which is now going on its seventh year. Back then, we did not have so many skilled poets, such as yourself, and such a consistent amount of quality submissions. Our first contest had no category, I think, or a very broad one. The amount of terrible love poetry submitted was overwhelming. The issue is that many beginning poets start with love poetry without learning what good poetry even is, and what comes out is a self-absorbed, non-sensical mish mosh of feelings that ironically excludes the readers from experiencing the beauty of the love that they perceive. It was in some way the very absence of love. At any rate, the situation has changed.

      • James Eliot

        We discovered MacKenzie when he reached out to the BNP with a “Letter to England” after Tommy Robinson’s arrest, a completely different genre. One would not expect the same poet to be such a magnificent love poet after that.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    This is an amazingly beautiful poem, deeply rooted in the genuine culture of a specific time and a place, but also alive with a past that is not a mere historical curiosity or a dusty archival document.

    As I mentioned once in a review of his work, MacKenzie has a real identity, not a fake, meretricious one thought up by some stupid Diversity Committee at one of our corrupt universities. He knows, like he knows the palm of his hand, the living history of his New Mexican world, and all of its commitments and religious loyalties.

    I can only envy the fact that he has presented his wife such a gift, one that is so intricately authentic in its beauty and its command of a cultural past. I hope that some day I can give my wife such a poetic gift on her birthday (which, quite coincidentally, is today — El Dia de la Raza). God bless the great Columbus and his far-reaching discoveries.

    And God bless Don Juan Bautista De Anza, the conquistador who founded our Presidio, and who saved Taos from the savage incursions.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      I am grateful to you, Dr. Salemi, for the penetration and insight you have provided in your estimation of “The Swallows of La Cienega.” Indeed, I am not separable from my Penitente land, nor are my poems. My verses can never be fully understood without the historical context in which they arise. So the world is also grateful that it possesses one such as yourself who has been trained in the traditional disciplines of history and philology whith their irrevocable insistance on time and place.

      My Indian ancestors were, as Fray Alonso de Benevides reports, the most enthusiastic beneficiaries of Spain’s wonderful “entrada” into New Mexico, so much so that our Most Christian King of Spain regaled the Acoma people with a significant token of His Majesty’s esteem in the form of a portrait of himself which, when I was young, did hang on the Gospel side of the Santuario de San Esteban at Acoma. This has since been removed by the new barbarians of the Indian left, robotically pre-programmed by Berkely’s fascist identity-makers via our local university system, in what has become a desperate attempt to erase the very history which made the Puebloans of New Mexico a good and devout people.

      As for Cristobal Colon, not only the discoverer but also the liberator of the Americas from the darkness of pagan oppression and internicean genocide, we recognize, in addition, yet another great hero of the Age of Discovery which Spain’s most prudent expulsion the Moors had made possible, namely the Dominican priest, scholar, and man of letters, Fray Geronimo Perez, who, when Columbus had approached him at the lowest ebb of his fortunes, became the great navigator’s confessor at a time when he was already that of our most gracious Reina Isabella la Catolica. Was it not for the efforts of Fray Perez, Columbus would never have been presented at court, America never explored, and the brutal savagery of pagan Mexico never expelled by the light of Divine and Catholic faith.

  4. David Hollywood

    Most beautiful, allied to all of its synonyms! These are the style of poems that make every day better for, and in the world. Many thanks.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      And not because of any talent or genius or virtue on my part all, because there are plenty of poets in this venue who surpass me in all these ways.

      The beauty of this poem is all Elizabeth’s.

  5. William Krusch

    I must disagree with the praise this work is receiving. Not only is the poem’s language horribly sentimental (how ironic for a poet who had, in the comment section of another poem, deplored the rise of apparently Romantic poets) but the work hardly even has a sense of coherence and unity until the final stanza; the subject of the poem is hardly discernible from mere picturesque description, and the composition’s attempts at achieving any symbolic metaphor through the landscape completely fails. This poem is hardly a verse analogue to the allegorical landscapes of Friedrich, Cole, van Ruisdael or any other great landscape painter, and fails even as a poetic portrait. Self-aggrandizing phrases such as “to put my sonnets in/
    With a Rosary of the bluest turquoise beads” are beyond egotistic, and completely destroy any sense of dedication to a beloved. Truly, the third stanza in its entirety reeks of nonsense, for I cannot imagine any beloved worth adoring would be content with the flattery of a trout-scale (not even a sunfish or some other exotic fish, but a common trout!) purse. The final line comes off as a cliché rather than any sort of paradox or irony because of the lack of any serious and thoughtful development throughout the previous stanzas. Perhaps we are to believe that physical beauty is only a shadow of conjugal love, yet (again) nowhere else in the poem is there even a hint of this suggestion. Even taking Elizabeth at its etymological meaning, the poem still fails in its execution.

    As for the recording itself, what horrendous Satie Gymnopédie rip-off is that playing in the background? For someone who claims to promote Classical art, the choice of a minimalist composer who completely eschewed any sense of genuine counterpoint and harmonic development is an odd choice – the repeated eight bars that constitute the entire 2:16 track are about as mindless and redundant as any rap or hip-hop “music.” Moreover, the poem is read with such a feigned sense of melancholy that it sounds more like something from a 17-year-old’s tumblr page than that of the winner of the Scottish International Poetry Competition; I can hardly believe the poet who composed this work is the same poet of “Inaugural Poem for Donald J. Trump” (not that I condone that work either, for I think it attempts to mask nationalistic pride under the superficial veneer of a Classical paean). The overdone hesitations and caesuras in the final line are almost comic in effect, and I must wonder whether or not this whole work was to be taken as a pastiche of the Romantic school that MacKenzie so loathes.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Well, Bill, it’s apparent that you know nothing of “The Land of Enchantment,” which is what New Mexico is. And you think a sunfish is more exotic than a trout, which is a crazy notion of someone who has never seen the American Southwest. You have a right to own your own ideas, but they fall far short of anything resembling what is actually out there in the chaparral.

      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        No worries, Mr. Anderson. As he makes obvious by his language, Mr. Krusch never had any intention of writing a literary critique of “The Swallows of La Cienega.” Rather, this is what we call a “hit piece” the motives of which I will set forth for you.

        You see, as a first-year English student at what is essentially an over-glorified high school called the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which has one of the highest percentages of alt-left faculty in the nation, William Krusch is currently working toward an eighth-grade education in pre-1990s terms.

        This is why, in a poem he published in this venue, he copies and pastes Wordsworth and Shelley (even though he feigned not understanding the latter in his discussion). His title, “Ode to Immortality” is nothing other than Wordsworth’s “Ode on Intimations of Immortality.” The body of his poem is Shelley’s “Ode to Intellectual Beauty” (just put Shelley’s phrases in a bag and mix them up so they don’t look copied when you shake them out on the page. Use whatever Romantic you wish, they’re all the same, really.)

        But again, not a problem. Non-poets are only good at rearranging furniture, as it were. Let’s just be happy, given the intellective state of someone whose middle-class soul is the fruit of an Obama era social experiment, that William Krusch is able to eek out almost five hundred words about a poem he claims to be worthless. I’ll take that as homage. I always love it when wannabes hang on all my words, whatever their critique.
        If a freshman’s ignorance is not a motive, however, I can think of another more compelling.

        You see, Mr. Anderson, you mortally wounded Mr. Krusch’s “po widdle ego” when you called him out on his neo-Romantic wonder which he expected 500 people to praise all at once. He didn’t like it when you called him out on it, telling him that he “fell short of the mark,” which he did; that he “breached meter and wrenched standard grammar” within the first four lines, which he did and also elsewhere; and that his kind of poem “is one of the reasons that formal poetry has fallen out of favor,” which it is. You tried to be polite later on in the thread, but this was not enough to heal the mortal wound of being called out.

        But there is another motive as well.

        In the same thread of his own poem, Mr. Krusch mysteriously draws the praise of one—you guessed it!—Michael R. Burch, the failed poetry editor who desperately invites greeting card sentimentalists to write for his currently invisible Hypertexts, one of which also praises Krusch’s karaoke romanticism.

        Because Mr. Krusch is somehow associated with Michael Burch, note, in the aforementioned thread, that Mr. Krusch does something which is highly Burchesque by taking a thinly veiled swipe at both Leo Yankevich and Joseph Salemi, and I quote:

        “Perhaps I should spend less time studying Dante and more time studying the ribaldry over at The Penn. I am no puritan, but I fail to see how such verse is considered more masterful. Perhaps the work over at The Penn is merely a playground for The Lion’s club, and I am not privy to the masterworks published in the most elusive Trinacria.”

        Time for Mr. Krusch to take his own advice.

        And here’s the kicker, if you will pardon my colloquial language.
        Do you remember the pseudonym of Mort Miller in the thread for my sonnet, “Benedictum Nomen Mariae”?

        My educated guess is that Mort Miller is none other than our own little public-school freshman, William Krusch. Note that Krusch zooms in on the word Rosary in his hit piece (see above). This is significant, because his alter ego Mort Miller was exposed as an anti-Catholic bigot in the thread on my Marian sonnet.
        Take it from one who with repeated direct experience in this matter…

        It is always the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother God, who most offends the enemies of Christ. But it is always and always shall be the Blessed Virgin Mary who unmasks His enemies. The Rosary, by which she has defeated the Ottomans at Lepanto, and at Vienna—the Rosary, by which she defeated Hillary Clinton and Christine Blasey Ford—will always undo them, always unmask them.

        Which is why Mr. Krusch is ever to be taken…

        “cum grano salis.”

  6. E. V.

    In my opinion, reading this poem feels as if one is being escorted through the poet’s beautiful, whimsical daydream, and it was truly a delightful treat.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Thank you, E.V., as you have discerned one of the poem’s intentions. To honor your observation, I can tell you that this feeling which you indicate arises also in me when walking through the world of El Rancho de las Golondrinas.

      Many are the places in northern New Mexico—I think of my great uncle’s house and orchards in Velarde, where the Rio Grande gurgles into a stream on its way down from Taos—which elicit the most powerful emotions of love for our Catholic faith, the foundation of our history.

      And one becomes very much aware that this is a land consecrated by the blood of our Franciscan martyrs whose story, if the world only knew it, is one of the most sublime ever to unfold on earth. The light of northern New Mexico is supernatural. It is the Lumen Christi enduring beyond our penitential holy week services.

      In other words, yes, one can live here all one’s live and yet feel as if one is truly breathing and moving within a dream.

      But there is also a way in which memory can produce a similar effect of dreaminess within the heart, because the intellect sees the present under the aspect of far higher realities from which all things derive their being.

      Memory, the memory of my people’s faith above all, is mixed with the light of El Rancho de las Golondrinas whose history is all about memories and dreams.

      There is a wonderful book on the subject by Carmella Padilla who explores the life of Leonora Scott Muse Curtin and Leonora Curtin Paloheimo, the mother and daughter founders of the Rancho. Their vision of La Cienega was truly love at first sight, and they were tireless in their efforts to revive our native crafts. I cannot recommend Professor Padilla’s book more highly. You may find it here:

      Pax et bonum!

  7. Jack Beaulieu

    Thanks William for “tumblr.” At first I wasn’t sure it was a word. Now, thanks to you, I know it is, and what it means–in technospeak.

    After reading the interminable excoriation you and others were treated to by the author of the above-posted poem, I re-read your post, to see if it sounded puerile. It didn’t. I advise ignoring your pompous and longwinded mauler.

    What I’m left with is the knowledge that the excoriator, to maybe coin a word, is 1) a religious fanatic 2) full of himself x ten 3) must have–eek!–seen a mouse, though why the eek I don’t know, since the cat instantly pounced and kicked the mouse around a lot before getting around to killing it) 4) speaks like no important poet I’ve ever read 5) is obviously feral, not to say savage. Maybe some new Conquistadors are in order.

    As to the poem, “I arise from dreams of thee/In the first sweet sleep of night/When the winds are breathing low/And the stars are shining bright….is immeasurably more sensitive and compelling. I’ll take those lines anyday over the fishskin pursifier’s.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      This sounds like typical alt-left-speak. The person who comes from out of nowhere and spews obviously ill-intentioned vitriol—without any provocation of any kind—is now the victim.

  8. David Watt

    The strength of this poem derives, as Joe has said, from its ability to capture a sense time and place. However, it goes beyond this in achieving a sense of beauty higher than age-worn latias.

    • Jack Beaulieu

      Pokemon? It seems apt. Was it merely crying shrilly to scare off its frightening foe? Thus speaketh Latias.

      But why be afraid if you know your worth? Pushcart Prizes are a dime a dozen, and yet Latius is likely never to rise to such heights, despite the Nobel aspirations, which are delusional x 10. Just whom is who trying to fool. And why? Are you truly fooled? My condolences if so.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Dear Mr. Watt,

      Dr. Salemi’s review is important for the very reason you state. He was the first to come to the same conclusion, namely that the enigmatic “sui generis” aspect of my work flows all too naturally from the fact that the verses flow from a time and a place.

      I am not an isolated poet working by his own lights, if you will—I wouldn’t even have the talent or fortitude for that, trust me.

      Rather, I am a Nuevomexicano lyric poet, a “poeta lirico.” Our approach is a little different in that we don’t write unless we are called to write. Poetry is a vocation for us, something which must be taken up with a confessor and even with the hierarchy (by which I always mean the Sedevacantist hierarchy, the only possessing valid ordinations).

      Fray Angelico Chavez did not begin publishing verse until well after Higinio Gonzales, our first poeta lirico, had passed away, and for a reason. New Mexico didn’t need more than Higinio at the time. He gave my grandfather’s generation everything it needed in terms of lyric poetry of Catholic inspiration. Similarly, if Fray Angelico Chavez were still alive today, I would not now be publishing verse at all. I might be republishing his collected works, something I still dream of doing one day.

      We are not like individual poets in our own right like Hilaire Belloc or Joseph Mary Plunkett. We are merely beads of a Rosary, if you will. We draw inspiration from our predecessors, never pretending to surpass them, or even wishing to. This is the “way” of the Nuevomexicano lyric poet. It always has been. Many of our less distinguished predecessors wrote anonymously, if you can imagine, so as not to succumb to the sin of human respect.

      Our other craftsmen are the same way. Our santeros, especially, who carve images of our saints and paint them with handmade pigments. Many died in obscurity. They are to this day almost impossible to contact because they do not wish to be known. When I asked my great uncle if he knew that his “bultos” or statues are on display at the Smithsonian, he just smiled and said no, and then asked if I wanted some coffee.

      All of this po-biz is really antithetical to me which is why I can only be awkward doing it. Can it be useful in helping others understand my world? Perhaps, and if so, maybe others will look into their Catholic heritage in a similar way. We shall see. But, in the end, I am only a local craftsman trying my best to preserve the faith of “mi padres y madres” in verses whose luster is all borrowed from those who have walked these bosques, these aroyos, these cienegas before me. They are the masters.

      But you are right about time and place. Disconnect me from my world, and I am no longer a poet. For, I have nothing to give. All that I have I have received.

  9. William Krusch

    I really do have better things to do than turn this comment thread into some inflated debate that will inevitably turn into an argument over Catholicism versus Protestantism (or, as I am sure MacKenzie will say, Christianity versus barbarism). To address a few major points though…

    1. I have never spoken a word to Burch in my life, and I hardly know a thing about him except that he runs HyperTexts – I can’t make any claims to his character because I don’t know him, so I will refrain from doing so.

    2. I honestly haven’t the slightest clue who Mort Miller he is. I have never used a pseudonym here at SCP, the one exception is when I replied to a poem using several different names from the characters of the commedia dell’arte (which Mr. Mantyk promptly deleted to, I presume, avoid the drama which ensues from things like Mort Miller).

    3. I absolutely agree with you that UNC is an overrated university – I came here so I wouldn’t have to take out loans that I would have to spend decades paying back; I spend most of my time reading outside the infantile syllabi, which, I agree, have remarkably low standards. What is the alternative, though? Go spend even more money at an Ivy? The situation is only worse. Go to Europe? It’s cheaper, but the political problems there are just as bad as here.

    4. As for the Rosary – I have nothing against honest, devout Catholics at all – Dante and Donne are on my bookshelf along with Keats and Shelley and many others; even Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot” has its place, though I can only imagine MacKenzie’s reaction to Eastern Orthodox .

    5. With regard to my eighth-grade education, because any intellectual, reason-based argument seems to be banned here at the SCP, I will only say that my bookshelf is stacked with individuals ranging from Hermes Trismegistus, Goethe, Senancour, Cicero, Dumas, Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Ruskin, Ovid, Shakespeare, the Gawain-poet, the medieval Christian mystics, Cervantes, Virgil, Hölderlin, and plenty of others. Along with them I have scores of Beethoven, Brahms, and Schumann. Please let me know where I can find a middle school that teaches these writers – I would love to send my future children there some day.

    As for my “po widdle ego,” I only advise you to look at your own comments.

    While I admire Mr. Mantyk’s vision for trying to revitalize Classical art, I must say that I will no longer be publishing anything here at the SCP. It’s not so much that I can’t stand criticism – in fact, I welcome it, though I will readily defend my work – nor am I “offended” by people who disagree with me, as MacKenzie suggests by assuming I’m just another average UNC student; no, the petty intolerance of any work that doesn’t either feign religious ecstasies over Catholicism or rail against the left (I am registered as an independent, just to dispel the rumor that I am some alt-leftist) is what has ruined this site – the pretentiousness of many of the leading “poets” here has ruined this organization’s attempts to champion Classical art.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      “To think that the Society of Classical Poets has allowed an actual Catholic—oh my!—not only to publish along with the rest of us—oh my!—but to go so far as to actually defend himself when he is attacked—oh my!—and use actual language to express himself the way the rest of us do—oh my!—and, worse of all, to have actual opinions about things and state them—oh my! Whatever are we to do with this tainted, intolerant website? Well, I for one will make a stand and deprive the SCP of my superhuman genius and make Evan Mantyk regret the loss of my Wordsworth/Shelley collages. That way, of course, I will become the victim and have everyone talking about how mean and distasteful MacKenzie is.”

      Whatever happened to the good ol’ days when Catholics would just shut up and take it, eh, Mr. Krusch?

      • E. V.

        @ Joseph Charles MacKenzie: I hope this as nothing more than an attempt at sarcasm. (Please stick with poetry.) Joseph, you’re one of the stars of SCP. Your work belongs here. Everyone who’s active on this site knows (or should know) that SCP and Evan Mantyk are passionate defenders of democracy, including freedom of speech. I only know of one person who was banned from SCP, and it wasn’t for his poetry or opinions; it was for bullying and personal attacks that bordered on threats.

      • William Krusch

        First off, I can’t stand that Wordsworth poem, so no need to go throwing it in my face. There aren’t many (if any) Wordsworth poems I actually like, “Imitations” included.

        My problem is not with Catholicism or anyone who is Catholic, nor is it with any poems regarding religious subjects (Catholic ones included), but the tone and diction which are used throughout that suggest an air of self-righteousness and false humility (more so in the Mary sonnet than this work, however).

        I would never advocate for the censoring of a poem because of the poet’s religious beliefs. I promise you, Mr. MacKenzie, my problem is not with Catholicism itself by any means – if we want to get personal, I was raised by Jewish family (and I swear, if that gets thrown back at me as the cause of my supposed anti-Catholicism, we have lost all hope of maintaining any degree of civility), and yet I don’t consider myself such because as I have read more philosophy and religious works, I find myself more drawn to the idea of the Trinity because I think it is more truthful. I don’t mean this in some sort of “I’m offended and now I’m going to try to slowly back out of the mess I’ve created by feigning agreement” – those are my own beliefs. Though I will openly admit to anyone that I am far from being a scholar of the Bible or of Christianity, I am far more drawn to Catholicism than I am to Protestantism; I have nothing against Protestants – I think Milton is fantastic – but I think the principles of Catholicism are sounder. So, my problem is not with Catholicism – I want to make that abundantly clear so I don’t get accused of believing something I actually do not.

        I have stated my problems with the poem’s aesthetics and technical aspects in my first comment, and I will let them rest there; my main problem is with the recitation. I certainly am not suggesting that we all go write like Shelley – the past month I have even been reevaluating my own style to get rid of the unnecessary archaisms and less-than-lucid syntax. I have only been writing poetry for a little over a year, and I do not claim to be a mature poet by any stretch of the imagination.

        What frustrates me is that any time a young poet publishes anything here, they are either ignored or absolutely disparaged by the older poets – do you want another generation of Classical poets or not? If this is just a not-so-secret society for all the folks from the good-ole-days to hobnob and shoot down anyone who doesn’t write in their style, Classical art in this country really will die with my generation – I cannot think of a single person I have met who is my age who actually reads any poetry written before last month.

        I hate making arguments personal, I really do, and I suppose it is my own fault for openly attacking this poem in the first place, but as others on this site have previously mentioned, this community needs to be one where critical feedback can be given – that goes both ways.

    • C.B. Anderson

      If you are really leaving the company of the poets here at SCP, then please don’t let the door bang your ass on your way out.

      • E. V.

        No! This is the type of personal attack from which we should all refrain. C. B., when you publish your poetry @ SCP, you serve as a mentor to less experienced poets (myself included). Please don’t diminish your stature with remarks such as this. Perhaps you regretted it after you clicked on “Submit”, but there was no “Delete” option (as offered on other forms of social media, such as Facebook or Twitter)?

        Let’s try this analogy using the famous question, “If a tree falls in the wilderness, and no one is around to hear it, does it still makes a noise?” Perhaps the most practical answer is, “Who cares!” And, the reason behind that snarky conclusion is that any sound made by the falling tree impacts no one. We most definitely do NOT want the SCP to become like that falling tree. If we become so disagreeable that we turn away our readers and fellow poets, then no matter how brilliant a poet may be, his (or her) work becomes irrelevant when there’s no longer anyone around to read it. Unless we want the SCP to become an elite, little clique consisting of 5 people (and I doubt that’s what Evan wants), then we must refrain from personal attacks. Let’s all take a deep breath and extend a symbolic olive branch to one another. Peace out.

      • C.B. Anderson


        It wasn’t an attack; it was a cautionary suggestion. You should be able to discern the difference. But you are correct: I did wish I could have taken it back, just to be punctiliously civil, but the writer to whom it was directed had already made his intentions known, so I must plead Mea Minima Culpa.

  10. Jopseph S. Salemi

    Tempers have frayed on both sides of this debate, maybe irrevocably. But at the risk of pouring more gasoline on the fire, let me say a few things in the hope that we can straighten out some matters.

    First off, when I read a poem at this site that I don’t like, or that I think is hopelessly riddled with poor meter or twisted syntax, I refrain from commenting at all on it. I just let it pass. This is a workshop-oriented place, and quite naturally some of the posted poems are by persons who still need to hone their poetic skills. If I can help them with some minor comment here and there, or a small suggestion, I’ll give it. But I won’t go after a poem that offends me in both form and substance. There’s no point to it.

    Nevertheless, I notice that whenever Joseph MacKenzie publishes something here it evokes some sort of barely-concealed anti-Catholic animus. Sure, one might criticize MacKenzie for his vocabulary choices, or his somewhat old-fashioned stylistics. Those things are fair game in a workshop setting. But I find that the attacks on MacKenzie, while perhaps beginning that way, almost always degenerate into splenetic attacks on his religious faith.

    OK, fine — there are a lot of anti-Catholics out there, and that’s just a fact of life in a country founded by Puritan Dissenters. But more insidiously, there is also the problem of a disguised political correctness being pushed in an oh-so-gentle manner by some of the participants here. The persistent nudge about language usage is the most obvious symptom, i.e. how we should avoid certain words because they might offend some parties. Well, face facts — language is the material expression of thought, and when you try to restrict language and diction choices, you are surreptitiously trying to restrict thought to certain approved parameters. Ask that evil witch Hillary Clinton what she thinks of the First Amendment, but don’t expect a Jeffersonian answer.

    Moreover the buzzword among left-liberals today is “Diversity.” We are all supposed to celebrate how “diverse” we are. Oh really? Then why isn’t there room in this soi-disant diversity for the opinions of Roman Catholics like MacKenzie and myself? Of course the reason is that people pushing “diversity” are liars and frauds — the only diversity they want is cosmetic, in the form of a rainbow of skin colors and cultural markers. But they certainly don’t want any diversity in thought. Ask anyone who teaches in the degraded intellectual gulags that we still call universities if I’m wrong about this.

    I’ve been in the poetry world for quite some time, and I have seen how this little game works. Someone like Mr. Mantyk puts up a beautiful website, dedicated to a higher ideal of art than the garbage and fakery appearing in mainstream poetry sites and publications. Poets with some sense of style and aesthetics and tradition, along with unpopular opinions like deep religious faith or conservatism or alt-right viewpoints, come here with their work. After a while it’s clear that there’s a website that isn’t under the control of the left-wing scum who dominate our universities and our controlled media.

    And what happens then? Persons show up who pretend to to be friendly to the enterprise, but who work (in a quiet and unobtrusive way) to change things. They make little tut-tutting noises about certain words. They feign shock over opinions that they don’t like. They wonder (in the comments section) why a certain poems was published at all, and isn’t it shocking that Mr. Mantytk let it pass. But above all, they drop their mask and fall into a kind of low-wattage anti-Catholicism, questioning why we should have any poems at all that are devotional or pious.

    What happens next? If the webmaster is cowardly, he slowly subjects his judgment to the complaints being raised by these persons. And bit by bit, the website changes into just another boring, brain-dead, mainstream poetry venue for politically correct third-rate poetasters. If the webmaster is courageous, he ignores these annoying fifth-columnists for left-liberalism and publishes whatever he pleases. Thank God that Evan Mantyk is in this latter group.

    So here’s a suggestion — if anyone reading or participating in this website is troubled or offended by the substance of a poem, or by the choice of language used either in the poem or the subsequent discussion, he should simply let it pass, and go on to some other poem or some other discussion at the site. Anything else suggests what Sartre called “bad faith.” And by that I mean that you are pushing an agenda that is different from what you pretend.

  11. Maria S.

    Dear Joseph M.,

    I truly enjoyed your beautiful poem, and the recitation provided As a devout Catholic, I would be overjoyed to receive from my husband a purse that contained lovely chaste marriage sonnets and a turquoise Rosary. I have never understood the phrase “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” A rock is only an uninteresting temporal gift, whereas a Rosary provides untold spiritual benefits for the soul that uses it for its intended purpose.

    The interloper on this thread pretends to not understand why a woman would prefer this gift over others, when it is apparent he knows the exact opposite, the reason for his jealous diatribe against you using this language in your poem. Perhaps the decrier knows nothing of this type of world, which many belong to, and thus, his misunderstanding of what many a woman truly wants.

    It is also apparent from your words that your wife appreciates the beautiful scenery and all that is New Mexico (complete with adobe architecture, blue skies, desert rain) as much as you do, and thus, would be delighted to receive this poem that lets her know that you remember the times you have enjoyed these things while together.

    Utterly ridiculous statements from others on this thread that you are egotistical, a religious fanatic, and so forth, for writing such a poem or responding intelligently to ugly (and yes, puerile) posts about your poem, we have seen this all before in the world, haven’t we? Joseph Salemi states that this group viciously attacks you each and every time you publish a poem on the SPC site. They have exposed themselves as being the same faction, if not the same person, but in any case sharing the same ideology, as their terminology to describe you has become so boringly predictable, as has their childish responses such as “because this website allows a single Catholic poet to publish and even defend himself when attacked, it is therefore intolerant.”

    Like Antifa and the left, they believe attacks like these will scare you, in this case, into not posting any more Christian poems on this site. I am glad to see that their tactics have not deterred you one bit.

    Keep up the good work, and one of the ways we know it is good work is that these individuals are threatened by what you write (especially when you use words like Catholic, Blessed Virgin Mary, Holy Mother of God, or Rosary). If you were rattling off the names of Greek gods, muses, or Roman emperors they would have no problem with you and probably praise you. That would be “classical” for them. They hate the good reviews you receive and can’t control themselves by just not reading your poems and/or savagely attacking them and you personally. They apparently do not have anything going on in their lives except to think about you and your posts and to believe that THEIR poems are what everyone wants to read. The best approach is to completely ignore them, as that is when they show who they really are, as their colossal egos can’t stand it when they are ignored, and thus, in desperation for attention, they screech all the more loudly, dropping their mask. So, just sit back, watch, and see.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Thank you, Maria, for your very moving comment which has touched me very deeply.

      I can assure you that you are not alone in your placing the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary above diamonds. Ours, indeed, is the Pearl of Great Price which Our Lord recounts in His parable in St. Matthew’s Gospel. And yes, you are right to say it would be most unreasonable to expect those most unfortunate souls who yet dwell in darkness to understand the grandeur and beauty of Catholic femininity in its highest aspirations.

      Ultimately, we must pray for the conversion of the interloper and all decriers we have encountered herein whose singular purpose is to harm others. For, while it is true that, as you say, they have other life, we must ever bear in mind what the absence of life really means. On a spiritual level, it means death. Spiritual death is a state of separation from God. It is usually the result of grave sin. One of its primary symptoms is the futile quest for self-realization through interaction with mere creatures, most notably other men. The gaze of the separated is horizontal only, no longer recognizing the sky of God’s infinite grace.

      The dead walk among us in this life, seeking to drag others down to the bottomless pit they have prepared for themselves. And yet, these souls are “illas quae maxime indigent misericordia Dei” (those who are most in need of God’s mercy) as we repeat at the end of each of the mysteries of the Rosary. So that the the Most Holy Rosary redound not to our personal benefit, but to the benefit of others as well.

      And while the likes of “Antifa Jack” and his ilk have attacked me on this and other threads, be assured that my unspoken response, that which is not visible to readers, is to offer prayers on their behalf for their conversion without which there is no conceivable hope for them. Were they aware of the gravity of the situation in which their calumnies, blasphemies, and demonic attacks have placed them, they would fall upon the ground and grovel in sackcloth, ashes, and tears to the throne of the Blessed Virgin Mary to implore her maternal intercessions.

      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        I meant to say:

        “So that the benefits of the Most Holy Rosary redound not only to ourselves, but to others.”

        And its presence in the poem is therefore all the more significant.

      • Maria S.

        Joseph M,

        What you say about prayer is the truth. Also quite true is Joseph Salemi’s statement “…when you are attacked, it is quite natural to attack back heatedly. That’s what honorable men do. They hit back…” Be assured that when I said the best approach is to ignore them, I did not mean that you should never respond to trolls that attack you for no reason other than they do not like you for who you are.

        In fact, Christians need to stop kowtowing to the PC establishment, as doing so, only allows the leftists to further advance their agenda. An agenda wherein people like myself are forced to endure questions from my doctor’s office to clarify my gender, when it is apparent I am a woman, only to appease the agenda of an ant-Christian mob. I stood up and said I am not going to play this game, because that was the honorable thing to do.

        It has become apparent that there is a similar game being played in this thread, as well. Some believe the decriers are involved in a simple insult fest, but there is much more to it than that. They pretend to be victims even as they bully others. Isn’t this the MO of all bullies? They can spew all kinds of insults–in this case against a Catholic poet, in hopes they can shut down another Christian voice, but they can’t take it when their victim hits back. They try to convince others that the actual victim has made THEM the victim.

        It is obvious the attacker, who can’t just go away, is threatened by you because his PC world is collapsing around him. If he really believed the things he says about you, wouldn’t he just move on from this thread, instead of continuing to hurl insults at you? But, of course, bullies always need to have the last word to feel a great void in their lives. What a sad life, indeed.

        Moving on to a more positive subject, I have forwarded your poem to my large Fatima group, and many other Marian groups throughout the country. We all love your poem, and can’t wait for your next Marian post.

        Deo gratias!

  12. Mark Stone

    I have been participating in this site for only a few months. However, I’ve noticed that from time to time, critique on a poem devolves into a mud-flinging festival. My suggestion is that the site develop, if it doesn’t already have one, some type of expectation of civility, such as: it’s fine to critique/attack a poem, but it’s not fine to critique/attack the author or other poets personally. I find that the personal attacks on this site are very well written, and it is, I admit, mildly entertaining to watch how smart people can insult each other in new and clever ways (like on those daytime TV shows that I hear about). However, I really wish I could come to this website and not have to read the mud salvos, because (1) I have a limited amount of time to devote to poems and don’t want to spend it on this; (2) I think it’s tawdry and distasteful, and (3) I think it will drive well-intended people away from this site. I’m completely in favor of free speech, and I’m fine with discussing policy issues, or historical interpretations, or whether it’s appropriate to use a certain word (such as “barbarian”). There are a lot of really smart and knowledgeable people who post on this site, and I learn a lot by visiting here. But the personal attacks just turn me off.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      A personal attack is not the same thing as an attack on someone’s viewpoint or ideology or false reasoning.

      It’s “personal” if you make fun of someone’s appearance, or his style of dress, or the fact that he is bald or fat. But if I question someone’s hidden political agenda, or his barely disguised animus against someone, or his evil ideology, that isn’t personal. That’s just human discourse.

      Persons have attacked MacKenzie here not simply because they don’t appreciate his stylistic choices or his syntax. They have clearly attacked him for his ideas, political preferences, and religious beliefs, and they were the first to attack. All he has done is to answer them. And when you are attacked, it is quite natural to attack back heatedly. That’s what honorable men do. They hit back.

      So if you are going to pass judgments against what happens here, you need to name names, specifically. Talking in general about “civility” raises a red flag about your agenda.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      All of which begs the question:

      If you don’t have time for this, then why are you here?

      As for claims that people might be driven away from this site:

      Can you name any online forum that expects to keep each and every one of its readers and contributors until the end of time? Don’t readers and contributors normally come and go as a matter of course? Do ordinary readers really expect online forums to be impregnable bastions of Victorian daintiness?

      So, let me calm your fears about readers being driven away. The Society of Classical Poet’s is “America’s Poetry Plaza” at the present moment and that is not about to change. It’s popularity, since January of 2017 has only increased, and exponentially so, and the best is yet to come.

      So, be at peace. I can assure you that the SCP will go on with or without civility hustlers, with or without the occasional incognito activist or freak, with or without those who come on a thread only to whine about politeness while contributing less than nothing to the conversation.

      • E.V.

        And, most importantly, it’ll go on with great classical poetry.

  13. Scubie Dew Lear aka Bruce Dale Wise, et. al.

    Thoughts After Lam-Beth, Cum Grano Salis

    1. This is the cactus land, the Land of Enchantment, commedia dell’arte.

    2. The poem: What meter?

    3. Tweedie Bird taut he taw a puddy cat. He did. Eek. The cat hath pounced.

    4. Hail, the stone-age cyber sage bravely mounting his mouse. Attack.

    5. Beware the Lion’s Club. Arr, ooh, so—the noble savage drained of all historeality.

    6. Ah, the beauty, beauty, beauty of a fishskin purse.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Dear Bruce,

      I have absolutely no idea what you just said, but it made me smile–and that is not a bad thing at all!

      On another matter, I fully agree with Mr. Salemi that when the discussion or comments focus on the form and content of a poem or on issues raised in the comments, all is well. When the discourse enters the realm of personal attacks then a line has been crossed, emotions rise, and, as has been pointed out, “And when you are attacked, it is quite natural to attack back heatedly. That’s what honorable men do. They hit back.”

      I have, in the past, been subjected to vitriolic personal attacks on this site and have been faced with whether to stand my ground or quietly withdraw from participating as a member of the SCP. Thus far I have chosen to remain and continue to participate in our common pursuit of excellence and creativity in the realm of formal poetry. I have endeavored to avoid initiating anything that could be construed as a personal attack, trying only to offer my own opinions and thoughts as they have been piqued by the opinions and thoughts of others. If anything I have written has been perceived as having crossed the line in this regard I am more than willing to be admonished and corrected.

      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        Oh, I have always enjoyed Mr. Tweedie’s fine discourse, even where we most vehemently disagree. We are on different sides of the world, for example, when it comes to Da Anza who is also, bibliographically speaking, a victim of a well developed, ongoing “leyenda negra” which never takes into account things like the 34,000 ritual human sacrifices (by vivisection) performed annually by the Aztecs as a public religious spectacle. I nevertheless respect Mr. Tweedie’s comments which, as you see above, are often rich with amazing history in their own right. Mr. Tweedie is also the author of my actual favorite sonnet on this site!

      • E. V.

        Please stay @ SCP. As someone stated in one of the prior comments, diversity of thought is important. Although the poets and readers of SCP may have a wide range of religions, ethnicities, educational levels and political opinions, we should all be united in our mission to promote classical poetry. Furthermore, if I come across someone being bullied, I’m on it. Unfortunately, sometimes, I’m busy and don’t always catch it early, but eventually I’ll probably see it and respond in a way that gives support to the bullied. (In case you haven’t guessed by my poem, A Tribe of Trolls, I really don’t like bullies.)

      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        For readers:

        Now we know. This is none other than E. V. Wyler, the successful American poet residing in the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey. Her poems have appeared in many other venues and are pending publication in yet another even as I write.

        As I lack the necessary acumen to judge of Wyler’s formidable and relevant “Tribe of Trolls” which addresses a unique problem in American culture today, I would like to pay it the homage of a lyric poet by quoting this perfect gem of true satire in full, especially as, in my estimation, it maximally pertains to those who viciously attack me each and every time I publish in the Society of Classical Poets.

        “A tribe of trolls escaped their cage!
        Now rabid wrath and rancor rage.
        Hurling hurt from hidden hellholes
        (most notably, their toilet bowls),
        they flush their filth across your page …

        Anonymity sets the stage
        for this word-“warrior” rampage
        as today’s internet unrolls
        a tribe of trolls …

        Let’s hail the stone-age cyber sage,
        “bravely” mounting his mouse to wage
        invectives with the screens he scrolls.
        Unmask their names! Expose the trolls!
        Let public shaming disengage
        a tribe of trolls.”

  14. E. V.

    Let’s take it down a notch (or two)! “The Swallows of La Cienega” is a great poem that deserves publication on this site. It’s absurd to believe that a reader must agree with the poet’s every word to appreciate his work. Take a deep breath, relax …. and just enjoy the lovely imagery.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      It’s perhaps a little funny to consider, E.V., but do you know that none of the collaborators I work with are Catholic? It was a Protestant publisher that published the “Sonnets for Christ the King” and the English actor who recorded them has nothing at all to do with my faith. It was a group of die-hard secular atheist friends in Albuquerque that threw the first launch party for the audiobook!

      In other words, what you say is very important. William Butler Yeats drew all his inspiration from the great Irish Catholic poets of the past, without ever sharing their faith. I reject Yeat’s religion, but can easily see why some would consider his poems not too terribly wretched, perhaps even lyrical, in their way…

      Everyone will bring something different to his or her reading of a poem, and everyone will take away something different, according to what is given.

      Yes, take it down a notch or two, but, yes, take the pleasure of reading up a notch or two!

    • DPB

      E. V. , I believe you are my soulmate. If I meet you in the next life, will you marry me? You need not answer until the time comes.

      “See you in the next world, don’t be late.” – Jimi Hendrix

  15. C.B. Anderson

    I was wrong. Much more did need to be said, and now it has been. But just let me add this: The comments, especially when they go beyond gratuitous phrases such as “Beautiful work” or “Lovely Poem,” are usually very well written, and I like reading the words of those with whom I disagree as much as I enjoy the confutations offered by those with whom I am inclined to agree. But, of course, personal attacks do little to spark intellectual interest, though they do sometimes evoke feelings akin to what one might have while watching a contest between gladiators, and sometimes that is satisfying on a visceral level. I will hazard a guess that the latter is not what we are going for here. Whichever aesthetic dominates here, it is important that this site not become anesthetic.

  16. Jack Beaulieu

    I just reread some of the above. It was wearisome reading, but I wondered what had started the ruckus.

    It began with the Krusch post. Up till then, the poem had only received applause. Krusch did not applaud it. He gave a variety of reasons why he didn’t: “horribly sentimental language,” a line that was “beyond egotistic,” a stanza that “reeks of nonsense” among them. He also didn’t like the background music that accompanied, I assume, a recording of its recitation. But I found nothing in his dissenting opinion that struck me as “anti-Catholic bigotry. ”

    In response to Krusch’s dissenting opinion, the poem’s a author fired back a seemingly endless litany of insults and accusations. Krusch is an “eighth grader”; a plagiarist; a “non-poet”; “a middle class social experiment”; has a “freshman’s ignorance”; has a “po wittle ego”; is part of the reason, due to his awful writing, that formal poetry is out of favor; took a swipe at two of the author’s admirers and therefore must be in league with the devil; is, like some other poster on some other thread, “a little public school freshman” and “an anti-Catholic bigot.” In sum, Krusch and his opinions count for nothing and should be consigned to the trashbin.

    Then some big guns entered and launched volleys.

    When I put it all in the balance, I would say the poem’s author and his cronies far surpassed the ignorant freshman in terms of toxic waste production.

    All in all, I am sad that Fray Angelico Chavez is not still alive, considering what the above poem’s author would be doing if he was.

    No educated person will mistake the preponderant drek above for elevated speech. It sounds more to me like paranoid schizophrenia being used as a lead-in to propaganda.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Statistics, articles, and dissertations abound on the decline of academic standards in American universities since the late 1960s.

      Learn to do a bit of research before embarrassing yourself in public.

  17. Charles Southerland

    I have no issue with the sentiment of the poem.

    I am frustratingly confused about the meter of it though.

    It is not accentual, but syllabic, I guess, and features a mix of dactylic, iambic, tetrameter mostly, with a line or two of hex stresses thrown in.

    Its line lengths seem to all be Alexandrine in length , but usually hexmet and Alexandrines have caesuras in each line, which this poem does not.

    I truly cannot scan the poem for regular meter. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that?

    I’m not being critical but would appreciate an explanation.

    Someone? Anyone?

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      And, of course, all educated people agree with you and your viewpoints, and share your taste in rhetoric. Is that what you mean, Jack?

      That liberal dreck doesn’t fly anymore, pal.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Dear Mr. Sutherland,

      Oh yes, you are absolutely correct an I am grateful you had the perspicacity to point that out. I had no intention of keeping to a strict meter, for all the reasons of economy you can well imagine.

  18. Jack Beaulieu

    You do seem to be one of the 2 or 3 main propagandists around here. Educated people can distinguish, don’t you think, between political rhetoric and conscientious speech?

    But maybe you think that calling people scum and the like will woo the educated. All I can say is that it would sure be a surprise to me if it did.

    I could be wrong of course. But to me at least you sound like a politico playing to the the less intellectually-inclined. You sound to me like you are playing to people who as students were immune to learning and may even have harassed their teachers.

    But the educated class is maybe not too large. You may think so too, and therefore have chosen to address yourself to less scholarly types–for the sake of attracting larger numbers?

    Good luck with your agenda. But I’d wager that less scholarly types may bot be too intrigued with classical poetry. Hell, that would be like school all over again. Do you really think they’re tuning in?

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      It depends what you mean by “educated,” Jack. From your viewpoint, it seems to mean readers of the New York Times, listeners to CNN broadcasts, registered Democrats, and those who attended colleges to be trained by the likes of Christine Blasey Fraud.

      I have no interest in converting anyone to any agenda. I simply write poetry, literary criticism, and social-cultural commentary according to my own criteria of excellence. If people like it, fine. If they don’t, they can go whistle.

      How about telling us about your agenda and ideology, Jack? Or perhaps you too are here under a false flag, for the sole purpose of stirring up trouble.Are you one of those left-liberal SJWs?

      And thanks for letting us know that you think people who read the SCP are “not intellectually inclined,” and “less than scholarly.” I guess you’re way above all of us.

  19. Jack Beaulieu

    Like every good propagandist you twisted my words to serve your purpose.

    What I said was “Do you really think they’re [i.e. the bad students] tuning in?” Which was to imply–must everything be explained?–that many of the voices I’m hearing here sound to me like pretty smart cookies (i.e., not your dream audience). My compliments to many of the participants here (which I hope won’t sadden you).

    As to The Times, not even once; as to the Democratic Party, never; as to Stanford, I never applied there. So no no and no. But why should any of that matter? What do such things have to do with poetry or the exchange of ideas? Must one subscribe to certain publications, belong to certain groups, have been educated at certain places–and not at others–for you to regard them as worth conversing with?

    I didn’t come here to be examined in a lawcourt. I came hoping to find something I might like. And as I said above–contrary to your purposeful misconstrual of my words–I have found a number of voices I find agreeable.

    False flag? I tend to talk straight from the hip.

    Agenda? To observe what’s around me. And as I said above–it’s not looking so bad. I’ve heard some scholars here. Enough in fact that the exceptions don’t really bother me all (which again, I hope won’t sadden you).

  20. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    For the record, I have just addressed “Jack Beaulieu” by his real name, Michael Burch, and he has responded to that name without denying it is his.

    Good night, Mike.

    Looks like it’s time for you to leave with whatever scrap of human dignity you’ve left yourself.


    …someone wake me up when he’s done admiring his own insults.

  21. Jack Beaulieu

    I have a feeling that Sherlock may not be impressed, may be inclined to regard the upstart as not yet fully certified as an expert in forensic linguistics.

    Which is to say, Mike Burch may be a bugbear to one, but only a puzzling misascription to another.

    My apologies to the fall guy whoever he is.

    I think the parents of the budding detective should get their tot to bed earlier. Weekend night or not, the drone schedule which is the common lot must be adapted to early.

    Let us pray for a slave’s release from a puppeteer’s strings. Snip snip and collapse, until he can hopefully stand on his own, released from the control of a vengeful operator.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Glad you could come clean, Mike, through this second non-denial. I’ve decided I don’t mind your insults.

      You give our readers a pretty good idea of what liberalism is all about.

      You have also insured that my poem has permanent visibility on the sidebar of this website—the best real estate in the poetry world today.

  22. Jack Beaulieu

    Glad to have helped accelerate your rise to stardom.

    Liberality means more to me than liberalism.

    As for insults, a review of the evidence should show who’s best at those.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Maybe you’ll be nominated for a Pushcart Prize if they have an insult category—like a Don Rickles award. That way you wouldn’t be so jealous of Pushcart Prize nominees, eh Mike?

      You’re like the gift that keeps on giving.

      • Jack Beaulieu

        I decided to look up the person. He has already been nominated for 3.

        Nonetheless, probably your suggestion that he compete in Pushcart’s insult category would no doubt be taken as quite a compliment coming as it does from an undisputed master of the genre.

  23. E. V.

    Enough Already! (with the insults) The Swallows of La Cienega was NOT a political poem; it was a narration through a whimsical daydream about the natural beauty and history of New Mexico. My interpretation is that JCM referenced Catholicism because his religion, (being very important to him), merits a role in his depictions of nature’s beauty. Contrary to popular opinion, politics doesn’t have to infiltrate every aspect of our lives. Thank you for referencing my rondeau, A Tribe of Trolls, (above). However, I am curious about something: How do you know about my pending acceptance?

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      E.V., let not your heart be troubled. It was not an insult fest you were watching, it was something entirely different which only very few were in on and there was no way you could have put two and two together, but I may have to explain it a little more fully below as I respond to Mr. Anderson.

  24. C.B. Anderson

    Michael Burch,

    If you are the real Jack Beaulieu, then you have soiled yourself, and someone should come and change your diaper, and find a new editor for the Vipertexts.

    But what I really want to know, Joseph MacK, is how you sussed him out.

    I’m sorry, E.V.; though I respect you, I can’t always take your advice. Though, on occasion, I might regret things I write, what kind of coward would would write things under a pseudonym? I can answer that: someone who is deathly afraid of Joseph Salemi.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Dear Mr. Anderson,

      One Scot to another. You are right. Jack Beaulieu is a pseudonym used by, just call it for now an operative from an old, failed poetry venue that has it out for Evan Mantyk himself and anyone else in Dr. Salemi’s exclusive circle. You can contact me through my website.

      As I explained to E. V. Wyler, this was not a case of a simple troll, it was a campaign on the part of a failed old poetry scam that has shifted from literature to defamation thinking to save themselves. They are trying to infiltrate the readership of the SCP so they can eventually spring surprise attacks later on when they deem necessary.

      This is why I replied to the miscreant’s comment on your current thread. But no worries, the editorship is aware of him (you woldn’t believe how much information they’ve gathered!). So, hang on a bit and you’ll see action.

      Loving your poems I’m finding on the web, by the way…

      All good wishes!

      • C.B. Anderson

        Thank you very much. The assurances of a stout soul such as you mean a lot to me. Although I am not as deep a believer as you are, in our Father’s house are many mansions, and I should be satisfied with the least log cabin there.

  25. The Society

    Please note that we will now be deleting comments from anyone posting under a pseudonym or anyone posting under a different name and posing as a second commenter. A commenter named “Jack Beaulieu” has previously commented under the name “Mort Miller” and is suspected of being someone else entirely. If Mort Miller (or Jack Beaulieu or whoever) wants to sort out the identity issue and be allowed to comment simply contact (The only exception to this rule is Bruce Dale Wise, who comments under a wide variety of anagrammatic pseudonyms)

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Still a testament to the power and popularity of the Society of Classical Poets that even its alt-left attackers are absolutely pre-occupided with it in whatever way they are. Hyenas increase readship.

      We saw this in January 2017 when the Inugural Poem for Donald J. Trump was published. Leftist hyenas went to their separate websites and email lists to defame both the poem and its author. Within two hours of the poem’s appearance in the UK, SCP editorship reported over 17,000 hits and counting. Folks from the uppermost tiers of American society are now faithful readers of the SCP.

      The problem with defamation is that people then look into the poetry defamed and see nothing but quality, which makes the defamers look like the liars they are, or at very least bitter losers and jerks.


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