.

.

They’re Here

They are the Saintly Source of Good; 
__The Keepers of The Truth. 
They’re seeking you. You knew they would.
Stand up. Speak out. You know you should.
They want your eye. They want your tooth.
They want your wide-eyed, prideful youth.
__They’re cloaked in mask and hood.

They’re pushing fear. They’re selling cheer.
__They’re here to save the day.
They’re here to steer. They’re here to sneer.
They’re here to dox the insincere.
They’re here to lead the lax astray.
They’re here to muzzle those who pray
__For mist and myth to clear.

They’re here to slight. They’re here to blight
__With pious politics;
Segregating black and white,
They’ll fight with cold, self-righteous might
In self-made wars they’ll choose to fix
When vampires wear a crucifix
__And bask in sunshine’s light.

They’re here with hormone no-go zones;
__Fixed sexes don’t exist.
Each science-savvy soul who combs
Through X and Y like Sherlock Holmes
Will find the proof of truth dismissed.
Just pick a gender from a list—
__To hell with chromosomes!

They’re here for you. They’re here for me.
__They’re here to twist the mind.
They’ve got the lock. We need the key.
They’re here to steal our liberty—
Some here, some there, until we find
Our ears are deaf and eyes are blind
__To inhumanity.

They’re here to con with candied bait;
__It’s cloying on my tongue.
They’re here to bilk and bloviate
With luscious lies. I’ll take a plate
Of salty honesty, unsung.
I won’t eat spin served by a Hun.
__I’ll starve till they’re undone.

.

.

Golden Guidance 

“Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.” —Douglas Bader 

Rules are tools for dreamless fools
To trudge the mundane track;
A drear, persistent, rigid list;
An autocratic tack.

Rules constrain the curious brain:
Don’t think outside the box.
Don’t seek to cheat the preset beat.
Do not outfox the fox.

Rules bind and blind the winding mind.
They stifle thoughts that stray.
The underhanded upper hand
Keeps brilliance at bay.

Rules finger-wag and then they gag
The dauntless and defiant.
Their foremost task, if one dare ask—
To mute the non-compliant.

The tethered tongue will shun the fun
Of songs that shine and soar.
Until the humdrum comes undone
No wondrous words will roar.

Rules crush the heart of works of art;
Kill miracles to be—
No Master’s friend, no Bard’s godsend,
No creativity.

The wise despise the rulebook’s guise
Of care beyond compare.
Rejoicing in sagacious voice,
They warn the unaware…

That rules are tools for dreamless fools
To trudge the mundane track;
A drear, persistent, rigid list;
An autocratic tack.

.

.

Being Human

While pondering upon the human race,
I marvel at the artistry and skill
Of blazing brains and fingers kissed with grace;
That tireless drive to thrive—the wit and will
To fire the mind to seek and find and build
A life of truth and beauty, hope and care;
To gild grey days with golden glimmers filled
With glorious gifts composed with joy and flair.

Yet still the bloody gutters reek of death;
The gory spills that quench the henchmen’s thirst.
I mourn fierce fists that staunch essential breath.
The human race is blessed. It’s also cursed.

As one soul saves a frail and ailing life,
Another hacks a heart out with a knife.

.

.

Susan Jarvis Bryant is from 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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26 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    I’m gonna wait before I read the last two because “They’re Here” is one of the best things I’ve read in a very long time.
    I found myself holding my breath ‘till I was done and gasping for it once I was.
    A masterpiece ( and I’m guessing this is what Mike was hinting at)!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, what a wonderful comment! Thank you very much for your appreciation of my poetry – it means a lot. Mike always says my next poem is going to be a masterpiece… and I try not to let him down. He’s a hard taskmaster, so I have a lot to thank him for.

      Reply
  2. Brian Yapko

    Susan, you’ve done it again. Three knock-out poems each of which grabs you by the gut while remaining artistically/intellectually pleasing. You have found a constructive way of channeling righteous anger with which I am in complete sympathy: insightful art which serves as an only too-accurate mirror. Brava!

    Although it is not my favorite of the three, I most admire “They’re Here” which has a manic quality which escalates and escalates until it reaches the brink of an explosion and then pulls back into your “thanks, but no thanks” lines. You build suspense admirably using every tool at your disposal — especially your onslaught of parallel phrases and almost giddy use of rhyme (“chromosomes” with “Sherlock Holmes?” – pure genius!) This poem reminds me of Yeats’ “Second Coming” where things spin out of control like a widening gyre. You bring all of the madness that you observe back to yourself and then rise above it with a call for truth and sanity. I just love it.

    I also admire your “Golden Guidance” poem. Here your formidable gifts are less on display but you bring your message home – a warning against “sheeplehood” which calls to mind Emerson’s quote “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” You bring it to another level, however, by universalizing it. You’re not explicit about relating it to the socio-political climate we now live in, but it’s not much of a stretch to imagine your poem’s application to virtue signalers, politicians and critics who attempt to regulate every aspect of our lives. Poetry that is too rigid is a symptom. So are covid masks that seem to be pure performance art (I confess to a certain disdain for the woman I saw jogging yesterday who was still wearing a mask out in the open for no rational reason.) In short, it’s amazing how you take one character trait — rigidity — and observantly run the gamut of how it can ruin everything from art to regimes.

    Of the three poems, Being Human – though the shortest – is my favorite. How beautifully you describe the paradoxes of humanity, the dichotomy we are trapped in, the angel on one shoulder, the devil on the other. Of course, when you get to a line that says “The human race is blessed. It’s also cursed.” you’re talking deep theology which takes us all the way back to the Garden of Eden. A wonderful meditation on who we are – and who we could be.

    Exceedingly well-done. Thank you for a fantastic afternoon read!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, you have an almost uncanny ability to understand exactly what I try to convey in my poetry, and I am so appreciative of your spot-on analyses. I am familiar with Yeats’ “Second Coming” and love it. Although, I didn’t have this poem in mind when I wrote “They’re Here!”, I can understand the comparison and I’m honored.

      “Golden Guidance” is born from my distrust of rigid rules of any type, and, by that, I mean rules that leave no room for the wise, knowledgeable, or gifted individual to reach beyond the rules to the realms of the extraordinary. This could be in any area… it all depends who is reading the poem, and who wants or needs to leave the rulebook behind in order to become their best selves. I don’t believe in anarchy, I believe in individuality. All of humankind’s great leaps forward were made by individuals who were true to their vision, not the collective vision.

      “Being Human” is my favorite too. It speaks from my heart. I love life, I love people, I love creativity. I know we live in a flawed world. I know there is good and evil… but, I still love God’s green earth and all those who have made, do make, and will make a difference for the good. One can but try through any gifts one is blessed with.

      Thank you very much for your considered comment, your inspiration, and your encouragement. I’m smiling broadly.

      Reply
  3. Jeff Kemper

    Those who fail to see what’s happening are high on a deadly drug. I agree with Joe and Brian completely. “How does she do this?” I ask myself. Very well done both artistically and substantively! I’ll echo Brian’s last line: “Thank you for a fantastic afternoon read!”

    Reply
    • Joe Tessitore

      And I thank you for a fantastic read that concluded this evening!

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Joe, I’m glad you went on to read the other two poems, and I even happier you enjoyed them. Thank you!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, this is high praise indeed. I’m glad you’ve seen the light. I’m thrilled you like my poetry, and I love to entertain with words, so I’m over the moon I’ve made you happy today! We could all do with a little more joy during these dire times. Thank you!

      Reply
  4. Russel Winick

    POETIC GIANT

    To read the best of poetry,
    A true linguistic giant,
    Find on the site of SCP
    The work of Susan Bryant.

    Reply
  5. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, I have come late to these magnificent pieces. Thank you for “bilk and bloviate”..I don’t know what that means but it sounds great and I will lob it into conversations when required. Like Joe, I cannot for the moment get past the bone-chilling “They’re here” and I will digest the others later. You are an inspiration to we lesser poetic mortals and long may that remain. Thank you again.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, thank you! I am going to make sure “bilk and bloviate” never show up again. From now on it’s pastoral poetry. Politics is bad for my equilibrium.

      Reply
  6. Margaret Coats

    Susan, I agree that “They’re Here!” gives a call we need to hear, in your quickstep inimitable style. But the valuable power of it lies in making clear the identity of the foe. Not so with “Golden Guidance.” This ranting chant would be just as welcome today at a college campus rally against a conservative speaker. The woke leaders and their followers define rules somewhat differently than you do. They find harassing noise, property damage, and personal violence fully in accord with their aims; they are quite willing to break such rules against social disorder to achieve their ends. We are perhaps frustrated by rigid rules that militate against known truth, goodness, beauty, and rightful freedom. But more often than not, all of us obey a vast number of rules. Think of the Ten Commandments.

    Douglas Bader is correct in your epigraph, but you don’t follow him. He says that the wise are guided by rules (rightly so), but you say the wise despise rules. If you mean something else in your stanza on the wise, your words are too weak to make the distinction clear. Bader also places a real value on obedience by fools, and as a military man, he doesn’t mean that we all prove ourselves fools every time we obey a rule. He expected obedience even in seemingly foolish things from his enlisted men. They were being wise to follow rules, because if each went his own way, the military effort could easily end in defeat. And a flying ace like Bader never achieved his many shared victories without himself and his mates in flight formation abiding by rules they had learned and agreed to follow before their battles took place.

    We can be so mild and polite that we lose battles abjectly. But we are ultimately fighting for good rules in accord with our culture and traditions–and wise interpretation of them.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Margaret. Douglas Bader’s quote is dear to my heart and I can see I have done it no justice. I didn’t have the military in mind when I wrote the poem. I didn’t have politics in mind (although the image may suggest otherwise), I had art in mind. “No Master’s friend, no Bard’s godsend / No creativity” is a huge clue. I went wrong with the quote. The poem has nothing to do with the air force, politics, or the ten commandments. My words are indeed “weak” when it comes to reading them with the quote in mind and I appreciate you pointing that out. As I have already said, I don’t believe in anarchy, I believe in individuality. All of humankind’s great leaps forward were made by individuals who were true to their vision, not the collective vision. I also believe in showing, not telling. I like readers to interpret poetry in their own way and appreciate you doing just that. I apologize for choosing a misleading quotation.

      Reply
  7. Mike Bryant

    I love all three. The first is amazing in its word play and its inventive rhyme and playfulness with a deadly serious subject.
    I take Golden Guidance as a tribute to all the rule breakers who have made our world a better place.
    Being Human is my favorite because it says so much, so quickly and so beautifully.
    The three together illustrate the complexity, the evil, the challenges and the beauty of life in our time.
    How do you do it?

    Reply
  8. C.B. Anderson

    To say that you have a way with words, Susan, would be like saying that Isaac Newton was pretty good at math — a gross understatement, in other words. It’s always good to hear from the Lone Star State!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., I am speechless and full of joy… and that’s a rare thing in these dark days of motor mouths and misery. Your comment has me glowing instead of glowering and for that, I’m grateful. Thank you!

      Reply
  9. Julian D. Woodruff

    Susan,
    Apropos your 1st, my wife and I spent yesterday afternoon hunting for a birthday present for a granddaughter. At 3 locations–Barnes and Noble, Michael’s, and Joanne’s–we found no, 0, zero possibilities not made in China. This is what the US has done to itself (as well as helping to finance any number of injustices, aggressions, and threats) over the last 50 years, while wringing it’s hands about the environment, justice for illegal aliens etc.
    On rules: my attitude seems to be more ambivalent than yours, if I’m reading you right. In art, for example, without adherence to rules, no Goldberg Variations or Art of the Fugue, no canon of middle to high Renaissance choral counterpoint. On the social-political level, wise as well as fools should be prepared to follow certain rules or else lose all hope of a level playing field. If you are speaking ironically at least in part, I withdraw the comment, of course.

    Reply
    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Your comment about music here is silly and annoying!
      Agreed. Forget it.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Julian, nothing you say is either silly or annoying – I value your opinion and your poetry. It’s an absolute pleasure to hear your views and your melodious words. Thank you!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Julian, your observation on the China crisis is spot on. The Western World has sold its industrial and technological soul to the Dragon. As for ‘Golden Guidance’, I will admit it is vague. I am usually straight forward with words, but this one is more than a tad elusive, and I’ve enjoyed the responses. I appreciate your comment which is an interesting and valid one. I hope this helps you understand where I’m coming from, and, I hope I’m forgiven for adapting the Serenity Prayer to highlight my train of thought:

      God grant me the wherewithal
      to obey the rules that shouldn’t change; 
      courage to break the rules that should change
      and wisdom to know the difference.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        … the wisdom comes from a complete understanding of the rules. Rules shouldn’t be broken unless they’re understood and the proper values are placed upon them… and then, and only then, does one have the right to break them for betterment. The trouble is, these days the truth and the rules are mutable.

      • C.B. Anderson

        You’re on to something here, Susan, and I don’t think you were talking about meter in poetic lines.

  10. David Watt

    Susan “Being Human” is also my favourite, as it contrasts the potential for human brilliance against that of our inextinguishable capacity for evil.
    “Golden Guidance” brought to mind a recent piece of advice from our New South Wales health official:
    “So, even if you run into your next-door neighbor in the shopping center … don’t start up a conversation. Now is the time for minimizing your interactions with others.”
    This is a perfect example of the tethered tongue.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, thank you for reading my poetry and for your insightful comment. You have seen exactly what I’m trying to get across in “Golden Guidance”, and that New South Wales health official needs to be ignored. That is a rule that begs to be broken. With much appreciation, as ever.

      Reply

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