Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!

That most sagacious Mr. K*
Told listeners: “Back in the day—
‘The Enlightenment,’ they call it; haw,
No way! ‘Twas filled with moral flaw
Beside which our few failings pale.
Yes, they’d put people up for sale!
Take Washington, the so-called Father
Of Our Country. We should rather
Remember him not as a founder
Of the U.S., but as a bounder.
This hypocrite professed to be
An advocate of liberty,
Yet he owned slaves! The utter sham!
Really, why should we give a damn
About the man?” Would it be fair
To fail to cite the Delaware,
Or Valley Forge, where he near froze,
With all his soldiers, head to toes,
To vouchsafe independence? Yes!
Feigned valor hid a moral mess!                                            
This country’s so–called Revolution
Served to safeguard an institution   
We know was wrong. And furthermore,
Old George was white down to his core—   
That blighted sort, they’re bigots all:   
They answer to the racist call.
This truth we citizens can glean
From books that show 1619
To be the dreadful date from which        
The poor became the slaves of rich
Landowners, all of whom were white,
A fact old textbooks fail to cite.     
Hooray for us! We’ve made our way
Toward the dawn of a new day.
We know who’s good and who is not,
We see the battle to be fought.
All black is good and white is bad;
But we’ll improve things, so be glad.
We’ll justice serve, and to the letter:
Black will be good, and white … well, better.


*Garrison Keillor, on a broadcast toward the end of the run of A Prairie Home Companion.



Judge Not

No wonder people say, “You shouldn’t judge.”
They’re all afraid that insufficient fudge
Will be applied to them when their turn comes,
And even sweat the impressions of their chums.   
Take me. One time I sought a reference
Note from a teacher, and in consequence
He readily complied. With kindly eyes
He later said, “I tried to emphasize
Your good points.” A bit later came the time
My love and I at last got off the dime
And, thinking I’d betrayed no glaring flaw,    
Besought the blessing of her pa and ma.  
Said she, “That’s fine and dandy! He won’t stray”
(A sage prediction, valid through this day).
So I, like many, wonder: at the gates
Of heaven’s harbor what judgment awaits?
Might not the Lord say, “Come to think of it,
Heaven and you are not the greatest fit.”



Julian D. Woodruff, who contributes poetry frequently to the Society of Classical Poets, writes poetry and short fiction for children and adults. He recently finished 2020-2021, a poetry collection. A selection of his work can be read at Parody Poetry, Lighten Up Online, Carmina Magazine, and Reedsy.

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6 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    You can’t beat true satire. I thought Guilty x 3 was very funny. Er, so if you could just incorporate my four lines to make it well, better….

    How come George is known for good,
    with gnashers made of polished wood,
    who unenvironmentally,
    is praised for cutting down a tree?

    With Judge Not, the staggered enjambment staggered the humour just right. It’s all about….


    Thanks for making my day, Julian.

  2. Brian Yapko

    Julian, both of these are very enjoy enjoyable poems, both of which employ a light and witty tone — almost Gilbertian — while tackling very deep subject matter.

    Your “Guilty” poem certainly pushes all of my buttons on the issue of cancelling history and the frankly despicable practice of judging people from a different century by standards that have existed for less than ten years. Washington was human with all of the imperfection that implies and yet he accomplished great things. Historical context matters. By misappropriating history, woke culture is treading on very dangerous ground.

    I also greatly enjoyed your “Judge Not” poem which really brings home the idea of “judge not lest ye be judged” in a very tangible way.

    Thank you for a most enjoyable morning read.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    Keillor was always a time-serving jackass, who tailored what he said to fit in with the current left-liberal pieties and prejudices. The fact that the man was in some ways considered the popular face of American poetry is a symptom of how low our art has sunk in the public mind.

  4. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thanks for reading, gentlemen. Paul, the title is borrowed from a children’s geography game, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?
    When this villainess was apprehended in the course of the game, one outcome was the judge’s pronouncement of sentence, “Guilty, guilty, guilty–I love that word!” Your clever little poem is definitely wood for thought. Brian, your observations on decontextualization approaching are right on the money. Joe, I admit that I enjoyed K’s Woebegone yarns & thought as a singer he showed promise. I never got to know his poetry–for the best, you’ve convinced me.


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