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Impassively, they watch it burn,
Their fire truck idling somewhere near,
The house next door their lone concern
(Whose owner’s call has brought them here).

The Cranicks, meanwhile, on their knees
Entreat for their imperiled pets,
Their fists outthrusting unpaid fees
(As if that’s how you settle debts!).

The incident gives rise to blogs
By hundreds, in the coming days,
Wishing the owners, not their dogs
Had been cremated in the blaze

And prompts that multimillionaire
TV evangelist Glen Beck
(Eye on the ratings, let’s be fair)
To damn the homeless pair to heck

(In a repulsive rustic drawl
That slays the listening brotherhood)
For sponging on the righteous y’all
Who pay the piper when they should.

[On 5 Oct, 2010, Gene and Paulette Cranick’s
Tennessee home burned down. Firefighters
stood and watched, because the Cranicks had
forgotten to pay the annual $75 fire protection
fee. Three dogs and a cat died in the blaze.]

—Peter Austin, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA