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Grimm  

The days of steering princesses from danger
With sweet salvation’s life-sustaining kiss
From shining-armored knight or regal stranger
Are now considered horribly remiss.

Young damsels in distress with golden tresses
(Rapunzels with a Rumpelstiltskin fear)
Will wince at any prince whose kisser blesses
Them with a peck as peril’s footsteps near.

The same applies to victims of the spindle,
All snug and snoozing for a century.
These beauties don’t want smooches to rekindle
Their spark. While they’re asleep—just leave them be!

All midnight-phobic, flighty Cinderellas
Who lose glass slippers while they’re on the run,
Do not agree stiletto-toting fellas
Should seek their track-the-tootsie, footsie fun.

The days of saviors staving off disaster
On gleaming steeds have gone and waved goodbye.
Those passé vows of happy ever after
Are nothing but a patriarchal lie.

In rainbow realms of pick-and-mix your gender,
The ailing maiden’s often left for dead.
It’s rare she’ll find a charmer to defend her,
Since chivalry and gallantry have fled
And Snow White might identify as Fred.

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“Birthing Person”

a villanelle

I am a mother through and through
And will be till the day I die.
It’s not a myth. It’s nothing new.

I’ve hips and breasts, a uterus too—
Soft curves and swells; I can’t deny
I am a mother through and through.

In me, life’s bud unfurled and grew
Then bloomed to my exulted cry.
It’s not a myth. It’s nothing new.

My body’s made to breathe for two—
Both chromosomes are X; that’s why
I am a mother through and through.

I brimmed with milk; a woman’s brew
Not found in chests of any guy.
It’s not a myth. It’s nothing new.

My sex is fixed and that is true.
Don’t nullify me with a lie.
I am a mother through and through—
It’s not a myth. It’s nothing new.

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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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22 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    Two really great poems, Susan! The structure is excellent in both, and they are courageous in defending obvious truths against chic and fashionable lies.

    Gender feminists are savagely anti-maternal, and they foam at the mouth at any allusion to a female being rescued by a heroic male. To those with such attitudes I say “If you’re being raped in a back alley, do you want a trannie social worker showing up to save you, or a tough cop?”

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe S., Thank you very much for your comment. I predict science (that unquestionable, righteous path forward) will soon be telling us that chromosomes are a mere social construct. Many books will be burned and web pages removed in the process… and the fact checkers will be telling us the science is settled.

      Reply
    • David Whippman

      Joseph, in these strange times, the potential victims would probably classify your question itself as a form of hate speech. There was a recent case in America of a woman who was saved from drowning by a guy. She sued him as she said the resuscitation was assault, even though she admitted that he had saved her life! So your tough cop would doubtless be sued as well.

      Reply
  2. Sally Cook

    Oh, Susan — a beautiful defense of normality.
    I still dream of being rescued by a noble prince. Does anyone today know the true meaning of nobility? Is the idea of romance false? Do today’s truly false purveyors of “correctness” give any thought to truth, honesty or faithfulness? I am sure today’s Snow White tarts herself up before she goes out to twerk. And she must play hockey. Neither Snow nor Fred care two pins about beauty.
    How sad.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Sally, your comment is spot on and saddens me greatly. Today men are viewed as the enemy. On TV, they are mostly portrayed as useless eunuchs or violent oppressors with very little room for romance. In their pursuit for ‘equality’ the rabid feminists are now so equal to men, there is no room left for motherhood, sportswoman of the year, or, indeed, a fairytale ending.

      Reply
  3. Julian D. Woodruff

    Both of these say exactly what needs to be said, Susan. The 2nd is challenging in its plain-spokenness. The 1st has your trademark wit. I love the Cinderella stanza!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Julian. I must admit, I had a blast writing Grimm and ‘Birthing Person?’ simply had to be addressed. I would like my man to shout “Wow! What a woman!” when his child is born. “Congrats, birthing person!” just doesn’t cut it.

      Reply
      • Julian D. Woodruff

        Or “Congratulations! It’s a … well, maybe it’s a–or will be–a birthing person … we’re not sure …”

  4. Jeff Kemper

    Isn’t it a shame that these poems have a context? How can Western Culture have devolved to it’s present state? But as in every other catastrophe, something beautiful can emerge. These poems are magnificent!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, thank you very much and you are absolutely right – it is a shame that these poems have context. We are living in a strange world. I’m all for women’s rights – I would have been there fighting alongside the suffragettes, but we have now entered the wicked world of weirdness where women are being eradicated and don’t even realize it.

      Reply
  5. BRIAN YAPKO

    Susan, both of these poems are wonderful though wildly different!

    “Grimm” is funny and terribly… grim… at the same time. Your tone is spot-on and everything about this poem is a laugh-out-loud-while-fist-is-clenching delight. Of course you handle it with your usual flair. I imagine one could go through just about every fairy tale story there is and find similar themes that could cause offense. Have you heard that Disneyland is being pressured to cancel its Snow White exhibit because Snow White did not give consent to that arrogant kiss she received from dastardly Prince Charming? The fact that this kiss was the gift of life has been, um, cancelled. I feel so sorry for kids these days…

    Your “Birthing Person” poem is brilliant — more direct than I’m used to reading from you — maybe even slightly raw. But it works hauntingly well. Your emotions read loud, clear and true in sharp contrast to the highly mannered form of the villanelle. Really, achieving that combination of deep structure and emotional heft is a remarkable achievement. But you know something? Your message is necessary in a day and age when gender is being treated like an artificial construct rather than an objective reality. Genetics, fossil records, animal husbandry… to say that there is no gender is (to rub the leftists nose in it) pure science denial.

    I’m working on my own poem on this very subject. Mine will be more something of a mock-parable but it will be, I think, similarly scathing. Your courage in being willing to tackle tough subjects — but to do so through the medium of highly-skilled art — continually inspires me.

    Well done.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, as ever your comment touches upon all the points I wanted to get across with astuteness and clarity. The point you make about the kiss being a gift of life is the beautiful truth that has been sullied and stamped out by those who have steeped our children’s lives in a world of darkness, where fathers are absent, the word ‘mother’ no longer exists, and chemical castration is to be celebrated with pride while the nuclear family rots in its grave.

      I am pleased you enjoyed ‘Birthing Person’. This term is the ultimate slight to the female sex, and any true feminist who says otherwise has seriously lost the plot… ‘equality’ doesn’t mean the permanent eradication of women through fear of offending transgenders. There are plenty of issues modern day feminists could shout about in the interest of women’s progress – genital mutilation and honor killings to name but two.

      I am thrilled to hear that I’ve inspired you and thoroughly look forward to reading your poetic parable. The fact that it’s going to be ‘scathing’ is a definite plus point. More of us need to push back against this evil agenda – and if it’s in a beautiful and memorable voice, that’s a definite plus. I’m pleased to march alongside you in our mission to bring these atrocities to the fore. Once more unto the breach, Brian, once more!

      Reply
  6. Gail

    Susan, I hear the woman speaking ‘Birthing Person’, snapping her fingers, brushing off the fool who said ‘birthing person’, and saying, “Fie on you!”

    She’s delightful!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Gail, thank you!! I am thrilled my poem came across just as I had planned.

      Reply
  7. Paul Freeman

    I can’t argue with the skill and humour of both poems – I’ve rarely seen a better structured villanelle.

    The story of the brothers Grimm (two German university professors) is interesting. They foresaw that with the advent of mass publishing, folk tales told orally were disappearing, so they sent agents out to record them – hence most of the fairy tales we have. Their academic project was published in 1815-ish. However, to save the general public the harrowing details of many of these stories (i.e. the Prince bedded Rapunzel – she had twins and he was blinded), many of them were censored for the second edition (1850s) onward.

    The chivalric code is equally interesting. When Pope Urban II called for a crusade against the infidel in the Holy Land, the code of chivalry (i.e. protecting the weak and doing penance for killing a fellow knight in a tournament or whatever) essentially disappeared. The romanticised idea of knights in shining armour, damsels in distress, etc., that we talk about nostalgically today, comes from literature of the Victorian Age and earlier.

    That said, I’m a great fan of gritty fairy tales and knightly tales, as well as the sanitised versions we have today, and never fail to put body and soul in danger by holding the door open for a lady.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you for your comments, Paul – most interesting.

      Every tale (real and imaginary) comes with historical and social context. There is much about the Victorian era I despise and Dickens went a long way towards highlighting this in his literature. I am highlighting the atrocities of our era. Those atrocities are mentioned in every comment I’ve made above – the main one being mocking and demonizing men. Men are seen as oppressors, child abusers, cuckolds or idiots, and now women can no longer claim they are ‘mothers’. I’m talking about the era where it is absolutely fine to have a drag queen reading fairytales to our children in classrooms and libraries as long as those fairytales don’t have a heterosexual happy-ever-after theme. I am talking about now, not yesterday. We cannot change the past, we can shape our future. I don’t like the way it’s heading and I am going to do all in my poetic power to shine a light on the evils of our age.

      Perhaps it’s time to stop apologizing for the past and stand up for our children who are being propagandized and groomed for gender reassignment and chemical castration as well as being demonized for their colour and sex.

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Paul, I would also like to say my villanelle wasn’t intended to be humorous. It’s a cry from the voice of a mother who doesn’t want to be referred to as a ‘birthing person’. It’s the cry from the voice of a mother who wanted to breastfeed not ‘chest-feed’. It’s the cry from a voice of a poet who abhors the skewing of language in the name of an insidious culture that is cancelling biological women in the name of social justice.

      Reply
      • Paul Freeman

        Sorry, I think I was paying too much attention to the structure and the words than to the message of the villanelle when I read it first time.

        Respect.

  8. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, once again you have spoken volumes with these two. The subjects of gender dysphoria and the forced adoption of the children of unmarried mothers in the 60’s are in our news today. Best wishes to our star poet.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Jeff. This gender issue has ventured into the realms of the ridiculous… and when that happens, I cannot keep quiet. Your mention of ‘gender dysphoria’ speaks volumes about those who think they want to change their sex… perhaps before the inhumane puberty blockers and scalpel are introduced, addressing this mental condition might be the humane way to go.

      Reply
  9. David Whippman

    Well written, Susan, and if you are blackballed by the woke brigade, you’ll be in good company: the same fate has befallen such feminists as Germaine Greer and J K Rowling, I believe.
    In a way, nothing much has changed…In the Middle Ages it was blasphemy to suggest the Earth went round the sun. Now a similar verdict awaits those who point out that men are not women.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, thank you for dropping by with such a sensible take on an insane situation. You are absolutely right when you say that current day attitudes are akin to those in the Middle Ages. I am honoured to be in the company of Greer and Rowling with my views… I never thought I’d hear myself saying that just a few months ago. What strange times we inhabit.

      Reply

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