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Ashlar Home > Poems > Henry Englesman

The Poetic Works of Henry Englesman

Not Guilty

If you feel disadvantaged by the colour of your skin,
that's a scathing crime in this enlightened age.
'Racist' is the brand for that insufferable sin,
and earns the penalty of public rage.

If a son of Abraham, you're showered with with'ring scorn,
and hean'n knows that this is oft the case,
Shrill cries of anti-semite will herald each new dawn,
and put the perpetrator in his place.

Should you find fault with 'Foresters', berate a 'Buffalo',
and you will feel the fury of the world.
But take a tilt at Masonry, that's perfectly OK,
and any vulgar insult may be hurled.

Shouting 'down with Spurs supporters' would soon incur great wrath,
deride the Sally Army to the fury of the cloth,
To bully institutions is a passion of the weak,
but mock a modest Mason, he'll turn the other cheek.

Hibernians, Rotarians, suffer no beration,
and Knights of St. Columbus bear faultless reputation.
Confucians, Rosicrucians, meter maids or 'gays',
merit only headlines of sycophantic praise,

Not the many multitudes,
without good rhyme or reason,
only men with funny handshakes
stand accused of treason.
We have found a rogue among them,
comes a plaintive cry,
'crimine ab uno, disce omnes',
our reply.

Criticise the shire hunts,
or those who ferret rabbits,
puts the countryside on heat
in just a trice,
Disrespect of other souls with quite disgusting habits,
includes you in a group that's just not nice.
But nowadays its 'de riguer' to denigrate those folk,
who may seem at worst, suspicious, at best, a standing joke.

Young folk now at college,
old 'uns on the 'knowledge',
seeing them as sinister
would earn a soft riposte,

But men with rolled-up trouser legs,
targets of the minister,
are set to lose a liberty
does no-one count the cost?

Darts clubs, lonely hearts clubs,
may deny affiliation,
ballroom dancers, Bengal Lancers,
rate no condemnation.
If having common empathies
is found seditionist,
Look among the war grave files,
just scan the missing lists,
Among those tragic names who died
to save their country's plight,
are those of men with funny hand shakes,
- they were there all right.

The needy and the suffering in constant want of aid,
find ready willing purses in the trouser-leg brigade.
If liberty is meant for all, why should not this be so?
Repression of a million men is not the way to go.

To those who seek to find a spectre, when one isn't there,
the only secret that we hold, is that we really care.
If funny signs and handshakes contravene our laws, harbinger, beware!
Take care the next head may be yours.

The Token

In line Tombs of Ancient Pharaohs,
deep in sandy dunes,
Beside line sleeping shadows,
at rest in their cocoons,

The Museum records tell us that the daylight world above,
Placed food and precious trinkets, as tokens of their love
To lie with their dear departed, on their journey without end,
Sustenance and comfort for an erstwhile cherished friend,

Gold and silver amulets of intricate design
And copious flasks of golden grain, pure oil and finest wine.
I close my eyes, my thoughts abound, line Reaper calls us all
What would I need to comfort me within my lonely stall?

How would I face my Maker before the Judgement Seat?
What could I take to prove my worth, to make my Soul replete?
To earn the beatific smile, awestruck with rev'rent fear,
Well done, thou faithful servant. Bless thee. Enter here.

I drew a list of deeds well done, of acts performed in love'
Of righteous thoughts, of selfless slaps, to prove to Him above
That I might truly worthy be, to sit beside the Throne
And hear the Benediction of He that reigns alone.

And then! I crossed the whole list out!
He knoweth every thing,
But could I find a simple sign to say,
0 Holy King', Accept this humble being, inadequate and weak,
Who stands before Thee, trembling alone, forlorn and meek.
I offer this, and only this, - a token of my love, And God took in his mighty hand, - A SINGLE PURE WHITE GLOVE.

The Honours System

I've been a Mason nigh four decades,
Forty years of interest and delight.
In brotherhood I've lived and loved
Togetherness has been my guiding light,

And I've received just a little bit more
Than the effort I've put in.
For a night with the boys is one of life's joys
And I don't regard it a sin.

I've paid all my dues, and I've taken my turn,
And in all it's been really grand,
The ritual's a breeze, but, explain to me, please,
Something I don't understand.

There's a bone of contention I feel I must mention
That has caused a degree of concern.
Who gets promoted? And how is it done?
That's something I just have to learn.

Now I've told you my problem, I'll tell it again
I've thought on it hard and quite long
But whoever I speak to, they don't make it plain
That's something I find clearly wrong.

Now canvassing's out, that's obviously fair,
Flattery and bribery too
And a friend in high places has no saving graces,
So why did they pick him? And not you!

I visit quite often, almost countrywide
And am many times called on to speak,
I'm asked the same query, until I'm weary,
The answer I give, tongue in cheek.

Who makes this decision that causes division
Just tell us the name of the guy
When I tell them I can't, if I could that I shan't
Then I hear this same plaintive cry -

A didn't want any

B didn't get any

C got more than he should

Ds little heart sank,

E got an active rank,

F didn't - but he felt that he could

G had effort ignored

with it all H was bored

and I really couldn't care less.

J was quite elated, poor K was deflated

it seemed all one L of a mess!

M had been a founder,

but N seemed much sounder

0 for it all to make sense!

P tried to mollify

Q did not qualify,

R did not have enough sense!

S seemed stupendous,

'T was tremendous,

and at seventy U was past tense!

V had been secretary,

W had just made merry

but X seemed to mark the right spot

Tell us Y (That's the riddle)

Z to be all a fiddle(!)

How did anyone get what he got???

Will this great mystery that's gone down in history
Ever really be solved?
I very much doubt it, but with or without it,
I'd rather not get involved.
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