Doublespeak Denial

Rondeau Redoublé

“Gender mattered a whole lot less to Shakespeare
than it seems to matter to us.”

—John Irving

If I don’t care for words you have to share
(a pitch which strips all speech of honesty)
don’t force me to embrace all you declare
then name and shame me if I disagree.

Don’t tell me she’s a He and he’s a She
and biology’s validity is rare
in your mind and gender-bending fantasy
if I don’t care for words you have to share.

Don’t claim a guy’s a girl when I’m aware
that chromosomes in DNA are key;
my rationale is way beyond compare
to a pitch which strips all speech of honesty.

I’m of the mind all humankind is free.
How we live and love and lean is our affair,
not prey to iffy ideology;
don’t force me to embrace all you declare.

Every notion, every whisper, every prayer
is slammed if it’s considered non-PC—
that tactic meant to silence, stun and scare
then name and shame me if I disagree.

If I won’t toe your line, why can’t you spare
a thought for mine and let the subject be?
I’m done with psychological warfare.
Why blast my brain with bombast endlessly
if I don’t care!



Fine Dining

a villanelle

Beware all whine-and-dine taboos;
Those anti-social vocal wrecks—
And mind you mind your Ps and Qs.

To slam the Pope will not amuse;
This rousing grouse is bound to vex.
Beware all whine-and-dine taboos.

Eschew the schmooze on kitsch tattoos;
Don’t flash your abs or flex your pecs
And mind you mind your Ps and Qs.

Do ditch your views on nuptial blues;
Don’t bitch about your boozy ex.
Beware all whine-and-dine taboos.

Folk never relish hellish news;
It twists the gut and mists the specs.
And mind you mind your Ps and Qs.

When touting topics do not choose
Those fifty passé shades of sex.
Beware all whine-and-dine taboos
And mind you mind your Ps and Qs.


Ode to Autumn in Texas

“If I owned Texas and Hell,
I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.”

—General Philip Henry Sheridan

Season of sweat and sticky listlessness
blazing in a blast of blistering sun,
teasing timorous twangs of restlessness—
that banshee-screeching, shrill cicada song,
and goading hummingbirds to zip and vie
in emerald-armoured, fierce, zig-zagging war
for treasure from a syrup-seeping bloom,
while napes of freckled necks grow red and raw,
as buzzards surf the sizzle of the sky,
mosquitos wheel and whine in fever’s sigh,
and bees bob in a pollen-swollen swoon—

when will your sultry ways phase out and give
us mitten-fingered magic under skies
aglow with sleety sorcery to sieve
a sprinkling of relief to spare dazed lives?
That smoking brisket-burn and humid haze,
when teetering in a margarita fug,
is a reeling feeling borne from sweltering
fueled by forever roast-neath-straw-hat days,
when shawl-clad folk are relishing a glug
of lush, lip-licking cocoa in a mug—
why mock us with the sass of Summer’s grin?

Where is the chill of Winter’s cooling touch
to quell this spell of Hades here on earth?
This horrid, torrid swell just proves too much
to beat this hellish hearth when there’s a dearth
of frost to lace a lusting for the fresh
and dustless climes of alpine reverie:
a pristine blast of white that will extend
its kiss of ice-blessed splendor to fried flesh
in snow-capped, cheek-chapped, scarf-wrapped bonhomie,
beyond this flame-ordained infinity,
where Summers never, ever, EVER end!



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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20 Responses

  1. Mike Bryant

    Your first is an interesting departure from your beautiful descriptions of nature evidenced in the others. No doubt inspired by the non stop propaganda that is so soul destroying. I believe you speak for a growing majority. You’re helping to kill the pc stupidity.
    Your second is just perfect, as well, and so, so very English, properly so.
    Your third is a picture of Texas that is so beautifully written, it makes me proud and happy to be a native!
    You write just like a dream…

  2. James Sale

    Great writing here – I love it, very skilful indeed. Well done – superb work. And I am intrigued too to learn that you are originally from Kent in England, as indeed I am myself – Folkestone! Where be your point of origin?

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, James. I’m thrilled you enjoyed my poetry. I’m from Barnehurst near Bexleyheath and have spent many a wonderful day in Folkestone.

      • James Sale

        That’s great news, though Folkestone is hardly Texas! But my wife has always had – following a favourite Chris Rea song, Texas – to go to Texas, so if we are ever down that way (and we did get to NY this summer) we’ll find you for a real poetry fest! Keep up the great work – it’s very impressive indeed.

  3. James A. Tweedie


    In my imagination I picture you speaking like this in ordinary conversation, with phrases like, “snow-capped, cheek-chapped, scarf-wrapped bonhomie,” flowing spontaneously from your lips.

    As Mike put it, “You write just like a dream.”


    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      High praise indeed, Mr. Tweedie. Thank you very much. And yes, you’re spot on with my loquacious, linguistic gymnastics… I simply can’t help myself, old bean!

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    The villanelle is particularly delightful. I guess that dining out with imbecilic friends is just as purgatorial in the UK as it is here in the States.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      A poetic reminder to myself when I feel inclined to flash my tats, dis my ex, and talk about sex at dinner parties on both sides of the pond. A flute of fizz brings out my wild side

  5. C.B. Anderson


    All three were well wrought, indeed. I paid particular attention to the rondeau redouble, because it is difficult to make that received form hang together in all its interlocking parts. I’ve published only three of them so far, and I am somewhat daunted by the prospect of trying to put another one together. And the way you managed to integrate the caravan of your thought with the demands of the form was nothing less than spectacular. If it seems that I’ve slighted the other two poems, it’s only because I would rather not appear long-winded. This is some great work that adds much to the canon where the revival of traditional poetry is concerned.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your appreciation and encouraging observations, Mr. Anderson. You are right, the rondeau redouble is particularly challenging, especially when the goal is for the subject matter to outshine the form. I’m glad I managed it and I’m thrilled you enjoyed my poems.

      • C.B. Anderson


        The problem many authors have with repeating forms (especially the villanelle) is that they plop the repetend in its proper place but without rhetorical or syntactic connection to what surrounds it. Since you have shown yourself to be quite adept at managing repeating forms, your next assignment is to write a good triente sei. I can’t wait.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        It’s an honour to receive this intriguing challenge and I will most certainly rise to it. A trenta-sei is completely new to me. Thank you, C.B.

  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    For C.B Anderson. Thank you for the challenge.

    Dreaming of Dodging Doggerel
    (a trenta-sei)

    I yearn to pen a pearl just like The Greats;
    a sonnet that is far beyond compare.
    I pine to shine like Byron, Burns, and Yeats.
    If aspirations flare, I’d love to share
    linguistic jewels that glint in tygers’ eyes.
    I crave a raven skimming ebon skies.

    A sonnet that is far beyond compare
    is hard when one is not a full-blown bard.
    Will’s darling buds of May are very rare
    when picking through my thistle-thick backyard;
    and only God can know the reason why
    my closing couplets always go awry.

    I pine to shine like Byron, Burns, and Yeats
    and go a-roving with a red, red rose
    with cloths of heaven flung from pearly gates,
    to drape my stanzas in from tip to toes.
    But roses flop and roving days are dead;
    my cloths of heaven drop each golden thread.

    IF aspirations flare, I’d love to share
    a trip through Kipling’s pithy masterpiece.
    But only IF I keep my head when they’re
    all losing theirs and begging me to cease
    my iffy imitation of dear Rudge…
    but I’m too dumb to shun a puerile grudge.

    Linguistic jewels that glint in tygers’ eyes
    are symbols of the sparkling craft of Blake.
    His feisty, fiery, forest feline prize
    leaves weak creations quaking in its wake.
    My lame attempt is lacking tooth and claw
    and simpers with a whimper, not a roar.

    I crave a raven skimming ebon skies,
    then tapping and a-rapping through the night
    in flows of woes to echo Poe’s dark highs.
    Alas, a feathered fiend is not in sight.
    Since every muse has headed for the door,
    I’ve given up on odes forevermore!

    • C.B. Anderson

      Yikes, you are scary quick in your response to a challenge. You’ve shown me yours, so now I will show you mine (the only one I’ve ever written):

      Usquaebach, a Digestif

      The moments gathered near the end of time
      Where lifelines vanish at infinity
      Are not ideals so thoroughly sublime
      That writers can’t, with due concinnity,
      Present them to the mind’s attentive eye
      As phases of a metamorphic sky.

      Where lifelines vanish at infinity,
      It isn’t strange to think a loving God
      Might bring to pass a social Trinity
      To help the pilgrim trapped inside a bod-
      Y feel at home — and never laughable
      To share a word with one so affable.

      Are not ideals so thoroughly sublime
      An adumbration of the good to come?
      Or are they just one more white-collar crime
      To rob the blind and cheat the deaf and dumb?
      WHAT PRICE? are not for such as us to say.

      That writers can’t, with due concinnity,
      Equilibrate the rapture and the pain
      Is evidence that true divinity
      Lies far beyond their ken. A driving rain
      Beats down upon the saints as on all others,
      No matter how their overbearing brothers

      Present them. To the mind’s attentive eye
      There’s little difference in the pure gestalt
      Of faithful strivers unprepared to die
      And slabs of hapless fish preserved in salt,
      And charity afforded failing students
      Does not engender fortitude or prudence.

      As phases of a metamorphic sky
      Illumine spaces anchored in the here
      And now, it’s sobering to ponder why
      The ordinary mortal lives in fear
      Of death. This life is water charged to prime
      The moments gathered near the end of time.

      I went the extra mile in this one, repeating the first line, which is not necessary, but which is certainly not forbidden.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        So okay, Mr. Anderson, how long did it take you to write your erudite, literary homage to this form? I’m appreciative of your skill and find your poem amusing, although the scholarly nature of it may well elude a wider audience. I like your idea of repeating the initial line in the closing stanza. It reminds me of the intricacies of a pantoum, which (personally) I find a more challenging form than this one. And hey, what do you think of mine? I’ve gone to all this trouble for you and I’m missing your fine eye.

  7. Janes A. Tweedie

    C.B. and Susan,

    I have been greatly amused both by C.B.s challenge and by the impressive trena seis each of you subsequently submitted.

    Susan, Although my eye is nowhere as fine as C.B.s (nor as bright at those of Blake’s tyger) I will say that I found your poem to be lucid, literate, logical and lively. Not to mention being outright fun and punny. The one thing you lack in your poetry is verbose obfuscation. As a result, your words and thoughts are as clear and lucid (there’s that word again) as a the water in a mountain lake.

    C.B., As usual, you raise the bar of erudite-ness to new heights with every poem you pen. How you manage to cram so much philosophy/theology into so few verses without missing a (literal) beat is both impressive and edifying to a old tyro like myself.

    Although I was not the one invited to the challenge, I went ahead and party-crashed with my own effort anyway, one that is more narrative and, as a result, less eloquent than either of yours.

    Forest Fire Fantasy
    A Triente Sei

    The smoke from summer fires filled the air;
    A lightning storm had been the cause of most.
    Entire forests went up like a flare
    As ecosystems were turned into toast.
    To fight the flames came men with skill and pluck,
    With air support and good old-fashioned luck.

    A lightning storm had been the cause of most,
    As searing bolts set underbrush ablaze
    From Puget Sound to West Port on the coast,
    Enshrouding Western Washington in haze
    Cool winds could not prevent the fire’s spread,
    But, like a bellows, fanned the flames instead

    Entire forests went up like a flare
    As flames licked rapidly from crown to crown.
    The trees left lifeless, totems charred and bare,
    Gray silhouettes against a sky of brown.
    Their ghostly limbs thrust out like beggars’ hands;
    Their withered roots entombed by withered sands.

    As ecosystems were turned into toast
    The forest creatures fled in disarray
    Together, on the ground, a might host
    Of fox and hare, of predator and prey.
    While in the air each frightened bird took flight,
    To seek a new and safer nesting site.

    To fight the flames came men with skill and pluck,
    Equipped with shovels, courage, brawn and brains.
    They came by car, by bus and fire truck
    To risk their lives and pray for cooling rains.
    They faced infernos fueled by heat and drought
    But did not leave until the fires were out.

    With air support and good old-fashioned luck
    They fought the fight until, at last, they won.
    And when they left, they took a well-earned buck
    Or two as a reward for what they’d done.
    And where the devastating fires had burned
    A seed-sprung shoot appeared and hope returned.

  8. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I’m thrilled to see another poet rising to this wonderful challenge. You had me thoroughly engaged from beginning to end – no mean feat for such a lengthy poem. I love the vivid imagery and the optimism in the closing line was a heartening bonus after all the devastation. A pleasure to read, Mr. Tweedie. Thank you for joining in.

  9. C.B. Anderson


    I liked your triente sei just fine, and the internal rhymes were a splended embellishment, though I do not know whether or not John Ciardi would have approved, nor do I care. I can’t remember precisely, but I’m sure mine took several days to write. I didn’t realize it was scholarly, just a bit arcane and mystic.

    And, James,

    Your eye is every bit as fine as (and maybe moreso than) mine. I am just more hypercritical.

  10. Peter Hartley

    I’ve never heard of a triente sei but these three took my breath away, and I wish that anything I write in the future could be half as accomplished as any of them. Very humbling. Very exasperating.


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