Category Archives: Modest Proposals

It’s A Record!

You know, there’s probably a few thousand folks around the country thinking that; and perhaps a few hundred thousand folks around the world (God, I hope it’s only that many.) thinking the same thing.  Somewhere north of fifty is the body count, and a couple of hundred people in every hospital for miles around waiting to see if they’ll increase the count.  And, there they stand, on the corner watching, worrying, waiting, counting, and, perhaps, grimly smiling in their best “I told you so!” manner…

Some V.P. at one of the TV stations lost her job because she simply gave voice to what was going through the minds of not a few people.  “Somebody’s got to pay!  Somebody’s got to be responsible!  Why not “them”, the ones who believe in all of this stuff, anyway.  Live by the sword…”

I mean, what’s the problem?  We set a record for cripes sake!  So, we lost a few one toothed rubes.  What was it that guy said, the English one a couple of centuries ago, about Irish babies?  Same thing.  Who dies doesn’t matter.  What matters is we set a record, or, better still set a record and in some way “provide a benefit to the country”.

And, as usual, there are plenty of folks who, understandably upset at the method employed for record setting, are calling for more gun control, calling for the government to step in and prevent such things from happening again.  They did the same thing when the last record was set in Orlando a couple of years ago, and before that when some teenager in Connecticut  set the Youth Division Record in his school a couple of years ago.

Be that as it may, though, it is the truth that all of these folks died not because guns were allowed out in public and got over eager, or carried away by “record fever”; as if they were in some competition;  some Orlando versus Las Vegas thing.

No.

Put a gun down and it stays there; stays until hell freezes over.  The next gun setting a record for body count, whether it’s rubes or boobs, lawyers or liars, will be the first.

You see, that isn’t the problem.  Motive is the problem, and guns, inanimate objects, mere tools that they are, are incapable of forming a thought, however twisted it may be, or developing a motive.  Do we remove hammers from carpenters who bludgeon their wives, children or co-workers with them?  No, we remove the carpenter from the hammer, and either execute them or lock them up for life.  Hammers remain in circulation.  More are made every day, and sold to anyone with enough money to buy them.  And knives.  And bricks.  And sharp spades.

The current and latest record holder is dead, but, I will bet a ham sandwich that like them, the other two I mention above, he was as mad as the Mad Hatter; “barking mad”, frothing at the mouth mad.  And, I will bet another sandwich that absent guns, he would have done what he did with matches and kerosene, or a hammer, a bow an arrow, or, as is becoming a trend around the world, a large truck on a crowded street.

I cannot understand what drives some folks into a rictus of fear driven indignant frustration, what has them wide eyed and sputtering about the need to control guns.  Is it the desperate straits we’ll be in until the last gun is safe behind bars, or melted into something really useful, like a door stop;  and, possibly, until all present gun owners, many of whom were probably fittingly present in Las Vegas the other night, are sent to some quiet place for re-education?

Well, yeah!  And there’s the rub.  It will never happen. But, some folks won’t stop crying and trying.  Well not some, but an awful lot of folks; the brow knitted, hand wringing, teary eyed, do gooding, banner carrying, folks with a cause.

Yesterday I got myself into a discussion on a “social media site”.  You know the one.  Maybe you’re a subscriber, too, along with a couple of billion other people. Just shows you how much spare time there is in the world.

Anyway, folks were going on about guns, and how they cause all these deaths, set all these records, and no one seems to do a darn thing about it, seems to want to keep them out of the hands of screw ups all over.  They always say, “Write a law, or change one, and let the government control what guns there are, or anything else, how many there shall be, and who shall use them and when and where and how.  One of them had written, when I asked why should guns be controlled the following, and my response appears below it:

 “Umm, because people with guns who take a life seem to have more rights than their victim. Seems obvious to me…. right to own and carry a firearm gets talked about way more than the right to assemble in a public or private place without threat of violence.”

I answered this way: “I don’t own any guns, never have.

But I was issued a gun, and carried it for 33 years. On more than one occasion I was glad I had the use of it. And on many more occasions I was glad I had possession of it. It was a magnificent argument winner.

I also know quite a large number of men and women, and children, who own and use guns. Not a one of them has caused an injury or death to anyone else by gun. And there are millions of people like them.

Many, many more people are killed by automobiles each year than by guns; killed by leaping from bridges and tall buildings than by guns, killed, dare I say it, by abortionists, than by guns.

Yet we have not outlawed cars, bridges, tall buildings (or sleeping pills, or cigarettes) or abortionists.

Perhaps, what we really need to do is outlaw pre-meditation.

Then we have only to solve the problems posed by cars, bridges, buildings, pills and tobacco…and, of course the current bette noir, opiods.

Shall we outlaw knives because thousands each year are injured or die by knife? How then would we carve Tom Turkey? And pillows? Shall they be done away with to prevent the death by suffocation of demented elders or annoying spouses?

I offer a revision of the “Guns don’t kill people…” line: Guns don’t kill people, sin kills people!

Outlaw that!”

My interlocutor answered: ” Only one of the items you listed has the sole purpose of inflicting harm upon another living thing. Can you identify which one?”

How shall I answer? Do you know which of the many things exists solely to harm other persons? Cigarettes? Abortionists?

 

 

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The Two Shall Become One

 

 

I was thinking about my marriage the other day. If you know me well, you know that I am a re-married widower. After eight months in that state I married Mariellen, the woman who sits at the other end of the couch from me now. While Sheila, may she rest in peace, was dying she found time to concern herself no little with making sure I would be well matched and cared for once she had died. So, she advanced, in her subtle wife’s way, Mariellen and me. It is a story some of you may have heard. And, she had help from higher powers. That is a story fewer folks know, but no less true for all that.

Why am I telling you this? Because I think it is one of the greatest truths in the universe, the truth about marriage, sacramental marriage, marriage until death do us part… When Sheila had finally finished her work here on earth I gathered the kids and said, “The best part of us is gone.” I was talking about the family, of course, but more. I was talking about who I was with her, what we were together, our sacramental, blessed, matrimonial union; the married-for-life singularity we had been for the past 34 years, 3 months, 11 days, 11 hours and 47 minutes since we became a new “person” who had formerly been two and were now one.

The Catholic Church teaches us that upon his ordination to the priesthood a man is changed ontologically; his very being, his humanity is changed. I’ll accept that. I’ll probably start a philosophical/theological argument here when I say I wonder if something along the same line doesn’t happen to both a man and a woman who “pledge their troth” in the Holy Sacrament of Marriage. The two shall become one!  The words are the title of this little exercise; stolen directly from the Bible.

That’s exactly it!  We, Mariellen and I, are one flesh, before God for whom we are no longer two but one and, we have become one person also before the law and civil authority. So should we be, because we, and all married men and women, are the wellspring of life, culture and civilization, the promise and guarantee of a future, and, through the family, the first and firmest link in society; any society no matter where and no matter when.  We are that society’s basic building block, the beginning of everything human, the foundation of everything human, the “home” of humanity, its self understanding, its promise of a future and its first and firmest link and with the past.

Undo marriage, fail to affirm its unity of persons into one new person, and you unravel human kind, human culture, human life begun as two-become-one by the very God who created us; who said: “It is not good for man to be alone.  I will make him a helper.”  There’s a note to this verse in the Catholic Bible: [2:18] Helper suited to him: lit., “a helper in accord with him.” “Helper” need not imply subordination, for God is called a helper (Dt 33:7; Ps 46:2). The language suggests a profound affinity between the man and the woman and a relationship that is supportive and nurturing.

What happens to one of us happens to both of us through this oneness of being-in-marriage. And what one of us does, we both do. And what is done for, with or to one of us is done to us both. Not only to us, the man and the woman, but to everyone. We are no longer two, but one, flesh and feeling and life and love.

I’d like to recommend to your attention an article which first appeared about a year ago in the journal First Things. It is well worth reading, studying, learning from, because marriage is under attack these days, weakened, treated poorly, debased and derided. If it is done away with, as many wish it to be with all their plans for “expanding” it in every direction, and marriage, real marriage, neglected and cast aside, we will have cast aside our humanity, I think, and become beasts.

The most casual glance toward, the briefest look at, the slightest taste of what passes for culture, what composes society, what orders our behavior, what guides us in law, what have become our standards and “approved” behaviors among men and women, children and families today, what we choose to be entertained by, to “tolerate” in our homes and elsewhere, should show the intelligent observer how well on our way to that state we are.

The State of the Nation II

A Modest Proposal: Don’t Elect Em, Buy Em

(They’re All for Sale, Anyway)

This ain’t politics, really. It’s economics.

Here’s a question.  Well, here’s a couple of questions.

What do you do with folks who live in places like this: places with people who jump at the chance for something to remind them of their “obligations”; who like Homeless Jesus statues in front of the churches in their rich neighborhoods to embarrass themselves and the high rollers and big spenders they live among when they come in their Caddies and Rollses and long dark Lincolns to be seen in church once or twice a year?  Homeless Jesus statues are even better than pictures of starving babies, or real bums on benches.  They never ask for money, or a meal.

These folks, they’ll feel “compunctive” for an hour or so, until they get back to the Club, The Bent Elbow  or The Green Albatross, for a few befores and a half dozen afters, and an hour or two with Big Jim Cornerstone, home from Upstate for the weekend talking over deals and the “help” they need; and maybe pushing an envelope across the table with a nod and a mention that help’s a two way street.  And, Jim nods and says, “I got your back in the Committee, Billy, my boy!” before he leaves.

Was that a stagger or a swagger on Jim going out the door to his car?

What do you do with a pol who goes on the payroll of a big deal company making drugs that have to be “regulated”, and picks up a trip or two from a company that wants to build a power line and needs to go to a nice resort in Arizona or some place to find out how the power line will impact her neighborhood back in Upper Michigan?  At $500.00 a night, plus the round trip up front with all the swells, and points.

What do you do when stuff like that happens…on both sides of the aisle?  Even in Philly, of all places; it being the home of brotherly love and all?

What do you do about an AG who finds out about all of this and then says there was nothing wrong?  Do you think the AG got a call from someone who said unprintable stuff and suddenly discovered that he’s an AG up a tree with no way down, alone in a desert with no water, in the middle of an ocean on a leaky boat without an oar?

No pol I suppose is ever going to feel bad about a thousand a month they get, regular, from XYZ MFG., you think?  They’ll never feel bad about their vote on XYZ’s plan to fast track the new factory they want to build between the VA Hospital and High School, because, well, that’ll bring 300 new jobs to town.

And, the runoff will add 300 tons of dirt a day to the Neversocruddy River.

You think a pol will ever say, you think that ANY pol has ever said, to themselves, “This ain’t really mine.  I only take it so’s I can stay in office and help the fools (oops, folks) who voted me in, and keep that jerk Bruntkowski from ruining the district and the state if he ever gets enough money to beat me.”  And then they stuff it in their pocket, or hand it to Tommy the Bag, and have another snort and light a cigar and smile and say, “Don’t worry. ”  Just like Big Jim from Upstate.

You think?

Here’s something to think about.  How about buying a few of our own?  I got an idea for a kind of Buyer’s Club.  I think this is real Poly Sci, not that other stuff that they charge you a couple of hundred “G’s” for in college, and you learn how to hold coats for real pols, and hand them stuff they never thought of sayin’ to say to the squares at the Town Meeting.

I’ll start small, someone from the School Board who’ll go for a Ham sandwich. But, he’ll be mine, and will say no to stupid stuff, of which there is a lot…like Common Core and uni-sex bathrooms…in schools all over the place.   I don’t care what he thinks.  As a matter of fact, if he’s a real pol, he don’t care what he thinks.  He may not even think at all; to want to think, or to be able to think.  I only need him to raise he hand at the right time and shut up the rest of the time.

You can’t convince me that Joe Biden thinks or even can think, or that guy from Indiana who was a Veep a couple of dozen years ago was able to think.  Reid can think?  Boehner?  Pelosi?  Gimme a break.  They’re owned, and they love it.   The difference between them and Tip O’Neill or LBJ is that they were sold, Tip and LBJ shopped themselves.

None of those pols in that Philly story think about anything except the next envelope, or the next free ride, and what stupid people like you and me who ain’t got any green to spread around have to put up with in the back of the bus, with our kids in a school with one bathroom for everyone next to a smelly factory.

So, I’m going shopping today for a pol who’ll be mine for twenty bucks.  I’ll put an add on E-bay.  We get 500,000 guys doing the same thing, and suddenly we got a “Movement”  I got a good name for it.  I’m gonna call it “Representative Democracy”  Because, what we got now ain’t.  If it ever was.

Unless of course you’re a Fortune 500 deal.

Happy Easter!

WHY NOT THE MOUSE NEXT TIME???

Somewhere around this time last year, as Mitt Romney was in the third year of his second run for the presidency, and the Republican field had been narrowed to the population of several states from a number just a few short of infinity I decided that it might be necessary actually to vote for someone who existed, who was a real person.  And so, I thought about voting for Mr. Romney, tall, handsome, smart and honest.

I had not voted for a human being in the last two elections; choosing instead to vote for Michael Mouse.  I had even dreamed up a slogan for the little fellow’s campaign: MY MAN IS A MOUSE!  I spoke to my friends, and may have convinced one or two of them (which would have been, possibly, more than I had of friends) to join in with me and promote MM’s run for the highest office in the land.

But, then, I listened to other voices, people whose powers of persuasion moved me to reconsider my position.  “It is silly,” they said, “you are just throwing away your vote by going into that booth and writing in the name of a cartoon character.  It is a senseless and meaningless gesture.”  I tried to argue that given the man occupying that office (who still occupies it) , and the fellow who had occupied it during the previous eight years, and the line -up of opponents/prospective candidates available, voting for someone who was a cartoon character seemed to me to make more sense than anything else.

Still..

In the end I caved, flipped a coin, sort of, and settled on Mr. America.  I guess I was thinking of that old song by the Coasters, “Along Came Jones”, and hoping he would get elected and rescue Sweet Sue (that’s us) from the gunslinger.

Little did I know that I should have stuck with Mickey.  At least I wouldn’t feel as if I had wasted a vote.  Because the word filtering out from the folks who know is that Old Mitt didn’t want the job anyway.  He tanked it.  And, we know from sad experience that the guy who has the job really doesn’t exist.  Oh, I mean he is there, all right, but he really has no idea about running a country, or doing much else than “chooming”, organizing a community (whatever in God’s name that is) or body surfing; or standing around while Ambassadors and other guys get murdered…and then not saying word one about it because the “investigation ” is still going on.  I mean his most common vote anywhere was “present”.  Well brain dead people are “present” too.  So are ghosts according to some folks.

Turns out they both stink.  If fact, they all stink, from Chicago Slim in the White House right down to the most junior jerk in the House of Representatives;  where about the only thing they represent is their own wallet, I think.

Anyway, I’m back on The Mouse’s bandwagon and there I intend to stay.  This morning I was having a cup of Joe with the Little Lady down at the local Dunkin’ Donuts.  There were a couple of old guys over in the corner jawing about the, how many, damn near 500 stupid and selfish men and women we send down to DC  to do nothing much good to or for anyone, and one of them says, “I’m 73 years old and I don’t think I am ever going to vote for another person for anything again.  I’m just going to go into the booth and scribble down a name, any name.”

My heart leaped!  If two old and nearly useless guys like him and me can have the same idea, what would it look like if 30 or 40 million of us went behind the curtain and did the same thing; if no one was elected, if the country actually followed the predictions of the polls and said, “None of the above?”  For anything, even School Board President, Dogcatcher, Registrar of Probate, President?

Because, you know, none of the folks there now seem to want to do anything at all about anything, and the guy we just sent back to the Oval Office hasn’t got the faintest idea about what needs doing, except that we need more money to do it.

Actually, I take that back.  It seems that one person does have a good idea, which idea won’t see the light of day down there.  The junior Senator from New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte says all of those dopes don’t deserve a pay raise because they haven’t done anything for it.  That’s the first bit of sensible thinking I’ve heard come out of that swamp in about 12 years.

Now, if only they would return all the rest of the money we’ve given them for the past 12 years I might reconsider my support for The Mouse.  I know all of that dough might make our fall from the cliff just a little bit softer, turn it into a kind of velvety “smoosh” rather than a granite hard “SPLAT” when we hit bottom.

One thing that can be said for The Mouse is that at least he works cheap; a couple of nibbles of cheese now and then and he’s good for a week.

Just Say No!

OK, ABC and Disney, Hollywood, Pepsi,the  Democratic Party, MSNBC, CNN, Fox, the other two nets, every newspaper in the country, and anyone who advertises in them or on TV, medical insurance, auto insurance, insurance insurance. It all stinks like fish gurry.  That’s what we’re being fed, and we think it’s filet mignon.

Are we really that stupid?  Have we really been such lousy pushovers?  Is it really the truth; that these guys have figured out that all we are is a bunch of stomachs, sexual organs and fat butts?  Seems like it.

No you say?  Prove it.

Don’t give them any of your time, and don’t spend any of your money on them.

Did I leave out anything?  Oh, yeah, the cable and satellite companies that carry alla that garbage into your home. Stop it all.  Cut it all out, the noise, the flash, the bling, the fly, the whatever the hell they come with next to make us forget that this is all a big swindle.

That’s gonna leave many of us with a lot of loose change and an awful lot of time on our hands. Try reading a book.  Try reading a good book.  Take a walk.  Actually have a conversation about something other than baseball or your nails and hair.  Put the money in a shoe box or a bank and forget about it.

Hey!  Here’s an idea.  Why not spend the time saying a prayer for the state of the world, these Untied States and our own poor selves.  And, another idea just occurred to my mind.  Why not use some of that new found money to help some folks; like folks with time on their hands because they have no work to do.  Or, folks with time on their hands because they never had any work to do, or because they can’t work…or hungry folks…or sick folks.  You know?

And, if or when the suits in the big buildings wake up and find everyone’s left the room,  and they come outside and say, “Hey!  OK, we screwed up.  Sorry.  Come on back.”  And their hands are out in supplication, and they’re smiling pleadingly, why not everyone say, “Nah, find another sucker.”  And, try finding an honest job while you’re at it.

‘Cause you know what all of this is, don’t you?  It’s “Bread and Circuses”, where the Big Deals figure out how to keep the lid on, keep the schmucks (that’s you Mr. and Mrs. America) happy so they never figure out how lousy life is; they never figure out that they are owned, bought and paid for in the greatest swindle since the original Bread and Circus deal back there in Rome.  Did you see the movie Matrix?  You’re in it.  I’m in it.

We’re all in it.

Wake up.

Walk away.

Just sayin’.

Bring Out Your Dead!

“Good Lord, Agonia, will you take a look at this!”  One wonders if anything will shock over in Blighty any more.  Or, have they finally exhausted decency.

The blog...and the comments…show, to me anyway, the insidious nature of the creepy materialism that has gotten into our minds and souls, like the cold and damp of a British winter infects the very bones. It is an ache.

Wars and crises over the years (broadcast in real time and live on TV) have hardened us to those horrors we were once blissfully unaware of, and in that ignorance thought ourselves incapable of descending to.  Too late we learned, shuddered and were sickened.  Now?  Time has removed all sense of horror at the millions lost last century; the hundreds of millions shot, bombed, burned, starved and neglected to death.  Some, many, even doubt it happened.

And so this begins to occur, slowly first, and spread, a plague of materialism, a coarsening of intellect, a hardening of heart, a selfish willingness to think anything, to consider any option for comfort and ease in the name of self.  In the names of one extreme sort of materialism or other they participate willingly in worse horrors and propose little domestic horrors-a- day to cure a headache, improve a soft drink or cookie, to warm a swimming pool.

The “wonderful” promises of advances in medicine and science if we just ignore our common humanity allow us to forget that in many ways those advances come at the expense of life, and what was thought, once, our special place in the order of the world, and the dignity that place gave us…creatures of matter and spirit joined.    This latest is thought so little of other than a means of recycling something which would be left to rot.  Imagine how many profitable acres could be reclaimed for malls and sub-divisions from cemeteries?  Imagine Arlington as a Hyatt resort, a Four Seasons, a Ritz-Carlton?  Why not?  What is the corpse of s soldier but dead flesh and good fuel.  Did he not serve his country in life?  Why not serve as well dead?

Now as this article accompanying the blog post tells us we can and should entertain thoughts about good and practical things to do with our leftovers and if we can think of doing it, why, then we should do it. I do hope, at least, that they will make sure to save the hair, the fillings, the eyeglasses and the dentures before they fire up the furnace.

Oh, yes, and the fat, too, wonderful as an engine lube, don’t you know.

“Darling, since you put Grandpa’s Own in the car, we’ve lost that nasty ping and knocking and gotten another 10mpg. out if it.” “Yes we have, Agonia.  Best move I ever made, my pet.”

As you’ll see from the comments to the good priest’s blog post, at least one of his interlocutors finds little if anything wrong with the idea.  Good St. Johnathan Swift, Pray for us!

One Down, Nine to Go

The author of this article in Crisis magazine is no bush blogger with a foam flecked mouth, unwashed hair, glaring eyes and rumpled clothes wandering about in his own wilderness like me. He has creds.  What’s more, he’s right on this.  I don’t care if you are a Catholic or a cranberry worshiper (are there any?)  If you believe in the Bill of Rights, you ought to be concerned about what is happening to them.

Some rats have gotten into the cheese, here, and they are eating it all up.  The rest of us, thinking the pantry is safe, have not even gone to look when we hear the suspicious scratchings and snufflings; the little squeaks and hisses from the Sebeliuses and that ilk immensely concerned that No Child Will be Left to Live in the name of compassion or fashion.  OK, sorry.   I sometimes allow myself the luxury of a brick through the window.  Whatever.

Poison is abroad in the land, and  its name is Obama Care; a gas, a kind of paralyzing nerve gas.  Hope in him it seems is a false one.  But anyone with a brain knew that from the beginning.  What surprises me is that we still have millions of blissfully ignorant people walking around prattling about how great this will be.  Great for whom, is what I wonder.

This is the beginning, I think.  And it begins quietly, subtly, stealthily disguised as something good.  Always such things begin as something for the Greater Good, always the Hope Filled result of our compassion for others and desire our own comfort and ease, the light at the end of the tunnel, progress, the dawn of a new day.  This is, after all, a democracy.  We do, after all, have leaders, not rulers.  And we can after all change them.  What else is the Constitution for?  What is the government for if not to obey the will of the people?

“They came for the Communists” is the way the quote begins.

It has started, drip, drip, drip.  Well, some would argue it actually started a long time ago.  I am amused really by the design.  Not a real repeal of an unalienable right, this; not at all.  Just a small bite, rat sized,out of teeny clause in one of them, the one least paid attention to, “…or respecting the free exercise thereof…”.  Hope creeps away on little rat feet.

Here is a nice poem to think about after you have read the article and watched the little video it contains:
Hangman
by Maurice Ogden

1.
Into our town the Hangman came,
Smelling of gold and blood and flame.
And he paced our bricks with a diffident air,
And built his frame in the courthouse square.

The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
Only as wide as the door was wide;
A frame as tall, or little more,
Than the capping sill of the courthouse door.

And we wondered, whenever we had the time,
Who the criminal, what the crime
That the Hangman judged with the yellow twist
of knotted hemp in his busy fist.

And innocent though we were, with dread,
We passed those eyes of buckshot lead —
Till one cried: “Hangman, who is he
For whom you raised the gallows-tree?”

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
And he gave us a riddle instead of reply:
“He who serves me best,” said he,
“Shall earn the rope of the gallows-tree.”

And he stepped down, and laid his hand
On a man who came from another land.
And we breathed again, for another’s grief
At the Hangman’s hand was our relief

And the gallows-frame on the courthouse lawn
By tomorrow’s sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way, and no one spoke,
Out of respect for his Hangman’s cloak.

2.
The next day’s sun looked mildly down
On roof and street in our quiet town,
And stark and black in the morning air
Was the gallows-tree in the courthouse square.

And the Hangman stood at his usual stand
With the yellow hemp in his busy hand;
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike
And his air so knowing and business-like.

And we cried, “Hangman, have you not done
Yesterday, with the foreign one?”
Then we fell silent, and stood amazed,
“Oh, not for him was the gallows raised.”

He laughed a laugh as he looked at us:
“Did you think I’d gone to all this fuss
To hang one man? That’s a thing I do
To stretch a rope when the rope is new.”

Then one cried “Murder!” and one cried “Shame!”
And into our midst the Hangman came
To that man’s place. “Do you hold,” said he,
“with him that was meant for the gallows-tree?”

And he laid his hand on that one’s arm.
And we shrank back in quick alarm!
And we gave him way, and no one spoke
Out of fear of his Hangman’s cloak.

That night we saw with dread surprise
The Hangman’s scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute,
The gallows-tree had taken root;

Now as wide, or a little more,
Than the steps that led to the courthouse door,
As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
Halfway up on the courthouse wall.

3.
The third he took — we had all heard tell —
Was a usurer, and an infidel.
“What,” said the Hangman “have you to do
With the gallows-bound, and he a Jew?”

And we cried out, “Is this one he
Who has served you well and faithfully?”
The Hangman smiled: “It’s a clever scheme
to try the strength of the gallows-beam.”

The fourth man’s dark, accusing song
Had scratched our comfort hard and long;
“And what concern,” he gave us back.
“Have you for the doomed — the doomed and Black?”

The fifth. The sixth. And we cried again,
“Hangman, Hangman, is this the man?”
“It’s a trick,” he said. “that we hangmen know
For easing the trap when the trap springs slow.”

And so we ceased, and asked no more,
As the Hangman tallied his bloody score.
And sun by sun, and night by night,
The gallows grew to monstrous height.

The wings of the scaffold opened wide
Till they covered the square from side to side;
And the monster cross-beam, looking down,
Cast its shadow across the town.

4.
Then through the town the Hangman came,
Through the empty streets, and called my name —
And I looked at the gallows soaring tall,
And thought, “There is no one left at all

For hanging, and so he calls to me
To help pull down the gallows-tree.”
So I went out with right good hope
To the Hangman’s tree and the Hangman’s rope.

He smiled at me as I came down
To the courthouse square through the silent town.
And supple and stretched in his busy hand
Was the yellow twist of the hempen strand.

And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap,
And it sprang down with a ready snap —
And then with a smile of awful command
He laid his hand upon my hand.

“You tricked me. Hangman!,” I shouted then,
“That your scaffold was built for other men…
And I no henchman of yours,” I cried,
“You lied to me, Hangman. Foully lied!”

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
“Lied to you? Tricked you?” he said. “Not I.
For I answered straight and I told you true —
The scaffold was raised for none but you.

For who has served me more faithfully
Then you with your coward’s hope?” said he,
“And where are the others who might have stood
Side by your side in the common good?”

“Dead,” I whispered. And amiably
“Murdered,” the Hangman corrected me:
“First the foreigner, then the Jew…
I did no more than you let me do.”

Beneath the beam that blocked the sky
None had stood so alone as I.
The Hangman noosed me, and no voice there
Cried “Stop!” for me in the empty square.