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Ashlar Home > Poems > Henry Englesman > Not Guilty

Not Guilty

By Henry Englesman

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.
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