A Pro Who Can Con

“Truth” is whatever will further the movement.
You’re “credible” if you are telling the “truth.”
“School” is my method to inculcate values
into the minds of our pliable youth.

“Investment” means piling up debt on our children.
My “right” to free stuff means that you have to pay.
A “cutback” means cutting the rate of the increase.
“Interim spending” does not go away.

“Knowledge” means talking points sent out by email.
“Wisdom” means having connections inside.
“Common sense” means it makes good sense to me.
“Courage” means focus-group tested and tried.

“Reason” means thinking that matches my values;
“hate” is political speech that does not.
“Trustworthy” means I won’t rat on confederates.
“Honest” just means that I haven’t been caught.

“Justice” means getting the end that I favor,
in spite of the picture the evidence shows.
“Compromise” means my opponents should yield,
while I block every enterprise that they propose.

“Conspiracy theories” are stories revealing
the misdeeds of allies I wish to protect.
“Disproven” is simply my name for a claim,
the details of which I don’t wish to inspect.

“Diversity” means many races and genders
who all share my policies and points of view.
“Tolerance” means you must tolerate me,
but there’s no requisite that I tolerate you.

“Loyalty” means my commitment to someone,
until I cash in with a book that tells all.
“Accountable” means I’m responsible for it,
except on occasions when I can’t recall.

Meaning is flexible.  Words are elastic.
Use them to hoodwink, bedazzle, beguile.
Dab on a smidgeon of pseudo-sincerity.
You’ll be a pro who can con with a smile.



Mark F. Stone worked as an attorney (active duty and civil service) for the United States Air Force for 33 years and is retired. He began writing poems in 2005, as a way to woo his bride-to-be into wedlock. His poems have been published by LightThe Ohio Poetry AssociationThe Road Not Taken: The Journal of Formal Poetry, the Society of Classical PoetsWhatfinger News, Ric Edelman’s The Truth About Your Future podcast, and the Seeking Alpha Alpha Picks podcast.

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18 Responses

  1. Brian A. Yapko

    I find myself nodding my head in agreement with each one. These are hilarious definitions, Mark — well versified and painfully accurate.

  2. Cynthia Erlandson

    There are so many wise, pithy truths expressed here, Mark! We are indeed living in a new kind of Babel.

  3. Murray Alfredson

    I expect a poem, ‘formal’ or ‘informal’, to convey some deep truth. Though sometimes that ‘truth’ might be no more than there sheer beauty of an experience. I suppose if there is any such message in this poem, it lies in a repeated selfishness, a one-eyed-ness of the ‘I’ of the poem. There is a quiet irony in the voice, the ‘I’ gently mocking him(or her-)self. I find the piece somewhat tedious, however, a long catalogue of virtues negated by the voice, the ‘I’, without a progression, a development. I am sorry, Mark, to have to say this, though I can see Brian Yapko’s point. Each little statement has its isolated point, but that point is much the same for each negated virtue.

    For rhythm, OK, though a number of lines feel a little padded to fill the ternary (mainly amphibrachic) tetrameter. (I personally am happy to see a certain rhythmic ‘inconsistency’ in metric poetry, a certain amount of disagreement or tension between actual rhythm and predicted rhythm (i.e. metre). I cannot think of any worthy poet in English who does not depart from strict metre — not even that strictest of versifiers, Alexander Pope). So I am complimentary when I say ‘mainly’.

    • Mark F. Stone

      Murray, Thank you for your thoughtful analysis of my poem. I agree that it’s good to have progression in a poem. The above poem is intended to be a list poem based on current events. And thank you for your compliment of my occasional departure from strict meter. Best, Mark

  4. jd

    Pretty much a complete present day description nicely wrapped in “good old days” poetry.

  5. Paul A. Freeman

    Alas, this is the way of the world nowadays.

    Thanks for the poignant read, Mark.

    • Paul Freeman

      I also enjoyed how the poem could refer to malevolent nutjobs on either side of the political spectrum.

      • Mark F. Stone

        Paul, I agree that some of the observations made in the poem can apply to people at both ends of the political spectrum. Best, Mark

  6. Russel Winick

    Great poem, Mark – truthful and amusing, without any defects. This is an important topic, and you’ve laid it out well, with fine rhyme and meter. Good work, and thanks for sharing it.

  7. Roy Eugene Peterson

    This is a terrific broadside blast at what politicians have become (in my opinion that is how I apply the pungent pricks of the cons). From the opening line: “’Truth’ is whatever will further the movement.” to the final line, “You’ll be a pro who can con with a smile,” each line is like a staccato hammering of the twisted thinking of those bent on deceiving us. The sad part is that comes from our so-called elected leaders who indeed are the primary cons these days.

  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    Mark, this is excellent and piercing satirical commentary. Never mind complaints about its length — you could probably have expanded these nine quatrains to twenty in describing the sheer hypocrisy and lying self-absorption of our left-liberal elite.

    Does this poem carry “a deep truth”? It sure does. The truth is that we live in a society where posturing and snotty left-liberals have a glib justification for everything they perpetrate against us.

    This is really good work! The poem’s deep sarcasm reminds me of Clough’s “The New Decalogue.”

  9. Roy Eugene Peterson

    I should add that inusing the word “movements,” I also apply your excellent jabs to the woke and other liberal deceivers.

  10. Mark F. Stone

    Brian, Cynthia, ABB, Murray, jd, Paul, Russell, Nancy, Roy, Dr. Salemi and Norma, Thank you all very much for your comments and kind words. Best, Mark

  11. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Mark, this is superb. It’s beautifully crafted, entertaining, and so darn true! I like every definition, but I especially like: “Conspiracy theories”, “Disproven”, “Diversity” and “Tolerance”. A top-notch piece I wish I had written myself. Thank you!

  12. Adam Sedia

    A perfect summation of where we are by giving us a dictionary of buzzwords. Your wit reminds me of the aphorism, “I have to laugh to keep myself from crying.”


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