Backyard Bliss

I hear hope’s song fill skies today
__In trills beyond my door.
Her citrus kiss burns through the grey
__As martins dip and soar.
Their purple sheen in lemon rays
Is testament to summer’s gaze—
__It warms me to my core.
And as I’m drawn to step outside,
Hope’s wonderment won’t be denied.

I see joy’s dance in dragonflies
__That skim on whirring wing,
And butterflies that cram my eyes
__With hues so bright they sing.
In saffron tones their presence glows
A pulse of red, a note of rose—
__Joy’s rainbow chorales ring.
And as I lie upon the grass
My worries (like the clouds) just pass.

I feel love’s lure in fireflies
__With winking blinks of green,
And in the jasmine-scented highs
__Of twilight’s silver scene.
As Venus flickers overhead,
Love weaves a dream in diamond thread
__Through every lunar beam.
And as I tread the spangled lawn
I praise the hour this day was born.

I search for solace in the arms
__Of Mother Nature’s care.
I know the balm within her charms
__Will have me stop and stare
At space beyond the racing pace;
Beyond dark paths that veer from grace,
__Above piques of despair.
So, when I’m low and life grows hard,
I wander into my backyard.

 

 

The Spyder

Spyder Spyder, spinning fright,
In the moon-kissed bloom of night,
Gracing air with prayer of death
Before dawn draws her morning breath;

Cloaked in husk of bristling jet,
Lurking in the devil’s net,
Willing teasing breeze to bring
A lush and juicy wingéd thing;

Looming ghoul of drooling fang,
Watches flitting pretties hang,
Scuttling in to pierce and wrap
The manna snared in terror’s trap—

Moreish mite in sticky silk;
Hors d’oeuvre served for fiend to milk
And guzzle on ambrosial grub
With the zeal of Beelzebub….

Spyder Spyder, spinning fright,
In the blue-moon doom of night,
Lacing air with lair of death
Before dawn draws her mourning breath.

First published in Expansive Poetry Online

 

 

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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36 Responses

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Leo. I appreciate you dropping by and commenting. I know we share the same love of nature – your poems are an inspiration.

      Reply
  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    Both poems are beautifully done, but “The Spyder” is especially accomplished.

    Can I ask about two words? In the spider poem’s fourth quatrain, what does “Moreish” mean? It doesn’t ring a bell with me. And in “Backyard Bliss,” in the second stanza the word “cram” (in “cram my eyes”) seems out of place. How about just “fill,” or some other monosyllable? I might suggest “charm my eyes.”

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Dr. Salemi. “Moreish” is used in the context of food and means it’s so delicious it makes you want to eat more of it. It is very British, but as my poem is a nod to Blake, I thought I’d grace it with a bit of Englishness.

      When I used the word “cram”, I was going after the idea of filling my eyes to the point of overflowing with the colors of the butterfly, but I can see how the word may jar. I will most certainly look for another word that’s in keeping with the rest of the poem.

      Reply
  2. Satyananda Sarangi

    Hello Susan ma’am!

    You must be having a “poetic backyard” wherein bliss resides throughout the year. Loved the first one.
    “The Spyder” – well executed and top-notch imagery.

    Thank you. ☺

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Satyananda. I love the outdoors. Give me a glimpse of sky, the warmth of the sun, the caress of a breeze, and the beauty of the birds and butterflies, and I’m happy.

      Reply
  3. Sally Cook

    Susan, you have a way with words – a very specific way! As I said before, the spyder is a creature of the dark; I fear it. In other words it has a strong effect on me.
    I do agree with Joe Salemi insofar as the word “cram”goes. Please continue to provide us with examples of your your far-reaching and yet very specific examples of your adjectival proclivities.
    Sincerely and with affection –

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      I really appreciate you dropping by, my dear friend. I thoroughly appreciate your fine eye – the word “cram” is a definite mistake. I will admit that I have a terrible fear of spiders… I respect them and only wish I didn’t feel a scream rise every time I saw one. I really want to love them… but… they’re so darn creepy!! I am embarrassed by this fear and ashamed to admit I’ve behaved in the most appalling fashion in the presence of a spider. Why, I ask myself… I’m a lover of all critters – including snakes and alligators… why spiders?

      Reply
  4. David Paul Behrens

    Both of these poems are well crafted and enjoyable to read. The following is a related poem I wrote in 2017:

    William Blake

    In another lifetime,
    I was William Blake.
    When I saw his work,
    That was my take.

    He wrote about love
    And the human heart.
    I thought I was him,
    Right from the start.

    He wrote about London,
    Tiger burning bright.
    His influence looms
    In whatever I write.

    He wrote about life,
    The human abstract.
    I hope I was him.
    I hope it’s a fact.

    I flatter myself
    To think I was him.
    Deep down I know
    The chances are slim.

    His mystical presence
    Burns like a fire.
    To be like him
    Is to what I aspire.

    Reply
  5. Margaret Coats

    The word “cram” is a punch in the face, but I immediately understood your meaning–something not easily conveyed by a milder word. Just think of a dedicated butterfly garden, surrounded by netting that prevents the butterflies from escaping, and where they occasionally crash into a visitor’s eye. I will also support your use of “cram” with three lines from Amy Lowell’s multicolored sonnet, “A Tulip Garden.”

    Here are platoons of gold-frocked cavalry,
    With scarlet sabres tossing in the eye
    Of purple batteries, every gun in place.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dear Margaret, I really appreciate this alternative viewpoint. I haven’t yet found a word to replace “cram”, simply because nothing says it like this in-your-face word. The reason I wanted to change it is because butterflies in England don’t have the same impact as the dish-plate size ones in Texas, and I thought I’d gone off track with a rather gaudy take on something so delicate… but… Amy Lowell may well have changed my mind. You’ve given me a lot to think about (as ever). Thank you very much for your insightful take.

      Reply
      • Joseph S. Salemi

        The problem with the verb “cram” is connotation and tone! To cram means “to overstuff,” “to fill to repletion,” or “to pack in tightly.” It is best used in sentences like “The closet is crammed with junk,” or “The refrigerator is crammed with food.” Using it in a bucolic poem like “Backyard Bliss” is simply jarring and out of place.

        The word is essentially slangy, and therefore lacking in the literary decorum proper to Mrs. Bryant’s poem. And when one uses slang in the wrong place, it put you on the edge of the dreaded bathos. Consider this McGonagallesque example:

        Dearest, you are all my bliss–
        I hunger for your precious kiss.
        Those love-notes–honey, send me more!
        I’m cramming them in my desk drawer.

        See how one wrong word wrecks a poem?

        Also, notice that Amy Lowell (to her credit) did not use the word “cram.” She created instead an extended metaphor of tulips as a military formation, with tossing sabres and batteries of cannon.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Dr. Salemi, my head simply crammed (LOL) with ideas and I’m so grateful for this informative discussion on the word. I do like the word “cram” and Margaret’s take makes me want to hold on to my initial idea, but it would appear that the majority of readers find it jarring and your reasoning makes sense. What do you think about butterflies that “widen” eyes? For me “widen” captures an element wonder and surprise at their beauty. Julian suggested “greet”. I also like that.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Well, if you use “widen,” you’ll have to omit “my” for metrical reasons. But then the line looks like it might mean the butterflies have eyes that they are widening, and that would be absurd.

        Whatever you need, it has to be a monosyllable.

  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    David, thank you very much for your lovely comment and wonderful poem. I particularly like “He wrote about love/And the human heart./I thought I was him,/Right from the start.” For me, this says everything about Blake. He spoke the language of the people. His contemporaries had little time for his works and looked down their noses at him. But, that’s exactly why his followers loved him… he understood what other poets didn’t – probably because he came from a working class background. As a teenager, his “Songs of Innocence” sang to my heart and it was then I fell in love with his poetry. “The Spyder” is a nod of gratitude to one of the greats.

    Reply
  7. Julian D. Woodruff

    Congratulations, Susan
    Your command of alliteration is on vivid display, but there is much inventive resonance, too.
    What I like best, though, is your respect for spiders. They’re not just wonderful creatures that help the environment.
    I had the same q about Moreish. Too bad it’s lost on most American ears. As for “cram,” I stopped there, too. But my 1st thought was “greet” … as in “Every morning you greet me.” Oh, dear!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your considered observations, Julian. I’m glad my respect for arachnids comes through – I know they’re a force for good and really want to like them… darn it! As for “moreish”, I’m so glad you appreciate it. I adore the sound and feel of the word. It speaks of a rich, addictive deliciousness that rolls off the tongue like honey. I like “greet” – it changes my idea, but creates a new one that appeals to me. Great stuff! Thanks again.

      Reply
  8. Mike Bryant

    I knew that most Americans might have a problem with the word “moreish” and suggested scrumptious or luscious. Susan loved it so much I decided to look it up and apparently it IS an American English word. So I just figured anyone could just look it up at merriam-webster.com. It’s there and it means palatable.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yes, you did warn me but I’m very stubborn when it comes to words I love. “Moreish” is way above “cram” on my Wonderful Words list – it’s going nowhere.

      Reply
  9. Rod Walford

    Thank you Susan! Your first had me sitting in a lounger your backyard sharing all that beauty of nature with you. Your second reminded me of my old backyard ( don’t like that Americanism although I confess we use it here in N.Z.) my old garden in Sussex where we had a long beech hedge. On a frosty morning all you could see were rime covered spider webs over the entire thing. It was a awesome sight – and a truly magnificent feat of engineering! Your poems are a delight – as always.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Rod, I’m thrilled you liked my poems. I, like you, had terrible trouble with the word “backyard” when I first arrived in Texas. How on earth could someone call the green and floral land outside their window a yard?! I had to convert to the word pretty quickly as every time I spoke of my “garden”, people asked what vegetables I was growing… and, I’m no vegetable grower.

      There’s nothing like a frosted, sun-dusted, or dew-laden spider’s web. You are absolutely right, they are truly a magnificent feat of engineering. I must, however, admire them from a distance. If I walk into one it freaks me. The sheer strength and sticky elasticity of it gives me goosebumps. I seriously need therapy LOL.

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment.

      Reply
  10. Terry L. Norton

    I enjoyed both poems – the first as an homage to the solace that nature in repose can bring and the second in its portrayal of nature’s utter fierceness like the little drama presented in Frost’s “Design.”

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Terry, thank you very much for your comment. Mother Nature fascinates me and you have tapped into the very core of her beauty and savagery. I’ve just read Robert Frost’s “Design” for the very first time. Wow! What a vivid linguistic picture he paints – I love the word choice, the imagery, the figures of speech, and the subject matter. If my spider poem is a fraction as good, I’m smiling.

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your astute observation, Joe. I love words for the feel and sound of them, and always enjoy reading poetry aloud. I’m so glad you spotted and appreciated that in the Beelzebub line. I love your “muffled buzzing” description. How well those two words sit together. I might steal them for a future poem. 😉

      Reply
  11. David Watt

    Susan, “Backyard Bliss”is a delight to the senses. You must have a backyard to be envied! My take on the use of ‘cram’ is that the single word ‘delight’ (for what is a delightfully described scene) could be used to replace ‘that cram’.

    The alliteration and thoughtful word choice in ‘The Spyder’ make it a wonderful poem to read aloud. We also use the word ‘moreish’ in Australia eg. ‘That meal was rather moreish’.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, thank you very much for your wonderful comment. I like the idea of “delight” – it’s pretty and in keeping with the mood of the poem. As an added bonus, it creates an internal rhyme with “so bright” in the following line.

      I’m thrilled to hear that you’re eating moreish dishes in Australia – what better word to describe the sheer deliciousness of a meal that begs for a second helping!

      Reply
  12. Julian D. Woodruff

    Susan,
    I hope you’re not getting tired of all this picking and packing around a single word. I’m betting you hold onto “cram,” and I don’t blame you. Another direction that comes to mind: energize, enliven, awaken etc. Unfortunately, I can come up with only “stoke”!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Julian, I never get tired of discussing the intricacies of poetry. I love sweating the small stuff, especially with a like-minded group of people who can steer me in the right direction. I’m drawn to the word “stoke” – it conjures an image of eyes blazing in the glory of a butterfly’s colorful wing. I am now spoilt for choice, and that’s the way I like it! Thank you very much for your wonderful suggestion.

      Reply
  13. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, I love “Cram.” I also love “Dram” especially when preceded by “Wee” and the favourite word of Monty Pythoneers, “Spam.” Your backyard sounds amazing. I have tried to get inspiration from mine but all I can see on a wet afternoon is a fence that needs a lick, and a resident lame wood-pigeon that walks everywhere. “The Spyder” is up there on the top shelf of English poetry, in fact my copy has flown off the top shelf, out of the window and gone stratospheric. Two cracking poems. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your beautifully humorous comment, Jeff. What’s wrong with a walking wood-pigeon – much better than a Pythonesque parrot! I like the sound of the “wee dram”. I get seriously drunk on the beauty of the butterflies in my backyard… this description suits me. I’m thrilled you like my bristling Spyder… I know it will never compare to a blazing Tyger – one can but try.

      Reply
  14. C.B. Anderson

    When you write amazing lyric poetry like this, Susan, it makes me want to suggest that you try submitting poems to the ORCHARDS poetry journal. You might find a summer home there. On the subject of “cram” I’m fairly neutral, but you might consider “storm” as an alternative.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., thank you very much for the ORCHARD pointer, and for your take on “cram”. I like “storm” – the image of a forceful invasion of beauty appeals to me.

      Reply

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