After Brain Death

Based on the article “May We Donate Our Organs?”
by Drs. Jay Boyd and Paul A. Byrne: 

Warm and pink, his heart still beating,
Cells dividing, still digesting,
Still his blood is circulating,
Lungs by ventilator breathing,
Wounds still healing, urine passing,
Eyes still open when he’s hurting.

“Died at brain death,” laws are saying.
Therefore, when the doctor’s stealing
Hearts still moving, hearts still beating
For a surgeon for transplanting,
Laws now say it isn’t killing.



Empty Quivers

“Crown of thy youth, children are like arrows in a
warrior’s hand.  Happy, whose quiver is well filled
with these.”  —Psalm 126:4-5, Knox translation

Archers enter in with arrows,
Leave the place with empty quivers,
Dumpsters full in alley’s narrows,
Such an image gives me shivers:
Delivering up a prized possession,
Poised for men to break and scatter,
Somehow calling it oppression
If you tell them arrows matter.

Are not men worth more than sparrows,
Unborn babies more than arrows?



Laws Matter

Based on the paper “Car Seats as Contraception”
by Jordan Nickerson and David Solomon

I know a family with a small sedan—
A mom and dad, two children, and two cats—
With far too many bills to buy a van.
By donkey laws devised by Democrats,
Their car seats shelter them from heavy fines,
And only two such seats can fit the rear.
Since money can’t be gleaned from trees or mines,
Their planned third child is not, and won’t be, here.
Was he or she just family-planned away
Or taken to a baby-killing floor,
Checked in but not checked out?  Well, either way,
The law makes sure they won’t have any more.
You say, “Change hearts, not laws,” and all that chatter—
Forever absent children show: Laws matter.


Poet’s note: According to the paper mentioned above, car seat laws saved 57 children from car crash fatalities in 2017, but prevented 8,000 from being born.  (The paper is silent on how many of these may have been abortion victims.)




He finally came without his pirate hook—
My youngest son said, standing tall and grand,
“I’m done with wearing Captain Hook’s left hand,”
As in both hands his kitchen chair he took.

He’s only five; I’d prayed that he’d outgrow
Trans-able thoughts before his hand was gone.
My face a stone, I asked, “What brought this on?”
He said, “Rochelle says pirates are so low.

“I want her as my girlfriend, so it stung,
And I don’t want to be a pirate now.”
I beamed and said, “Congratulations!  Wow!”

I didn’t like him chasing girls that young,
But now, at least, he wants to keep his hand.
You take what you can get, I understand.


Trans-able: Derived from “transabled,” a word describing a person with Body Integrity Identity Disorder, a psychological disorder characterized by the desire to have one or more healthy limbs amputated, analogous to Gender Identity Disorder.  There is a movement to legitimize this disorder, much like the transgender movement.



Joshua C. Frank works in the field of statistics and lives near Austin, Texas.  His poetry has been published in SnakeskinThe LyricSparks of CalliopeWestward QuarterlyAtop the CliffsVerse Virtual, and The Asahi Haikuist Network, and his short fiction has been published in Nanoism.”

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15 Responses

  1. Mike Bryant

    These are all apt, funny and so well done. They all illustrate what has become of modern people and modern medicine at the hands of the worldwide technocratic fascists. They believe that they are gods, and in a very real sense, that is what they have become. They have their core beliefs in the religion of THE science, they have their commissars, their priests, their preachers and their evangelistic toadies proclaiming the wonders of a cool, garden earth filled with all those they deem worthy, working and owning nothing, but glorying in the promised everlasting life of transhumanism. Doesn’t that just warm your heart?

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thanks Mike! It’s absolutely true. They’re forerunners of “the son of perdition, who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

      I think the bigger problem is that they’ve so thoroughly influenced the overwhelming majority of people. That’s why I write these things, to help people see the truth.

  2. Gigi Ryan

    Thank you, Joshua, I love these.
    The comparison between men and sparrows and babies and arrows is very well done in concept and rhyme!
    I have never considered that the car seat laws have hindered couples from having larger families, though I did often say that having three in car seats was harder than having three in diapers.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thank you, Gigi. I wanted to use the image of arrows and thought of rhymes for it; when I got to “sparrows,” I immediately thought of the verse, “Better are you than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31), and the closing couplet came full blown from that.

      The car seat problem can be solved by planning in advance to have a large family and buying a big van. Problem is, people don’t plan for either, and then they’re just at effect of things and suddenly find themselves making decisions they regret.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    Joshua, these are powerful poems, but I must confess that the subjects scare me. I know the facts presented are all real, but they send shivers down my spine. The world has become twisted, perverted, degenerate. And the people who are pushing these horrors are in charge.

    The “trans-able” mental disorder is the latest sickening thing after transgenderism, but the fact that there is a movement to legitimize the unnecessary amputation of one’s own healthy limbs… this is just pure demonic vileness.

    I’m surprised and glad to see a quote from Monsignor Ronald Knox’s translation of the Bible. His version is a masterpiece of elegant English, and it’s a shame that it is so neglected.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thank you, Joe. These subjects scare me, too; writing poems like these how I deal with it. It’s precisely because the world is run by devils incarnate, increasingly gaining the upper hand and destroying everything the rest of us hold dear in order to control us better, that I have to write these.

      When I first heard about the concept of “trans-able,” my first thought (after the ones you express here) was that it could easily go as far as the transgender movement already has.

      I first discovered Ronald Knox through his translation of The Imitation of Christ. I like his concept of translating the Bible to look as if it had been written by a native English speaker; that’s one of the major things I aim for in my translations from French (the other is preserving the original rhyme and meter).

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Knox was a brilliant student of classical languages from his early schoolboy days (he could sight-translate ancient Greek dramatists from the time he was twelve). He converted to Catholicism and became a priest (his family was High Anglican) during World War I, and was instrumental in the conversion of G.K. Chesterton.

        Knox made his translation of the entire Bible at the request of his ecclesiastical superiors, but despite its excellence it did not become widely popular because of the intense loyalty of Catholics to Bishop Challoner’s revision of the Douay-Rheims text, even though Challoner’s text had become somewhat dated in its language. A similar thing has happened in Protestantism, where many believers remain stubbornly loyal to the magnificent King James version of 1611.

        Monsignor Knox was also a very successful writer of detective stories, and even composed a “Decalogue of Rules” for those who write them.

  4. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Years ago, I would have asked what are you talking about? Now that hell is already here it is something about which we must talk and you have provided some primary examples of what we are all facing in society that now panders to the perverse! Your poems with your powerful voice are the ones that are needed.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thank you, Roy. Years ago, if I had read these, I would have asked the same question (and later been amazed at how the poet could see it all when no one else could). I think the craziness surrounding COVID and its satellite problems has made a lot of us more aware of the true nature of today’s world.

  5. Jeff Eardley

    Joshua, I love all these, particularly “Hooked.” Thank you for a quartet of the most thoughtful poetry.

  6. Brian A. Yapko

    Josh, each of these poems is skillfully wrought and a wonderful commentary on dysfunctional aspects of modern society. Taken as a set they really put a strong focus on how distorted our values have become. “After Brain Death” is the hardest to read because it is so chilling. To mentally reduce a human being to its component organs and tissues is a dreadful thing and yet this is now commonly accepted not only in China but throughout the “civilized” world. As you know, I am much involved in estate planning and you would not believe some of the horrifying ideas that come out of my clients’ mouths regarding the disposition of their remains.

    The other poem that really grabbed me here was “Hooked” which, if I’m not mistaken, can be read as something of a happy ending sequel to Susan’s “Aargh, Jim Lad.” You capture absolutely the fickleness of young children and what a terrible mistake it is to entrust them with adult decisions such as the “selection” (as of it were even possible) of a gender. But there’s a chilling quality to the parent’s reaction as well – that “face a stone.” As you well know, a parent can get in a lot of trouble these days for refusing to be bullied into accepting a child’s gender fantasy. All a child has to do is make something up to a school counselor and suddenly Child Protective Services is involved, and a court hearing and the removal of the child into foster care. Parents in the U.S. have never had their rights as limited as today. So your happy ending in which “You take what you can get” is bittersweet at best.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thanks Brian! I think the most chilling part is that these even needed to be written.

      “After Brain Death” came about because I had been corresponding with one of the authors of that article on another topic, who sent me the link. I was horrified to read just how alive people are after legally being declared dead. We speak of the horrors of organ harvesting in China, but the medical-industrial complex go about it more subtly by encouraging people to sign up to have it done while they’re unconscious.

      In fact, I see the same pattern throughout our culture, as I alluded to in “A Leftist Rebukes Hamas.” Our law allows people to get away with literally anything as long as consent is given, ignoring the fact that consent can be manipulated. This results in more deaths than outright attacks.

      The surprising thing about “Hooked” is that I originally wrote it as a 150-word short story, before “Argh, Jim Lad” was published (in fact, my comment on that poem mentions it), and before I had heard the quote in the epigraph. I based it entirely on having just heard of the “trans-able” movement and of how far the transgender movement had gone. Just as those devils incarnate are twisting children’s healthy love of the opposite sex into transgender perversion, I could imagine them someday twisting a little boy’s love of pirates into a desire to lose a hand like Captain Hook. I knew I’d have a hard time getting the story published, so I rewrote it as a poem, and this version ended up better than the short story.

      The speaker is careful not to show any emotion until his son (all my speakers are male because I am) volunteers the information precisely for the reason you describe. I’m glad it made you think of all that, because that was exactly the backstory I aimed to convey with his expression.

      I chose a bittersweet ending intentionally. It wasn’t so long ago that parents worried that their children might get involved with the opposite sex too early. These days, that’s a better outcome than much of what’s going on with children. As you’ve hinted at, the ending is to illustrate that we live in such an awful world these days that decisions like that have to be made in the first place.

      I read somewhere about a man in Washington state ordered by the court to get his son transitioned to “female.” He pretended that he would comply and then quit his job, took his whole family, and moved out of state. Whereas Robert Hoogland (of “A Villanelle for Robert Hoogland” fame) made no such pretense and lost everything.

  7. Shaun C. Duncan

    This is a great set of poems, but I particularly like “Laws Matter”. Few people seem to notice the extent to which their lives are fenced in by such seemingly innocuous laws but you really start to notice it once you have more than two children. We had to upgrade to a 7-seater SUV when our third was born which, along with having to move to a 5 bedroom house (yes, children can share but only for so long and besides which, the bedrooms in modern homes are not designed for it), really brought home the notion that children have become a luxury item in our society. The horrific reality of which you write was borne out when a close family member said to my wife “if you got pregnant again, you’d probably just have an abortion, wouldn’t you?” whilst holding our newborn.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thank you Shaun!

      The reason I wrote that poem is because it wasn’t until I found that paper online that I realized that these ostensibly insignificant laws have eternal consequences (if you’ve seen my poems against birth control, you know what I mean). It doesn’t surprise me to hear that everything in the modern world makes it harder to have more than two children, especially after reading The Boniface Option by Andrew Isker, in which the author describes how everything about the modern world (which he aptly calls “Trashworld”) is deliberately and continuously designed to take us further away from God, from being human, and from everything a sane person values.

      It’s just awful that people these days simply assume third children will be aborted. There is nothing good to say about the left or anything they stand for. Given their pro-abortion mentality and that their sympathies are with Hamas… well, that tells us all we need to know about them, doesn’t it?


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