The New York Times has just published a piece detailing a range of recommendations for the Biden administration to solve the “reality crisis” and to “de-radicalize” wrong-thinking citizens, including setting up a “reality czar” and a “truth commission.” 

With truth on trial a czar  will rush to fish out fibs from fact,
Sifting scores of sources for a story justly stacked.
A czar ensures reality is packed with all that’s factual,
Dousing every train of thought that steams around the actual.

These grand, sagacious gurus snuffle out the bona fide
With nostrils flared and sniffing for the stench of lies denied.
They’ll root out authenticity and slap down errant stands
With snorts of nosy probity and righteous upper hands.

As guardians of the genuine, they have dud data cracked.
They’re Sherpas who will guide us through the maze of inexact.
They’ll check out cheating checkers and faux yogis of pretense—
Those callow fools who prize the rules of clownish common sense.

So, let us trust seraphic czars to trumpet right and wrong.
Don’t seek, don’t speak, be meek, don’t ask—their task is virtue’s song.
On everything exemplary they hold the golden key.
They silence spin and drown out sin and think for you and me.

If guidelines from the government appear to scold and scoff
And expertise of experts seems to be a trifle off,
Don’t pose a reckless question because questions aren’t allowed
By czars with morals so divine they can’t be disavowed.

So, shut your trap and clap your eyes on pure and saintly news
Untainted by the mindless finds of those with fictive views.
Ditch your woes and worries and your flurries of suspicion—
A pious czar will set the bar. . .  bring on the Truth Commission!

Let worthy words of wonder weave their way around the nation
In terms that burn the heretics who spread misinformation.
Let headlines be saluted, undisputed, free from blame,
Scrutinized and sanitized and all the fucking same!



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).

NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments.


45 Responses

  1. benjamen grinberg

    I think the only way to get through this is to understand that America is now a socialist nation. We know what to expect. We know what’s going to happen. My view is that one should hold fast to one’s own values. For instance, for me, the title of the poem, “Reality Check” alluded to something personal; that I need to check myself. I couldn’t care less about scum of the ilk we have in this country. I know what scourge they’ll cause to the billions of good people the world over but that has nothing to do with how I will continue to live my life in the same way…trying to live up to unconditional kindness and working on myself.

    • benjamen grinberg

      but that’s just offhand. i know one should not be completely oblivious. but i don’t think i meant that.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Benjamen, I’m with you all the way. Being true to myself, which means being honest with others and never pretending I believe anything less than the truth, is what keeps me sane… hence this poem. I only hope my words help keep others on the truthful track too… and by “truthful”, I don’t mean a “Reality Czar’s” version of the truth… I mean immutable truth, where chromosomes decide whether people are men or women, Science isn’t a religion, and two plus two equal four.

  2. James Sale

    This is one of those rare occasions, Susan, when the use of the word ‘fucking’ is simply brilliant – and just so right! And don’t worry – we’ll have you back in England in no time at all – heck, the political contamination here does not seem as bad as it is over there!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      James, thank you very much! Your seal of approval has me smiling. I couldn’t think of another word that would get my point across and decided to draw upon a Larkinesque fearlessness to make my poem shout out loud in these times of whispering behind closed doors in case anyone is offended by the truth. I may need to return to the UK soon… especially now I’m dropping F-bombs in this war against free thought and speech. 😉

  3. Gail Root

    Oh, Susan, I do so completely understand the desire to use that particular participle as an augmentative adverb or adjective. I tried to think of a good replacement, but couldn’t come up with anything that expressed real rage. You can get the correct rhythm with “. . . and everyone the same!” But it comes off as despairing and defeatist, as a tired tantruming tot, rather than as enraged adult. So! I think your descent into vulgarity is justified. (Not that you need my help!)

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Gail, I really appreciate your comment and I’m thrilled you know that my colorful word isn’t gratuitous. Sometimes one has to let fly… I’m glad Evan thought so too! I would also like to say, you have the creativity of a poet. A beautiful, alliterative line like this, “as despairing and defeatist, as a tired tantruming tot” deserves its own poem… I just know I’m going to see a poem by your good self on these pages soon! Thanks again!

      • Gail Root

        I make pictures. I make a lot of things! (There’s another IG account with a very similar handle to the one you’ve seen.)

        Never say never, but I’ve been intrigued with the idea of ‘creating a text’. (Annie Dillard–after she disavowed her earlier work.) ‘The Art of the Personal Essay’, ed. Phillip Lopate, and ‘How to Read a Book’, Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren seem to be the start of a road map to a method. While the short stories of Constance Fenimore Woolson and Kate Chopin are examples of the cringeworthy courage the endeavor would require. Still perc’ing . . . it’s way down the list! Need to work on my linear perspective first.

        Thank you for the encouragement.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Gail, I’ve been writing poetry since the age of six and have always loved the form. I can honestly say, having studied English Literature extensively, learn from all that benefits you and discard that which inhibits or holds your creative bent back. Just pick up a pen and write, write, write… find a form that fits each topic and sculpt your writing and polish it to shine. If it brings you joy, I’m sure it will bring others joy too… and if it’s not shiny enough, some great poetry polishers at the SCP will help you buff it up beautifully. I have learned much in my nineteen months here from some of the finest literary brains. I have studied Kate Chopin and honestly feel you can eclipse such work… but you won’t know unless you pick up that pen and go. I’m cheering you on every poetic step of the way!

  4. Frank De Canio

    You are truly protean, Susan. And very apt. A truth Commission? Sounds like 1984. The craft is there in high gear in all your poetry. As a courteous alternate, what about: “…and all the friggin same!” I heard Norman Mailer had to replace his F words with that middling alternate. But on the other side, friggin seems to burst at the seams of propriety even as it submits to it, giving it a more humorous defiance even as it gets past the censors. Just a thought.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Frank, thank you very much for your comment. I love the more courteous word and did consider it… among other words such as “bloody”… but, I decided to go full-on friggin fearless. Nothing is worse than the government deciding for you what is true, so, for me, no other word would do. I rarely swear, just like I rarely shouted at my son when he misbehaved as a child… but, when I did shout, he knew I was very, very serious. Where free speech and thought are concerned, I’m very, very serious. As far as any future poems are concerned, I hope you don’t have to brace yourself for the shock of another F-bomb… it’s all down to the current administration. If they tell me two plus two equals five… Evan may have to censor me. 🙂

      • Frank De Canio

        It’s not a moral or ethical concern for me but a literary one. When I hear the F word in movies I say why do they have to resort to street talk? As Godard says about film: It’s not the representation of realty but the reality of a representation. I love Ginsberg’s use of 4 letter words in HOWL (context is all) and I myself used it in one of my poems where I write: “where the worms keep …king’ us!: Sorry, but when I write to a woman, I’m still a prude! Does that make me a sexist? LOL! In any case, in your poem it works. But in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, it’s sufficient for a train to go through the tunnel to symbolically consummate the protagonists’ love.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Frank, you are no sexist – to my mind you’re a gentlemen… whoever says chivalry is dead probably belongs to the current administration. I wrestled with myself over the use of this word but after a long, tough fight, the word won. No other word would or could do. Thank you for saying it works – your endorsement means a lot.

      • Julian D. Woodruff

        Susan, you use the f word such that it has a kick that it probably hasn’t had since Dorothy Parker. You’re quite right to stick to it. (But I hope you don’t try it again, unless you can invent another context where it comes as a shock, not in essence a repetition.) Not only does frig not work here as a substitute, but the 2 words in proximity don’t make a fortissimo either. Here’s a demonstration of my point about frig, with more profane use of fuck than yours. (And I must excuse myself: normally I avoid both words and am annoyed when I find them in print.)
        To fuck or not to fuck, that is the question.
        Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to frig,
        However, is a duly raised suggestion
        That looms among the foul–mouthed just as big.
        The trial that I propose for your review—
        A substitution maybe not your cup
        Of tea; but take the acronym “snafu”:
        That’s “situation normal, all frigged up”?

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Julian, your comment is the crème de la crème of comments! I will never be able to look a soliloquy-steeped Hamlet full in the eye again without laughing! Wonderful advice on the fortissimo front – although, I intend to avoid the F-bomb from here on in… one can have too friggin much of a f%#king good thing. Thank you very much for my Tuesday afternoon laugh… a rare and beautiful thing in these troubled times.

  5. Damian Robin

    Excellent crisp meter in the long lines and fine rhymes, Susan. Justly and righteously defaming the flaming absurdity of the proposition. I believe NY Times is one of the many Big Media to have been wined and dined in China over the last few years – wish I had the source for this but can’t find it now.

    Maybe on trips to China the paper also picked up the next step in the process – arrest before the crime is committed, then re-education in fine vocational training centres. Millions of Uyghurs go through this process — and we know they are better for the nation after.

    Well done, and thanks.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Damian, thank you. I know you have a fine eye for “defaming the flaming absurdity” (great term) in the madcap politics of this increasingly insane and cruel world. I appreciate your endorsement and your personal poetic mission.

  6. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, I should have learned from Dr. Salemi’s willy-grabbing London comment, never to consume poetry at the same time as coffee. Your final line had me spluttering all over the dog this time. I don’t think we have the anger over here that you describe over there, but at least we have our impartial (or is it?) BBC. If you publish in Ireland, fecking and fupping are perfectly acceptable. I was amused by the juxta-position of the two Joes in the picture. And was it true that Goebbels had no b***s at all?

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, the British BS Corporation, impartial?! How do you get a sputtered Pinot Noir stain out of a cream carpet? LOL Jeff, you never fail to make me smile… and to answer your question, Hitler has only got one ball. Göring two but small; Himmler similar; Goebbels no balls at all. As for the Irish “fecking” and “fupping”, I love them and they’re in my word stash for future poems. I hope the dog has recovered, and thank you very much for cheering my afternoon!

      • Jeff Eardley

        Susan, in these COVID times, we are not allowed to use any toilet facility other than our own. Scientists have therefore developed a wine that, no matter how much you consume, avoids the need to use any facility at all. They have named it (and I’m sure you can see the joke coming towards you like a train)…….A Pea-no More.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Jeff, that is utterly hilarious… can you get a crate shipped over here… we are short on bog fodder. LOL

  7. Joseph S. Salemi

    Dr. Goebbels right next to our Resident. How appropriate!

    Your use of the word “fucking” is absolutely proper and fitting. I hope we’ve broken a pietistic taboo here at the SCP.

    • James Sale

      Oh, Joe – that was a nice, felicitous verbal touch too: Resident! I almost missed it. We tend to use that word in the UK for old people in care homes. If that’s your intention, then the savage satire escalates somewhat marvellously!

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Dear James —

        Yes, I did mean that UK usage, and I expected you or Susan Bryant to pick up on it. But also I meant it to refer to the FACT that Biden’s “election” was rigged and dishonest, and that he is only the “resident” in the White House, not the President.

        There is no President of the United States at this time other than Donald Trump, who has been illegally deprived of his office. Biden is a usurper. He has raw power, but no valid authority.

    • Mike Bryant

      Joe, the last line is absolutely fitting and proper. Just read the next line after it!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe S., thank you! I’ve come a long way from having my mouth washed out with soap for saying “damn”! I can barely believe it!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        … as a church secretary, I’m going to hide the sanctuary soap!

  8. Paul Freeman

    If my child died at Sandy Hook,
    I’d want the scumbags brought to book
    who laugh and sneer and double take
    and claim my offspring’s life was fake.

  9. Joe Tessitore

    To focus on the last two lines is perhaps unavoidable, because they are undeniably brilliant, as are Evan’s two photos – arguably the best both Susan and he have ever done.

    What a combination!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yay!! Thank you, Joe… validation from a poet who always speaks with honesty, integrity and straight from a just and caring heart, makes the pains I’ve gone through over whether or not to “offend” worthwhile. With much gratitude!

  10. Sally Cook

    What bothers me is how the so-called old grey lady could
    Get up one day and come what may put makeup on that should
    Have wrought her wrinkles wakened, and forgiven all her flaws
    And made a NEW York Times of her; and given us all pause,

    Instead, she’s gained a reputation she did not desire,
    Got cheap and stupid, ready to be tossed into the fire.
    Perhaps it is a good thing she disrobed in the square
    And let us see her torso, pimpled, strewn with random hair.

    For lacking this, whoever would have known the Times is now
    As flaccid as a gas bag, and as placid as a cow,
    And cheering on creators of this awful mess we’re in,
    Insisting only so-called dirty words are filled with sin.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Sally, I love this, especially the perspicacious and highly amusing line; “As flaccid as a gas bag, and as placid as a cow” ~ you are a poetic lady after my own heart. Thank you!

  11. Joseph S. Salemi

    Sally, what an ass-kicking poem!

    As for the “grey lady” known as the New York Times, she is best described in the words of Ezra Pound as “an old bitch, gone in the teeth.”

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe S., thank you for this lesson in American journalistic history. You, Sally and Mike are giving me a first-class lesson in what it means to be an American citizen.

  12. C.B. Anderson

    In regard to the epigraph, I could scarcely believe that The New York Times and “truth” were in the same sentence. Now, if the Russian word for truth, pravda, had been used, then it would have made a lot of sense. I once had a poem published in a British webzine called Soundzine in which I used the F-word to rhyme with truck. Though much speech there is proscribed, they seem to have more tolerance for profanity. Using “fucking” as an intensive is quite appropriate, and is commonplace in spoken American English, though it is one of the five or six words that may not be spoken on radio or tv broadcasts (not counting terms that are merely politically incorrect). Way to go!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., I’m thrilled to be in good company when veering off the straight and narrow in favor of the murky path to F%#kville, although, I will admit to being firmly back on track for the foreseeable future.

  13. Daniel Kemper

    Ditto’s to what Dr. Salemi said. Taking at “Agenda” (the documentary) and “Unrestricted Warfare” together, especially using the unexpected types of warfare in groups — in combinations — I’m pretty sure The First Battle of DC was set up in a series of skirmishes over the summer (almost all successful) and fought and lost by the US on Nov 11. The protests afterwards were just that, protests: not a second battle.

  14. David Watt

    Susan, you have that rare ability to entertain even though the subject matter is so damn serious.
    Several days ago there was a news item by our national broadcaster with the headline: “Can a ‘psychological vaccine’ protect against fake news and COVID misinformation?” I never thought I would see such an article promoting suppression of free speech/free thought.
    I thought that your use of the ‘f’ word was highly appropriate in this instance.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, thank you for your support – it’s much appreciated. As for the “psychological vaccine”, how utterly scary. Perhaps this is a euphemism for “lobotomy”. I read a recent article that claimed Trump supporters had been infected by a “brain worm” that needed to be “treated”, whatever that may mean. What a mad world for any sane person to live in… although, I’m beginning to feel I’m on the brink of insanity myself. lol

  15. The Society

    Editor’s Note: This “Reality Check” by Susan Jarvis Bryant was sent in without connection to James A. Tweedie’s “Reality Check” published a few days ago. Both poets had no knowledge of each other’s work, even though the themes and meter are similar. Great minds think alike!

    That said, there is another “Reality Check,” by a Mr. Nolta, that is thematically and metrically quite different and was just published today. This one was scheduled some time ago and has no connection to the other poems… other than perhaps, we live in a time when reality seems to be turning on its head.

    —Evan Mantyk, Editor

  16. Dave Whippman

    Susan, this is a skilfully written and witty piece. I think we need to cling on to works like this in the days to come.
    I must confess to some bigotry here: from everything I’ve read about and from the New York Times, I hate the paper without ever having read a complete issue!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Dave. I appreciate your encouraging comment, and as for the New York Times observation, there are so many “journalists” out there who have absolutely no idea what journalism means… you’re certainly not bigoted – just blessed with common sense and discernment.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.