Gwendolyn Brooks classic We Real Cool has been sitting in my “to be parodied” file for ages.  I love the cleverness of her poem–the clipped rhymes, the unusual line breaks, the repetition of the pronoun–but it defies satirization.  Is that even a word?  At last, a reasonable facsimile has coalesced.  The “they” falls off the map at the end, but somehow,
it seems fitting… poetically just.  Initially, I was drawn to this colorful COVID-19 map.  Looking at it today, however, I feel compelled to do a thorough Tupperware check before I put out the trash.


They real tools.  They
damn fools.  They

cried hoax.  They
duped folks.  They

ignored docs.  They
spread pox.  Now

too late.  Up
to Fate.

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19 thoughts on “THEY REAL UN-COOL

  1. kutchie Kender March 29, 2020 / 7:51 am

    ​You put it SO POLITELY! We are being led by an ASS. I don’t mean to be crude, but the truth is the truth!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan March 29, 2020 / 9:30 am

      I wholeheartedly agree. 45 needs to go, and I trust that every duped, angry American who lives through this mess will do his or her part to take out the trash come November.


  2. Tippy Gnu March 29, 2020 / 8:51 am

    Your poem gets right down to the point and pulls no punches. And the map looks sort of like a piece of bologna that’s been sitting in the fridge too long. Like Trump’s policies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan March 29, 2020 / 9:25 am

      The story of Coronavirus in the US, told in 25 words or less. Our leader (and I use the word “leader” loosely) pooh-poohed the situation and let it get totally out of hand. The rollercoaster has left the station and we’re all in for a wild ride, one some of us won’t survive.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tippy Gnu March 29, 2020 / 9:53 am

        The fact that he didn’t immediately order the production of more ventilators and masks leaves me feeling stunned. He has death on his hands, in my view.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan March 29, 2020 / 11:27 am

        Yet, he “takes no responsibility whatsoever.”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. judyrutrider March 29, 2020 / 10:16 am

    In one of his more impolitic comments he once said that he could shoot a person in the middle of Times Square, and his supporters wouldn’t condemn him for it. I wonder how far that goes, 100,000, 1,000,000? What a perfect $#1%storm! May we survive living in interesting times.
    Your perfect poem proves perseveration profits.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan March 29, 2020 / 11:24 am

      I adored that amazing alliteration, JRR! Trump’s hatred and prejudice give his supporters “permission” to hate and prejudge, things they’re eager to do anyway. I thought they would catch on when Trump gave his billionaire buddies a tax break and everyone else ended up with smaller refund than they expected. Nope. He’s been chomping at the bit to cut Social Security and kick people off food stamps. He drags his feet, denies the seriousness of the Coronavirus, leaves us short of critical medical supplies, then has the gall to whine about how the drop in the stock market is going to hurt his chances for re-election! The bastard’s narcissism knows no bounds. Folks are hoarding toilet paper, they know the shitstorm’s a’comin. Praise God, they’re wising up. I trust that in November, enough of them will switch sides to oust Trump from the White House and put him in the outhouse, where he belongs.


    • Just Joan April 3, 2020 / 9:35 am

      Thanks, Lana! Not a lot of room to play in this one. Condensing a complex story into a few words means you have to cut the frills and get to the heart of matter. My WP bud Murisopsis has issued a poetry month challenge. Only 13 prompts, you know them up front, and you can do them in any order. Here is the link:


  4. circumstance227 April 5, 2020 / 6:35 pm

    I’ve been using “We Real Cool” for years in my teaching and it never fails. It’s a brilliant way of exposing the Orange One’s enablers for what they are. I understand that the “they” has to fall away at the end – “they” don’t die soon. We do. Just like Gwendolyn put it. The solution you came up with is a very creative way of saying the same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 5, 2020 / 6:59 pm

      Thanks, 227. This poem has been an enigma… “We” gobbles up 1/3 of the words, half of the remaining ones have to rhyme, and each of the “sentences” has to make sense. Well, sort of. I’m not sure what it means to “jazz June” but it sounds like a verb and an object. We or they could die soon, COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. Being rich enough to buy a ventilator might put a finger on the scale, but it’s no guarantee they’ll make it. Hope things are virus-free in your neck of the woods. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • circumstance227 April 5, 2020 / 7:06 pm

        I think “jazz june” means the same as dropping out. Normally school ends in June, but they (or “we”) do it on their own timing – i.e. earlier.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan April 5, 2020 / 7:48 pm

        Makes sense. Maybe drop-outs die soon(er). Thanks, 227. That has baffled me for a long time, like if they meant jazz like a musical style, or jazz it up like putting rhinestones on jeans, or all that jazz like a pizza with pepperoni and a bunch of other less important stuff. Not a lot of context to go on. LOL. 🙂


  5. K E Garland April 8, 2020 / 9:35 pm

    As a Chicagoan (born and raised) and a Brooks fan, I approve of this timely parody lol Good one Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 9, 2020 / 9:12 am

      Thanks, KE. The muses took their time on that parody. Had to digest the original first, I guess. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. murisopsis April 13, 2020 / 11:29 am

    How in blazes did I miss this one!?!? This is truth and creativity and humor – the whole enchilada! A friend just posted that we are now “Number one!” in deaths per day. Sad…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 13, 2020 / 2:42 pm

      I don’t know. My posting schedule has been busier than usual with my initial COVID-19 pieces and the NPM Challenge, and stuff sometimes gets buried in the avalanche. Thanks for digging until you found it. An economy of words in this one, but it says a lot about what happened and where we’re headed. 🙂


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