Our Bishops, on Nov. 4, 2020

Our bishops hail the president-elect.
Do they suppose the election is decided?
Or are they anxious that we all move on
And welcome policies that won’t exclude
The illegal alien from such benefits
As she may gain through legislative act?
Our bishops seem oblivious to the fact
That charges that a horde of hypocrites
Have tampered with the vote in manner crude
And foisted on the voters such a con
As never could unquestioned be abided,
But should by any legal means be checked.
Our bishops, furthermore, fail to connect
The dots. The threat that truly is united
To Biden’s White House bid: a promised dawn     
Of stiff oppression, destined to intrude         
On freedom of religion and to blitz
The right to life, make sure it’s fairly sacked.
Our bishops—can the lot of them be cracked?
They might learn from a group of nuns that sits
In concentrated prayer. Their attitude:
May Mary, Mother of Mercy, take upon
Herself the task of stopping this benighted
Attack on freedom, heavy and direct.
Our bishops, like these nuns, ought to reject      
All thought of Biden’s Catholic faith; divided
Is he from what it teaches: there’s no bond
Between the Church and him, for he is glued
To global politics. He craves the glitz
And gain that come from the convenient pact. 
Our bishops, sad to say, need to be smacked—
In words, at least, their smugness smashed to bits.
They should mimic those nuns: both pray and brood  
Over what threatens, and then meekly don
New vestments. If they do, they’ll have confided       
In Mary, like the nuns in that respect.
Our bishops should know how’ve the nuns bedecked      
Our Lady such that she must be delighted—
A necklace wrought of spiritual brawn:                                                    
Fifty Magnificats they pray, renewed
Each day. Not one among them quits,
Not one this obligation would retract.
Our bishops: know that these nuns yet exact                           
More of themselves; their prayers ride chariots  
Fast-driven. Yes, you bishops, here is food                                                      
For thought: three days a week they have withdrawn
From food, save bread and water. Prayers requited
When strengthened thus: faith augurs their effect.         




“Alarm!” the lookouts’ voices can be heard.
Some danger is afoot, it seems. They’ve stirred.
“Look there—the gate! Our foes have nearly reached it.
Oh wait … it seems they have already breeched it.”
“Oh dear! This is a troubling situation,
Worthy of long and serious conversation.”
“Perhaps if we prepared a few remarks,
Our citizens would be aroused. Wild barks
Will never do, but something to attest
To … Oh, the foes! We’re all under arrest!” 



Julian D. Woodruff was a teacher, orchestral musician, and librarian. He served for several years as librarian at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA. He now resides in the area of Rochester, NY, where he writes poetry and fiction, much of it for children. His work has appeared in Frostfire Worlds and on the websites of Carmina, Parody Poetry, and Reedsy. His GPS poem placed tenth in the last riddle contest of The Society of Classical Poets. 

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21 Responses

  1. Julian D. Woodruff

    Please note: in “Bishops,” line 6, a virgule (signifying she or he), has been dropped from the 2nd word.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        The use of he/she, or a virgule, is silly. Just write the generic “he” as has always been done, and forget what some feminist crackpot may say. It’s time for us to stop paying attention to the linguistic-cultural niceties of the left.

      • Jeff Kemper

        Dr. Salemi, it is with gratitude that I read your rant on “he or she,” and the myriad of its vile variations that the 20th lords have forced upon or once fair language. It has also been my rant for many years. I call it’s use “ugly English.”

      • Julian D. Woodruff

        “S/he,” Mike. This is one recent invention with which I take no issue. “… her or him (as the case may be)” or other accommodations are beyond the pale, but this particular one is easy and convenient enough that … well, why not. When I found “she,” I had to clarify: why should I express concern with female illegal aliens only? Given the availability of the alternative I’ve used, I feel a slight discomfort that “he” would not necessarily refer only to males. Maybe my unorthodoxy here may beexcused by virtue of my over-zealousness on split infinitives and pronoun cases.

      • Mike Bryant

        It seems that then you have a line that can’t be recited because of an unpronounceable word. I think with a bit of word smithing you could use “they.”

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Correct, Mike. All he has to do is pluralize to “aliens” in line 5, and use “they” in line 6. And he has perfect English without bowing to the bitchocracy.

      • Julian D. Woodruff

        I concede the point–here. And the poem, with Mike’s correction, will so appear in the Collected Works of Julian D. Woodruff.
        While I’m here, let me preach to the choir for a moment and rage against the use of “they” and “them” as singular pronouns.

  2. C.B. Anderson

    You must have had a lot of fun, Julian, fulfilling your chosen (and very unusual) rhyme scheme in “Our Bishops”. Of course, with so many of these rhymes at some distance from one another, the writer has a lot of time to queue them up within the structure of a cogent narrative. I have occasionally done similar things, and, doing so, wondered whether the reader would connect in his mind what might not be felt in his mind’s ear. It took me only two stanzas to see what was going on.

    Forgive me if I have misread “Parley” by taking it as a frightening picture of our current political situation. Yes, the barbarians are at the gates, and worse, they are in our midst!

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Thank you for your observations, C.B. I got through a thought in 6 lines without worrying about rhyme, and thought “what now?” The pattern of forwards-backwards (or zig-zag) occurred to me as a way to suggest the miter or the bishop’s diagonal of chess, and maybe the wishi-washiness of many pronouncements of the USCCB. I wrote “Parley” at about the same time, thinking of the ideological invasion of the Catholic Church (here, but also abroad, of course). Of course it very much applies to what’s going on socially and politically in the U.S.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      I only wish they could be, Margaret. The best we can do is publicly recognize that they are gutless timeservers who get vast sums of money from the U.S. government based on how many illegal aliens they can handle; and to refuse to put one goddamned dime in the collection plate when the USCCB’s annual appeal for donations is announced. The only thing these corrupt Novus Ordo “bishops” understand is cash. Don’t give them any.

  3. Julian D. Woodruff

    Perhaps so, Mike. If it were read aloud, I certainly hope that one would use “he.”

  4. Cynthia Erlandson

    I, too, really enjoyed the very clever rhyme scheme — mirrored in pairs of verses. (Not to mention I agree with the content.)

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Thank you, Ms. Erlandson. The use of successive unrhymed lines lends itself to variations that I may try out over the next few months.

  5. Jeff Kemper

    I read the first stanza of your poem that did not rhyme with some disappointment, but read on. C.B.’s discovery of the rhyming pattern was similar to mine. After the second stanza I thought I had indeed heard some rhymes after all. I was intrigued by what I found and then read on. Nicely done!

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Thanks for your patience, Mr. Kemper. I haven’t read enough to tell you of other such strategies in English. In German, however, there’s a brilliant example of a garbled rhyme scheme (in the context one might even say chaotic) in “Sprich nicht immer” from Das Buch der haengenden Gaerten by Stefan George (normally a very–ma y would say excessively tidy–poet.

  6. Margaret Coats

    Julian, your suggested translation of Novus Ordo as “Great Reset” immediately reminded me of The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church, a book by Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods. On page 65, the authors say something quite pertinent to us as artists concerned with words:

    Certain verbal viruses have infected the Body of Christ. These viruses are pseudo-concepts which, like actual viruses, have minimal informational content. Just as a virus hovers between life and non-life, these pseudo-concepts hover between meaning and non-meaning. They seem to mean something, but upon close examination, we find no real meaning. As viruses are particles of RNA or DNA rather than complete living cells, so these pseudo-concepts are particles of an idea which do not amount to an intelligible abstract concept. These viral pseudo-concepts in the Mystical Body of Christ, like actual viruses, exist only to reproduce themselves, which they do by infecting the understanding of genuine concepts with precise meaning–namely, the perennial teachings of the Magisterium.

    This goes well beyond the current topic of your poem, but represents a profound idea that helps comprehend all the misleading speech emanating from ecclesiastical authorities. We always find some background virus such as “dialogue,” “collegiality,” “ecumenism,” “updating,” etc.

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Perceptive passage. I imagine Orwell would agree.
      Of course, one’s guard is up when one finds such words in secular contexts, too.
      Synodal path?

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Some other verbal viruses infecting the Novus Ordo mentality are “discernment,” “accompanying,” “Mother Earth,” “synodality,” “conciliarism,” “celebration,” “environmental responsibility,” and “the preferential option for the poor.”

      The list could be lengthened, but you get the drift.


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