…a contemporary application of Pope’s wisdom

I’ve sent illegal immigrants
to splash around your pool,
to raid your pantry, watch tv,
because I know you’re cool.
They’ll realize you’re not upset
by sharing your success;
that you are fair and really care,
and not the least distressed.
Next week I’m sending twenty more.
This group is unemployed;
but they don’t care, because welfare
insures they’re overjoyed.
Still, they don’t have as much as you,
so you must distribute
your bank account for an amount
that’s more or less acute.
And then there are the homeless ones
who’ll be there in two weeks
to share your bed and in your stead
they’ll kiss your rosy cheeks;
for they will have as much as you
and you will have the same,
the justice that you voted for…
so really, who’s to blame?

You can fool some of the people…


Don Shook wearing the many hats of actor, director, producer and author has award-winning scripts, television shows, and theatrical productions in his bag of credits. Formally with NBC in New York, he performed at Carnegie Hall in Tom Booth’s opera “Gentlemen In Waiting”,  announced on air for WNBC, and was part of “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. He also taught music and drama at Texas A&M at Commerce, Duncanville High School, Temple Jr. College, Greenville Junior High and Brookhaven College in Dallas.  Mr. Shook has written five novels, four screenplays, an acting handbook and over a dozen teleplays and wrote, directed and produced three shows, in Branson, Missouri.  He has conducted Masters Acting Workshops for Stage West Theatre in Fort Worth and at The Granbury Opera Academy in Granbury, Texas. www.donshook.com/dshook3

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16 Responses

  1. Steve Shaffer

    Hi Don —

    I’m no expert, but this reads well to me. I like it. It reminds me of some other stuff I’ve read, but I can’t place it. Maybe you or someone can explain the following to me:

    I’m interested in the rhyme scheme, which seems to be something like: xAxAxBxBxCxC… Is there a name for this?

    Also, the meter is different than Pope’s I think. Is there a name for this meter?

    Are there other examples of this form that I might have heard or read?

    Thanks for helping to start off my day right!

    • James A. Tweedie

      The meter is what Dr. Salemi called a “fourteener” when he commented on my recent poem, “The Cost of Higher Education.” The only difference in form between Mr. Shook’s poem and mine is that he chose to break his lines in the middle, thereby appearing to create alternating, unrhymed lines. The scheme, therefore, is actually a sequence of fourteen-syllable couplets, aabbccdd etc. Both Shook’s and my poem are written in iambic heptameter (which offers a lilting, duple beat). Fourteeners can also be written in a trochic style which can be configured as either a duple or a triple beat–as in the well-known Christian hymn, “Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation.” Fourteeners are also referred to as Ballad meter because, since the Middle Ages, the metrical form has been associated with narrative story-telling.

      • James A. Tweedie

        I must clarify that each verse of the cited hymn opens with a “fourteeneer” couplet but then concludes with a series of three metrically irregular fragments. If I am in error in any of this I trust that those who know better will correct me.

      • Steven Shaffer

        Thanks James for that explanation. Once you pointed out about breaking the lines at the middle, I see exactly what you mean.

        I also called to mind another poem in this rhyme/meter, I think:

        Mary had a little lamb
        Her fleece was white as snow.
        Any everywhere that Mary went
        The lamb was sure to go.


        Mary had a little lamb, her fleece was white as snow.
        Any everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go.

        I don’t point this out to be snarky; what I’d like to know is if I’m right that this is the same. I’m trying to learn to recognize these forms like you all seem to be able to, but I think I have some kind of iamb recognition disability :-/

    • James A. Tweedie

      Steve, Your Mary Had a Little Lamb is a good example and shows you understood my point. One minor thing, however, would be to point out the the first line of that nursery rhyme only had 13 syllables because it starts on the “downbeat” (strong beat=trochee) rather than the “upbeat” (weak beat=iamb). The second line begins with the iamb, “and,” so has 14 syllables. The nursery rhyme could be a “fourteener” if it started with something like “Our Mary had a little lamb . . .” Clear as mud, right? lol

  2. Joe Tessitore

    An excellent poem – flawlessly constructed and accurately messaged.

    My wife shares your vision. She foresees the day when we are forced to welcome comrades into our studio apartment.

  3. Amy Foreman

    Excellent poem, Mr. Shook. Whenever I read your long list of credentials, I realize why your verse sounds so rhythmic and musical. Truly, it’s a pleasure to read.

  4. James Sale

    Dear James, whatever you think it is – maybe – but to me this seems to be a fine example of the ballad form: alternate 4/3 stress pattern and second and fourth line rhyming? The only thing different is the fact of no stanzaic breaks. However, this is all a minor technicality – let’s just enjoy the poem!

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    The one accentual problem is in line 14, where the stress falls erroneously on the last syllable of “distribute.” I would revise the line to read “so you must shell out loot,” but then the grammar of the following line would have to be revised as well, to accommodate the new structure. I’d try “from your account in an amount” as something to consider.

    As for the subject matter, well… it’s too damned painfully true. Only a very thin line of American army troops is preventing this horde of illegal immigrant scum from crossing our borders.

  6. "Wild" E. S. Bucaree

    Mr. Shook’s poem was an enjoyable poem to read partly because of its structure. Mr. Sale is correct; this is the ballad form. It has a long tradition in English literature, and it is one that I am particularly fond of, that Romantics, like Blake and Coleridge, and Realist Emily Dickinson, inter alia, put to good use in their various ways. It’s all over popular music; and it is one of the reasons I so like the cowboy-styled country western song by Stan Jones of 1948: “Ghost Riders in the Sky”.

  7. David Paul Behrens

    In 1948, a U.S. Immigration Service plane carrying undocumented immigrants from California to Mexico, crashed. All 32 people on board were killed. But while news accounts listed the names of the four people in the flight crew, the 28 undocumented victims were just listed as Mexican deportees.

    There are at least two sides to every story. Here are lyrics to a song, also written in 1948, relating to the immigration situation.


    The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting,
    The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
    They’re flying ’em back to the Mexican border
    To pay all their money to wade back again.

    My father’s own father, he waded that river.
    They took all the money he made in his life;
    My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
    And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

    Good bye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita
    Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria
    You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
    All they will call you will be “deportees”

    Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
    Our work contact’s out and we have to move on.
    Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
    They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

    We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
    We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
    We died ‘neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
    Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

    Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita
    Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria
    You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
    All they will call you will be “deportees”

    The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
    A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills.
    Who are these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
    The radio said, “They are just deportees.”

    Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
    Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
    To fall like dry leaves, to rot on my topsoil
    And be called by no name except “deportees?”

    Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita
    Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria
    You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
    All they will call you will be “deportees”

    Woody Guthrie (Born and raised in Oklahoma)

    • Monty

      How typical of Guthrie to utter such humane words . . an authentic peoples-rights songwriter. One can see why Dylan felt compelled to visit him (unannounced) in hospital in his final days; even though they’d never before met.

  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    Woody Guthrie was an active pro-Communist fellow traveler all of his adult life. That’s also part of the story.

  9. David Watt

    Mr. Shook, I really enjoyed your topical poem. You have treated a serious subject with sufficient lightness befitting the ‘dancing’ ballad form.

  10. Monty

    Has the word ‘acute’ got a slang meaning on that side of the Pond? If not, could someone explain to me the sense in the following sentence: ‘You must distribute your account to an amount that’s acute’. What constitutes an ‘acute amount’?

    I’m also stuck on the 6th-last line: as we know, ‘in your stead’ is another way of saying ‘instead of you’. Which reads (to me) as: ‘the homeless are gonna be at your house in two weeks instead of you’. Which means that the owner won’t be there when the homeless are there. And if that’s the case . . how can the homeless share the owners bed with him: and kiss his rosy cheeks?

    Am I missin’ summ’int simple?


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