In My Defense
“Hear ye, we shall adjourn now in the Court of Mass Appeals.
“Comes now, defendant, who has waived all plea-bargaining deals.
“Allegedly, he’s misanthropic, skeptical, and mad;
His published poems only painting people being bad.
“Through allegory he has shared this pessimistic view
Of life as pain, and human goodness, rare, if not untrue .
“His diatribes against us count too many to deny;
If guilty, jury members, you must sentence him to die!”
Honorable Judge E. Wudgee
For three long weeks, the courtroom cringed at all the D.A. said;
More libelous accusals of me never could be spread,
Ignore the truth, they did, and gobbled up all they'd been fed.
“The prosecution rests, Your Honor, having proved our case;
This writer only works on themes designed to cast disgrace
On hearts and minds and character of all the human race!
“The proof we have paraded here, no slick words can erase;
So now, Scott Tacke, please defend the charges that you face.”
Slowly, I rose and turned and for the courtroom there, I bowed
Lowly though, so as not to make them think me very proud
Wholly prepared to give the best defense I was allowed.
"I’ve had my works charged dark and cynical by you," I said.
"Why readers would accuse such things, I’ve countless teardrops shed;
Wry verse perhaps, but always with an anecdotal thread.
"Permit me the conjecture that my studies skewed my view,
Submit this explanation, I must now, for your review,
Acquit me of such labels if you find that they’re untrue .
"For your examination, I submit Exhibit A.
"Implore you to be honest with this evidence you weigh;
Ignore the prosecution’s theories they tried to convey.
"Bid me an opportunity to start with this one piece,
Did anybody read this poem on its first release?
"Syd has as its main moral, treating all with love and peace.
"Now, men and ladies of the jury, Ravenlocks is next.
"How could this piece be cynical? I truly stand perplexed!
"Avow I will: to know one’s heart’s not cynical --- but blessed!
"And now A Boy and His Flower here must round out these three;
Grand love against all odds? I shouldn’t need to make this plea;
Stand true in spirit, now --- how can you twelve not all agree?
Though I compose at times with words of distrust for mankind,
Bestow no judgment on me as to how my work’s defined.
Throw out this case and let my poetry not be maligned.”
Deliberations now commenced the next judicial phase;
Complications kept the jurors arguing for days
Expectations on the verdict --- too hard now to appraise.
Requests for all my manuscripts soon reached the bailiff’s ear.
Confessed the foreman, “It must all be absolutely clear!”
Recessed, the twelve pored over every poem, year by year.
Clutch time now, and every juror read with solemn face;
Such works as Purgatorio were not helping my case,
Much less my Just Admit It which no efforts could efface.
When just as I was thinking that they’d reached their final vote,
Again, the foreman asked for one more poem I had wrote.
Then, he took Idiodyssey back in --- no doubt to quote.
Not much time had expired before all were called back in;
Plot thickened as the foreman met my gaze with cryptic grin,
Got to my feet and nearly fell; the room began to spin.
They gave the judge their verdict on a folded, paper slip;
Day 10 it was, and by now I had slowly lost my grip;
Dismay hung heavy on my heart and trembled on my lip.
All twelve agreed the vote they’d reached had been unanimous.
Forestall that moment, but right then I dared not make a fuss.
Recall the court was still and judge was not magnanimous.
Instead, I simply stood as each spectator held their breath,
Dread began to build until I felt like King Macbeth;
“Spread the word! He’s Guilty!” Then they clamored for my death!
Resistance did no good, I soon was cuffed and led away.
Insistence on my innocence helped not one mind to sway
Existence would be ended now with no further delay!
“I’m innocent!” I cried. “I have the utmost faith in man!
"Prime example: I think what you’ve done since this began ---
Sublime! Pure justice! I am surely mankind’s biggest fan!”
“Do I detect some sarcasm?” the justice gave a wink.
“You really should repent before the gallows, I would think.”
“True,” I said, “But no more lies…You and your jury --- stink!
“No surprise, you don’t condone your actions magnified!
“Though there is good, the more I’ve searched, I really must confide…
“Know this: there’s far more evil than I’m willing to abide.
“Times do often call for someone brave to stand and teach.
“Rhymes of mine were meant to illustrate more than to preach.
“Crimes are what you call it as you choke my right to speech!”
Fearfully, I spoke these words of eloquent finesse,
Tearfully, they listened, as my speech seemed a success…
Cheerfully, t'was all ignored, --- they hung me nonetheless!