Pearls of Wisdom in Times of Crisis

by Susan Jarvis Bryant

Pearl clutchers of the world, please take a breath:
take time to breathe the balm of calm’s bouquet;
let rasping gasps of anguish slip away—
not everything you hear is life or death.

Pearl clutchers of the world, please simmer down:
kick back, relax and don’t get overwrought;
the gloom of doomsday thought will leave you fraught—
let reason lift the furrows of your frown.

Pearl clutchers of the world, shun all ado:
put back that multi pack of toilet rolls;
a pristine derrière will not save souls—
wipe rage with pages from The Tao of Pooh.

Please know that if you yank your chain and whine,
you’ll cast your pearls and self before the swine.



Reports from the U.K. Lockdown

by Damian Robin

The British streets are vacant, empty—
Not so the rubbish bins
Piled outwards to eternity,
A multitude of sins—

A medic’s half-used, skin-tight gloves
Outside a place of care—
The carelessness of harassed loves—
I saw her poke them there—

Scrunched tissues, wipes, the bug survives,
Precariously binned,
The future fallout of our lives
Blowin’ in the Wind.

. . . . .

You need your ears as hooks, to hold a mask in place.
It covers nose and mouth, so hiding half your face.

Though hats and clothes can screen off goosebumps, pores, and hair,
Your upfront eyes and skin are touched by open air—

(Unless you’re wearing goggles or a hooded visor)—
Yet, with such kit, how safe you are, no-one’s the wiser.

. . . . .

The supermarket shelves stretch bleak—
Too many panic buy.
New customers play hide and seek,
So many goods are shy.




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17 Responses

  1. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    England is my homeland and “Reports from the U.K. Lockdown” has engaged my curiosity and anxiety. I appreciate your admirably crafted poem, Mr. Robin. It shines a much needed spotlight on the atrocities surrounding disaster… roll on normality!

    • Joe Tessitore

      Can normality ever roll on again?
      There always has been and there always will be a new virus – going forward,does the world not come to a screeching halt every single time?

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        A good point. I didn’t ponder for long enough on my reference to ‘normality’. I do believe I’ve forgotten the meaning of the word. The shortage of loo rolls has skewed my usually sensible view. Roll on a TP delivery.

  2. C.B. Anderson

    I enjoyed your poem, Susan, but I would like to point out a small matter (in S2 L3) pertaining to diction. A person, place or thing cannot simply be fraught (or rife), but must always be fraught (or rife) WITH something. For instance:

    The highway was fraught with danger and rife with roadkill.

    Perhaps the line could be rendered something like this:

    the gloom of doomsday thought leaves you distraught —

    The alliteration and internal rhymes were, as usual, very fine.

    • Joe Tessitore

      It’s good indeed to see that it’s business as usual, at least as far as you’re concerned.
      I find it very reassuring.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for the kind comment on my poem and your observations on the word “fraught”. You have taught me something this morning. I have drawn on my British English to write this poem. The word fraught in the U.K. does mean filled or charged, to be followed by “with”, but can also mean anxious or worried or agitated etc. I had no idea that American English had only the one meaning. Your lesson is greatly appreciated. Although I’ve lived in Texas for nine years, I still have much to learn. We are most certainly separated by a common language. Thank you for bridging that gap.

      • C.B. Anderson


        I had no idea that “fraught” was sometimes used differently in the U.K. But now that you have done it, the word is used that way in the U.S.A. too! It’s a little scary for me. I try to be a stickler for proper word usage, grammar, syntax and the like, but sometimes new conventions undo me. I am overrun by examples of this. Sadly, I always write “e-mail,” though almost nobody else does. One thing that is still true: Don’t mess with Texas!

      • Mike Bryant

        C. B.

        Don’t feel too bad about it. Even Roget’s Thesaurus doesn’t show the noun form of “fraught” !
        In response to your comment, I decided to look it up. I had to search four or five online dictionaries to find ONE American dictionary that includes the noun definition. When I first read Susan’s poem, the word caused a small hiccup in my mind, too, but I have heard her use it before so I thought, “Of course… another Englishism.”
        We were both wrong.

      • C.B. Anderson

        For Mike:

        This has nothing whatsoever to do with any “noun form of ‘fraught.'” It’s still a predicate adjective. The only question is whether or not it must be connected with a prepositional phrase beginning with “with.”

  3. Winston Smith

    Toilet paper will be the currency of the glorious people’s collective utopia where the comrade serfs sing hymns of praise to globalist pimps for stopping the mean ol’ virus that wasn’t made in China you thoughtcriminal.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Highly amusing and utterly hilarious in a scary, Orwellian sorta way. So apt! And, YES, I am a thought-criminal.

    • C.B. Anderson


      You are as wry and astute as your namesake status would have us believe.

  4. Damian Robin

    Hi Susan, I guess you guessed I live in the UK.
    You may be familiar with the feelings in this poem

    (If your walls are paper thin)

    It’s so quiet I can hear a PIN
    Clacked into a Mac next-door.
    Like me, they work from home, are always in.
    (How long will we be in here for?)

    Sometimes I hear their words as bright as day,
    Sometimes their pleasantries at night.
    Sometimes I wish they’d stop and go away
    But there’s no train nor cruise nor flight …

    An unfamiliar noise as day reloads :
    A distant cockerel’s wake-up calls
    Are cracked across our carless, city roads
    Where newborn, urban silence stalls

    And, once lost, morning, chorus lines explode
    And with their blessing notes enthral.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I can really relate to this admirably wrought poem. I used to live in a town in the London Borough of Bexley where the population’s high and the properties are small and close together (or joined in the majority of cases)… and, yes, I was extremely familiar with the comings, goings, and everyday routines of the neighbours.

    Here on the coastal plains of Texas, I no longer have to keep my voice and music down. I can shout and dance and grill in the backyard without ruining the neighbours’ peace or drying washing. I’ve gone from quiet, English lady to loud, Texas gal. The birdsong is constant and beautiful and the hummingbirds are plentiful. Though, it’s always great to travel home, and you’re poem has taken me on a nostalgic trip. Thank you, Damian.

  6. Mike Bryant

    Really perfect, beautiful and laugh out loud funny. Your wonderful versifying is just the thing to bring the “balm of calm” to this “gloom of doomsday” world.
    I can’t ever hear “pearlclutcher” without thinking ofMargaret Dumont, who was in many of the Marx Bros. movies. She was perpetually scandalized at the wonderfully irreverent brothers.


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