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Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition 

Although this mad world’s headed for perdition,
Don’t cower or wring hands with misery.
Spines straight, my friends! Choose gumption and ambition
Just like the World War II song that says we
“Should Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!”
When faith is joined by action we stay free.

Don’t take this as encouragement of violence!
But, frankly, meek acceptance blocks the way
To halting our opponents’ crazed connivance.
Don’t wait! Pick up your pens and join the fray!
We can’t protect our rights with passive silence.
Let’s give ‘em hell or there’ll be hell to pay!

I heard a desert proverb once that said
“Trust God and tie your camel to a tree.”
Believe, but don’t lie waiting in your bed—
Passivity just helps the Enemy.
Instead, place armor on your chest and head.
Be bold in what you write and fight with me.

It’s said that God will help us when we’re tasked.
But first we have to do the job He’s asked!

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Venal Failure

From all I’ve read I’ve never seen
__A century so jaded.
Deceit so brazen it’s obscene,
__The worth of truth degraded.

Accountants, lawyers, obstetricians,
__The one who does your hair,
Spout falsehoods—even politicians!
__Their lies are everywhere.

Disease? An opportunity
__Our liberties? Just tripe.
Free thought? Caged with impunity.
__The grapes of wrath are ripe.

So why does such a large proportion
__Of the population
Allow such falsehood and distortion
__To blight our troubled nation?

The thrill of causing one more clash?
__The fear of something penal?
I think it’s mostly love of cash
__And motives that are venal.

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Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


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20 Responses

  1. Satyananda Sarangi

    Brian Sir, these are wonderful poems.

    The first one is rebellious – it should be given the times we live in. Faith in God has been hard to come by and pseudo-liberalism is in the driver seat. Only God can save us.

    The second one is hard hitting. Money is all that matters.

    Thanks for writing these.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you so much, Satyananda! These are indeed difficult and often faithless times. I agree that only God can save us. It is a beautiful thing that He asks us to offer our energy and talents to help in the endeavor!

      Reply
  2. Joshua C. Frank

    Both very good poems! I love the idea of writing as a way of fighting. Also very good choice of song to which to compare it.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you so much, Josh! I happen to be a fan of the long-gone Broadway composer Frank Loesser and, when reading about him, was introduced to this song that he wrote music and lyrics for. YouTube allowed me to actually listen to it and the more I listened to it the more its message resonated with me. I’m glad it resonated with you as well!

      Reply
  3. Julian D. Woodruff

    Even the politicians? Brian, how could you think that?
    (I think it was Chesterton who advocated hanging the lot of them.)

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Ha ha! Chesterton was right. So how do you know if a politician is lying…? His lips are moving.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Julian.

      Reply
  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Brian, I just love ‘Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition’. I had never heard this quirky, toe-tapping song before – I can see just how it inspired your rousing call-to-quills poem. I’ve been hanging on your every wondrous word as I mentally map my next poetic manoeuvre. My inkwell is brimming, I’ll be bold in what I write, and I’m with you all the way! Thank you for your encouragement and your continued support. I thoroughly appreciate it. Great stuff!

    ‘Venal Failure’ (superb title) says it all clearly, eloquently, creatively, and (above all) honestly. I fear your stark closing couplet is very true… sadly.

    Thank you for these much-needed poems, Brian. And thank you for your boldness, bravery, and linguistic brilliance.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Susan, I’m thrilled that you liked these poems! As I mentioned to Josh, I was introduced late to this fine song by Frank Loesser (Broadway composer of Guys and Dolls and other great shows.) I was intrigued by the title, looked up this song and its message resonated with me. It struck me as the perfect contemporary corollary for the biblical message that “faith without works is dead.” You of all people know how much we must advocate for truth! And you do so — unfailingly.

      As for the acerbic tone you picked up in the snarkily titled “Venal Failure”…
      I’m in the process of re-reading Gone with the Wind. Scarlett questions whether or not you “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” My first poem was honey, my second poem was vinegar. I think a balance of both is called for. In other words — whatever works!

      Onward to the fray, my friend! Can’t wait to see what new poetic artillery you come up!

      Reply
  5. Jeff Eardley

    Brian, I am sure that you are not a “lawyer spouting falsehoods.” Two great poems again. Thinking of this pen mightier than sword stuff, reminds me that we are about to install, as prime minister, a slightly unhinged mad woman. It could go either way so I have stocked up on a box of Biros, and another of hollow-point ammo….just in case. Great song and picture from Evan make for a great production. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Jeff. I do endeavor to be honest and since I have eschewed litigation and do primarily estate planning, that is much easier to do! I worry about the UK, but you do have a long and fabled history of surviving the improbable and against great odds. I will be praying that your “unhinged mad woman” does not create either damage or chaos. That seems to be about the best we can expect from our leaders these days!

      And thank you for giving me a chance to thank Evan for the awesome picture and YouTube video that he posted for “Praise the Lord…” I had no idea these poems could be so beautifully presented! And I’m pleased he thought the original song was worth sharing.

      Reply
  6. Margaret Coats

    I didn’t know “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” was a song–but I have heard it over and over again as a proverbial saying. Wonder whether song or saying came first. Your task, Brian, was to keep the two imperatives in balance, and you chose the further mission of addressing the commands to poets. You surpass the song in several excellent lines. Still, I think you needed to leave the song lyrics and add the final couplet because the three stanzas didn’t quite accomplish everything you wanted to do.

    “Venal Failure” has a better finish. It gives a clear answer to the well-stated question in the next-to-last stanza. The third stanza is very compelling in its abruptness. And the title suggesting “renal failure” is serious and somber. It does seem as if many around us have surrendered to the end-stage malady of life support provided by worthless currency. This is more dismal than mere greed, but like consuming greed it can never be satisfied. How do you manage to create such terribly apocalyptic verse in so light a meter?

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much for your astute comment, Margaret. I had a bit of a challenge trying to write a poem about a song — especially when the song itself doesn’t say all that much past the title. I saw it as my job to use that title as a jumping off place for the idea that faith without works is dead. I very much wanted to respect the faith in God that so many of us share but to also call attention to the fact that God often presses us into action and works through human hands and voices. That was the intent of the final couplet which, I agree, was necessary to focus the message since the three stanzas were more pep talk than anything.

      I’m glad you liked “Venal Failure” even though it is a bit on the apocalyptic side. Yes, there is a cognitive dissonance between the message and the presentation. I’ve found that cognitive dissonance effective in many poems that I’ve read (including several by Susan) so I thought I’d give it a whirl!

      Reply
  7. C.B. Anderson

    Jackers-crackers, man! Could anyone else have fitted more information into forty lines than you did? It’s hard to say. Density of meaning is part of the constellation of qualities that define good art.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, C.B I’ve been told that I’m dense on more than one occasion, but to have my poetry described thus – and in a favorable way — is very gratifying!

      Reply

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