Thanksgiving 1984 2020

Wear a mask until you eat and never touch your face.
Muzzle up between each bite and when you’re saying grace.
No more guests than four to eight at six full feet apart.
To cough is reprehensible but do feel free to fart.*

Though family dos have been taboo for oh so very long,
You must refrain from laughter or from bursting into song.
A greeting handshake or a hug is apt to harm or threaten
Apocalyptic chaos that could lead to Armageddon.

Think before you pour a drink—think not ME but WEE;
Swigging punch before you lunch will lead to extra pee—
An unhygienic hazard when all toilet paper’s sparse,
Refuse the booze and leave enough to cover every arse.

Before you hit the big buffet pull on your latex mitts.
A hazmat suit can look real cute and shows you’re blessed with wits;
An added safety aspect—a Covid-beating winner,
A sensible ensemble when filling plates with dinner.

If TVs on the menu pass up comedy and sport—
To shout or cheer or chortle and to outwardly cavort
Will blast those reckless, frenzied germs all over kith and kin—
Don’t quaff, don’t laugh, don’t sing, don’t shout—keep emotions in!

Fools who flout this regimen on grounds it’s too draconian
Should quit the turkey and the yams and head on straight back home again.


*Pre-Thanksgiving 2020, farting was considered the height of ill manners. Thanksgiving 2020, breaking into a cough is an absolute no-no, breaking wind, not so much.



Turkey, or not Turkey

a giblet soliloquy

Turkey, or not turkey: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler to pluck and to stuff a
Fat festive fowl, in the name of tradition,
Or to shun obligation; should I suffer
That breast-or-thigh wrestle? A cod piece, perchance…
A lush wishbone-free dream of a fish dish
With a smattering of seasoning to dance
On my tongue—a sweet culinary kiss?
Aye, there’s the rub for my grub over there.
I’ll whip up a beer batter, fire the oil
For the chips, and pour out some cheeky cheer.
A sherry will shuffle off mortal toil
As peas rise to the boil, mushy of course,
And fine tartare sauce. I’m pining to share;
I’ll be dining alone—a cruel Covid curse.

Oh, for a-feel-a-ya* hands through my hair,
Thanksgiving cuddles and you in my chair!


*my apologies to Ophelia




A benevolent son living far from his mum
Purchased a gift worth an excessive sum:
A tribute of beauty, exotic and rare,
As thanks to his mother for infinite care.

The gift was a peach-feathered bird from Mumbai.
It was multi-linguistic with a hypnotic eye.
It could thrill with the trill of an operatic lark
In languages dating right back to the Ark.

The son grew excited to hear his mum’s zeal
In a phone call just after her evening meal.
But alas, the son grew acutely suspicious
When Mother declared, “That bird was deeeelicious!”

“Bloody hell!” yelled the son, “Your present could speak
In oodles of tongues from its erudite beak!”
“Relax!” replied Mum, “That’s simply absurd…
When I plucked, stuffed and trussed it—it said not a word!”



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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53 Responses

  1. sally cook

    Oh peach colored bird, you were straight off the ark
    A rare fowl indeed, and light colored, not dark
    My cat trumps your bird, I make haste to remark,
    For spotted and striped, he was able to bark!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Sally, your amazing spotted and striped cat most certainly trumps my peach feathered fowl… although, I believe cats can bark. You may think I’m barking mad, but the cat who owned me in England barked up a storm. He also retrieved balls. Perhaps the pet rescue center passed off a King Charles Spaniel as a British Blue. Here’s wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving!

      • sally cook

        Susan, this particular cat was my Murphides, who strolled in from his burial site to throw himself against the back of the house repeatedly one evening until I went to look.
        Nothing there — but then four short sharp barks. I responded by saying “come on in, Murph” and then opened the back door so he could enter and went to bed.
        But I could not sleep. Had I opened the door wide enough for a cat-spirit to enter?
        Finally got up, reopened the door wide, and called him. Only then was I able to sleep.
        Think I am also a resident of the looney bin?
        No, decidedly not. Just your run-of-the-mill cat fancier.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Sally, cats bring with them their own mystique, which I have learned and appreciated over the years… and I feel I’ve maintained my sanity in the process, although, some may disagree. 😉

  2. Russel Winick

    Susan – great work as usual! As to the footnote in your first poem, I have another thought. We are now reading that with the current increase in virus numbers, bathroom tissue is again disappearing from store shelves in some areas. On the other hand, our former president’s latest massive tribute to himself is now loading up nearby shelves. So to any holiday hosts who may be in need of………..
    Forgive me. Just a thought.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Russel, thank you very much for your highly amusing comment, I’m sniggering at the thought of the recycling of a certain book – great idea!

  3. Julian D. Woodruff

    “… there’s the rub for my grub” is worthy of Ogden Nash and also reminds me of the villain’s line in some WB cartoon: “If music be the food of love, play on, Macduff, play on.”
    The fate of your exotic bird reminds me of a Playboy cartoon in which Mother gets her hands on the mermaid her son has recently landed.
    Thanks for needed Thanksgiving cheer!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Julian, your comment has me smiling – to be likened to the late great Ogden Nash is wonderful – and, laughing – the mermaid’s destiny is hilarious. I hope mushy peas and tartare sauce featured in the cartoon.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    The Thanksgiving poem (1984-2020) is a magnificent set of heptameters.

    In “Speechless” there is a glitch in the first quatrain. The fourth line doesn’t scan properly. I assume you’ve used “mother” because you don’t want to repeat “mum” from the first line. That’s a laudable intention, but why not simply revise with a new monosyllable? I’d suggest this:

    As thanks to the dame for her infinite care”

    If your British background makes you hesitate to use “dame” in its slangy American sense, then try “broad.”

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Or, if one’s not too scrupulous about word order: “His mother to thank for …”

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Yes, an inversion is possible, especially in this kind of light verse.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe S, thank you very much for your comment. You’re spot on with the reason I changed “mum” to “mother”. I’ve taken your advice on board, together with Julian’s, and I will change it. Thanks for pointing this out – that’s one of the assets of being on this site.

  5. Norma Okun

    I hope that your poems had more taste. The words clash and yank and really have no purpose to either celebrate or pity what is going on in people’s homes. Perhaps a tear not a sneer would be for me something in good taste.

    • Russel Winick

      Susan’s (first) poem seems to me intended as a form of political commentary, and in my opinion, it is skillful and effective for that purpose.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Thank you, Russel. I often wrestle with whether or not to post a poem through fear of offending… but, the poet and sense of justice in my heart continues to prevail – often to my detriment, but hey – freedom’s worth the fight.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, I am sorry you’re offended. This was not my intention. I am fully aware that Thanksgiving 2020 is sad for everyone – me included. The reason it may be sad is because of the draconian measures forced on us by an overbearing government, not poets who vent their emotions through humor. Just a thought. I feel your anger may be misplaced.

      • Norma Okun

        There is not anger that impelled me to tell you that in my heart there is sorrow because many won’t be at the thanksgiving table, and that was just not included in your poem. It was not funny to me, and in bad taste.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Fair enough, Norma. Move on to the many beautiful poems on this site that may lift your spirit. I recommend “Backyard Bliss” – an uplifting poem of mine written to eradicate any Thanksgiving clouds.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Get over your self-absorption, Norma. Nobody cares about your taste in poetry. And I doubt that you know very much about what is going on in “people’s homes,” whatever that means.

      • Norma Okun

        You show a lot of aggressive passion but not compassion. That is why what is going or in the world to you matters not.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Poems are not about “good taste.” This is a poetry website, not a Mormon Sunday School. We’re not here to be sentimentalists.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        “Bad taste” is simply a code phrase for “It doesn’t comport with my personal ideology.” Bringing it into the conversation here is an underhanded attempt at censorship.

    • Norma Okun

      It was not funny to me
      Sometimes a celebration comes
      And people have no jobs
      Sometimes a virus wipes out
      People and it happened with the Spanish Flu back in the 1800’s
      People had to wear masks
      They had to stay home
      They loved each other more.
      A celebration that is part of the tradition in the USA
      Thanksgiving. People celebrate with a turkey and trimmings
      And all families honor the day the pilgrims and the Indians got along and decided to sit together and celebrate with gratitude
      A similar thing happened in the year 2020 with the Corona Virus that is like the Spanish Flu
      People were made to wear masks
      And stayed home, lost loved ones
      A poem appeared and I read it
      That mocked the facts that people
      Had to wear masks, they should not drink or eat
      She says because toilet paper is scarce, and she tried to make it funny and the celebration a big farce
      I dared to say it did not seem fair to those who really have lost dear ones to the Corona Virus
      And really the traditional celebration of Thanksgiving became impossible to suppress
      People still got on airplanes and masks or no masks they made it somehow to celebrate their traditional Thanksgiving feast
      People who have been through so much
      I give praise to the nurses and the doctors
      Who I am sure had not a celebration?
      Despite the traditional Thanksgiving celebrated year after year

  6. Yael

    Nice poems Susan, happy Thanksgiving to you too.
    I’m familiar with the joke underlying your poem Speechless and I like how you rephrased it into a rhyming format. It’s very entertaining this way.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, I am laughing! I had never heard the joke until my husband told me. He then challenged me to convey it in poetry form… and, silly me, I couldn’t resist. He wants me to turn all of his favorite jokes into poetry… I will spare the readers of this site the results.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      … My husband has just said, maybe that should be an SCP category – jokes turned into poetry… what do you think? LOL

      • Yael

        That could be a total riot. A rating system would probably have to be applied though, similar to the way movies are rated, given the nature of the popular jokes which tend to circulate.
        Personally, I enjoy the bizarre and odd-ball jokes which most people don’t think are funny at all, or which cannot be written out because they depend on the sounds of the spoken language.
        For example, none of my friends or family think this joke is funny, but I like it:
        A zoo keeper in the primate exhibit noticed that one of the apes had been busy studying a couple of books for weeks on end and he saw that one book was a Bible and the other one was Darwin’s Origin of Species. He thought it strange and most unusual, so he asked the ape why he was studying these books. The ape replied that he was trying to figure out if he was his brother’s keeper or his keeper’s brother.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Yael, I love your odd-ball joke – it’s a cerebral delight that begs to be turned into a poem! Here’s another one of my husband’s jokes that appealed to my poetic bent. If you like it, I’m going to put this idea forward… goodness knows, we could all do with a few poetic punchlines to cheer us up. You inspire me!

        Pony Tale

        My heart used to hanker for horses
        (that bright equine blaze of delight)
        till that dastardly day when dark forces
        turned my thrill to a bone-chilling fright.

        Oh, the trauma that followed the error
        of mounting a proud chestnut colt,
        who became a wild-eyed, bucking terror
        determined to throw me and bolt.

        He whirled and he tossed and grew sour.
        My fingers, they slipped from his reins.
        I was dragged till Walmart switched the power
        straight off at the parking lot mains.

        Now I’m banned from that store ride forever.
        To be honest, I don’t really care.
        I won’t straddle a pony – NOT EVER!
        I would much rather wrestle a bear. 😉

      • C.B. Anderson

        I think, Susan, that writers already do it to whatever extent they are capable. One of my favorite things to do is to turn conventional truisms & cliches on their heads.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        C.B., I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think a poet’s job is to turn things on their head; to look at things from a different angle, and if that angle taps into the emotions (whether it’s laughter, anger, sorrow or joy), then it’s a job well done. Indifference is the enemy of the poet – that’s why I take outrage at my words on with an element of relish… outrage is good… disinterest is bad.

  7. Anna J. Arredondo


    I thoroughly enjoyed all three poems. What made me pop in to comment, though, was the title of the first. I love the “struck-through” 1984. Genius.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Anna. To my mind a title showcases a poem, and I’m glad this one had the desired effect.

  8. Norma Okun

    I read comments about people who I never said a thing to about. Why can anyone say anything that comes to them as they read people’s poems. If I have no right to tell Susan what I felt was missing in her poem the poetry written here is just to be accepted and never commented on? If that is so, I will never again express an opinion because there is a lot of hate if you say what you feel each time you read a poem here.

    • C.B. Anderson

      You have the absolute right, Norma, to say just about anything you want, but others also have the right to comment on your comments. If you write something stupid, then expect to get called out for it.

  9. Julian D. Woodruff

    Ms. Okun,
    I dare say you could submit a poem or 2 to this site expressing your political views and have the submission considered critically and perhaps published.
    If it is published, you can expect comments praising or taking issue with your effort on purely technical grounds, with no regard to content; or on content, but with an eye to how clearly, forcibly, imaginatively, and honestly you present it.
    Go for it!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Julian, thank you for your measured and constructive comment to Norma. I appreciate your stance and your sentiment – a path I tried to tread myself. Joe S., your judicious, sagacious and sharp-witted comment stating “Bad taste” is simply a code phrase for “It doesn’t comport with my personal ideology” has hit me in the gut big time, and I thank you for that.

        Norma, I have respect for everyone’s unique opinion. You only have to look through the comments section on my poetry to understand that to be fact. I have always written about subjects I feel a genuine passion for and poetry is my chosen medium. You say you joined SCP “To learn what a good line of poetry can be”, and you’ve also told me my “words clash and yank and really have no purpose to either celebrate or pity what is going on in people’s homes. Perhaps a tear not a sneer would be for me something in good taste.” I suggest that if your chosen role on this site is to comment, perhaps you could back your observations with substance. Tell me which words “clash and yank”. Tell me why I need to alter my poem to fit with your world view. I’m listening and I’m open to suggestion. I have explained myself to you. Perhaps it’s time for you to explain yourself to me.

  10. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, not sure where the expression, “laughing your socks off” came from, but I am sitting here barefoot this evening. These three are a welcome blast of dark humour to light up these depressing days. This must be the first time that “arse” and “fart” have featured in an SCP poem. Love the “giblet soliloquy” and always thought “mushy peas” was a very English delicacy. Speechless is right up there in Pam Ayers territory. It reminded me of the British gag of the lady, after a fine meal in a restaurant, asking the chef, “How do you prepare your Chicken?” to which he replies, “I just tell it that it is going to die.”
    Thank you for a most uplifting trilogy.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, I’m thrilled you enjoyed my poems. Your “fart” and “arse” observation makes me want to slip future sniggersome nuggets into poetic lines… watch this space. As for “Speechless” being up there in Pam Ayres territory – I love work. I remember seeing her on “Opportunity Knocks” when I was bout 10 marvelling at how poetry could be that funny. I wrote my giblet soliloquy when I used to hanker after beer-battered cod and chips. Now I’ve discovered the wonder of Texan fayre, I’m almost over pining for British food… almost. Great chicken joke – perhaps you should turn it into a poem.

  11. Norma

    Hi Susan, I will be glad to take back all I have said. I simply felt toilet paper and Turkey. Forget what I said.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dear Norma,
      Every poem on this page is straight from my imagination. Each one is vested in humor and none of them were meant to offend. I am sorry you were offended but I cannot and will not change my style according to other people’s views. I have to remain true to myself as a poet. If I don’t like a particular artist’s style, then I won’t buy their painting. I wouldn’t dream of telling that artist to tailor work to suit my preferences. I’d indulge myself in the works of artists more suited to my tastes. That’s the beauty of living in a free society – the luxury of choice.

      I do, however, understand your sadness this Thanksgiving. I can’t see my friends and family this Christmas. My homeland is on its second lockdown and it might be some time before we can get together again. I haven’t touched upon my sadness in poetry because I don’t believe poetry should necessarily be an extension of one’s personal feelings… though for you, I’ve made this one exception:

      For Norma

      Today most homes are void of cheer;
      Our world is torn apart.
      I feel the burn of each hot tear
      Blazing in my heart
      For all the souls who cannot toast
      The spirit of this day
      With those they love and miss the most
      On this Thanksgiving day.

      I hope 2021 brings with it brighter and better times.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Susan, I hope you’ll stick to your resolution that this will be the one and only exception. The last thing this site needs is more saccharine, sentimental Hallmark-Card verse.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Joe S., and therein lies my point. I have to be me, and if that comes with a heap load of controversy, so be it. I’m glad you’re in tune with my satirical side. 😉

      • Jeff Eardley

        Susan, I can almost hear James Taylor singing this. Hallmark it sure ain’t.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Jeff, I’ve shuffled off my dark satirical side – James Taylor, here I come! LOL

      • Norma Okun

        Thank you Susan. Although I never said I wanted to change your style, I want to say as a Mother in America that I weep with the mothers who had no sons or daughters beside them on 2020 Thanksgiving.

  12. Yael

    Go for it Susan!
    Turning regular jokes into poetry may or may not be the best thing since sliced bread. You have what it takes to find out.
    I love your Pony Tale.
    I had to read it twice to get a really good mental picture of it in my head. The imagery you convey is vivid yet delightfully subtle and shifting at the same time.
    It reminds me of the 00 Spool scene “My dog barks some” ( from the movie Wild At Heart which, among other things, deals with shifting mental images based on spoken words.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      “My dog barks some” – hilarious… the actors’ facial expressions heighten the hilarity – priceless and thank you.

  13. David Watt

    Susan, in your first poem, I took particular note of the great rhyme pairing of ‘draconian’ with ‘back home again’.
    Each of these poems are highly entertaining. I’m keen to read more poetry derived from jokes.


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