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“I want answers. I want all the words the poem whispers to be made flesh, to sit opposite me, and to shout out the reason for our existence…” —Susan Jarvis Bryant on Daniel Kemper’s poem

He who is, and always was, spoke light
And made our tiny place. That light, His clay,
He fashioned into width and depth and height,
And earth and water, us, and night and day.

And every part of every thing; of space
And flesh and stars and time, are all the same—
A single thing—His words pronounced with grace.
And He, I Am, calls out to all by name.

Whatever was and is must answer Him
By being just what they were made to be.
No, we were not created on a whim,
But in His image, and by His decree.

Creation He’s bequeathed to every voice.
Our words can build or raze, can curse or praise,
And every utterance is by our choice—
To mutter sheepishly or else to blaze.

.

.

Mike Bryant is a poet and retired plumber living on the Gulf Coast of Texas.


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34 Responses

  1. Julian D. Woodruff

    Masterful, and very important without any self-importance. I wish all English speakers could read this.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Thank you, Tonia. That was my intent… to use our gifts to good ends.

      Reply
  2. BRIAN YAPKO

    Mike, I really enjoyed this poem. I especially like the understated yoking together of the cosmic and the mundane with “…us, and night and day” and similarly “… of space/ and flesh…” The theological message is abundantly clear: our existence is not a trivial one. Even more, I like the assertive way you describe our relationship with our Creator and the challenge we face to either assertively live up to our roles in His creation or to hide in obscurity, that we must take responsibility for the voices we have been given since they can make a real difference either for good or for evil. I read your wonderful poem as a very clear message to “step up to the plate” and be our best selves since we answer to a higher authority. Well done.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Brian, you always manage to spot all the deeper meanings beneath the obvious. These ideas about words and voice and creation are always knocking around in this blue-collar noggin. I think that most of us have no idea of the power of our words. It was words that brought my Susan to Texas… to me. Thanks so much.

      Reply
  3. jd

    There is no doubt this poem “blazes” and
    fulfills the quote which introduces it.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Johanna, thanks for your compliment and insight. I couldn’t let Susan’s words disappear without addressing them.

      Reply
  4. Sally Cook

    Mike –

    To the core of it! Thank you for linking what most of us think;
    everything that makes us sing comes from our beginning.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Sally, as ever, you get right into my head… thanks. It might be a sea turtle thing..

      Reply
      • Sally Cook

        Silly me, and here I was thinking that Susan had removed every last straw from your sea turtle snout !
        As the spouse of a former ST, I must say sea turtles are really something !!

    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks David. How can anyone understand a Creator that lives outside of time? I’m glad you think I came close.

      Reply
  5. Jeff Eardley

    Mike, a most thoughtful and spiritual piece and a delight to read. The words flow like a good hymn.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      No, thank YOU Jeff. I appreciate your compliment very much because you, like Julian, are a musician. I haven’t played any instruments or sung since I was about eighteen, but I’m sure those hours have left a bit of music in me.

      Reply
  6. Cynthia Erlandson

    This is exquisite! It takes a lot of talent to come up to the level of the beautiful epigraph (by a famous poet!) on which you based this poem — and I think you’ve done it. What a dynamic duo you two are!

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks so much Cynthia. It’s a great gift to have a partner who shares your love of words. I have a feeling that you and Paul have a similar dynamic at work… and play.

      Reply
  7. Joe Tessitore

    This is a very beautiful poem, Mike – clearly, from your heart.

    Reply
  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    The last two lines are especially brilliant:

    “And every utterance is by our choice —
    To mutter sheepishly or else to blaze.”

    It is no easy task to write a good poem about the link between the Source of Existence and human language

    Reply
      • Mike Bryant

        Thanks, James. I loved the poetry reading. You set a high bar. I guess you know that you must include a performance in every event going forward. Maybe Byron is up for an encore.
        I’ll see if Susan will break out the tiara and feather boa!

    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks, Joe. I’ve written several on this theme. This poem came directly from Susan’s question. Susan was working on a poem about it… but I got there first!

      Reply
  9. Jeff Kemper

    I agree with all previous comments on this thought-provoking poem. I especially liked the final stanza, and even more especially, line two: “Our words can build or raze, can curse or praise.” Yahweh God, the I Am, is indeed beyond our capability to comprehend, . . . except what he has revealed to us about himself, the world, and mankind. For that revelation I am deeply thankful.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks, Jeff. I know you teach the Bible, and of course the insights in this poem are Biblical. Susan’s question is beautiful and universal.

      Reply
  10. David Watt

    Mirroring some of your words, this poem with a clear and uplifting message wasn’t ‘created on a whim’. It shows that you put thought and feeling into each successive line.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks, David, no one can set a story to verse better than you can. I really appreciate your comment.

      Reply

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