“Guilty or Not Guilty”

Reminded again, today, of age old ‘arguments’ and all, regarding hunger, poverty, crime….

I searched to find a ‘share’ of work already done by another – not to be had, in the form displayed in my copyright 1936 book, “Best Loved Poems of the American People” which, right or wrong, was THE book of poetry I grew up with!

Not satisfied to simply share it on other social media fronts?

I am posting it here, too –

In both the book and the one online version I found that has same text as the as the book?

Author is listed as “Unknown” –

*Featured Image from OpenClipart.org, courtesy of Pixabay contributor – from iconic Dorothea Lange photo captured during the Great Depression, in USA.

Guilty or Not Guilty?

She stood at the bar of justice,
A creature wan and wild,
In form too small for a woman,
In feature too old for a child.
For a look so worn and pathetic
Was stamped on her pale young face,
It seemed long years of suffering
Must have left that silent trace.

"Your name," said the judge, as he eyed her
With kindly look, yet keen,"Is—?" 
"Mary McGuire, if you please, sir."
"And your age?" "I am turned fifteen."
"Well, Mary—" And then from a paper
He slowly and gravely read,
"You are charged here—I am sorry to say it—
With stealing three loaves of bread.

"You look not like an offender,
And I hope that you can show
The charge to be false. 
Now, tell me, Are you guilty of this, or no?"
A passionate burst of weeping
Was at first her sole reply;
But she dried her tears in a moment,
And looked in the judge's eye.

"I will tell you just how it was, sir;
My father and mother are dead,
And my little brothers and sisters
Were hungry, and asked me for bread.
At first I earned it for them
By working hard all day,
But somehow the times were hard, sir,
And the work all fell away."

"I could get no more employment;
The weather was bitter cold;
The young ones cried and shivered
(Little Johnny is but four years old)
So what was I to do, sir?
I am guilty, but do not condemn;
I took - oh, was it stealing? - 
The bread to give to them.”

Every man in the court-room—
Graybeard and thoughtless youth—
Knew, as he looked upon her,
That the prisoner spake the truth.
Out from their pockets came kerchiefs,
Out from their eyes sprang tears,
And out from the old faded wallets
Treasures hoarded for years.

The judge's face was a study,
The strangest you ever saw,
As he cleared his throat and murmured
Something about the law.
For one so learned in such matters,
So wise in dealing with men,
He seemed on a simple question
Sorely puzzled just then.

But no one blamed him, or wondered,
When at last these words they heard,
"The sentence of this young prisoner
Is for the present deferred."
And no one blamed him, or wondered,
When he went to her and smiled,
And tenderly led from the court-room,
Himself, the "guilty" child.

11 Minutes

aka – “Hindsight is 20/20”

Over the past month, natural disasters have hit areas where folks I care about live.

As I read the ‘initial’ reports from 2.5 second, knee jerk world – news coverage, commentary by those far from the center of the disaster, I do not fret when a loved one in ‘that’ area, hasn’t posted on Facebook since the event –


Because my ‘past’ includes being either on the inside of the disaster OR knowing/caring about those inside the disaster zone.

No matter how technology advances? Me frantically calling, ad nauseum, just jams up whatever communication lines are still up and running – aka, the auto message ‘all circuits busy, try your call later’ message I remember receiving as I tried to check on those in the San Fransisco quake of – – 1989?

It was fall, and I had just visited that area – driven on the highway that collapsed, during the Labor Day weekend visit – with a friend, as he located an apartment to move into before his new job started.

3-4 days later, he called me – first words out of his mouth were, ‘guess you weren’t worried about me – you didn’t call” – He worked in the telephone biz! He knew better! He knew about the circuits and all – – it turned out all right, but for me?

I never felt the same about him or those who believe in the infallibility of communication systems.

I never felt the same about live news coverage after I listened to the battery operated radio that blared out reports of the entire town being leveled, one stormy night, the next June, while I hunkered down under the ‘safest spot’ in the complex, that was in the town limits, that was still standing….While the cauldron of tornados and summer storm swirled above me…

I also never again trusted ‘live interviews with those evacuating’ done by TV crews, as my license was checked by law enforcement, for me to go to my own house, in the neighborhood, pick up my kids, important papers file case and then leave, because a raging fire was now headed our way, while my husband, who was law enforcement said, he wasn’t leaving, he might be needed.

I thought I spoke well regarding, “Save the living – other ‘things’ can be replaced – loved ones can’t (that included the dog – 🙂 They edited it so badly, I came across as an idiot who was shrugging off the danger – sigh.

Fortunately, it was only shown on the late news edition and few who knew me actually saw it AND those who did, asked me what I had really said… 😀

They knew me well enough to not believe the clip shown.

As we left that fire danger area?

As I drove up the winding road leaving the valley I called home?

The complete circle ridge surrounding that valley appeared as Dante’s Inferno – a ring of firey hell, that could race down into the valley at any moment, leaving only char and black in it’s wake…..

I also remember visiting Limon two weeks after the tornado hit – National Guard everywhere – piles of rubble – – news crews on site looking for quotes from citizens that didn’t know better than to utter one word to such folks.

It looked like a war zone from a movie….

Thus, when disaster strikes and up-to-the minute breaking news goes out and folks are posting interview clips, adding their opinions and musing on who should be blamed, or what caused, or who failed in duty, in the early aftermath?

I don’t believe a word of it – I wait – –

This time? The dispatch log for the Boulder/Marshall fire just now showed up in the local news feed I actually like enough to be subscribed to . It’s more than a week later…feels like a lifetime of hearing friends say, ‘I saw on the news…it was caused by this…”

Sigh – I’m surround by folks who start their day with the 24/7 national news channel on –

The recent news report included quote:

“A ‘pretty good response time’ was not enough with high winds”

Timeline reported indicates multiple reports came in – crews scrambled, sent to reported locations – then to another location, some place, nothing found/easily extinguished, etc., crews stood down, just to be dispatched shortly thereafter, to a new location –

– to locate the real start of the fire – The minutes listed that stuck in my mind?

11 minutes.

Think about that – 11 minutes from calls jamming the 911 lines, dispatchers on duty managing numerous incoming calls, law enforcement, fire and EMS dispatched out to numerous reported locations –

11 minutes.

Right now?

My heart is with the dispatchers, with the emergency crews, with those who have lost most/all of everything they worked for over their lifetime.

11 minutes – – 660 seconds – to go from ‘just another day, but we have high wind/dry conditions so be ready’ to “OMG! Which report shall we scramble crews to first???” or “Shall we pack up and leave? Or not? Is it even that bad?”

So, to put it into perspective for you?

I’ve spent more than 11 minutes, just in reading the timeline article, logging in here, and writing this.

My only question, dear readers, is….

What can you do, in 11 minutes?

Round up every cherished memory and get your whole ‘fam damily’ loaded into the SUV and leave?

Can you even get all your nervous pets calmed down and loaded in 11 minutes? Animals smell smoke/feel earthquakes/the weather brewing way before most of us modern humans do….

11 minutes is just under the time frame to play the Eagles, Lying Eyes, song, twice –

I know that because I once was a radio DJ and the booth was one floor up and opposite end of the building, from where the bathroom was, and there wasn’t anyone to give me a break during the graveyard shift.

11 minutes during a high speed chase that has been suspended by law enforcement, due to public safety, before next metropolis exit ramps reached and yet the bad guys are still hell bent for leather?

Is the difference from interstate chase and said bad guys screaming down a main road in heavy traffic areas – and collision with innocents at a busy intersection – while local crews are scrambling wanting to know which intersections to race and close down cross traffic to – when a car is eating up nearly 2 miles of in town travel, every 60 seconds…

11 minutes when an officer on a routine stop hasn’t checked in? And back up is still 6 minutes away?

Feels like forever.

11 minutes hiding in a cellar as the house creaks and groans above you, as the tornado approaches and carries away the sound of the warning siren, to where you can no longer hear it?

A lifetime is reviewed.

Why do I write this?

Because, I figure most of those who read, have their own ’11 minute’ story in their history – maybe they remember it when the 2.5 second of news and social media stuff starts rolling out – maybe they don’t….

But, I hope You do.

For me? True compassion for others is always found, when I remember my own moments of what can happen in 11 minutes or less.

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