The HyperTexts

The Society of Classical Poets: The Keystone Scops

Due to truth-in-advertising regulations The Society of Classical Poets should consider a name change. Being the helpful soul that I am, I came up with The Keystone Scops, for reasons that will quickly become apparent. Mostly, I just quote the Top Scop, editor Evan Mantyk, and certain other Key Stoners, happily assisting them as they hoist their self-immolating petards. — Michael R. Burch, editor, The HyperTexts

Do truth-in-advertising regulations apply to poetry websites? The SCP home page is prominently captioned, "Rhyming, rhythmic, and rapturous." A more truthful caption would be, "Force-rhymed, metronomic, ungrammatical, poorly punctuated, and tedious."

Ample evidence is provided here: Emperors Sans Clothes.

To be fair, the SCP has published a decent poem here and there, but such poems are immediately lost in the deluge of crap and mediocrities.

"Almost killed was I in torment, trapped in deepest hell."

A scop warns us that "here there be draggin's" so enter with trembling, ye who dare...


Bruce Dale Wise does not, alas, live up to his last name in his alleged poem "Climate: The Movie." According to his bio, Bruce Dale UnWise is a former English teacher. But according to his alleged poem he never learned the language. One feels for his students.

UnWise's poem begins with the nonsensical line:

"It shows there is no basis found in science for its fare."

What "fare"? Science has many fares. Does the movie disprove all science? Then it would be "fares."

Like so many of the scops, UnWise cannot maintain even the simplest, clunkiest of meters without resorting to archaisms, inversions and weird contractions:

"It counters claims high temp’ratures reveal a virgin birth..."

UnWise's meter places so much artificial stress on articles like "at" and "an" that it becomes comically drill-sergeant-esque:

"In fact, it claims that we are at the end of an ice age..."

The former English teacher has a major grammatical error:

"The film depicts the climate scare as [a] frenzied, funding fix..."

And the poem ends as it began, with indecipherable nonsense:

"an inquisition fighting heresies of the divined."

Is Bruce Dale the UnWise complimenting the scientists he previously deplored, by suggesting they are divine and/or capable of divining the truth? He massacres the language he once taught so badly that no one can be sure what he means.


Most of the Keystone Scops appear to be conservative Christians, but they have obviously ditched the ethical teachings of Jesus Christ, the apostles and Hebrew prophets for a completely opposite set of tenets. Forget helping the sick, the poor and the refugees. How passé! Conservative Christianity is all about God, guns, gays and gals. Deny gays and gals their rights, keep the assault weapons loaded, and worship the idol with feet of clay, or glitter, Trump.

Goodbye, Jesus. Hello, or Heil, Trump!

And of course always live in denial wherever the new clay-footed, bewigged, bronzer-oranged MESSiah is concerned.

In his clunky poem "On the Altar of Our Nation," Brian Yapko express his ardent love for Jesus-replacement-Trump, who according to Yapko merely "has an eye for ladies." But of course Trump has a lot more than an "eye" for ladies.

After all, Trump is a self-confessed pedophile and sexual predator.

“I'm inspecting it.”
• "You know, they’re standing there with no clothes [teenage girls as young as 15]."
• "Is everything okay?"

No, everything isn't
"okay" you fucking pedophile leech.

Trump revealed himself as a pedophile to Howard Stern and the entire world in April, 2005, when Trump bragged about barging into the dressing rooms of teenage girls (some minors) to "inspect"not "them"but "it." (This was not a mistake because on the day of Trump's wedding to Marla Maples, The Donald informed Stern that "vagina is expensive.")

In any case, some of the girls in question confirmed that Trump did indeed barge into their dressing rooms when they were nude or only partially clothed. And of course they were mortified. Most adult women would have been as well, and/or rightfully enraged.

Just imagine the frenzied howls of right-wing extremists, if Barack Obama (a black man!) or Joe Biden (a liberal!) had made such a confession. But Trump merely has "an eye for ladies" despite admitting that he not only grabbed women "by the pussy" but also took advantage of teenage and underage girls, traumatizing them. What if they were your sisters, or daughters, skippy scops?

These are just a few of Trump's lovely and tender commiserations:

“Women, you have to treat them like shit.” — New York Magazine, 1992
“Grab them by the pussy.” — Access Hollywood tape, Sept. 2005
“…vagina is expensive…” — to Howard Stern at Trump's wedding to Marla Maples, 1993
My supporters “are very passionate” when they beat up homeless Latinos. — Aug. 19, 2015
“Laziness is a trait in blacks.” — 1991
“You ought to see this guy!” — mocking a handicapped reporter, Nov. 25, 2015
• America's valiant war dead are "losers" and "suckers." — Paris, 2018

One of THT's readers remarked that the poem's stupidest line is the one where Yapko, after having called himself Trump's biggest fan, said: "no one else can make this country whole." The reader observed that this is the exact opposite of what Trump has accomplished during his career in politics.

Trump started off terrible in this regard, then progressively (or anti-progressively) got much worse.

Trump has done nothing but divide the United States since his first campaign speech in 2015. And Trump hasn't just further divided Democrats from Republicans. He has also deeply divided the Republican party. Chris Christie, once a senior Trump adviser, told Anderson Cooper that 40 out of 44 of Trump's cabinet-level appointees not only would not work for him again, but do not support him for president. That is an unprecedented level of non-support for a former president. And that number includes senior American generals like Jim Matthis, John F. Kelly and H.R. McMaster.

The most common terms used to describe Trump by his highest-ranking appointees include: moron, idiot, dope, child, kindergartner, unhinged.

Trump's favorability rating with the public fell to 29% after his BIG LIE, his 62 fraudulent election lawsuits, his fake elector scheme, and his attempted coup that resulted in the death of a police officer and injuries to 140 other officers. Just imagine if Barack Obama, or any black person, had incited a riot that resulted in a police officer dying and 140 others being injured. Trump and MAGA would be screaming for the death penalty. But such is the hypocrisy of MAGA that Trump can do no wrong, even when he confesses to pedophilia, even when he confesses to being a groper of women's genitals, even when he attempts to overthrow American democracy and replace it with a Trump dictatorship-for-life.

Nor do MAGA and apparently the scops possess the common sense to understand what would happen once Trump seized the reins of absolute power and thus controlled elections like his heroes and mentors Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. Trump would do to MAGA what Pootie and Lil' Kim did to their countrymen: loot the healthcare systems, let the sick waste away and die, build mansions, put their faces on billboards, poison their political opponents, and so on. Trump would no longer need to pretend that he "cares" about the commoners he so obviously despises, who are as far beneath him in his eyes as are worms to, as one scop put it, Oliphants.


In his essay "The Snares of Simplicity" the clay-footed false idol of the Keystone Scops, Joe Salemi, says, "Liberals, Communists, and capitalists all share one dangerous and demonically-prompted trait. They want to simplify. The complexities and nuances of any traditionalist society irk them no end, and they are driven by an impulse to flatten and homogenize everything."

I find it amusing that Salemi capitalized "Communists." Does he hold communists in such high regard? Does communist China fund Scoputopia, as a well-informed poet recently suggested to me, hoping to aid and abet Trump in his destruction of American democracy? Are the Keystone Scops witting or, more likely, unwitting pawns of an anti-American superpower with lots of cash to launder and burn?

And such hypocrisy, since no one wants to "simplify" more simplistically than Salemi. Most particularly, no one wants to homogenize religion more than Salemi. Everyone should be a conservative Catholic or suffer for all eternity in a fiery hell. Hell, it sounds as if Salemi would consign Pope Francis to the ninth ring of Dante's Inferno for not being sufficiently conservative. Salemi has also raged against Protestants and their "absurdities," calling Bible-believing Protestants "creationist freaks," "fundie dopes," "ethopaths," "yahoo dorks," "jerks," "crackpots" and a "witless herd." Salemi has furthermore called Protestants "delusional," their beliefs "mulishly absurd" and accused them of having "brain rot" for believing the Bible and its "pious lies."

In addition, as I grok Salemi, everyone should be heterosexual. The white way is the right way. In fact, white genes are so superior to other genes that the subordination of Native Americans was a wonderful thing. "The white man's burden!" Simplify things at the border by machine-gunning migrant children and their mothers to bloody ribbons. And so on.

As far as I can tell, Salemi has given up on poetry and is now all about simplifying and homogenizing.

If he wants to see an entity prompting simplification and homogenization, I recommend a mirror.

by Michael R. Burch

In his vacant hall of mirrors,
Salemi's terriers yip about "terrors,"
stretch the truth to grotesque proportions,
never once reflect on the source of skewed notions.
Behind the curtain some Wizard of Firkus
signs the checks, directs the strange circus.


However, before delving into the draggin's, I will provide an example of the grotesque sickness that permeates the SCP.

On Feb. 4, 2024, Joseph S. Salemi posted this lovely Christian missive on the SCP website:

"I’d like to see the Texas National Guard set up Browning .50 caliber M-2 machine guns at every place where these illegals are entering, and shoot dead every single person (of whatever age or sex) who tries to cross our border without legal authorization. It’s time to dump the humanitarian bullshit."

Salemi apparently thinks children and their mothers should be shot to ribbons with .50 caliber machine guns. No questions, no trials, just immediate obliteration.

There would be little or nothing left to bury. How much would remain of a toddler riddled by a rain of .50 caliber armor-piercing bullets?

From what I have been able to gather, the M2HB Browning is an anti-aircraft and anti-vehicular machine gun capable of firing a constant stream of .50 caliber armor-piercing cartridges. These shells are capable of penetrating face-hardened armor steel plate and rolled homogeneous armor up to nearly a inch thick. What would they do to a child's delicate flesh?

What was the response to Salemi's hideous call for children and their mothers to be slaughtered in cold blood with military-grade weaponry?

There were affirmatives but not a single peep of protest, as far as I was able to tell.

Roy Eugene Peterson: "I concur!"

Susan Jarvis Bryant: "I hear you, Joe."

Ms. Bryant is a migrant herself, a Brit who now lives in the United States.

Ode to an Immigrant who should be Illegal
by Michael R. Burch

Ms. Bryant has written a peeve.
Ignore it, she’s out of her league.
No native Anita,
this pale senorita
is a migrant herself. Make her leave!

Other scops in the thread continued discussing poetry as if nothing unusual had been said. Shooting children to shreds seems to be "no biggie" in Scoputopia these days. If it ever was.

Imagine the infant Jesus appearing at the southern border with his mother Mary and father Joseph. The supposedly Christian scops would have them machine-gunned to bits. According to the Bible, Jesus said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Jesus also said that it would be better for a man to be drowned with a millstone around his neck, than to harm a little one. So what will become of the scops who side with Salemi, on the Day of Judgment, when the sheep are separated from the goats? Will Jesus, born a refugee child for whom there was no room, side with the children or with these heartless adults who would have riddled his mother Mary to pieces without a moment's remorse?

Apparently some of the scops have not only abandoned Christianity, but humanity as well. If they are correct that one day they will stand before Jesus Christ to be judged, I would not want to be in their shoes, when the millstone becomes eternal.

Apparently the road to hell, for some of the scops, is paved not with good, but with very bad intentions.

Whatsoever you do unto the least of these...
by Kim Cherub

They traded in their Savior for a raving jack’lish Beast;
forgot that Jesus clearly said he sided with the least;
forgot that Christ was born a child for whom there was no room;
forgot the manger meant his Mother slept in straw, and gloom;
forgot how to feel pity; forgot how to feel shame;
forgot that Daniel’s “little horn” revealed Trump’s evil name;
forgot the Trump of Doom that sounded, followed by a plague;
forgot the fruit of the Spirit is tenderness, not rage;
forgot the face of decency; embraced the jackal’s wrath;
forgot the goats will be rejected by the Shepherd’s staff;
forgot the theme of the Bible is: “Go, help the sick and the poor!”;
forgot the Savior stands and waits beside the bolted door,
hearing his cruel “disciples” calling his mother a whore,
demanding her death at the border, and he in her arms, once more:
“Whatsoever you do unto the least of these...”

Salemi's cold-blooded call for children to be murdered made me think of one of the saints of the Holocaust, who had a very different, and far more Christian, approach. Indeed, this saint laid down his life to defend "undesirable" children, although he himself was defenseless...

Excerpts from "A Page from the Deportation Diary"
by Wladyslaw Szlengel
loose translation/interpretation by Kim Cherub

I saw Janusz Korczak walking today,
leading the children, at the head of the line.
They were dressed in their best clothes—immaculate, if gray.
Some say the weather wasn’t dismal, but fine.

They were in their best jumpers and laughing (not loud),
but if they’d been soiled, tell me—who could complain?
They walked like calm heroes through the haunted crowd,
five by five, in a whipping rain.

The pallid, the trembling, watched from high overhead,
through barely cracked windows—pale, transfixed with dread.

And now and then, from the high, tolling bell
a strange moan escaped, like a sea gull’s torn cry.
Their “superiors” looked on, their eyes hard as stone.
So let us not flinch, as they march on, to die.

Footfalls... then silence... the cadence of feet...
O, who can console them, their last mile so drear?
The church bells peal on, over shocked Leszno Street.
Will Jesus Christ save them? The high bells career.

No, God will not save them. Nor you, friend, nor I.
But let us not flinch, as they march on, to die.

No one will offer the price of their freedom.
No one will proffer a single word.
His eyes hard as gavels, the silent policeman
agrees with the priest and his terrible Lord:

                             “Give them the Sword!”

At the great town square there is no intervention.
No one tugs Schmerling’s sleeve. No one cries
“Rescue the children!” The air, thick with tension,
reeks with the odor of vodka, and lies.

How calmly he walks, with a child in each arm:
Gut Doktor Korczak, please keep them from harm!

A fool rushes up with a reprieve in hand:
“Look Janusz Korczak—please look, you’ve been spared!”
No use for that. One resolute man,
uncomprehending that no one else cared
enough to defend them,
his choice is to end with them.

Salemi reminds me of the poem's priest screaming, "Give them the sword!"

This is the type of "thinking" that led to the Trail of Tears and to the Holocaust. Make no mistake that murdering children and their mothers at the southern border, or anywhere, would be the genesis of an American Holocaust.

But where are the SCP's voices of protest? If there are any, I haven't heard them, except from poets banned by the not-so-Christian "society."

Outdoing the Devil
by Kim Cherub

Salami asked his Dark Master,
“Lord, how can we kill children faster?”
The Devil replied,
“So many have died!
Don’t you think it would be a disaster?”

But Salami, not easily dissuaded,
found one whom cruel “bone spurs” had fated
to fighting VD
in the land of the free.
Soon the Catholic and Protestant mated.

The Devil protested, “He’s evil!
You might as well worship a weasel.”
But Salami bowed low,
gave the lamp a good blow,
and the gene-ie pronounced, “You’re good people!”

Then the spammer and Jinn, in cahoots,
drunk on the foul smell of their poots,
with a nose up each ass,
cried, “Let’s gas some small lass,
the younger, the better, by Zeus!”

The Devil demurred, turned and left.
Then these stars of the right, both bereft
of compassion and pity,
shrieked, “Machine-gun the shitty!”
Like Jesus, Mephistopheles wept.


Ironically, I won what I believe was the SCP's first poetry contest, the National Poetry Month Couplet Competition, with the epigram below. After I won the contest Evan Mantyk asked me to join the SCP's board, but I politely declined, since the quality of the poetry being published and the editing (or, more accurately, the lack of such) was abysmal. Little did Mantyk know that the epigram had been written about conformists like the key stoners, who apparently think everyone should be a conservative heterosexual Christian, the paler the better. So I won their contest while poking fun at them.

Conformists of a feather
flock together.
—Michael R. Burch

I later came up with a version the epigram aimed at Trump and his ilk:

Fascists of a feather
flock together.
—Michael R. Burch


These are the worst lines of the Keystone Scops, which in their alternate literary universe apparently makes them the best, or, as they would put it, the "bestest." One shudders to think of reading the poems they reject!

But you and I, we’ve grown together up;
Our shadows constant trouble for each other
That’s made us stronger since they did disrupt
The lazy impulse that can slowly smother...
— Evan Mantyk

Evan Mantyk is the top scop, the key stoner, the editor-in-disbelief of the Society of Classical Poets. In this vastly strange alternate universe, the worst "poet" is the editor and accomplished poets are banned for speaking their minds. Never contradict a racist or a homophobe in Scoputopia! The SCP website is, truly, the Twilight Zone of poetry.

... each man must not only eateth for his health,
But for the probiotics of his microbiome's wealth.
— Lannie David Brockstein

"You cannot categorically label our poetry 'doggerel' and write us off," Mantyk once declared, defiantly. Well, perhaps not, since there is such a thing as good doggerel. But we can quote you, and write you off as categorically incapable of passing a fifth grade grammar quiz.

Not seeing the truth they were consequently
Destroying themselves quite unchivalrously.
— Evan Mantyk

According to Mantyk, there is apparently a way to destroy oneself "chivalrously." That seems like an odd claim for a scop to make. Don't conservative Christians believe human life is sacred, making suicide a mortal sin?

Jeffrey Essmann in his poem "Babel" confirmed that Scoputopia is a leaning Tower of Babel, a ziggurat of confused, incoherent voices:

There was a time when all the world one tongue
Among its peoples shared, and language preened
Itself with fluffed-up thoughts that oversprung
The bounds of things as yet quite unforeseen.
Man set about a city to machine
With at its heart a tower to touch the clouds
That heaven’s gate itself might be advened.
“The world will sing our praises, sing them loud,”
He thought, “and naught from now on can be disallowed.”

This sort of babble, Don Shook would have us believe, is "better" than well-written free verse:

There is a scourge that permeates our midst
Which we cannot so easily dismiss.
Elitists strive to elevate this curse;
A type of art most poets call free verse.

Don Shook shook up Scoputopia by presenting the perfect argument for free verse. That being, of course, terrible formal verse like his. And yet the key stoners claim to be outdoing great free verse poets like Walt Whitman and T. S. Eliot. I quote the SCP website: "English poetry has been in existence for at least 1,400 years. This tradition continues alive and well at The Society of Classical Poets like nowhere else!" Well, I can go along with "like nowhere else." As in the Twilight Zone.

Tweedie-die-die and Tweedie-Dumb

In his poem on climate change, James A. Tweedie confirmed for the zillionth time that the Society of Classical Poets, better known as the Keystone Scops, are clueless about apostrophes, as well as climate change, science, and thinking in general:

Don’t succumb to the deception climate change leads to a grave,
Lest we kill the very thing our good intentions tried to save.
None of this means that we ought to keep polluting, heaven's [sic] no!
Clean the air and atmosphere! But let the ice caps ebb and flow.

In his alleged poem, Tweedie argues that climate change is natural and thus nothing to worry about, much less attempt to regulate. Human beings should accept climate change gracefully, adapt, and (presumably) grow gills.

The dinosaurs who were wiped out by climate change might argue otherwise, and point out that they did not contribute to their demise, as man is so obviously doing today.

Most species that ever existed were wiped out by climate change, a word to the spectacularly unwise.

Tweedie is a retired pastor, so how would he explain Noah building an ark, rather than gracefully accepting climate change in the form of excessive water? Then, as now. Are Tweedie and the scops wiser than God Almighty? Didn't the biblical God command human beings to save earth's creatures rather than twiddling thumbs and letting them perish?

Roy E. Peterson, another non-Einstein on climate change, proved once again that the scops are clueless about apostrophes and have no ear for meter:

Blame volcanoes for ash and dust,
It makes no diff'rence, you can trust.
Bees and wasps and hornets' [sic] sting—
You can’t control everything.

One must pronounce "volcanoes" as "VOL-ca-NOES" to keep the metronomic meter. The apostrophe in the third line should go, or it would be "Bees' and wasps' and hornets' stings [plural]." These are grade school mistakes. Why is the SCP publishing "poetry" that would fail a fifth-grade grammar quiz?

Peter Venable believes the Devil is real and he, too, fails to understand the purpose of apostrophes:

He loves attention. Like All Hallow's [sic] Eve:
Witch's [sic] and goblin's [sic] fly
As all his demons snicker and high-five.

Another scop waxed poetic on things scientific:

... each man must not only eateth for his health,
But for the probiotics of his microbiome's wealth.
— Lannie David Brockstein

"You cannot categorically label our poetry 'doggerel' and write us off," top scop Evan Mantyk once declared, defiantly. Well, perhaps not, since there is such a thing as good doggerel. But we can quote you, and write you off as categorically incapable of passing a fifth grade grammar quiz.

Not seeing the truth they were consequently
Destroying themselves quite unchivalrously.
— Evan Mantyk

According to Mantyk, there's a way to destroy oneself "chivalrously." Presumably that is what the scops are doing, with their denial of climate change.


But when it comes to massacring the English language, no one can possibly outdo top scop Evan Mantyk:

This pristine orbs,
A fragile yet audacious batch
Seem hopeless until they reveal
A rainbow patch.
— Evan Mantyk

The scops have apparently never encountered a major grammatical error that they didn't immediately fall in love with, proceed to proclaim the pinnacle of art, then not only publish, but include in a training manual. Surely, you think, he jests! No, I'm serious. Mantyk used the lines above in his how-to manual "Writing Classical Poetry Is Easy (Technically)." Yes, in return for a donation the Society of Classical Know-Its will teach you how to become a classical poet in ten minutes! At least that's Antic Mantyk's Twilight-Zone-ish claim. And this is how Mantyk advises going about the simple-as-pie task of writing classical poetry:
"Some people have raised concerns about the technical difficulty of writing classical poetry. Actually, there is very little difficulty behind writing classical poetry from a technical perspective. Classical poetry is simply poetry that is metrical (also called metered), thus contrasting with unmetered poetry, known as free verse. There is no requirement to rhyme or have a particular number of lines or anything else. The easiest beginner-level approach to writing metrical poetry is to simply count the syllables. If your first line has ten syllables then your next line should have ten syllables. Seven, eight, ten, and twelve syllables are all common lengths. Write in this way, and perhaps make your last two lines rhyme or use alliteration (or neither) and call it classical poetry. It is that easy. If you don't know the number of syllables, simply look it up in a dictionary."
Of course counting syllables does not result in metrical poetry, much less classical poetry. Advising beginning poets to "simply count the syllables" then "call it classical poetry" is nonsense and detrimental to beginners. As far as I can tell, Mantyk has never written a good poem, so why is he writing a training manual? But this is how Scoputopia operates: quality matters not a whit, just publish, publish, publish and call it classical poetry!

There is something there that loves a wall:
The easy car trip when your loved ones' [sic] call—
No need to worry cows might block the road
And pepper it with putrid, pie-like load.
— Evan Mantyk

Mantyk claims to be an English teacher but has demonstrated once again that he's clueless about English punctuation and grammar. When Joe Salemi called Mantyk’s abysmal "poem" a "perfect answer" to Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," I could only conclude that Sam Gwynn was correct when he observed that Salemi is more politico than poet.

Here’s my answer to the prick
(I hope it cuts him to the quick).
Mike, you’re envious and sick
And stupid as a common brick.
— Joseph S. Salemi

Doesn't exactly reach the heights of Martial or Pope, does it? I would like to be immortalized but fear this metronomic clunker won't accomplish the task.

Almost killed was I in torment, trapped in deepest hell.
— Corey Elizabeth Jackson

If you made it this far, I'm sure you can sympathize with that last tormented line!


Every now and then, in an unguarded moment, a scop will have a Kinsley gaffe and blurt out a truth best left unrevealed. C. B. Anderson apparently had such a moment when he confessed:

I’ve never been the type of model
An adolescent child should ever copy...

Joe Salemi has defended the SCP's publication of wretched, rigidly metronomic, ungrammatical poems by "explaining" that the SCP is an educational enterprise. Of course that makes no sense because if the SCP wanted to educate poets it would use the best poems of the best poets, not the worst of the worst. But in the lines above we have an honest scop confessing that no one should ever do as he does.

I concur.

Do the right thing and shut down this failed educational institution before it does further damage to students and my sensitive ears!

Let this kaput kindergarten join Trump University as prime examples of how not to teach.

The simple truth is that, in their attempts to write rigidly metronomic poems in the style of Salemi, the advocate of what he calls "simon pure" meter and which I abandoned at age 13 as unmusical, the scops usually slip up and lose the meter, resulting in a pattern of over-rigid / mush / over-rigid / mush / etc. in streams of unrelenting mediocrity, or worse. That is nothing to teach innocent children, trusting teens, or adult beginners.

This leaves us with the question: What is the Society of Classical Poets, really? As a literary journal it's an obvious trainwreck. No respectable journal would publish the dismal "poems" I identified in my previous article, THE BEST WORST LINES OF THE KEYSTONE SCOPS. No respectable educator would teach using such deficient texts. So what is the SCP, really? I think the scops got the name of their organization correct, if nothing else. The SCP is a society where wannbe poets with a right-wing bent meet to mix and mingle. Rather than high teas, there are low tea affairs peppered with racism, homophobia, attacks on transgenders, and effusive praise of the Antichrist Trump.

Skip, scop, skip to My loo
by Immanuel A. Michael

Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Beware lest you err, my darlings!

The king is in his counting house, counting out his funny money;
the Antichrist is on his throne; scops claim the days are breezy, sunny.

Skip to My loo, my darlings!

The earth is flat!
Lick up Trump’s scat!
Praise evil men, the LORD likes that!

Skip to My loo, my darlings!

The Bible’s “pious fraud,” Joe claims,
but knows the perfect prelates’ names.

Skip to My loo, my darlings!

The Day of Judgment swiftly nears;
who’ll be the goats when Christ appears?
Pale lemmings led by purblind seers?

Skip to My loo, my darlings!

Double, double, toil and trouble!
Fire burn and caldron bubble!
Eye of Newt, Trump’s jackal stubble,
Christ's virtuous church reduced to rubble,
wool of bat, slimed toe of frog,
peat pissed on in the Devil's bog,
fillet of a fenny snake,
and other things the scops half bake,
create a hellish witches’ brew!
But never fear, the Beast "loves" you
and God is pleased by triple sixes!
Friends, carry on with your Society mixes!

Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Beware lest you err, my darlings!

"Triple sixes": The Bible says we will know the "man of sin" by the number 666:

• The Trumps purchased the most expensive building ever bought in the US, at 666 Fifth Avenue, a street symbolic of money (Mammon). Obviously no Bible-believing Christian would buy building number 666 on a street that symbolizes Mammon, so the Trumps are obviously not Christians and never have been.

• The Trumps paid $1.8 billion for the 666 tower. And 18 = 3*6 = 666. The 666 tower was bought by Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. Kush was the patriarch of Babylon.

• The famous Trump Tower is 203 meters tall according to multiple reports. And 203 meters = 666 feet.

• The Trumps are also in the process of building a $666 million tower at One Journal Square. According to multiple reports the height will be 666 feet.

• Donald Trump inherited his grandmother's real estate empire when she died on June 6, 1966 = 6-6-66. Her name was Elizabeth Christ Trump. Elizabeth means "vow," so her full name means "Vow for Christ to be Trumped."

• In Trump's first fiscal year which began in 2016 = 666+666+666+6+6+6 the budget deficit rose to 666 billion dollars. (Per Fox Business and other sources.)

• On the Ides of March, the day Rome changed from a republic to a dictatorship, Trump had 666 delegates. The 2016 election was "all Trump all the time" and 2016 = 666+666+666+6+6+6.

• Trump uttered an unholy trinity of heresies on August 21, 2019, when he claimed to be the "King of Israel," the "second coming of God" and the "Chosen One." August 21 was the 233rd day of the year, and 2*3*3 = 18 = 6+6+6.

• The number of migrant children Trump separated from their mothers and fathers is 666, according to lawyers trying to reunite the families.

• Trump was born on a blood moon.

• Trump has claimed to be a "perfect person" with "no faults" and has thus equated himself with Jesus Christ. Trump has said that he never asks God for forgiveness but handles things on his own. Trump has dismissed Holy Communion and the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ as his "little cracker" and "little wine." At every step Trump mocks the Christian religion and its Savior, and yet the scops apparently remain oblivious.


Russel Winick in his poem "Symbolic Expression" claims liberals and conservatives are out of sync because, ta-da!, "Liberals always say 'I feel…" while "Conservatives start with: “I think…."

Can we, however, find any evidence that conservatives are "thinking" on subjects like homosexuality, gender reassignment and abortion? It seems far more likely that they decline to think, and simply react as they've been brainwashed to react. Homosexuality? Conservative brainwashing says it's evil. People changing gender? Conservative brainwashing says it's evil. Girls and women deciding they don't want to become mothers? Conservative brainwashing says it's evil. But why? There is no "thinking" involved, just programming.

Take abortion, for example. Why do conservatives believe abortion is "evil"? For most American conservatives, due to religious beliefs. And of course most American conservatives are Christians. However, the Bible says nothing clear about abortion. According to Christian theology, God saw everything from the beginning and expressed his desires for mankind in the Bible, and yet he failed to discuss the most pressing issue of our day for conservative voters. Jesus never said a word about abortion, so it was obviously not on his agenda, if he had any understanding of the issue. If not, he was just another first-century man with no knowledge of what would happen in the future. Since the Bible says nothing clear on the subject, its God was either clueless about the future problem of abortion, or he wasn't interested enough to offer an opinion. Of course the most likely explanation is that we're reading the opinions of primitive witch doctors who were clueless about all sorts of things and only pretended to be speaking for God in order to program gullible people into obeying their orders and giving them free food in the form of sacrifices.

Did Jehovah really demand innocent blood, or did the Levites figure out a nifty way to avoid working while getting the best cuts of meat, gratis? Six Hebrew prophets said God did not desire sacrifices. Jeremiah said Moses did not institute animal sacrifices and accused Levite scribes of doctoring the Bible for their own benefit. But then why would anyone believe what such charlatans said about homosexuality, women being subservient to men, stoning rape victims to death, fathers selling their daughters as sex slaves, not eating pork and shrimp, etc.?

The typical conservative ignores Levite commandments to not eat pork and shrimp, but clings to their nonsense about homosexuals. Is that "thinking"?

In any case, we are left to think about the abortion issue, which conservatives fail to do. What is their basis for forcing girls and women to bring unwanted babies into an overpopulated world?

Do they claim human life is sacred to God? That would come as a surprise to Jehovah, who serial-aborted every pregnancy during the Great Flood and cruelly murdered every living baby, infant and child, apart from the handful of people on Noah's ark. Jehovah later murdered all the first-born children of Egypt. And so on. Human life was never sacred to Jehovah, and the Bible makes this abundantly clear. Unless we're reading the badly-told fairytales of primitive men, i.e. the Levites.

Joe Salemi claims the Bible is a collection of "pious lies" but he puts his faith in an equally unreliable source: Catholic popes who claim the ability to speak "infallibly" yet can't be bothered to use their superpower to answer the simple question: "What do Jesus and Mary do with unbaptized babies?" Are they cruel, inhuman monsters who send unbaptized babies to hell, or are they cruel, inhuman monsters who 'only' keep the babies from either seeing their mothers in the afterlife, in a mysterious limbo the Bible never mentioned? Or has the Roman Catholic Church been wrong about what happens to unbaptized babies for the better part of 2,000 years, casting extreme doubt on all its teachings?

Did the RCC make up so much shit that it couldn't keep its shit straight? That would be my guess. But the various Protestant sects followed suit, since to keep children out of an "eternal hell" they invented the mysterious and unknown "age of accountability," which Jesus, the apostles and Hebrew prophets all oddly failed to ever mention in regard to salvation. Did they want children to go to "hell" by not telling them the age at which they became "accountable" or did human charlatans make up "hell," then have to find highly dubious ways to keep children from going there? Why can't a loving, compassionate, wise, just God simply nod at children and save them, as Jesus did the thief on the cross? Does an all-wise, all-powerful God need the "assistance" of scatter-brained Catholic and Protestant theologians to save babies from places he and his Hebrew prophets never once mentioned: hell, purgatory and limbo?

Oh, what treacherous webs they weave
when "theologians" practice to deceive.
—Michael R. Burch

The simple truth is that conservative "thinking" is not thinking at all, on subjects like abortion, homosexuality and human beings changing gender because their brains don't agree with their bodies.

Liberals think about the abortion issue, realize abortion is a terrible "no win" situation for everyone, and accept the unfortunate fact that an unwanted child will endure tremendously more pain by living than an aborted fetus does. And if abortions are performed quickly enough, the fetus will feel no pain at all because it lacks the brain cells and central nervous system to feel pain.

Furthermore, the Golden Rule should apply. I would not want to be an unwanted baby born to a drug-addicted mother with a drug habit, AIDS and an abusive pimp in a hellish ghetto.

Would you?

Or would you prefer for some addle-brained moralist to force you to be born into hell on earth?

If we gave any sane person the option to be born into that sort of hell, or not to be born at all, the sane person would say, "I'll take a pass."

Life on earth is incredibly difficult even when we have loving, nurturing parents willing to make tremendous sacrifices to care for us properly. Just imagine how difficult life is for babies born to parents who don't want them, would get rid of them if they could, and will otherwise neglect them. How many of those unwanted babies will grow up to be drug addicts and criminals? How many will commit suicide?

For every fairytale ending there will be more horror stories. Is it "thinking" to focus solely on the fairytale endings while ignoring the bigger, much darker picture?

If conservatives are going to force unwanted babies to be born, they should be willing to pay higher taxes to support them. But no, the people clamoring for unwanted babies to be forced to enter the world are the same people who think everyone should fend for themselves (which is not what Jesus, the apostles and Hebrew prophets said).

For many unwanted babies, an abortion is a blessing. Sad, but undoubtedly true. Also sad, but undoubtedly true for unviable babies. Why kill the mother when there's no hope for the baby, in order to satisfy diabolical programming? That is not "thinking" but it has long been a plank of the Republican party platform.

Tarzan-like conservatives: "Abortion evil. Kill mother. Big Guy in Sky happy. Tarzan good Christian."

Where is there any evidence that conservatives are thinking about such difficult subjects?

All I see is conservatives heartlessly demanding that unwanted babies be forced to enter the world, with no consideration for the hell many of them will endure as a result.

Is that Christian? Is that what Jesus would do? Or the apostles? Or the Hebrew prophets? They all called for compassion and for the rich to help the poor.

If conservative Christians are correct that they will stand before the judgment throne of God Almighty, how will they explain such hypocrisy?

What if conservative Christians are correct about the biblical God being real and about his being deadly serious about his commandments for human beings? The main ethical teachings of Jesus were to avoid hypocrisy and to help the poor. But what we see from conservative Christians these days is exactly the opposite. They have turned their backs on Jesus and now worship Trump. They think the rich should get tax cuts while the poor fend for themselves. Unwanted babies will have to fend for themselves.

I would not want to be the typical conservative Christian at the separation of the sheep from the goats.


I find it endlessly amusing that Joe Salemi has become a Puritan, and such a modestly blushing Puritan at that. But then to my surprise Salemi published word porn on a website he recently insisted is intended for educational purposes! Say it ain't so, Joe!

Salemi's "Mythological Limericks on Defloration" have cherries being popped, abduction, rape, and the graphic "widening" of "the place where she pisses." Isn't this the sort of "educational material" the oh-so-conservative Scops would strongly and sternly object to, if they found it in "liberal" textbooks?

Now if Scoputopia was intended for adults, the word porn might not raise eyebrows, although it wouldn't explain Salemi's recent Puritan act. But Salemi defended the SCP's penchant for publishing wretched verse by claiming the website is not a literary journal with shockingly poor standards, but rather an educational site. Of course that makes no sense either, because good educators would use the best poems to instruct budding poets, not the worst.

Which is it Joe? Is the SCP website a literary journal with abysmal standards, or is it an educational website that teaches young poets about cherries being popped and vaginas being "widened" while using miserable verse rather than the best poems of the truly great poets?

Would any sane educator choose the inferior verse published by the SCP over the superior work of Shakespeare, Dickinson, Frost, et al?

And what about Evan Mantyk's dumbed-down "instructions" for writing poetry? How can someone incapable of writing a single good poem teach anyone else how to write poetry? Mantyk's instruction manuals for poets are laughably bad. The SCP as an educational institution is equivalent to flat-earthers teaching astronomy.


To prove there is a Santa Claus, after all, three "switches and ashes" presents for the scops arrived just in time for a Christmas Eve publication...

I recently received a submission by snail mail in a large manila envelope with a Stratford-upon-Avon postmark. The package contained the poem below, a copy of Macbeth and a business card which read:

Compliments of
A Joke Shop

The copy of Macbeth was in pristine condition apart from one brief passage which was heavily underlined in bright red ink Macbeth: Lay on, Macduff; / And damned be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’. There was no accompanying letter. I have confirmed, however, through Google and  Google Earth, that The Adder’s Fork does exist and is situated at 1607, High Street, Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Dance of the Sugarplummed Fairies

To the members of The Society of Classical Poets

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Watch the scops within their bubble
As they all yank their circle jerk,
Then spew vile hatred as they twerk.

Led by their warlock, Joseph S,
A Prof so punchy he’d confess
To seeking out fey foes to box
(Whether they’re wearing pants or frocks).
“I have,” he screams, “Sicilian blood.
I know what’s foul. I know what’s good.”
He throws into the rancid stew
The liver of a shrivelled shrew.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Watch the scops within their bubble;
Round and round the pot they prance
Spewing hatred as they dance.

Joe’s holding hands with Susan B.
Who cackles as she screams with glee,
“I am a witch, I have a broom.
I am a witch, I love to fume
Against all girls who would be boys,
Because I know what God enjoys.”
She flings into the steaming pot
A long thin stream of her green snot.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Watch the scops within their bubble
As they all chant, “It’s what we do;
We love to hate and we hate you.”

Now Susan’s holding hands with Mike
Who’s not a warlock, just a tyke
Who knows what’s what. “It’s true. I get
My knowledge from the INTERNET.
I know the truth. I know what’s right.
I’ll prove to you that black is white.”
He throws beneath the bubbling gruel
His MAGA hat to add some fuel.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Watch the scops within their bubble
As they all stir the rancid stew:
“We love to hate, we love to spew.”

Hold hands with Sally who, a cook,
Replaced her chef’s hat with a crook,
The wand she waves through fetid air.
She roars in anger, “It’s not fair!
They won’t accept my vicious verse!
They write too much! It’s too diverse!”
Into the broth with one piqued pass,
She flings in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Watch the scops within their bubble
As they all dance beneath the moon
And howl their hatred, out of tune.

Hold hands with Joshua who thinks
What he despises is what stinks.
He’s so confused, his mind so dumb
He thinks his penis is his thumb.
His “thoughts” obsessed with female parts
He longs to hex with fiendish arts,
He flings into the bubbling mix
His prayer book and his own dick pics.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Watch the scops within their bubble;
Watch them as they chant and sway
And spew a hate-filled roundelay.

Hold hands and dance with Brian Y;
He’s always asking, “Why, oh why
Do others not react with awe
When I explain I practice law?”
He calls himself a Democrat
But thinks a coup a minor spat.
He flings into the bubbling brew
The law degree Trump overthrew.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Watch the scops within their bubble
As like Macbeth and his troll wife,
They fill the world with pain and strife.

Hold hands and join with Evan M.
As he, so softly, says “Ahem,
Ahem, we need to purge and ban
All who propose a clear, sane plan.
Our coven must get rid of those
Who point out that I have no clothes.”
He throws into the goopy soup
The verses of his splinter group.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Watch the scops within their bubble;
Watch the witches stroke their stubble
As the warlocks all redouble
Evil plans to cause such trouble
That the world reverts to rubble.
But watch the cauldron. It explodes
And owls and bats and snakes and toads
Baboons and blind-worms, cats and dogs,
Lizards and monkeys and black frogs
Fly through the air to land among
The fleeing scops. My song is sung.

Ron Lockley

(Ron Lockley is apparently the proprietor of The Adder’s Fork, a joke shop situated in Stratford-Upon Avon.)

In a rather amazing coincidence, I almost immediately received a second submission, this one via email, from an old acquaintance who was once lavishly praised by the scops before they ran him (or her) off with their intolerance:

Song of the Three Witches
by Kim Cherub

Double, double toil and trouble;
scops in flames, trolls’ caldrons bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake?
Toss it in, since scops half bake,
have never finished, yet, a verse,
unless they planned to make it worse.
Around the witchy lads and lasses
a cloud of foul ass-gas amasses.

Double, double toil and trouble;
scops fart flames, hence caldrons bubble.

Eye of newt and toe of frog
suit the scops and their mind-bog
as their stern Sicilian master
calls their Bible a disaster,
a “pious fraud” — they’ve been deceived! —
but perfect Popes must be believed!

Double, double toil and trouble;
hunched imps fart flames, hell’s caldrons bubble.

Wool of bat and tongue of dog
go well with Antic Mantyk’s grog:
strange ale to drink, but then his “verse”
needs vomit to be made much worse.

Double, double toil and trouble;
such wretched verse, foul caldrons bubble.

Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
lizard's leg and howlet's wing:
for a charm of powerful trouble,
the scops’ hell-broth must boil and bubble.
(Perhaps some heir of Anita Bryant
will crucify kids with a hellish rant.)

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with transgender blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Then, to complete a Christmastime trinity of surprises, I received a third poem from another old acquaintance of mine, Immanuel A. Michael:

Skip, scop, skip to My loo
by Immanuel A. Michael

Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Beware lest you err, my darlings!

The Evil One is in your midst.
Trump knows no God, Christ’s been eclipsed.
His backslidden flock bows down, transfixed.

Skip to My loo, my darlings!

Daniel named him: “little horn.”
Salemi treats God’s Word with scorn —
a “pious fraud” — as angels mourn.

Skip to My loo, my darlings!

The Good Book prophesies and warns
of a Trump of Doom; shall little horns
blare in the end, those roseless thorns?

Skip to My loo, my darlings!

Repent! Repent! Sackcloth and ashes!
Support the Beast? God’s wrath amasses!
You’re supposed to oppose him, lads and lasses!

Skip to My loo, my darlings!

Fire and brimstone — the prophesied fate
of those who support the horny Ingrate.
The Good Book warns, the time grows late.

Skip to My loo, my darlings!

Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Skip, scop, skip to My loo.
Beware lest you err, my darlings!

My Interpretation of "Skip, scop, skip to My loo"
by Michael R. Burch

I immediately noticed that Immanuel A. Michael chose to capitalize the "M" in "My" but not the "l" in "loo." I take the capitalized "My" to represent God. And what is God's "loo" but hell? Therefore, I take IAM to be saying that Christians who support Trump are in danger of hell. I don't believe in hell myself, but what if I'm wrong and Christians are correct in their interpretation of the Bible?

IAM leaves no doubt about the loo being hell when he says "Fire and brimstone — the prophesied fate" in the first line of the fifth stanza. He then links hell via a pun to the "horny Ingrate." Trump being both a "horn," a horny little devil, and the prophesied "little horn" of Daniel. That was rather clever of IAM, I think.

IAM concludes the fifth stanza with a warning:

"The Good Book warns, the time grows late."

What does IAM mean?

The Bible says God's wrath will be poured out on those who support Antichrists, and it says there will be many Antichrists in the last days (1 John 2:18). The first manifestation of that wrath according to Revelation will be a terrible plague. Now we have the coronavirus and the United States was by far the earth's hardest-hit nation, with over 1.1 million coronavirus-related deaths. Are we already in the end times, with God's wrath being poured out on the United States for electing the antichrist Trump president? That's how I interpret the line in question.

Is the pandemic a judgment on Americans for electing a president who is the exact opposite of Jesus Christ in every way, and therefore the very definition of an Antichrist?  The Bible says we will know the "man of sin" by the number 666, so please consider:

The Trumps purchased the most expensive building ever bought in the US, at 666 Fifth Avenue, a street symbolic of money (Mammon). Obviously no bible-believing Christian would buy building number 666 on a street that symbolizes Mammon, so the Trumps are obviously not Christians and never have been.

The Trumps paid $1.8 billion for the 666 tower. And 18 = 3*6 = 666. The 666 tower was bought by Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. Kush was the patriarch of Babylon.

The famous Trump Tower is 203 meters tall according to multiple reports. And 203 meters = 666 feet.

According to reports the Trumps are also in the process of building a $666 million tower at One Journal Square. According to multiple reports the height will be 666 feet.

Donald Trump inherited his grandmother's real estate empire when she died on June 6, 1966 = 6-6-66. Her name was Elizabeth Christ Trump. Elizabeth means "vow," so her full name means "Vow for Christ to be Trumped."

In Trump's first fiscal year which began in 2016 = 666+666+666+6+6+6 the budget deficit rose to 666 billion dollars. (Per Fox Business and other sources.)

On the Ides of March, the day Rome changed from a republic to a dictatorship, Trump had 666 delegates. The 2016 election was "all Trump all the time" and 2016 = 666+666+666+6+6+6.

Trump uttered his unholy trinity of heresies on August 21, 2019, when he claimed to be the "King of Israel," the "second coming of God" and the "Chosen One." August 21 was the 233rd day of the year, and 2*3*3 = 18 = 6+6+6.

The number of migrant children Trump separated from their mothers and fathers is 666, according to lawyers trying to reunite the families.

Trump was born on a blood moon.

So we should not be surprised that at the 2021 CPAC event we saw a "Golden Calf" statue of Trump holding an occult wand tipped with a pentagram star, as Trump worshiped himself and his cultish followers did the same.

Golden Trump statue at CPAC conference was made in Mexico | The Times of  Israel

The biblical prophets predicted that even the very elect would be misled by the Beast, and would bow down to him and worship him. We are seeing it happen exactly as predicted.

It was also revealed that Trump and his wife were vaccinated in secret before they left the White House. Why the secrecy? Trump had lied repeatedly to the American people about the pandemic and refused to tell them the truth even when doing so could have saved hundreds of thousands of American lives, according to epidemioligists. And countries like Canada, Australia and South Korea proved the experts correct. Is Trump the Father of Lies in the flesh, the antithesis of Jesus, who was the Truth Incarnate?

Nancy Pelosi reads from Bible in responding to Trump -

In the grotesque picture above Trump holds a completely black Bible backwards and upside down, hiding the words "Holy Bible," while in the background the ominous sign reads "UNDAY SERVICES ONLINE." Trump’s evil, satanic, lying online tweets have eliminated the true Son and creator of Sunday, Jesus Christ, with Trump calling himself the "only possible Savior" of Americans. The sign even more ominously warns: "WELCOME EVER END" reminding Christians that hell and damnation await those who follow a false Messiah.

Christians believe there are no mistakes with God, so what is God telling them about Trump, who was born on a Blood Moon, whose family purchased 666 Fifth Avenue, and who inherited a vast criminal fortune from a relative who died on 6-6-66 with a name that literally means "Vow for Christ to be Trumped"?

Do millions of American Christians lack eyes to see and ears to hear? Have they forgotten that the Bible condemns followers of false Messiahs to the flames of an eternal hell? What does it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his own soul? And how foolish would one have to be, to risk his or her soul for an Antichrist like Trump?

As I have pointed out in the past, the scops' argument is not with poets who oppose the antichrist Trump, but with God Almighty. How can anyone believe the Bible and support Trump, whose only gods are Mammon and himself? What does the Bible predict for people who call themselves Christians but support antichrists like Trump?

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. (Revelation 14:10)

Trump has called himself a "perfect person," claiming equality with Jesus Christ. Trump has said that he never asks God for forgiveness, but just handles things on his own. Trump has mocked Holy Communion and the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ by speaking dismissively of his "little cracker" and "little wine." Trump sneeringly dismisses Christ while arrogantly proclaiming himself the only possible savior of Americans. And Trump is surrounded by false prophets/profits who treat him like the messiah he claims to be, while begging for donations, as Trump does himself.

And the scops seem to buy it all: hook, line and sinker.

The book of Daniel prophesies a “little horn” who will make a make a great commotion. A trump is a little horn that makes a great commotion and is used for purposes of pomp and pageantry. Daniel said this boastful “little horn” would fling truth to the ground and no one in human history has lied more than Trump.

Trump, more than anyone ever before, is “a mouth speaking pompous words.” (Daniel 7:8)

Trump “thinks to change times and laws” and has already tried to stay in power illegally by subverting the Constitution and the peaceful exchange of power. And Trump has promised to do so again if re-elected president.

Trump’s goal is not to be a good president, but to be president for good, like his hero Putin.

Trump has formed an unholy alliance with Christians. More than 80% of evangelical Christians voted for Trump in the 2016 election. Without their support Trump would not have come close to winning.

“What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

In this case the only gain is Trump’s and his followers are risking their souls for nothing but endless misery, according to the Bible.

Deluded Christians now seem to think they can support the Antichrist and hasten Christ’s return, but the Bible makes it clear that supporting the man of sin will incur the wrath of God Almighty.

The Bible says the blind will lead the blind into the ditch and we now see it happening before our eyes.


I thought this was the 21st century and that we were all adults. Apparently I overestimated the scops on the second count. I find it amusing to watch Joe Salemi, who once prided himself on writing risqué poems and using naughty words, become the world's greatest Puritan.

Salemi used to be a harsh critic of Puritanism, but today he's the new Cromwell. Salemi once raged against Protestants and their "absurdities" but today he's their Milton, writing fiery propaganda on their behalf. Like the artist of the Shroud of Turin, Salemi would elongate the figure's arm, hand and fingers to modestly cover its genitals. Would he also run around covering up the nudes of Michelangelo, da Vinci and Botticelli? One would have to guess so, Salemi has become so modest in his dotage.

As the scops' hero and messiah Trump would say, "So sad!"

And what would Martial make of his wayward disciple?

As for Esther Cameron, here's what happened. She objected to my criticism of Israel and gave me an ultimatum: remove what I wrote or remove her poems from The HyperTexts. I argued that editors should not censor poets and that poets should not censor editors. Esther continued to insist that I remove her poems, so I did.

Ironically, many conservatives who claim to be "for" freedom of speech greatly dislike inconvenient truths being told. Israel has been ethnically cleansing Palestinians since 1948 when the first act of the then-fledgling Jewish state was to demolish hundreds of Palestinian villages and thousands of homes. Hundreds of thousands of the victims were children and their mothers. Most of the men were dirt-poor farmers who couldn't afford weapons to fight, even if they had wanted to. The Nakba ("Catastrophe") was, and remains, a modern Trail of Tears. That is the very inconvenient truth about Israel. Leading Jewish intellectuals like Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud refused to endorse Zionism, understanding its roots in racism and religious zealotry.

Anyone interested in the truth should read the open letter Albert Einstein and other Jewish intellectuals wrote to The New York Times in 1948, after Israel began murdering Palestinians and destroying their villages.

Was I wrong to tell the truth? No. Did I de-publish Esther in an act of censorship? No, I argued for us both to be able to say what we thought on the same pages, but she declined. It was her decision, not mine.

In my dispute with the scops, who is the adult and who are the squabbling children unwilling to face inconvenient facts?

What the scops think and say about me is of little consequence, but if they had any love or an ounce of compassion in their hearts, if they were real Christians, they would face the inconvenient facts about what is really happening to Palestinian children and they would speak and act to save them before it's too late, as it was for so many innocent Jewish children during the Holocaust.

If the scops are correct that one day we will all stand before the judgment throne of God Almighty, will He take the side of the innocent children or their rich, powerful abusers? I cannot believe Jesus, a Palestinian child for whom there was "no room," would side with the truth deniers over the children. Call me a "bleeding heart liberal" if you will, but then so was Jesus, who gave every penny to the poor and died with only the clothes on his back, before conservative Christians turned him into a wealth-creating Rambo. Is this why Jesus prophesied that many would call him "Lord, Lord" only to have him say, "Depart from me, I never knew you"?

And what will Jesus say about "Christians" who flocked after the antichrist Trump? The Bible predicts dark days ahead for Christians who follow the "little horn." Yes, in the first mention of the Antichrist in the Bible, the prophet Daniel actually provided his name! A trump is a little horn that makes a great commotion. In the book of Revelation the wrath of God is announced via a Trump of Doom. Against whom will that wrath be directed? Against the "little horn" and his followers. The first calamity is a plague. From beginning to end, it all fits. Rather amazing, isn't it, although Salemi calls the Bible "pious lies." Whose side is he on?

According to Revelation, the followers of "little horn" will be tortured with fire and brimstone.

Ultimately, the scops' argument is not with me, but with God Almighty.


In his latest attempt to immortalize me, Joseph Salemi has revealed multiple levels of hypocrisy:

(1) Amusingly, Salemi has become what he once hated and reviled the most: a Puritan! And not only a Puritan, but a Defender of the Faith, a modern-day Henry VIII. Ah, but the Protestant scops should keep in mind that the original "Defender" turned out to be a turncoat.

(2) The honest Salemi of yore would have pointed out the same errors in Evan Manytk's alleged poem "Greta Thunberg Meets the Emerald Queen" that I did. But the new, not-improved version of Salemi never criticizes his semiliterate publisher. Why, one wonders?

(3) Salemi called my rather mild (and helpful if used) criticism of Mantyk's poem "venomous" when Salemi is infamous for his far more scathing criticism of much better poets than Mantyk. As Yogi Berra said, "You could look it up."

(4) Salemi accuses me of "anti-Semitism" when in the past we had private and public conversations in which he agreed with me about what Israel was doing to the Palestinians and said similar things about Israel himself. Was that "anti-Semitism" or valid criticism of a racist state that sucks billions of dollars each year from gullible Americans via their government while threatening to ignite World War III? The great Jewish intellectuals Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud were both harsh critics of Jewish Zionism. Were they "anti-Semites" or did they think Palestinian children and their mothers had a right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"?

Salemi knows the real score, but apparently prefers to preach to the choir he once abhorred, as one can clearly see in poems where he called Bible-believing Protestants "creationist freaks," "fundie dopes," "ethopaths," "yahoo dorks," "jerks," "crackpots" and a "witless herd." Salemi also called Protestants "delusional," their beliefs "mulishly absurd" and said they have "brain rot" for believing the Bible and its "pious lies."

Have I ever been that "venomous" to my allies, or even to my enemies? No, I employ gentle irony and humor and avoid such crass insults.

Salemi went on the public record with his real views about Israel during an interview I did with him. I quote: "It's true that I have a strong distaste for both American puritanism (the half-assed idea that the United States is a "city upon a hill" and somehow morally "exceptional") and for Protestant fundamentalism. This distaste began with my reading of H.L. Mencken, and was reinforced by both Samuel Butlers (the author of Hudibras, and the later novelist who wrote The Way of All Flesh). But this crackpot American idea is represented not just by those conservative Protestant sects that you dislike, but also by contemporary liberalism. It's not just pro-Israeli neocons who are trying to force their will on the world. ... I agree with you about one thing: if stupid evangelical Protestant churches have their way, and encourage Israel to demolish or move the mosque on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem in order to rebuild the Temple of Solomon and thereby usher in the Second Coming, it will ignite World War III. It will happen just as surely as World War I was ignited by a little tubercular Serb assassin in Sarajevo in 1914. It's amazing how fixated on absurdities some of these evangelicals can be. But remember this, Mike: evangelical Protestants and American liberals share the same political and ideological DNA, in their itch to dictate and control. They are "sisters under the skin," as Kipling might have said.

During our interview Salemi demonstrated equal disdain for Israel, its supporters (neo-cons and "stupid evangelical Protestant churches" that are "fixated on absurdities" such as biblical prophecies about the end times) and the liberals he so obviously loathes. According to Salemi, evangelical Protestants and American liberals are "sisters" and he despises them both. An interesting Defender of the Faith, no?

(5) Salemi knows I'm an editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and have published many Jewish poets, including Holocaust survivors like Yala Korwin, so his accusations of "anti-Semitism"are the most grotesque form of hypocrisy. I'm the opposite of an "anti-Semite" and just think Israeli Jews should not do to Palestinians what Germans once did to Jews: should not ethnically cleanse them; should not rob them of their land, homes, property, jobs and rights; should not flood the world with racist propaganda in an attempt to make the abominable seem kosher; should not drive the planet toward another World War, as Salemi prophesied.

(6) Salemi has become a hypocrite because when he founded Trinacria, he was all about quality over quantity. Then it was the poetry that mattered, not fancy packaging or the number of readers. But now Salemi crows that Scoputopia is the cat's meow because it has a fancier interface than THT and lots of readers. Well, THT has had probably 16 million more readers than Trinacria. Does that make THT superior? The honest Salemi would never have suggested such a ridiculous idea! But everything Salemi once stood for has gone down the drain. He has gone from an arch highbrow to an ardent apologist for the lowest of the lowbrows. Then he accuses me of "envy." How can I be envious of "poems" replete with errors that wouldn't pass muster in a decent fifth-grade English class?

(7) Aesthetics used to matter to Salemi. The honest Salemi would have pointed out the many egregious errors in poems published by the SCP. If I remember things correctly, Salemi once served as the guest editor of The Raintown Review and was incensed when the issue he edited was published with errors. But the new Salemi uses the term "aesthetics" hypocritically, criticizing me while deliberately holding his tongue, when in the past he would have been candid about his disdain for anyone who publishes poems with obvious warts. The honest Salemi would have stated the obvious: "The SCP publishes way too many crappy poems and needs to raise its standards or give up." The new Salemi bites his tongue, if he hasn't bitten it off already.

(8) Salemi is a hypocrite because he wrote: "And no poetry site allows the free discussion and expression (unhampered by choking left-liberal censorship and cancelling) that the SCP does." Salemi knows "free discussion and expression" are not allowed by head censor Evan Mantyk. And Salemi, whom I  published without censorship despite our differences, after he complained to me about being censored by other editors, sat mutely by and said nary a word when Mantyk banned me and another poet for expressing our opinions about certain poems published by the SCP, which we did in a civil manner. I never censored and never "cancelled" Salemi. His poems still appear on THT. It is Mantyk who censors and cancels poets, and it is Salemi who sits by in silence, no doubt nodding his approval.

Salemi accuses me of a personal vendetta. I care nothing about Salemi or Mantyk. I just demonstrate that the would-be emperors are running around starkers so younger poets won't be misled by their political outfit masquerading as a "poetry journal" or however they advertise themselves these days. As Sam Gwynn pointed out years ago, Salemi is a politico, not a poet. The proof, as the saying goes, is in the pudding, and the SCP poetry pudding is rancid. A good poem here and there is lost in a deluge of crap. No one "helps" beginning and intermediate poets by publishing crap. A good instructional site would use the work of the best poets, as Salemi undoubtedly does in the courses he teaches.

Thus the SCP's real agenda is political, not poetical.


In his latest alleged poem, "Greta Thunberg Meets the Emerald Queen," top scop Evan Mantyk wastes no time reminding us that he's no poet. Mantyk's first line contains the most wrenching inversion in the history of first lines:

"One day through the forest leaves wafted her song..."

Mantyk quickly follows up that clunker with others. For instance:

"His hex heats the air; it endangers us fast."

Mantyk makes the amateurish mistake of using "the" when he hasn't identified specific nuclear waste:

"The nuclear waste rips all matter apart—
A cancer to nature just like abstract art."

And Mantyk no doubt meant to say that abstract art is a cancer, not another "cancer to nature."

Awkwardly, very awkwardly, Mantyk stumbles toward his brilliant conclusion:

The girl stumbled backward and saw now that she
Was surrounded by dark mist and couldn’t break free,
Her hatred for others and jealous disdain
Had trapped her inside human race-hating pain.

Of course there should be a semicolon after "free," rather than a comma, but semicolons seem to be beyond the average scop's comprehension and/or highest grade level.

So what is Mantyk's brilliant conclusion, which we have all waited breathlessly to hear, impressed as we are by his eloquence? Apparently environmentalists aren't trying to protect the environment, but are acting out of "hatred" and "jealous disdain" for "others," presumably Mantyk and his ilk. But why would the world-famous and literate Greta Thunberg have "jealous disdain" for an unknown semiliterate poet who can't express himself in intelligible English?

And how does "pain" hate races? How does one get trapped inside "race-hating pain"? Has abstract art ever been this difficult to understand?

If I had to go with one of the two cancers, I would definitely choose abstract art over this seeping sore of a poem.

Shakespeare said art mirrors nature, but Mantyk's awkward attempt at art mirrors incoherence.

As is his wont, Joe Salemi ignored the alleged poem's Himalayan warts to sagely agree that "Environmentalism is just displaced anger directed at certain hated groups."

Environmentalists don't want to save trees and whales, they just irrationally hate loggers and the fishing industry.

Now you know why I call them the Keystone Scops.


I must tip my cap to the scops' remarkable ability to write and publish terrible poetry. Just when I muse to myself, "Their verse can get no worse," they exceed any and all expectations. Take, for example, the epigraph and opening stanza of "Superior Pontiff" by Margaret Coats:

Superior Pontiff

for Bishop Joesph Strickland of Tyler, Texas,
deposed November 11, 2023

Our Father in heaven gives the Bread
On which the need of souls is fed.
With doctrine and devotion rife,
I am he, the Bread of Life

Immediately, there is more evidence that the SCP's editors lack the ability to catch even the most glaring errors. "Joseph" is misspelled in the epigraph. There is another major error because the period at the end of the first stanza is missing. The second line of the opening stanza is poorly written. To feed the need would be to increase it. God would need to feed the souls, not their need, in order to assuage hunger. In the third line Coats switches abruptly to speaking in the first person and seems to be claiming to be God! Being "rife" with doctrine is not a good thing, but the province of the Puritans and Taliban. And we don't say good people are "rife" with devotion; one might say that of people overflowing with misguided devotion to Hitler.

"Superior Pontiff" is yet another scop-penned poem that would fail a fifth-grade English class. No respectable journal would publish such rubbish.

The Scops Are Whining Again
by Michael R. Burch

The scops are whining again:
“How can you be so mean?”
Who cares if we stammer
and suck at grammar?
Why don’t you just let us preen!”


Joe Salemi has written another poem in my honor, this one with the not-so-immortal refrain:

Yet God spares Michael Burch, the creep.

I would be honored by the attention, but it's a slipshod affair with clunky inversions and Ye-Olde-Englische archaisms like "God’s vengeance on the beast was poured" and "A backward glance through time, methinks, / Reveals such monsters in death’s sleep." Apparently in his advancing age and second childhood Salemi is unable to write poetry without resorting to amateurish techniques.

In the footnote to his poem, Salemi suggested that I "got lucky" 21 times, since that's the number of times he published my poems in his journal. I somehow got lucky enough to write poems Salemi called "lovely," "absolutely beautiful" and "truly magnificent." Hell, he published two poems that I wrote in my teens: "The Last Enchantment" and "The Harvest of Roses." Apparently, I've been getting lucky for over half a century!

Salemi's dilemma is that he knows poets don't get lucky 21 times, since top scop Evan Mantyk has never been that lucky even once. How many of the scops has Salemi published 21 times? Any of them? How did I manage to be so much "luckier" than the scops? It seems God has seen fit not only to spare me, but has lavished blessings on me from my adolescence!

But a larger dilemma for Salemi is that he despises Protestants and must be gnashing his teeth to be surrounded by them in scopland.

Salemi called Protestants who consider the Bible infallible "yahoo dorks" and a "witless herd" in his poem "Creationist Freaks":

"According to this witless herd
The Bible's the inerrant word
Of God Himself. ..."
—Joseph S. Salemi

In Salemi's poem "The Reformation" the Protestant religion began with Martin Luther and John Calvin taking shits and other Protestants whiffing their feces to decide which denomination to join!

Salemi's vitriolic epithets for Protestants include "creationist freaks," "fundie dopes," "ethopaths," "yahoo dorks," "jerks," "crackpots" and a "witless herd."

Salemi also calls Protestants "delusional," their beliefs "mulishly absurd" and says they have "brain rot" for believing the Bible and its "pious lies."

To Salemi the Bible is a fictional "potpourri of Torah-tales" that contains many "pious lies" and in his poem "The Missionary's Position" he admonished missionaries for preaching the gospel to children!

And yet Salemi is a true believer himself. So what does Salemi believe that is so vastly superior to what Protestants believe? He once told me, in a moment of confession, that he believes Catholic popes are capable of speaking infallibly!

Rather than believing in the infallible word of God in the Bible, the Protestant-despising Salemi believes things Catholic popes make up, such as Protestants going to hell. And not only Protestants, but completely innocent unbaptized babies. Or, depending on which infallible pope one believes, since they have never been able to make up their minds despite their alleged superpower, the unsplashed babies instead go to Limbo where an infinitely cruel God keeps them forever separated from their mothers. Yes, that's a much better religion, no doubt!

And this belief makes Salemi superior to Bible-believing Protestants!

Salemi and his patron, the alleged Polish "count" Leo Yankevich, apparently mistook me for a Protestant and once informed me, with what I took to be real happiness, if not glee, that I would burn in hell because I'm not Catholic. How many of Salemi's allies among the SCP's Protestant poets are aware that he considers them all dumbed-down yahoo dorks for believing the Bible and its "pious lies" and that he's apparently fine with the "creationist freaks" all burning in hell for all eternity?

During our conversation about my eternal fate, I had the impression Salemi would have been delighted to set the ingots ablaze.

Caveat emptor, non-Catholic scops! Mephistopheles and Salemi have the same intentions for your immortal souls!

You're on the alert:
Protestants convert!
Or the Devil'll supply the tinder,
Salemi, the spurt.

The scops misunderstand me and my intentions. They imagine I "care" so much about their alleged "poems" that I'm agitated and full of angst. In reality I'm cool as a cucumber and am merely amusing myself at their expense. Their attacks on me have no effect because I always consider the source.

Laconic Reply to a Scop
by Michael R. Burch

You flatter yourself that anyone cares
about your "Society" and its airs.

To prove that no acclaim is due,
I mostly just quote you.

So why is your temperature rising?
Who objects to free advertising?

The Key Stoners have something in common with their hero, the semiliterate Trump, who also hates to be quoted. Trump has attacked Megyn Kelly, Bernie Sanders and others for having the audacity to repeat what he said in public. Now, one can easily understand a semiliterate con man not wanting his gaffes and lies to be exposed, but shouldn't poets like being quoted? Are the Keystone Scops embarrassed by the failing-fifth-grade "poetry" they publish? Do they cringe when they see their errors exposed? Have they no recourse except to shoot the messenger?

How do the scops react to being quoted, i.e., to free advertising? Shaun C. Duncan explains in his attempt at satire, "The Life of the Party," in which he says that my reaction (i.e., quoting the scops):

Stuns all observers into mute submission,
For, though deep down all know what waits ahead,
Not one will mewl a word in opposition
From fear of being next, struck dumb with dread
Of such untold embarrassment. Instead
They cringe with mounting horror...

That, my friends, is quite a reaction to being quoted! The scops cringe and mewl at the "untold embarrassment" of someone quoting a few lines of their alleged poems. And well they should cringe with "mounting horror" at the monstrosities their not-so-polite "Society" publishes on a regular basis. But is that my fault? Am I wrong to quote the Dr. Frankensteins? Again, why shoot the messenger?

According to the Keystone Scops, I'm just a hillbilly poet. Imagine what a major poet could do with this Dunciad!

In his backfiring satire Shaun C. Duncan vindicated me by informing readers that the scops share my response to their publications: "untold embarrassment." He ended up satirizing a group of poets who quiver in fear at the thought of being quoted.

Do I care about the Society, as Duncan alleges in his alleged poem? Not at all, but I greatly dislike racism, homophobia and other forms of intolerance. So I figure it's worth a few minutes of my time to point out that the would-be emperors are running around starkers. And truth be told, they make my job all too easy, with their constant ass-flashing.

SALEMI SPEAKS! Joseph Salemi has written a poem in my honor with not-so-immortal lines like:

Here’s my answer to the prick
(I hope it cuts him to the quick).
Mike, you’re envious and sick
And stupid as a common brick.

Doesn't exactly reach the heights of Martial or Pope, does it? But Salemi made an interesting confession in his metronomic clunker when he said, "Your poems suck," thereby admitting his terrible taste in poetry and incompetence as an editor. After all, Salemi published 21 of my poems in his literary journal Trinacria, nominating my poem "Discrimination" for the Pushcart Prize, and calling other poems of mine "lovely," "absolutely beautiful" and "truly magnificent." Sour grapes, perhaps?

• "Love Has a Southern Flavor" was called "truly magnificent" by Salemi.
• "Best Tonic" was called "worthy of Mark Twain or Benjamin Franklin" by Salemi.
• "Free Fall" was called a "very beautiful poem" by Salemi.
• "The Last Enchantment" was called "a lovely poem" by Salemi.
• "Gallant Knight" was called "absolutely beautiful" by Salemi.

On an amusing note, my translation of "Wulf and Eadwacer" has been included in an essay and taught by Professor Elizabeth Mazzola at C.U.N.Y. in an upper-division English class. The last I heard, Salemi was employed by the same university. In her email requesting permission to use my translation, which I was happy to grant, Dr. Mazzola said, "Your work has been incredibly valuable to my own, and over the years my students have learned much from you as well."

Has Salemi been shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods?

"Gnashional Anthem of the Keystone Scops" by Michael R. Burch

MANTYK'S ANTIC LOVE POETRY! If there's one thing we can all agree about, it's that Evan Mantyk is no poet. But now Antic Mantyk has tuned his lyre to love poetry, giving us immortal lines like:

But you and I, we’ve grown together up;
Our shadows constant trouble for each other
That’s made us stronger since they did disrupt
The lazy impulse that can slowly smother...

Any editor with an iota of discernment would immediately toss such "poems" in the reject pile, but of course Antic Mantyk has published his effluvia, proving once again that the Keystone Scops are clueless when it comes to poetry. It is amusing, however, to observe how Joe Salemi declines to say what he really thinks of such "poems" as he damns them with the faintest of praise. I'm sure Salemi will never praise one of Mantyk's poems as good poetry, since he knows how miserable they are.

THE SOCIETY OF CLASSICAL POETS — A CIRCLE JERK by Conor Kelly exposes how the Society operates, and how Evan Mantyk censors poets who decline to participate in the masturbatory circle.

THE SOCIETY OF CLASSICAL POETS — A MISOLOGIST'S REPORT ON A CULT by Conor Kelly exposes the SCP's cult-like behavior.

The Pissologist
by Kim Cherub

There once was a poet (alleged)
whose mal-feces’nce was never once hedged.
She hammered out rhymes
for the Medieval Times,
full of Dark Ages sewage she dredged.

Her intolerance proved quite compelling
to those in her med-evil dwelling:
her tone-deaf assayers
(as-incompetent brayers)
all applauded the shit she was selling.

But alas, it was soon down the hole
for this urinal crew on the dole
whom no one would hire
or save from the mire ...
There’s no way to tidy this bowl!

Limerick-Ode to a Lazy Susan
by Kim Cherub

There once was a lass who would charm us,
but whose “poems” (if we read them) might harm us.
A real lazy Susan
whose “thinking”’s confusin’
might (if she were read) quite alarm us.

Untroubled to bother with facts
and brainwashed by radical tracts,
this far-out-right hisser
is no hit-or-misser:
she’s always off track with her flak.

STOP THE SCOP PRESSES, PLEASE! (PART FOUR). The Keystone Scops will leave no inversion unturned in their attempts to write the world's most wrenchingly awful "poems." Take, for example, the fourth line of the metrically clunky "Ghost in the House" by C. B. Anderson:

A cherished lover doesn’t ever leave,
But lingers as a living part of you
That brings no consolation when you grieve
And lets more sorrow in your heart accrue.

STOP THE SCOP PRESSES, PLEASE! (PART THREE). The Keystone Scops remain in perfect agreement about the perfections of their primitive "god." The Key Stoners are homophobic and thus the "god" they worship must be homophobic as well. Like homophobic sons and daughters, like homophobic Heavenly Father...

On Hate
by Roy E. Peterson

God hates the evildoer and I can do no less.
He gave us ten commandments for evil to assess.
He helped identify them—the evil and the bad—
And then he brought destruction with every power he had.

I won't plague you with the rest of this abysmally terrible "poem." The premise is that homosexuals are "evil" and also "bad" ... which is like saying the sun is intensely hot and also "warm." How do the Key Stoners know homosexuality is "evil" and "bad"? They "know" this from a book, the Bible, that says sex slavery is groovy with "god," that fathers can sell their daughters as sex slaves with an option to buy them back if they don't "please" their new masters, that children should be stoned to death for misdemeanors, and all sorts of other of grotesquely evil nonsense. Roy Peterson "knows" that he should hate "evil" and "bad" homosexuals because the "god" who commanded children to be stoned to death said homosexuality was an "abomination." Who can question the source of such ancient wiz-dumb? Have the Key Stoners been lax about stoning their children to death the first time they're stubborn or talk back? That is, after all, the infinite wisdom of the biblical "god." The biblical "god" also called eating shrimp, bacon and pork an abomination, but what are the odds that the majority of the Key Stoners eat shrimp, bacon and pork? Their "god" is, according to the Key Stoners, perfect and unchanging, so if he said eating shrimp, bacon and pork was an abomination back then, it must still be an abomination today. Why do the Key Stoners commit abominations their perfect, unchanging "god" loathes with a passion? Or do they only "believe" the parts of the Bible that suit their hot little homophobic hearts?

STOP THE SCOP PRESSES, PLEASE! (PART TWO). One must give the Devil his due. Thus I'm compelled to tip my cap to the remarkable consistency of the Keystone Scops. Just when we think it's impossible for the SCP to publish anything remotely as bad as their previous attempts at "poetry" ... they produce even more terrible clunkers. This alleged "poem" by SCP editor-in-chief Evan Mantyk may be the one worst yet, and that is really saying something ...

The Emerald Queen
by Evan Mantyk

A Legend from the Future.

Part I.

Have you heard the old tale of the Emerald Queen?
‘Twas a long time ago when folks would demean
We humans as animals—nothing else more!—
Evolved from bacteria found on the floor.
They forgot the Creator had made us like him,
That we’re here for a purpose and not on a whim.
Not seeing the truth they were consequently
Destroying themselves quite unchivalrously.

In this brief excerpt from a poem no one can possibly finish reading, we see how remarkably consistent the Top Scop is, when it comes to writing bad verse. In eight lines Mantyk manages to demonstrate all the tricks of the bad poet's trade. He employs an archaic "'Twas" while using the wrong punctuation mark, a left single quote. Rather than saying "nothing more" he inserts a clumsy "else" to maintain the poem's lackluster meter. Mantyk gets the time logic backwards, since in the long-ago past most people accepted creationism. The amateurish Mantyk cobbles in "floor" for end rhyme. What floor? And why a floor, when evolutionists believe life began in water? Mantyk rebukes others for not believing human beings were created in God's image, but who would want to be created in the image of the amoral murderer of Adam, Eve, every human child and all the innocent animals? What is the "purpose" Mantyk alludes to, but to praise and worship a serial murderer, if the Bible is correct, or an imaginary friend if it isn't? The closing couplet is laughably bad. To read L7 in meter we have to wrench "consequently" into conSEEquentLY. And Mantyk's logic in the last line is fruitcake stuff. Is he chiding nonbelievers for not destroying themselves "chivalrously"? Also, he's clearly criticizing the wrong group. Atheists and agnostics never tortured and burned each other at the stake for not believing badly told fairytales. Christians did.

Has anyone ever been more self-destructive than Christians warring with each other over loopy interpretations of Bible verses? The English Civil War that resulted in the beheading of King Charles I began with a Bishop's War over a book of common prayer. The American Civil War began with Christians violently disagreeing with Christians over Bible verses that commanded and/or condoned slavery. Nazi Germany was a Christian nation and the Holocaust began with the oh-so-Christian idea that the Jews murdered Jesus two millennia prior, so it was okay to rob and murder them in the present. And so on.

Incomprehensibly, according to his bio Mantyk teaches history and English. And we wonder why our educational system is in such a shambles.

STOP THE SCOP PRESSES, PLEASE! Rodney Dangerfield used to plead for someone, anyone, to take his wife, please. Evan Mantyk & Co. can make those of us with functional ears resort to similar pleading: Can someone, anyone, take these terrible noises, please, to some distant soundproof trash receptacle where we don't have to hear them? Must we be continually subjected to the poetic equivalent of fingernails screeching on a blackboard? Take, for example, these dreadful lines (far away, please) from Mantyk's composition, "An Angel Speaks to the Imprisoned Derek Chauvin" ...

Unbridled force may well kill those
    Who don’t love their own lives
And if that’s how the story goes,
    That’s fine since justice thrives.

Out of compassion I won't torture you with the rest of the poem. Meanwhile in "A Prayer for Sanity," Susan Jarvis Bryant attributes transgender "plans" to the Devil:

Pray let us find the fortitude to fight
The gospel of the preachy lunatic
Pronouncing chromosomes are there to spite
The grand transgender plans of good Old Nick.
Please spare us!

Please spare us, indeed, from such terrible "poetry" and from the medieval mindset that drives "preachy lunatics" like the scops to write it. People who make the very difficult decision to change their gender have enough problems without invoking a fictitious monster. When will the real "preachy lunatics" such as the Scops admit that the earth is not flat, that tomatoes are not poisonous, and that the Bible is wrong about the order of creation, the "perfect" Garden of Eden, the "Devil," the "fall," the great flood, animal sacrifices, slavery, witch hunts, the submission of women to chauvinistic men, homosexuality, etc.? We now know, thanks to brain science, that some babies are born with female brains in male bodies, and vice versa. Such children may know something is deeply wrong at very young ages. They face enormous challenges if they receive help and understanding, and even greater challenges when they're condemned for wanting to correct nature's error. Who are we to judge them? How can we possibly know what they're going through? Why not lend sympathetic ears and let them decide what's best for them?

This is my re-butt-al of Susan Jarvis Bryant's rebuttal of my criticism of her poem "A Prayer for Sanity." I think a more accurate title would have been "A Prayer from Insanity."

Bryant starts off with an unwieldy title: "A Rebuttal to Michael Burch and An Encouragement to Poets, by Susan Jarvis Bryant." One wonders why she couldn't come up with a better title and why she capitalized "An" but not "to" and "and." But one should never expect the Keystone Scops to pay attention to detail. It's not their gig, not their style, and probably not within their mayfly-like attention spans.

Bryant sounds positively hysterical, calling my criticism "scathing" and "brutal." Apparently Bryant, who used the term "preachy lunatic" in her poem, can say anything about people she disagrees with, but if I use the term she came up with, that is "scathing" and "brutal." But didn't Bryant just tell us that she is "scathing" and "brutal" and is therefore the hypocritical pot calling the kettle black? What must Jesus Christ think of his disciples who practice such hypocrisy when he saved all his sternest criticism for hypocrites?

In her comically bad poem "A Rebuttal to Michael Burch" the writer of clunky rhymes accuses me of "whining." But what I have done vis-à-vis the Scops is nothing like whining. For the most part I have merely quoted them while pointing out their innumerable errors of grammar and logic, their lack of attention to detail, the inability of their editors to edit, and the paucity and medieval nature of their "facts" and "logic."

The Scops condemn themselves with every stroke of their irrational pens, as with the five lines above that resulted in my alleged "brutality." But the real brutality lies in publishing such terrible "ideas" with the goal of forcing children whose brains don't match their genitals to live according to the precepts of a book, the Hole-y Bible, which commands and/or condones the murder of children (Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Exodus 21:15, Isaiah 13:15-18, Proverbs 20:20, Leviticus 20:9, Leviticus 26:21-22, 2 Kings 2:23-24, Ezekiel 9:5-7, Hosea 9:11-16, Exodus 12:29-30); the ghastly stoning to death of rape victims (Deuteronomy 22:23-29); the ghastly stoning to death of child brides for bleeding insufficiently on their wedding nights to prove their virginity (Deuteronomy 22:13-21); slavery (many verses in both the Old and New Testaments); sex slavery, including mass-murdering mothers and male "little ones" while keeping only the virgin girls alive as sex slaves (Numbers 31:9-18); also Moses saying "men of God" could sell their own daughters as sex slaves, with the option of buying them back if they failed to "please" their new masters! (Exodus 21:7-8); the freeing of male slaves but not female sex slaves, who were to remain slaves for life along with their daughters (Exodus 21:7-11); infanticide (Isaiah 13:15-18, Psalms 137:9, Numbers 31:17, Hosea 13:16, 2 Kings 15:16, 1 Samuel 15:3); matricide (Numbers 31:7-18); ethnic cleansing (Joshua 6:21, Deuteronomy 20:16-18, Zechariah 14:1-2) and genocide, including the mass murder of women, babies and children (Joshua 6:21, 1 Samuel 15:3, Hosea 13:16, Isaiah 13:15-18, Deuteronomy 13:13-19, Deuteronomy 20:10-16, Numbers 31:9-18, Jeremiah 51:20-26).

Who can doubt the authors of such barbaric verses were speaking for a loving, compassionate, merciful, wise, enlightened God, as they incongruously claimed to be doing? Certainly not the Keystone Scops, who would never use their powers of reason, such as they are, to arrive at the only possible rational answer: i.e., that large parts of the Bible were obviously written by evil nutjobs. But I knew it at age 11 when I read the Bible from cover to cover to please my devout Christian parents. And, yes, I read the Bible from cover to cover again as an adult and came to the same conclusion:

If God
is good
half the Bible
is libel.
—Michael R. Burch, circa age 11-13

Who is the real brute here? Of course the real brutes are those who would condemn children to misery-filled, tormented lives while the preachy lunatics profess their "faith" in a book far worse than Hitler's Mein Kampf in numerous passages.

How can the Scops with their muddled minds oppose abortion when their "god" repeatedly ordered the mass murder of babies? Or when he did the mass-murdering himself, as during the great flood when Jehovah personally slaughtered multitudes of pregnant women, unborns, babies and children? But of course there never was a great flood. There is no reason to believe such a ludicrous, badly-told fairytale, just as there is no reason to believe primitive goatherds knew anything about "God's will" unless he was also a clueless barbarian. The writers of the Bible obviously created a primitive "god" in their own primitive image. Oddly, the Scops seem near as primitive today. One can imagine them stoning transgender children while spouting Bible verses, for instance. Nor does their cruelty end at the grave. Joe Salemi and his lovely pal Leo Yankevich both informed me that they would be delighted when I am being tortured in their primitive "hell" (which oddly was never once mentioned by the biblical god Jehovah or any of his Old Testament prophets).

I stand by everything I said in regard to Bryant and her alleged "poem." I was writing better poetry at age 11 and thinking much better too.


This is a limerick written in the over-alliterative style of Susan Jarvis Bryant, who specializes in unintentional doggerel.

Skip, scop, skip to my loo
by Michael R. Burch

A skippered scuppered scop
longed to lounge straight to the top;
thus Ms. Bryant en brief
flung away her fig leaf,
then, sans clothes, snoozed and schmoozed in pig slop.

Skippered, because Ms. Bryant’s brain has evidently been captained by right-wing brainwashing of the Tarzanish variety: "White man good, heavy burden. Migrant bad. Very bad. Tarzan squash itty-bitty children. Great danger, mighty Tarzan! Tarzan good Christian, squash baby Jesus, mother Mary,  they show up at border! Jesus reward Tarzan, not call Tarzan goat!"

Scuppered, because Ms. Bryant has sunk her own ship by abandoning art for self-parody. Thus a fig leaf has replaced the true poet’s laurel and even that has been cast aside in order to wallow in the mire.

Ms. Bryant also specializes in peevish poems in which she attacks actual poets in mediocre verse. Furthermore, Ms. Bryant writes inflammatory "poems" about migrants but is a migrant herself, a Brit who now lives in the United States.

Ode to an Immigrant who should be Illegal
by Michael R. Burch

Ms. Bryant has written a peeve.
Ignore it, she’s out of her league.
No native Anita,
this pale senorita
is a migrant herself. Make her leave!

CAVEAT EMPTOR: The Society of Classical Poets has apparently become a vanity publication. Members must now purchase the SCP's journal and provide proof of purchase in order to remain members. This appears to be the case even for members who weren't included in the journal in question, so the SCP has gone "beyond vanity." Because previous journals have been riddled with errors and lackluster poems, this strikes us as a vastly unfair policy. First, one must pay to become a member of the Keystone Scops. Then one must buy shoddy merchandise in order to remain a member. Whatever happened to putting out books that people actually want?

The SCP specializes in publishing the most dreadful poetry ever concocted by wildly misfiring human brain cells. For example, I quote:

... each man must not only eateth for his health,
But for the probiotics of his microbiome's wealth.

Evan Mantyk, founder and president of the SCP, apparently continues to believe that he can "save" poetry without bothering (or, more likely, being able) to write intelligible sentences. For instance, in his opening remarks about a recent SCP "symposium," speaking in pidgin English, Antic Mantyk said of himself: "He says that poets using rhyme and meter that these keys the revival of poetry are what have gotten many poets ridiculed by their free verse peers who often pigeon hole rhyming poetry as poorly written."

Ridiculed? Surely not!

"You cannot categorically label our poetry 'doggerel' and write us off," Mantyk stated. Well, perhaps not, since we have no idea what you're trying to say. But we can quote you, and write you off as categorically incapable of passing a fifth grade grammar quiz.

Professor Joseph S. Salemi, an alleged "legend" in the formalist community, quickly pointed out the painfully obvious shortcomings of Mantyk and his ilk: "Here are persons presuming to write and publish literature, but who have an imperfect grasp of their own language."

Hear! Hear!

Has there ever been a more masterful employment of understatement than Salemi's deliciously subtle "imperfect grasp of their own language"?

THE ENGLISH CANTOS: JAMES SALE CREATES HELL FOR HIS READERS: The ninth circle of Dante's Inferno cannot hope to rival Keystone Scopland for excruciating torments. These are the first four lines from James Sale's English Cantos, Volume 2. We shudder along with you at the dispiriting thought that there might be a Volume 1, and others to follow. Even Dante did not imagine tortures so interminable and terrible!

Some force, unknown before, but light as words
Are light, when sung beside alpine moraines
One sunny morning, clear, as those small birds

Their tweets ring for miles, echoing again ...

By the fourth line Sale has lost his meter and abandoned English grammar and comprehensibility. But this is the apex of his art, as it were, and things slide rapidly downhill thereafter. Is it possible this hell can continue for volume after volume? Dear Merciful God in Heaven, save us! Where is Virgil when we so desperately need him?

ALL SHOOK UP: Don Shook recently shook up the literary world—although not enough for it to bother swatting the annoying gadfly away—by crying out to God Almighty for free verse to be replaced by claptrap like his:

There is a scourge that permeates our midst
Which we cannot so easily dismiss.
Elitists strive to elevate this curse;
A type of art most poets call free verse.

Once again the Keystone Scops have demonstrated that they don't know the difference between colons and semicolons. Once again, by writing and publishing wrenchingly bad formal verse, the Keystoners have strengthened the argument for free verse. The argument for free verse is that good formal verse lies far beyond the capabilities of incompetent contemporary poets and should thus be avoided, the way tone-deaf shower singers should avoid singing opera in public. Why do the Scops keep providing aid, comfort and ammunition to their enemies, by rhyming so badly in public? Shouldn't they at least have the competence to recognize their incompetence and keep their sour notes private?

IT'S HAMMER TIME! The 'Stoners are back at it again: hammering away at free verse with wrenchingly awkward formal verse. After expressing angst about an "Orwellian overtone" due, apparently, to utterly abysmal formal verse not being embraced with open arms, the Scops have proceeded to persuade us that the height of the art is ... ta-da! ...

To thrill at trills impressive,
And lift our spirits high.

The Scops seem oblivious to the fact that, before one can dismiss Eliot, Pound, Whitman, et al, one must write better than they did. Not ten thousand times worse.

But David Watt was apparently just getting warmed up with the effusion above. This is how it's really done!

I have seen the sun rise early,
In its haste to pack a punch,
So the city’s hurly-burly
Settled down in time for lunch.

Yes, let's junk the masterpieces of modern free verse for actual junk. That's how it's done, in Scop-land.

PREVIOUS UPDATE: The Keystone Scops are now offering classes on British Romantic Period poetry. Prepare to get edjicated! According to the scops' sales pitch, "The good values that are inherently fostered will improve classroom behavior!" Now, that might come as a surprise to rebellious British romantics like William Blake (who railed against church and state, advocated free love, claimed to be his own Christ, and called the biblical god "Nobodaddy"), Lord Byron (accused of incest), Thomas Chatterton (accused of forgery), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (a self-confessed opium addict) and Percy Bysshe Shelley (kicked out of Oxford for writing a tract on the necessity of atheism).

The scops' courseware breathlessly informs teachers and students that William Wordsworth was "Poet Laurette [sic]." And it offers very helpful instructions for teaching Wordsworth's famous poem about daffodils: "Teacher recites the poem from memory (or uses a copy in hand) to students adding ample hand gestures and facial expressions. Immediately after saying 'gay' you may add 'meaning happy.' For the last stanza, it is suggested that you sit in a desk or chair and put your feet up and your hands behind your head to express 'For oft, when on my couch I lie.'"

The teachers frequently struggle to make sense: "The British Romantic Period poets voiced the inspiration for this general movement away [sic] cities and science. Thus, there are two dichotomies that character [sic] British Romantic Period poetry."

Evan Mantyk, who claims to be an English teacher, proved once again that he's clueless about English punctuation and grammar, with the not-so-immortal lines:

There is something there that loves a wall:
The easy car trip when your loved ones' call—
No need to worry cows might block the road
And pepper it with putrid, pie-like load.

When Joseph Salemi called Mantyk’s abysmal "poem" a "perfect answer" to Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," I could only conclude that Sam Gwynn was correct when he observed that Salemi is more politico than poet. Because Salemi surely knows Mantyk's poem is a "putrid, pie like load" and would never publish it himself, the only explanation I can come up with is that Salemi must be putting something above poetry. Because that is not poetry in my book. And surely not anyone else's who has an ear for good poetry.

Mantyk went on to inform the scops that it's okay to think of illegal immigrants as "cows" as long as one is "careful not to call illegal immigrants cows outright." One wonders what Mantyk's Lord and Savior must think about him calling refugee children and their mothers "cows," since Jesus and Mary were once refugees for whom there was "no room." According to the Bible, Jesus told his disciples: "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Surely "the least of these" would include refugee children and their families!

Mantyk later announced that the SCP website has been going up and down due to malware and other server "dysfunction." Mantyk seemed to see this as a directed external attack, noting ominously: "It is likely that some of these are related to attacks against the Society as it rises in influence and reach." But malware typically attacks EVERYONE mindlessly and robotically, by looking for chinks in a computer system's security. Malware is as likely to attack a free verse website as a classical poetry website, or any other computer system. And there is no need for other poets to hack the SCP website when all they have to do is quote the terrible writing being published, as I just did above. Nor can anyone establish "influence and reach" in the literary world by consistently publishing pitiful writing. I hate to see anyone suffer with malware, but the scops are vastly overestimating their "influence and reach" because they continue to publish glaring errors on a regular basis. When the editor-in-chief can't edit his own poetry, what hope is there for the "society" he heads? ... Well, perhaps if they converted to a sewing circle!

Joe Tessitore wrote a poem imploring Carla Hayden to select a classical poet as the next Poet Laureate. But every item on Tessitore's poetic checklist works against the Keystone Scops, as I explain in my updated Laureates 'R' US. Amy Foreman complained about "snowflake" censorship at liberal colleges, but the SCP has a full-time censor in Mantyk, and who is whiter or flakier than the scops? Meanwhile, the scops' unanimous choice for Poet Lariat, Joseph Charles MacKenzie, snared him an "oliphant":

Today the wind through winter's unclad bones
Drowns in its woeful howl my soul's discant;
Beyond, a distant hunter's oliphant
Salutes the dead beneath their frost-bound stones.

The Society of Classical Poets is an odd outfit, to say the least. What happens when near-infinite pretension has intercourse with massive incompetence? Are poets likely to pop out, or pretenders? Emperors with clothes, or without? And why did Poets & Writers de-list the SCP poetry contest? Was it the glaring grammar errors or, more likely, the hate talk about feminist "bitches," "faggots" and Native American "savages" (while the virtues of the latter's ethnic cleansers were being lavishly praised)? Was it the overall tenor of a site where one of the SCP's mainstays, Joseph Salemi, recently wrote: "Only a very thin line of American army troops is preventing this horde of illegal immigrant scum from crossing our borders." According to Salemi, thousands of impoverished children and their struggling mothers and fathers are collectively "scum."

The Keystone Scops have claimed that Joseph Salemi is a "major poet" and "America's greatest man of letters" so let's examine the evidence: How The Mighty Have Fallen.

After I published my initial review, the Keystone Scops started nominating each other for Poet Laureate, so I have added a new page: Laureates 'R' US. But should I have titled it "Poets Lariat 'R' US" perhaps?

A fifth Keystone Scop invited criticism—the invitation was delivered in wrenchingly bad verse—so I have obliged him: Bruce Dale Wise or Un-?

As a public service, I will continue to compare the Society's incredible claims to their less-than-credible output ...

by Michael R. Burch

Related Pages: A Review of the Society's Literary Journal, Laureates 'R' US, Joseph Charles MacKenzie: Poet or Pretender?, Evan Mantyk's Poetic Tic, James Sale's Blue Light Special, Bruce Dale Wise or Un-?, "How to Write a Real Good Poem" by R. S. Gwano, Salemi's Dilemma, Salemi Interview and Responses by other Poets

The Keystone Scops have apparently never encountered a major grammatical error that they didn't immediately fall in love with and proceed to proclaim the height of all art. Surely, you think, he jests! No, I'm quite serious, if sometimes speaking ironically. But I don't want to damn everyone published by The Keystone Scops collectively. Nor do I wish to suggest guilt by association. Therefore, I will focus on those poets making the most extravagant claims for themselves, their accomplices and/or their organization, while providing evidence that they have, quite possibly, failed to live up to their overheated hype. I will begin with Evan Mantyk, the founder of The Keystone Scops. Here is what the Society, headed by Mantyk, have said about themselves on their very impressive, if not always coherent, website:
"English poetry has been in existence for at least 1,400 years. This tradition continues alive and well at The Society of Classical Poets like nowhere else! Today, poetry is everywhere. It is in the songs on the radio, in our national anthems, and in the fight songs of our favorite sports teams; it pervades our literature, our history, and our culture. But, despite poetry's abundance, poetry that is both new and good is hard to find now, more than ever. Good, new poetry cherishes and builds on the perennial forms, like meter and rhyme, left to us by 1,400 years of English poets, who have also built on thousands of years of Greek and Chinese poetry. Such good, new poetry carries a message infused with the profound insights and lofty character of the poet. It touches on humanity's quintessential quest for virtue over vice, epic over ephemeral, and beauty over baseness. With this in mind, the Society of Classical Poets is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2012 as a group of poets dedicated to the revival and proliferation of good, new poetry."
Did I mention arrogance and incompetence having intercourse? In any case, the Society's non-profit organization actively solicits contributions on its prominent Donations page, where one can obtain a "free" journal by contributing $50 or more. Questionable advertising aside, it's for the best of causes:
"The Society of Classical Poets is bringing beauty and hope to mankind through the very best and most foundational genre of English literature: classical poetry. We need your help to reach more people and ensure that this rich art form, along with our civilization, continue to flourish."
Dear readers, please disburden yourselves of any reservations that "saving" poetry might require the ability to write grammatically correct sentences. What's far more important is that we can now make charitable contributions to the SAVIORS OF POETRY! Oh, happy day! Please grab your checkbooks or log into your PayPal accounts to support this Grande & Nobil Mishun! Who can doubt its ultimate success? Your dollars can make all the difference, and for a short time you can save both poetry and civilization for the price of one! In return the Society will teach you how to become a classical poet in ten minutes! Friends, have you ever been concerned that writing poetry may be a tad difficult? Have you ever worried that your poems may not compare all that splendidly with Homer's, Sappho's, Dante's, Shakespeare's and Milton's? Never fear! According to the title of a how-to manual written by the Society's head guru, president and master planner "Writing Classical Poetry Is Easy (Technically)." Here is how Mantyk advises going about the suddenly simple-as-pie task of writing classical poetry:
"Some people have raised concerns about the technical difficulty of writing classical poetry. Actually, there is very little difficulty behind writing classical poetry from a technical perspective. Classical poetry is simply poetry that is metrical (also called metered), thus contrasting with unmetered poetry, known as free verse. There is no requirement to rhyme or have a particular number of lines or anything else. The easiest beginner-level approach to writing metrical poetry is to simply count the syllables. If your first line has ten syllables then your next line should have ten syllables. Seven, eight, ten, and twelve syllables are all common lengths. Write in this way, and perhaps make your last two lines rhyme or use alliteration (or neither) and call it classical poetry. It is that easy. If you don't know the number of syllables, simply look it up in a dictionary."
In his wonderfully polished prose Mantyk has reduced poetry to elementary math! All we need is a dictionary and the ability to count, and we will immediately be classical poets! If you're not good at basic math, perhaps consider using a calculator or smart phone! But even ticks on a piece of scrap paper will do. A few quick ticks and you too can call yourself a classical poet! Who can possibly doubt such wisdom? Now, moving quickly forward, in the first chapter of his how-to manual about writing classical poetry for the ages, Mantyk includes, by way of example, the following exemplary lines:
This pristine orbs,
A fragile yet audacious batch
Seem hopeless until they reveal
A rainbow patch.
That's how it's done! Mantyk then proceeds to teach us how to write a "high-level classical" sonnet. His genius staggers as he oh-so-eloquently explains:
"The genius of poetry is partially in the ability to convey a lot in a few words and make those few words catchy and attractive to your audience."
Now under normal circumstances I might quibble with the terms "catchy" and "attractive," but these are definitely not normal circumstances. We are, after all, dealing with the self-appointed SAVIORS OF POETRY!" Or, to be perfectly clear, we are in the presence of the HEAD MESSIAH HIMSELF! Furthermore, Mantyk is an incredibly astute judge of politics and politicians:
In Donald Trump we've found a man
Who can the tides of time withstand,
A seasoned duke, of vision strong,
Who sees the picture hard and long.
It sounds like Trump is gazing at a certain tiny toadstool-like appendage and fantasizing bigly. In addition to writing highly original poetry in impeccable English, Mantyk also translates Chinese poetry sublimely. His translation of the "Ballad of Mulan" concludes:
The male hares' feet go hop and skip
    And female hares look muddled,
But when their running at good clip,
    How can't one get befuddled?
A very good question! Befuddling diction and grammar aside, Mantyk is not shy about tooting his own and the Society's horns:
"The Society of Classical Poets is reviving poetry with rhyme and meter and the response has been widespread and tremendous. Since the Society was founded in 2012, we have grown from a daily blog with weekly posts to a major non-profit organization publishing the highest quality poetry on a daily basis, as well as insightful essays, reviews, and the most exquisite art. People have been waiting for the return of real poetry, poetry that has clear thinking, discipline in form, and virtue in spirit, and now it has arrived."
Now, all jests aside, I do worry that the Keystone Scops may be overdoing this "highest quality poetry" thingy! Do federal truth-in-advertising regulations apply to literary journals? Could the head marketer end up in pinstripes? A friend who perused my first draft of this review suggested that the Society ought to change its name to Solecisms 'R US. A dash of honestly may be in order, if only to avoid the hoosegow! But in any case, I will close the book on Mantyk, at least for now, with this observation from a Society fundraiser:
"The world is truly awaiting the return of great poetry and we are giving it to them."
Readers can decide for themselves if Mantyk has fulfilled any of his extravagant claims. Call me a skeptic, but I have my doubts. Have the proper authorities been notified?

A second Keystone Scop who raises my suspicions (and hackles) is Joseph Charles MacKenzie. On his also-very-impressive website, Mac informs us that he offers poetry that is "100% Beautiful 100% Meaningful 100% True." His website further informs us that "The appearance of Joseph Charles MacKenzie's Sonnets for Christ the King, marks a significant paradigm shift in the history of Anglo-American poetry." The wayward comma aside, is it not completely obvious that we are in the presence of another staggering genius? Mac's breathless press release tells us that his book contains "major poetry by a major poet" and that he is "one of the foremost sonneteers in the world." Who has made such extravagant claims for Mac? Another Society mainstay, James Sale, a "Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts." (What, no peerage?) As we shall soon see, extravagant claims are also being made for Mr. Sale. While there was only one Shakespeare in his day, we are blessed to have at least four upstart crows in ours. Surprisingly, they are in contact with each other, praising each other's work to the skies, and seemingly best buds to boot! What are the odds?

When one reviews a budding Shakespeare, one really must think and plan ahead:
"Sale is also the first reviewer to have recognized that the Sonnets for Christ the King are a veritable sequence, as opposed to a mere collection, of poems. The distinction is significant because it establishes for future scholars a just evaluation of the work as a whole, sparing generations to come the kind of debates that continue to hover above Shakespeare's Sonnets published in 1610."
Now we can all die and rest easy, knowing that Mac's masterpieces will not be judged on their individual merits, nor as a collection, but as a "veritable sequence"! Are you as relieved as I am? Someone really must transport Sale back in time so that we can properly identify Shakespeare's sonnets as a friggin' sequence! Time travel has no higher purpose!

Curiously, in another review Sale reveals that Mac is an imposter when he says in his usual awkward way: "To take then an overview of how I see Professor Salemi's work, I'd say that all real poets know, but do not talk about, where they are in the pantheon of poets. They know because the Muse informs them; but to talk about oneself in such a way would be to betray the Muse." Since Mac repeatedly talks about where he ranks in the pantheon of poets, he is thus not a real poet, but an imposter and traitor, according to Sale.

But what about Mac's poems? Has your anticipation been building to a fever pitch? How could it not, in the presence of such self-alleged genius? Now, finally, we have come to the first masterful sonnet on Mac's impressively verbose website! (Please keep in mind that, as Muhammad Ali once pointed out, "It ain't braggin' if you can back it up.") And so here, tada!, without further ado, is the promised 100% Beauty 100% Meaningfulness and 100% Truth:
The Bridge
On the Westminster Bridge Massacre, 22 March 2017
By Joseph Charles MacKenzie

When Wordsworth stood upon that bridge most fair,
And wondered if some gloomy passer-by
Could be so dim that London's majesty
Would never touch his dullness, unaware, ...
And things go rapidly downhill after that very rocky start. Wordsworth may be rolling over in his grave, but probably not with pleasure. And where-oh-where are the consumer protection watchdogs when we really need them? A non-fan of MacKenzie's work took to calling him "Mck" in our correspondence, adding "the Magnificent" because that seems to be how he views himself and his poetry. I added a "u" and came up with Muck the Magnificent, because MacKenzie seems intent on dragging his readers back into the primordial slime and ooze. Take, for instance, this "poem" he tweeted to his Twitter followers (all 19 of them, he's so incredibly popular):
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
The bells of change are clanging.
My lines for Trump came out today,
now bring back death by hanging.
There are some amusing reader observations about Muck's "poetry" at the bottom of this page. Another Keystone Scop who has my radar pinging is the aforementioned James Sale. Is his middle name Fire, Blue Light, Rummage or Garage? In a strange article about Fire Sale's review of Muck's sonnets, a nameless third party breathlessly reviews the reviewer, informing us that:
"More than a review, the penetrating piece offers many oblique lessons in the art of poetics via the meticulous analysis of MacKenzie's sonnets. Sale possesses a clear, infallible understanding of the unique features of the English sonnet for which his own country is renowned. [The sonnet is in his effin' genes!] ... Indeed, as Sale demonstrates with unimpeachable acumen, it is precisely that fidelity to the sonnet's unchanging form that produces the enigmatic power of the Sonnets for Christ the King. And yet, as Sale suggests, that power has an even deeper source in what he calls 'Mackenzie's attitude to the Christian story,' an attitude he considers 'the nearest approximation we can get to "truth"'."
Wouldn't a "penetrating piece" with "meticulous analysis" offer non-oblique lessons? Are we to believe that Rummage Sale has "infallible understanding" and "unimpeachable acumen"? I, for one, remain unconvinced. And what about Blue Light Sale's poetry? The ever-informative Evan Mantyk asks and answers Art's ultimate question: "Where is beauty today? At a time when it seems merely an elusive myth, James Sale brings us beautiful poetry." But I remain unconvinced, citing the concluding stanzas of Garage Sale's poem "The Funeral" by way of example:
It is with wonder now I think
How Adam strove manfully to hold
His Eve – mother! – breaking down
As touching Abel all his cold.

It is with wonder shall I think
Of earth and that first funeral?
One day ahead, no longer myth,
And God raises One, quite literal.
Now, the argument may be made that it's unfair to judge poets by a few lines each. Here is my counter-argument: Have you ever read anything as remotely bad that was published by any great poet, in the entire history of literature? Shouldn't major poets have the taste and discrimination not to allow the public to read such mediocrities and horrors with their names and reputations attached?

James Sale may not be the world's most popular poet. His website has links to four YouTube videos. The videos have a whopping eight to forty views, with not a single "like." Now mind you, Sale did win the SCP's 2017 Poetry Competition, but I insist on a recount because he won with lines like these: "But then … but then, having deigned to turn, / She turned once more to stare and doing, burn." If we could get paid $500 for writing lines that bad, we'd soon be set for life! But wait, because it gets worse ... much worse, if that is possible. Another "winning" Sale poem is (theoretically) an imitation of Shakespeare's Sonnet 107; it begins: "My love looks fresh, as every lovers' [sic] does, / For dateless ages, or at least until / The cosy comforts of settling down close / Atom-fired collisions of will to will ..."

One can only assume the judge immediately committed Hari-Kari and there was no one left to toss the "sonnet" in the reject bin.

This is the first sentence in James "Fire" Sale's website bio: "James has been writing poetry for 50 years now and has been extensively involved in many aspects of it, as well as writing it!" The bio excitedly informs us that Sale has "run workshops" for young poets, including one related to the "Shell Young Poet of Year" award. But shouldn't someone who runs workshops know that "of Year" is incorrect; where is the missing "the"? The next bio sentence exults: "He has been into dozens of schools and entertained, taught and encouraged children in the classroom and in their assemblies." Been into schools, really? A bit further down: "Also, he has been extensively published in writing poetry books for schools." Presumably Sale means that he has been published in books about writing poetry for schools. And so it goes ... on ... and on ... and on ...

My advice to this Keystone Scop is that he should stop mentoring and hire a ghost writer, pronto!

Sale's bio informs us that he is now on the Advisory Board of the Society of Classical No-Wits, where he must be in good (or very bad) company with other grammar-challenged writers like Evan Mantyk.

It's as if the tone-deaf shower singers who failed most miserably on American Idol decided to create a new "talent show" and appoint themselves the judges. Mantyk and Sale are poetry's William Hung and Keith Beukelaer.

Sale seems to fancy himself a literary critic, despite his herculean struggles with the English language. Recently, Sale reviewed Carol Smallwood's poetry collection In the Measuring with comical results. He also revealed his blond male chauvinist roots in the process. After citing two Smallwood poems as examples, Sale said: "Yes, there are several poems in it that I don't rate much at all, but there are many masterful (if she will forgive that gender-specific adjective) gems which really shine." Thus, mastery is a male thing according to Sale! Women need not apply, or it's a shock if they somehow rise to the alpha male level. Sale's verbal awkwardness is on full display in sentences like: "She really is like, to take an analogy, one of those sword smiths who hammer the metal again and again and again till it becomes unbreakably hard, and sharp, and so is fit for purpose." Does one "take" an analogy or "make" one? Fit for what purpose? Here's more wrenching awkwardness: "'Catching On' demonstrates in its very title a mindful ambiguity in the title." Sale has apparently read Mantyk's instruction manual for classical poets and copied his slipshod style. Once more Sale demonstrates his narrow-mindedness: "Do we ever really 'catch on' to – and genuinely feel philosophies like Copernicus', or Darwin's, or 'women's equality', or do they all simply remain fads that we pay lip service to whilst we remain the ego at the centre of our own universe?" According to Sale, women's equality is a fad, like rising and falling hemlines, or like vacillating between believing the earth circles the sun and vice versa! To make bad matters worse, Sale can't keep his grammar or his pronouns straight in the middle of his woman bashing: "Clearly, reading the whole collection, Carol Smallwood is a feminist, but not an ideologist who as a result of their ideology has sacrificed all their intelligence and so ends up in the Orwellian position of bleating 'four legs good, two legs bad' (for which read: women good, men bad, or any other binary opposition)." Sale then finishes writing off equality of the sexes with: "The fundamental flaw of feminism is that it is purely political; it never addresses the issue of human nature, and the flaws running through both genders. Put another way, it's utopian, and like all utopias, it will fail."

Oink! Oink!

Another SCP regular, James A. Tweedie, responded to this ungrammatical mishmash with: "Heavens to Betsy, James! You are one of the finest communicators in the world!"

Yes, and the Keystone Kops were the world's finest law enforcers!

Tweedie-dum seems to get excited very easily. After posting a ghastly "sapphic" poem along with detailed instructions explaining how to mangle the form, he exulted: "It takes a brave and bold man or woman to bare their sapphic soul on this site! I am glad to be in the company of poets who, like Icarus, seek to rise to new heights on wings of inspiration. Like eagles, they soar, even as the critics' heat melts the wax that lifted them into worlds beyond our ken. And if, in the end, their wings should fail and they be cast into the sea, yet they shall be remembered as those who dared to "slip the surly the bonds of earth;" and the tips of their wings touched the sun."

But it doesn't take "critics' heat" to melt their waxy buildup; their awkwardly expelled hot air is more than sufficient.

I have now arrived at the last of the four upstart crows: Dr. Joseph S. Salemi. I freely admit that I am not a fan of Salemi's intolerant religion, his intemperate politics or his penchant for calling other people "faggots," "feminist bitches," "liberal scum," "immigrant scum," and the like. Salemi also has a bad habit of calling his fellow formalists "cowards," "careerists," "suck-ups," "poseurs" and other derogatory terms for failing to use initial line caps in their poems and other similar trivialities. Salemi reminds me of a Puritan schoolmarm measuring schoolgirls' hems to make sure they're all the preSCRIBEd length. And he frets about homosexuality the way Puritans fret about exposed ankles. Hell, he even compared nonconformist formalists to women who allowed themselves (according to Salemi) to be "molested on Harvey Weinstein's casting couch." However, I do believe that in literature we must sometimes give the Devil his due, and Salemi is a competent writer. I have published him myself, through The HyperTexts, and have long admired his poem "The Missionary's Position" and a few others. To be a competent writer of poetry would seem to require a degree of taste in poetry, so it will be interesting to learn what Salemi makes of Mantyk, MacKenzie and Sale. How could America's "greatest man of letters" fail to review the work of three major poets who happen to be close acquaintances of his? Alas, to date I have seen nothing complimentary written by Salemi about Mantyk's poetry, but that makes perfect sense to me because Mantyk's poetry is self-evidently hopeless. I also haven't seen anything complimentary written by Salemi about Sale's poetry, which also doesn't surprise me for the same reason. I did find a review written by Salemi about MacKenzie, in which Salemi complimented Mac's learnedness while artfully dodging the question of whether he is a good or great poet. My suspicion—and I freely admit that it is only a suspicion—is that Salemi knows he's scraping the bottom of the barrel with the Keystone Scops and will not stoop to calling terrible, mediocre or possibly passable poetry "good" or "great." I could be wrong, but that is my educated guess. If Salemi publishes something to the contrary, I will be glad to admit my error, although I will then doubt his abilities as a literary critic, or his honesty.
NOTE: After I wrote the paragraph above, I did discover some flattering remarks that Salemi made about a MacKenzie poem, "The Swallows of La Cienega." It's a very odd "love" poem that almost immediately produced premature ejaculations of praise for ethnic cleansers. Could this thread and others like it be the reason, according to an official SCP email to its members, that "Poets & Writers magazine now seems to have banned The Society of Classical Poets. Our Journal was listed by the magazine for years on its website, but has now been removed."

In his copious notes on the poem, Mac explained that its setting was El Rancho de las Golondrinas ("The Ranch of the Swallows") and that the ranch had been used as "rest stop" by Don Juan Bautista de Anza and his expeditionary force in 1780. De Anza was a far-ranging Conquistador and military adventurer who established the location for the Presidio de San Francisco. According to Mac's gushings, de Anza "saved the northern New Mexico pueblo of Taos by winning a decisive victory against the savages of southern Colorado. So efficient were his military tactics, that, by 1784, he had the barbarians suing for peace." Then, long after his death, de Anza was disinterred and reburied in a "magnificent marble memorial mausoleum." In his word choices, one can feel Mac's reverence for the "civilized" conqueror and his disdain for the backwards victims. De Anza's victims were "savages" and "barbarians" even though he was the one invading their native land and savagely attacking and barbarically murdering them. Apparently, Mac would have us believe that de Anza deserves to be honored because he was the good guy. Has Mac watched too many John Wayne movies, not realizing they were heavily fictionalized? Has he forgotten or never learned that Conquistador means "conqueror" and that the conquerors of the New World were the ones who ignited the native resistance with their bloody conquests?

De Anza kept a diary, so we know in his own words what really happened. In a diary entry about one military excursion he led against Comanches, de Anza wrote: "With this loss, those which have been referred to, which the Comanches suffered on the 31st, 2nd and 3rd, with that which is stated at the pueblo Taos amount to fifty-eight men and sixty-three women and children, making a total of one hundred and thirty-one persons." (Juan Bautista de Anza, September 10, 1779). That was just a few days' work for de Anza and his lethal charges. How many other women and children did men under de Anza's command kill, in his years of campaigning?

When James Tweedie questioned Mac's use of "savages" and "barbarians" to describe Native Americans, Mac was quick to set him straight: "To address your question about the savages, I can assure you that only my Puebloan ancestors, by embracing the Catholic faith, were able to progress along the path of true civilization." (So only Native Americans who converted to Catholicism, probably at the point of a gun to avoid being murdered, were able to "progress" to "true civilization." Praise the Lord and pass the popcorn!) Mac then proclaimed: "It is not by virtue of a people's race that they are savages, but by dint of their behavior." But what about the behavior of "Christians" who murdered men, women and children in their lust for land and gold?

In his usual pompous way, Mac rejected Rousseau's image of the "noble savage" while at the same time trying to make a "Christian" savage seem noble.

Unsurprisingly, Salemi chimed in with: "God bless the great Columbus and his far-reaching discoveries. And God bless Don Juan Bautista De Anza, the conquistador who founded our Presidio, and who saved Taos from the savage incursions." Of course there was no mention of the fact that the first savage incursions were made by de Anza and his vastly superior military force.

Mac responded to Salemi's grandiose blessings of ethnic cleansers with one of his specialties, incoherent fawning: "So the world is also grateful that it possesses one such as yourself who has been trained in the traditional disciplines of history and philology whith [sic] their irrevocable insistance [sic] on time and place."

According to Mac, Native Americans were very lucky to have been ethnically cleansed, and were even luckier to have been given a portrait of the ethnic-cleanser-in-chief: "My Indian ancestors were, as Fray Alonso de Benevides reports, the most enthusiastic beneficiaries of Spain's wonderful "entrada" into New Mexico, so much so that our Most Christian King of Spain regaled the Acoma people with a significant token of His Majesty's esteem in the form of a portrait of himself which, when I was young, did hang on the Gospel side of the Santuario de San Esteban at Acoma. This has since been removed by the new barbarians of the Indian left, robotically pre-programmed by Berkely's [sic] fascist identity-makers via our local university system, in what has become a desperate attempt to erase the very history which made the Puebloans of New Mexico a good and devout people."

So according to Mac the "only good Injun" is one who bows down to the god and religion of his immensely superior white masters. Mac is a lock to become the Poet Laureate of the KKK, unless Salemi beats him to it.

Mac concluded his white supremacist revision of history by calling "Cristobal Colon" the "liberator" of the Americas from the "darkness of pagan oppression and internicean [sic] genocide." Yes, how absolutely wonderful and liberating it was to replace pagan genocide with much more effective "Christian" genocide! The good Lord must be immensely pleased! Praise Christ and pass the communion wafers!

Whether "The Swallows of La Cienega" is a beautiful love poem is a matter of opinion. I would not give it high marks myself, so I tend to doubt Salemi's abilities as a literary critic. But to watch the discussion of a "love" poem disintegrate into expressions of complete disdain for the victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide, while their "Christian" abusers and murderers were being showered with glory, was to see poetry become an instrument of racism and intolerance. And that seems to be par for the course with the Keystone Scops.
Since I questioned the Keystone Scops in public, I have been called a "hillbilly," a "failed editor" who publishes "greeting card verse," etc.

The "hillbilly" charge was leveled by Salemi, who explained that I am a hillbilly, not because I live in Tennessee, which would make him a bigot, but because I lack "cultured self-restraint." I found that amusing, because where Salemi is known in literary circles, it is primarily for his lack of civility, manners and self-restraint. From this point forward I will always think of him, perhaps not affectionately, as Hillbilly Salemi.

Another Salemi charge is that I am not as advanced a theologian as he is. I will plead guilty on that count, since I do find it difficult to develop advanced theories about the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and other Imaginary Friends.

If I'm a "failed editor" who publishes "greeting card verse" why did Salemi not only submit poems and articles to me for publication, but at times urge me to publish them more quickly? Was he in a hurry to get his greeting card verse published, or did he consider The HyperTexts to be a good and reputable publisher of his more serious work?

And why did the Keystone Scops recruit me? After I won one of the Society's first poetry contests (couplets) and finished second in another (quatrains), I was offered a position on the masthead or board—I forget which—the board, I think. But when I studied the SCP website while considering the offer, I quickly became convinced that it was a hopeless cause. There were far too many error-riddled poems being published. The editors either didn't bother to edit, or lacked the ability. (Having read Mantyk's poems, marketing materials and how-to manual, I strongly suspect the latter.)

Furthermore, some of the poems and critiques I discovered on the SCP website were quite clearly racist and/or homophobic. Really ugly stuff. More recently, I questioned a post by Salemi in which he seemed to be rallying right-wing poets to do something about "faggots" in the church and society in general. During the ensuing debate, Mantyk informed me that anything said in defense of homosexuality would be deleted by him, because homosexuality is a "sin." When I asked Mantyk how he knows that homosexuality is a "sin," he refused to answer and even deleted my purposely mild questions. But the posts attacking homosexuals were allowed to stand. Is Mantyk afraid to answer questions about the source and validity of his beliefs? If so, why? Is it because his beliefs are based on the Bible, a book that endorses slavery, sex slavery, infanticide, matricide, ethnic cleansing, genocide, the murder of rape victims, and the gruesome stoning of children to death for misdemeanors? If the Bible is wrong about such horrors, as it so clearly is, how can anyone rely on it for guidance when the topic is human sexuality? As I once observed, having read the Bible from cover to cover as a child:

If God
is good
half the Bible
is libel.

I still prefer my childhood take on the Bible to the "advanced theology" of Baptist pastors and Catholic popes. But be that as it may, I hope most Christians and non-Christians will agree that impossible-to-verify religious beliefs should not be used to condemn, damn or discriminate against people who are doing no one else any harm. When playing pickup basketball, we used to say "No harm, no foul." Someone having darker skin does me no harm. Someone being a law-abiding Muslim does me no harm. Sex between consenting adults, however unorthodox in the eyes of Puritans like Mantyk and Salemi, does me no harm. Yes, we need laws against rape and pedophilia, but why not agree to live and let live whenever there is no harm and thus no foul? Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case with the Society of Classical Poets, based on the evidence of their website and the censorship I experienced there. (BTW, I'm not the only poet to have been censored by Mantyk, since a poet named William Krusch opined that "any intellectual, reason-based argument seems to be banned here at the SCP." And I have seen other poets' posts get deleted for being "too liberal" on certain unmentionable topics.)

After I wrote my original review of the Keystone Scops, a fifth scop invited comment by writing verse in broken English, so I have obliged him:  Bruce Dale Wise or Un-?

Reader Observations about Joseph Charles MacKenzie aka Muck the Magnificent

For those uninitiated into the wonders blunders of Muck the Magnificent, he has claimed to be New Mexico's "first lyric poet." New Mexico has been a state since 1912, but only Muck has managed to write a lyric poem! Or does he want us to believe that he is the best lyric poet New Mexico has to offer, just because he says so? Muck's website contains the modest claim that his sonnets are better than "many" of Shakespeare's. Muck promises to "elevate the human mind and heart to God through the finest, most beautiful lyric poetry ever produced in our language." His ego apparently knows no bounds (although his poetry certainly does.) Muck also wrote an "inaugural" poem for Trump that was neither solicited nor acknowledged by Trump or his campaign, to anyone's knowledge. Here are some reader observations about Muck's "inaugural" poem and his various claims to greatness ...

Trump inaugural poet Joseph Charles MacKenzie brags a former prof claimed his sonnets surpassed Shakespeare's. I'm at the threshold of hell. — Brock @bdgwrn

One poet suggested that the SCP might not seem as bad when Muck isn't posting: "His absence lately disappoints. His pompous pseudo-erudition can only make [the SCP] look even worse. I miss his inevitable grandiosity."

The same poet noted that Muck is not a model of consistency in his prose: "His abnormal psychology produces radically opposed effects reminiscent of multiple personality disorder. He is alternately possessed by devils and saints. He is always coming across as different people. His mind is radically unbalanced."

Roses are red,
Violets are blue—
Mac pushed his big head
Right up his wazoo
And each night in bed
Sniffed his rich Irish stew.
 — SCP Lurker

The claim of an "inaugural" poem was dismissed by Snopes, which noted: "This poem was not commissioned by Donald Trump nor intended to be the official poem of his 2017 inauguration." The "instructions" that accompanied the poem were bogus, because there was no chance that it would be read at the inauguration. For instance, the instruction: "The refrains at the end of each stanza are to be recited by the Inaugural crowd" makes no sense when the crowd never heard the poem or even knew it existed. (As they still don't.)

When I read the poem, I was aghast, along with many other writers. The content itself was shocking if unsurprising: the reference to President Barack Obama as a "tyrant," the glowing description of "Melania the fair," the strained comparison of "Domhnall" (a Scottish form of Donald) to the Highland warriors of old. But it was the poetry itself—rigid, overwrought, and over a century out of date—that sent writers and poets into a tizzy. The poem read like a ninth grader's understanding of poetry. Morbid curiosity led me to MacKenzie's website. His bio is one of the most inflated and grandiose things I've ever read. Claiming to be "New Mexico's first traditional lyric poet" (an unprovable claim at best), Mackenzie states that his professor at St. John's College, Charles Bell, noted that his sonnets "surpassed many of Shakespeare's," a laughable claim even if the doggerel that is "Pibroch of the Domhnall" were any good. Among his listed accomplishments is "[rejecting] the crippling dogmas of modernism and [remaining] faithful to traditional principles of lyric verse." And what is so wrong with the early 20th-century literary movement called modernism? According to Mackenzie, "Backward old elites have censored traditional lyric poetry because it clashes with their Marxist-totalitarian world view. The result has been complete censorship of traditional lyric verse and the loss of the ability to produce it." This claim, at minimum, is blusterous and overblown. MacKenzie's entire bio reads like parody. — Whittier Strong

Awesomely bad poem by Joseph Charles MacKenzie for Trump inauguration. Try not to sgeith! — David Meyer @dajmeyer

(sgeith: vomit, Irish sceithim, Early Irish scéimsceithim; also thin excrement as in diarrhea)

Sweet Jesus, read this poem and weep! — @fcummins

Elmer Fudd declined the invite. So there's that. — coachseinberg

Someone has raised William McGonagall from the grave, given him a lobotomy, & renamed him Joseph Charles MacKenzie. — @PaulVermeersch

William McGonagall would be embarrassed by this doggerel. — Peter Curran @moridura

The Trump [inaugural] poem is so bad that the part where he insults Trump's 'tyrant' predecessor is the least offensive part of it. —

Donald Trump is having a tough time securing performers for his inauguration. Earlier this week, the Bruce Springsteen cover band slated to play an inauguration gala nixed its plans; before that, Broadway singer Jennifer Holliday withdrew her initial commitment to perform the night before, issuing an apology to frustrated fans. If celebrities are boycotting the event, will the president-elect risk the same rejection by trying to secure an inaugural poet? Professional authors have been among the most vocal decriers of Trump, beginning with a strongly worded open letter to voters last spring. But today, The Independent reported ― in a post initially headlined, "Donald Trump inauguration poem calls Barack Obama a ‘tyrant'" ― that a poem has been decided on, written specifically for the event by Joseph Charles MacKenzie, an American poet whose website looks confusingly like a fundraising page, requesting donations on several separate tabs. "Like receiving discounts on MacKenziePoet products?," the site's contact page reads. "Enjoy seeing how your support helps grow my lyric verses? Maybe you just want to stay in touch with a fellow traveler in the kingdom of truth and beauty." Twitter caught on, percolating the news, which, it turns out, was untrue. MacKenzie's poem — written to celebrate Trump's Scottish roots, and including the line, "With purpose and strength he came down from his tower/ To snatch from a tyrant his ill-gotten power" ― is not a confirmed inaugural reading. — Huffington Post

independent article calls him a 'celebrated american poet' but a google search of his name leads to 5 articles of 'fuck this guy' & thats it — @sashageffen

Untalented and overrated Joseph Charles MacKenzie should stick to "delivering products." Is not a poet. Very sad. — @shannonbgoode

dt's inauguration poem was written by a rando who is apparently most famous for trolling fellow catholics online — @sashageffen

I'm going to pull an Anne Sexton if I ever have to read another word this man conjured. — thereisalightontheedgeoftown

"Whilst hapless old harridans flapping their traps / Teach women to look and behave like us chaps." — crtrystate

I was reaching for my smelling salts, but I think this is a fake. — crtrystate (apparently not believing poetry so terrible can be real)

New Mexico's first lyric poet! That's rich! — fannullona

On his website it says "In civilized times, aristocratic patrons showered poets with support." Now that's a golden shower for ya. — amyandomar

Congratulations to Joseph Charles MacKenzie for being the least talented person in the entire world. It's no small accomplishment. — Josh Epstein @drjosh81

One thing is clearer than the bonnie young lassies that fly to the crowd: this poem is terrible. — Ben Yakas

I just read The Poem™ and it sounds like a toast someone wrote about 3 hours into an Irish wedding reception — Pixie Casey @pixie_casey

The evidence doesn't stack up in the poet's favor...whatever his name is... —

Just a reminder that Obama had Maya Angelou writing poems for his inaugural. Trump gets...Joseph Charles MacKenzie, whoever TF that is. — Casey Lewis @cynical_tutu

Joseph Charles MacKenzie writes poems out of pee. — witchweasel @alendrel

I don't read much poetry, but I know this is bad. Ugh. — maryjve

Ugh gawd! — mx_fizzgold

Wtf — the_kids

That poem ["The Swallows of La Cienega"] and recitation truly are an abomination. When I heard that recitation, it sounded exactly how I imagined somebody so deluded and obsessed with himself would sound. It exposes what he thinks about himself and his poetry. — an anonymous poet familiar with the Society of Classical Poets who says he will no longer publish there

His website is very comprehensive and includes this humble mission statement: "My mission is simple: to comfort human souls through the finest, most beautiful lyric verse the world has not seen in over 100 years." No wonder he loves Trump, this is truly the biglyest poetry in history! — Ben Yakas

MacKenzie Mucks Up Literary Criticism

While it seems impossible, Joseph Charles MacKenzie may be a worse literary critic than he is a poet. Here are various claims made about him on his website and the SCP website:

Muck is northern New Mexico's third traditional lyric poet, after two poets unknown to 99.9% of the reading public. (Thus he would be a minor poet, at best.)
Muck is New Mexico's "first traditional lyric poet." (Muck is quickly moving up the poetic ladder, according to Muck!)
Muck's sonnets mark "a significant paradigm shift in the history of Anglo-American poetry." (A shift toward self-aggrandizement, perhaps?)
Muck's latest book contains "major poetry by a major poet." (Did Muck join the army and get promoted from captain?)
Muck is "one of the foremost sonneteers in the world." (How quickly "major" advancement comes, when one engages in self-promotion!)
Muck's sonnets have "surpassed many of Shakespeare's." (Not just one or two! A whole bunch!)
Muck has produced "the finest, most beautiful lyric poetry ever produced in our language." (Muck has promoted Muck to the top of the class, ahead of Shakespeare as a lyric poet!)
Muck has produced "the finest, most beautiful lyric verse the world has not seen in over 100 years." (Well, the "not seen" part seems accurate, at least.)

Muck has tremendous range as a poet, according to Muck the literary critic. He is both a very minor poet and the greatest lyric poet in the history of the English language! But perhaps he gave us a clue with "not seen." After all, not seeing is not believing!

But once again Muck the literary critic fails to be convincing about Muck the poet. After informing us about the poets he has surpassed (all of them!), he tells us that he has surpassed none of them: "We [Nuevomexicano lyric poets] draw inspiration from our predecessors, never pretending to surpass them, or even wishing to." Muck didn't wish to do all the bragging; the Devil made him do it! Hopefully the Vatican will provide an exorcist.

But once in a blue moon Muck the critic does strike gold in the form of an undeniable truth: "All of this po-biz is really antithetical to me which is why I can only be awkward doing it." I can think of nothing more awkward than reading the muck Muck writes about himself, unless it's the muddled muck he calls his "poetry." And so let me close with something we can all agree on: Muck is antithetical to poetry and incredibly awkward.

Reader Observations about Dr. Joseph S. Salemi

An anonymous poet pointed out that Muck the literary critic insulted two other Keystone Scops: "It's amusing that MacKenzie called Salemi and Yankevich 'greeting card sentimentalists' since they were both published by The HyperTexts! And I thought Krusch crushed Salemi with 'the most elusive Trinacria.' So who is the 'failed editor,' really? Could it be the one who hasn't put out an issue in two years?"

Trinketzia—has it come up with a new issue in the past couple years?

Whatever happened to Tin-Ear-Crier?


The Keystone Scops are obviously very concerned about the White Man's role in the modern world and his Hurculean task of improving darker-skinned people despite their inexplicable resistance to his altruistic efforts. The Key Stoners have inspired this new poem of mine ...

Sonnet to White Supremacism #666
by Michael R. Burch

Written in semi-heroic couplets with deep sympathies for the Keystone Scops aka The Society of Classical Poets.

The lily-white Scops are hurtin’,
crushed by the White Man’s burthen;
they’ve even toned down their flirtin’
with the Muse to engage in invertin'
the cost calculus when some knave
becomes a kind White Man's slave!

Lords bear the real cost when they better
small darkies deprived of sweaters,
spats, bowlers, silk boxers and trumpets.
And so, after tea, scones and crumpets
(all flushed down immaculate drains)
the Masters expound on their pains.

Lairds and Ladies can say without shirkin':
"To rule is the White Man's burthen!"

THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN! Prepare onst agin tuh get edjicated, thanks to Evan "Antic" Mantyk. Or perhaps not. Once again the delinquent high school English teacher demonstrates that he doesn't know when to use commas and when to abstain. This is the first sentence from his latest lil' bit o' edjicashun: "The poet, Rudyard Kipling, was born in British India in 1865 and spent much of his life there." Not so good on the superfluous commas. But Mantyk can be extraordinarily helpful. For instance, he explains that "ye" means "you." (Apparently there is someone somewhere on the planet who doesn't know this.) Mantyk in his best schoolmarm manner very helpfully explains that "sullen" means "gloomy." That "check" means "stop." That "toil" means "hard work." And so on, ad infinitum.

Mantyk detects no irony when Kipling claims imperialistic white British masters "serve" their "captives' need." He doesn't raise an eyebrow at Kipling's depiction of the natives as "new-caught, sullen peoples, / Half-devil and half-child." How devilish were the white masters, one wonders? Mustn't go there! Mantyk prefers to praise British imperialism as a "force for good." He very helpfully informs us that in 1899 "imperialism was still a perfectly normal and healthy way of ensuring the survival and prosperity of one’s nation or empire." We see: as long as the master race survives and prospers, who cares what horrors the natives experience? Mantyk very helpfully informs us that British imperialism was good and benevolent and endlessly self-sacrificing, while German imperialism was driven by "social Darwinism" and thus had the same underpinnings as communism. Good to know, sir! Of course the Trail of Tears was a similar self-sacrificing, benevolent force for good, since Germans and godless communism were not involved! How could we have ever thought otherwise?

We are left in awe of Mantyk's profound grasp of Kipling's poem: "The phrase that forms the poem’s title and refrain, 'White Man’s burden,' is a metaphor for the tremendous hardship and responsibility of carrying out effective and positive imperialism." Jolly right! Rule Britannia! Now please pass the tea and crumpets!

WHITE MIGHT ALWAYS RIGHT!: There has been quite a debate in Scoplandia about the head schoolmarm's energetic defense of British imperialism. The operating theory seems to be a Tarzan-ish: "White might always right!" The subject is then quickly changed to communism because "Communism very, very bad!" Apparently white supremacists can do no wrong as long as the victims have darker skin and communism can be used as an unartful dodge. The unartful dodgers have no answer for the inconvenient fact that the white American founding fathers had the same problems with British imperialism as darker-skinned Indians. Do only people with lighter skin have the right to demand equality, justice and fair play? Apparently so, according to the majority of the scops. If you like to mix terrible "poetry" with terrible "thinking" the SCP is THE place to be.

Related Pages: A Review of the Society's Literary Journal, Laureates 'R' US, Gnashional Anthem of the Keystone Scops, Susan Jarvis Bryant, Joseph Charles MacKenzie: Poet or Pretender?, Evan Mantyk's Poetic Tic, James Sale's Blue Light Special, Bruce Dale Wise or Un-?, James A. Tweedie-Dumb, "How to Write a Real Good Poem" by R. S. Gwano, Joseph S. Salemi: How the Mighty Have Fallen (I), Joseph S. Salemi: How the Mighty Have Fallen (II), Salemi's Dilemma, Salemi Interview and Responses by other Poets, THE SOCIETY OF CLASSICAL POETS — A CIRCLE JERK by Conor Kelly, Why I Am Not A Christian by Michael R. Burch

The HyperTexts