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My Texas Tempest Silver Lining 

It’s said that during times of heightened pain
Your world contracts. You’ll find it’s apt to shrink—
A small domain; no fuss, no stress, no strain—
A place for you to breathe with ease and think;
A space for you to drift away and float
On waves that surf the rush of swelling seas;
A spot that’s comfy, cozy and remote,
A boat in rising tides of panicked pleas.

As thunder’s ire rip-roars in granite skies
And lightning spits white fire and blazing gall;
As three hearts thud and mud and waters rise
In house and home, my world gets super small—

Three snuggled on salvation’s flood-lapped bed—
My husband, cat and I, alive—not dead.

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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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27 Responses

  1. Sally Cook

    So good to hear the waters at least have stopped falling on your heads and rising from the ground.
    I don’t think I can offer much, but if you think of any way I can help, please tell me.

    Sally Cook

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Sally, thanks so much. Susan was all worried that snakes, alligators and other assorted malevolent beasts were in our house… fortunately the water was only ankle deep and we’re mostly dried out now… rain is in the forecast for the next five days… I’m praying it won’t be much. George Lionel, our hero cat, was hovering over the waves and letting us know the dove returned!

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Michael – I appreciate your words and I’m glad you like my poem.

      Reply
  2. Gail

    Do you have galoshes? Good grief! I remember the gully washers after distant thunderstorms, but I just don’t think of Texas as a place that floods. I pray it ends soon. (How did the cat get that name? It’s kind of a mouthful.)

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Gail, this weather is highly unusual. Our house went through Hurricane Harvey and didn’t flood. It’s pretty rough, but, as my lovely late grandmother used to say; “Susan, there’s always someone worse off than you!”

      George is a rescue cat we’ve had for ten years. He was already named George. Lionel was added by me because he sounds like Lionel Richie when he meows – hello hello hello … is it me you’re looking for? Lol

      Reply
  3. BRIAN YAPKO

    What a heart-wrenching sonnet! The immediacy of the danger… Thank you for your poetic cry from the heart. I’m sending you, Mike and your cat prayers for safety and for confident faith that all will be well.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Brian… I have no idea where I heard it, but, I have taken it to heart… everything will be alright in the end… if it ain’t alright now, it only means that it ain’t the end yet… probably from some movie…

      I found it:
      “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end”……. Patel, Hotel Manager, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

      That’s the subtle difference between Indian and Texan…

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, thank you for your kind words and your prayers… we are on the long road to recovery… and, we’re smiling, George is purring, and all looks a lot brighter than it did yesterday.

      Reply
  4. Russel Winick

    Susan and Mike:
    You are in the prayers emanating from this house. Susan has a relationship with our language that is second to none – anywhere. And her ability to write a poem this brilliant under such circumstances is breathtaking!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Russel, thank you very much for your kindness and care, and especially your wonderful words on my poetry. Writing this particular poem took my mind off the ankle-deep sludge and the damage, and made me focus on all those special things I’m blessed with… including my life. Writing poetry has a way of making me feel a whole lot better, and for that I’m ever grateful.

      Reply
  5. Paul Freeman

    At least it’s not snowing!

    But seriously. Glad the three of you are hunky-dorey. One question, though. What percentage of the bed did your cat allow you to have.

    Sometimes writing immediately, about extreme weather or illness, or sudden success, etc, produces more realistic poetry – such as this.

    One small thing. Did you mean ‘surf’ or ‘serve’ in line 6.

    Thanks for the read, Susan.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Paul, Texas is a little odd on the weather front. We often have all four seasons in one day. I’ve made the mistake of dressing for winter in the morning, only to have gone through autumn then spring by morning coffee, and by afternoon tea, we’re in a summer heatwave… and there I am in jeans, jumper and Ugg boots.

      This was tough. We went through Hurricane Harvey and our house didn’t flood… but, hey ho, we’re still here and putting things right.

      As for King George Lionel, he owns the bed. He offered us 25% each and we graciously and gratefully accepted.

      I’ll think about the surf or serve. I wrote it so quickly, I’ve not had time to edit… naughty me.

      Thank you for dropping by and thank you for the, as ever, thought-provoking and amusing comments.

      Reply
  6. Jeff Eardley

    Susan/Mike, so sorry to hear about the deluge, and after all that cold of a month or two back. I really hope you get dry and back to your balmy Texan weather that we over here yearn for as we sit under leaden skies and rain. I love how Lionel got his name and hope the hummingbirds have survived.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, thank you for your kind wishes… we have beautiful wall to wall sunshine today, not a breeze in the trees, doves are flying with olive branches in their beaks, the hummingbirds are supping syrup, George Lionel is gamboling on a buttercup lawn (would you believe buttercups are pink in Texas?), and no one would ever know that yesterday we were in need of an ark… indoors is a different story… but, we’re getting there.

      Reply
  7. Julian D. Woodruff

    Susan, I got to this late yesterday and it really hit me. I awoke in the middle of the night & had to spend a few minutes getting several lines of a proper response down on paper. when & if they coalesce into a poem, I’ll see about posting it to SCP.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Julian. I very much look forward to reading your response.

      Reply
  8. paul buchheit

    Excellent poem, Susan. Superb imagery for a frightening time.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Paul. Composing this poem served as a bit of stress relief while the flood waters swirled around my ankles. I’m hoping Mother Nature doesn’t inspire me on this level too often.

      Reply
  9. C.B. Anderson

    All in all, Susan, it sounds like a perfect storm. When wet weather looms, just follow the cat.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., George Lionel is an asset to the Bryant household we couldn’t do without. He has been suitably rewarded for his rescue skills.

      Reply
  10. Julian D. Woodruff

    Susan, my heart goes out to you.
    Your plight makes mine, below, seem small.
    Further, the instant that I here recall
    Is ancient, no occasion new;
    And different, too, in scale, it’s true,
    But in the hour scale matters not at all.

    In Evanston, north of Chicago’s shore,
    On one night storm–besieged what was in store
    For us after we’d drifted off to sleep,
    Then further slipped down slumber’s slope so steep,
    Delivered with a fierce deliberateness
    Was terror words are useless to express—
    No flight of thunderbolts: a single stroke.
    Pure the economy with which it spoke,
    As close to us as Mike may be to you
    When you’re out back sipping your favorite brew.
    Fully aroused we were, and most distraught.
    The voice or face of God? Possibly not …
    Of that I am not sure; but oh, the hand!:
    Two heart–in–throat creatures beheld His brand.
    What can we say in turn to the Almighty
    That carries weight and is not merely flighty?
    This simple, honest verdict must suffice
    (May I be bold?): that wasn’t very nice!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Julian, thank you very much indeed for your wonderful poem with its marvelous description of the horror you encountered – I believe you experienced a brush with death, and I’m so glad you are here to tell the poetic tale. You capture that feeling of fear perfectly… it echoes my own alarm with style, flair and empathy. It’s encounters like these that make us appreciate our lives all the more.

      Reply
  11. Yael

    What a great storm poem Susan! I really like how the physical storm description is secondary to the description of the emotional storm impact and mitigation.
    Line 8, “A boat in rising tides of panicked pleas”, evokes plenty of memories for me of raft trips I’ve guided during stormy high-water days when the rafting guests suddenly realized that although they don’t know me from Adam’s house cat their lives now rest in my hands, or so they think.
    I really love the ending too, where the “flood-lapped bed” rhymes with “alive—not dead”. You have a marvelous economy with words.
    Not that I envy you the inconvenience of the house-flood experience itself, but I’m sure happy I get to vicariously live your experience through your amazing poem.
    I pray that the stormy waters will speedily recede from your home and be replaced with calmer and more tranquil domains.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, I really appreciate your insightful analysis of my poem and I’m thrilled it evoked memories that thoroughly impress me. The fact that you’ve guided rafts full of people during stormy-high water fills me with admiration while sending a chill down my spine. I’m ashamed to admit that wading through flood water and feeling a sock brush against my shin sent me into shock… to be fair, I did think it was a rattlesnake, but my reaction was nothing short of cowardly. As for guiding a storm-battered raft to safety… no way!

      Thank you very much for your good wishes and for your awesome comment.

      Reply
  12. David Watt

    Sorry to hear that you have had to contend with a flooding storm. All the very best to you and Mike for the recovery.
    I really like your placement of sprinkled internal rhyme, making the poem unpredictable, yet linking lines with subtlety.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your care, David – Mike and I thoroughly appreciate it. Thank you, too, for your fine eye… your attention to those little details that elevate my poem from the mundane make my heart sing… not an easy feat in these damp, self-pitying days of doom.

      Reply

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