Bucket-Kicking Musings

“Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Mark Twain

When my mortal coil has shuffled off, I’ll not lie in the buff;
I’ll rock a chic sarcophagus in sequins, pearls ‘n stuff.
I’ll be looking bloody marvelous for one not up to snuff
when I tangle with the scythe of the Grim Reaper.

Perhaps a Viking longboat with its deftly dipping oars
will row me to Valhalla on a crest of music scores
as multitudes of mourners lament in keening roars
when I tangle with the scythe of the Grim Reaper.

Or maybe taxidermy is my post-existence grail;
I’ll be stuffed and coiffed and mounted; looking fit and hale—
out-dazzling the ten-point buck stuck near the curtain rail
when I tangle with the scythe of the Grim Reaper.

My newly urn-packed ashes could be blasted to the moon,
then tossed in space—the perfect place for ashes to be strewn
to bloom as stars right next to Mars in a luminous festoon
when I tangle with the scythe of the Grim Reaper.

Perchance my destination could be cryopreservation:
my frozen stiff cadaver awaiting osculation
(resuscitation by a prince a century from cessation)
when I tangle with the scythe of the Grim Reaper.

In exploring funeral options, I seem to be ignoring
my glum, humdrum existence is a catalyst for snoring—
I could be the only person who is notably less boring
when I tangle with the scythe of the Grim Reaper.



An Elegant Atheist’s Epitaph

Here rests the sartorial Minnie Finesse
clad in a hint-of-mint-green McQueen dress
with a tangerine trim on the collar and cuff,
and a twinkling tiara with rocks big enough
to purchase a palace on a tropical coast,
and to chink crystal flutes in a pink Champagne toast
to heaven on earth with the merriest laughter
(for Minnie dismissed there exists a hereafter).
She set stiff competition in casket couture;
it’s not often a coffin claims a frock connoisseur.
But this swanky cadaver has been dealt a cruel blow –
she lies dressed in her best with nowhere to go!



Susan Jarvis Bryant is a church secretary and poet whose homeland is Kent, England.  She is now an American citizen living on the coastal plains of Texas.  Susan has poetry published in the UK webzine, Lighten Up On Line, The Daily Mail, and Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets).

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25 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    Susan, I am quickly becoming a devoted fan! Your poetry is clever, delightful, and laugh-out-loud funny. Thanks!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you for your appreciation and encouragement, Amy – you’ve made my morning! I will, however, confess to being a complete fraud when it comes to the art of poetry – I chuckle as I write. I know that any true artist must suffer in the name of art. I have way too much fun! 😉

  2. James A. Tweedie

    Susan, Your poems brought to mind a word I have not used for a while—wry. Deliciously wry! In that vein your bio/vocational note brought to mind my favorite bulletin typo (from a Lutheran Church in Northern California years ago). “Women’s Guild on Friday. Refreshments will be gin at 9:00 a.m.” With your sense of humor I can imagine you turning that into a poem! Like Amy, I am now a fan.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you so much for the inspiration, James – I love the bulletin typo. I will confess to having made a few of my own! Also, I’m thrilled you’re a fan of my dry, wry and wacky wit!

  3. C.B. Anderson

    Fun stuff indeed, Susan. But I wonder if, in the second line of the first poem, “‘n” might have been better rendered “‘n’,” for after all you’ve apostrophied away two letters. But was there any reason for it at all, since writing “and” has only one syllable, same as ‘n’? Perhaps you thought the contraction was funnier, but there’s no need to gild the lily.

    • Mike Bryant

      C. B.
      As you well know, Susan means lily. If anyone has the absolute right to gild said lily, it is my Susan. 😉

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C. B, thank you so much for reading my poetry and offering a cherished compliment. As an English gal, I appreciate your critiques, and I’m wholly on board with your fine eye for grammar, but this usage was carefully considered having lived in Texas for eight years:
      “Chicken ‘n Salsa offers a huge menu with Mexican, Tex-Mex and American food”
      Neologisms pervade my life and my poetry, so it would seem… when in Rome…

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mr. Anderson, I was only having a little fun. I appreciate your point and feel the word “and” would probably be more appropriate. Thank you for your fine eye for detail.

  4. daniel Val

    Give Susan a break from American dialect use. Susan written style quintessential poetry for most follows her ancestry genetic spirit keeping with tradition and pride with some of the greatest poetry to ever break ground and paved the roads of artistic human and enlightenment spirit.
    Some draw from dwells deep fountain wells and other from springs and still others thirst quenched from love hand drink. Express and articulate Susan, keep the heart and spirit one.

    • Mike Bryant

      C. B.
      After those two comments perhaps you should show a little respect!

      • C.B. Anderson

        Respectfully, D.V.’s comment was incoherent. And Susan should not stake her reputation on how Texans do things. Education in Texas is as bad as it is in any other place in this country. And no one is in Rome anymore except for Romans … and tourists.

      • Mike Bryant

        Chill, C.B. I was only having a little fun with you.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, daniel Val – I appreciate your passion for poetry!

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    I think one can best appreciate Ms. Bryant’s first poem by understanding its relation, in both rhythm and form, to the English music hall song from the 1890s, titled “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.” This song was written by Fred Gilbert, but was also popularized again in the 1920s and 30s by Charles Colson, I believe. Here are some of its lyrics:

    As I walk along the Bois de Boulogne
    With an independent air,
    You can hear the girls declare
    “He must be a millionaire!”
    You can hear them sigh and wish to die,
    You can see them wink the other eye
    At the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

    Compare the flow of Ms. Bryant’s repetend line:

    “When I tangle with the scythe of the Grim Reaper”


    Take my above pattern not as metrical scansion, but as musical beats. There is probably an old recording on the internet of Colson singing the original song, where one can listen to the tune and rhythm. Bryant’s poem can be sung pretty much in the same way.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Joseph—nuts! I just read your post before entering a church for a funeral. And now I can’t get the Monte Carlo chorus out of my brain—endlessly repeating like a tape loop! Proof, I should think, that you made a good rhythmic comparison!

  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Thank you for your informative and intriguing observation. I had heard of neither song nor singer before reading this. I am, however, familiar with music hall entertainment and its bawdy, quick wit, so I may well have drawn on its rambunctious rhythm when I wrote it – I only hope the form doesn’t outshine the content.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      I’m informed by a friend that the actual name of the singer of the Monte Carlo song is Charles Coburn, not Colson. My mistake.

      • Susan J Bryant

        Thank you, Joseph. I’ve checked the routine out on YouTube – very amusing… it has me thinking, when it comes to humorous lyric poetry, I was born way after my time. Never mind SLAM, what fun I would’ve had with a music hall routine.

    • Mike Bryant

      Form, which you’ve mastered, definitely does not outshine the content of your poems. Your work always gives me joy, and joy is a valuable commodity.

  7. David Watt

    The enjoyment you had in writing these poems is evident to me as a reader. They are witty and lively, despite the mortal theme.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, David. I thoroughly appreciate the feedback, including your astute observation. Poetry does indeed bring me immense joy – both writing and reading it.


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