“Of all the tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” —C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology 

It’s said that life’s a bitch and then you die.
Cold-shouldered super-scolders make it worse.
Smug, mega finger-waggers sell the lie
That lab-rat status smites the Reaper’s curse.

Each waking day they take a little more.
They gripe and groan and goad for greater good,
Haranguing with their gang, the Fusspot Corps—
Lock down, get jabbed, mask up… you know you should.  

They slaughter laughter with their force-fed fear.
They still the will and kill each human trait.
They snuff out all the heart and soul hold dear
Till lovelorn, lifeless spirits meet their fate…

A living death devoid of liberty.
A fate far worse than Covid’s ill intent.
Check out survival rates; they’ll set minds free –
They’re in excess of ninety-nine percent!

When taxing, max-vax gasbags nag you blue,
Their tirade is a test of your IQ..


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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45 Responses

  1. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Please note, the entire point of my poem is freedom – freedom to make a personal choice. No one should bully you. These mandates stand against freedom – the only thing worth living for.

  2. Peter Hartley

    Susan – another little poem that seems to have everything, even tongue-twisters, “When taxing, max- gasbags nag you blue”, alliteration, assonance and consonance in spades as always, little bits that make you think so that your head hurts “That lab-rat status smites the reaper’s curse,”even a bit of sight-rhyme. Now sight-rhyme I normally consider a useless bit of show-offish pretence that is of no advantage to either reader or listener: not in this case, oh no! Slaughter and laughter really do work because of the repetition of no less than eight consecutive letters. The message in the poem is loud and clear. Who could ask for more? I think I’m due for my third compulsory injection shortly unless I manage to flee the country. (Well, it’s worth a try).

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Peter, I always love reading your entertaining and erudite comments. I’m getting the spare room ready for your arrival… a friend and fellow poet with a heart and mind as beautiful and inspirational as yours is always welcome here!

    • Mike Bryant

      First Susan… you’ve pulled out all the stops. What beautiful music!
      And Peter…
      “Guadalupe Peak, also known as Signal Peak, is the highest natural point in Texas, with an elevation of 8,751 feet above sea level. It is located in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and is part of the Guadalupe Mountains range in southeastern New Mexico and West Texas. The mountain is about 90 miles east of El Paso and about 50 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico. The peak rises more than 3,000 feet above the arid floor of the Chihuahuan Desert.”
      I have a feeling you could scale this behemoth in your sleep.

      • Peter Hartley

        Susan and Mike – I hope you won’t think me a trifle presumptuous. I am booked on Delta Airlines 3407 ( the only airline that would allow sharpened ice-axes in cabin luggage) out of Manchester via Bangkok for Ciudad Juarez, arriving at 03.46 local time the day after tomorrow. When you come to pick me up you’ll easily recognise me by the fencing scar and the dent from the brain haemorrhage but I shall also be wearing a top hat with ostrich plumes. My diary is free for the next six months but I would have to be back by Christmas as the dog will have run out of tins of beefy-chunks by then. I am fully house-trained, although anyone can have the odd accident on the living-room carpet from time to time, can’t they? As long as I have my injections regularly I don’t thrash about too much and can normally be controlled with a gallon of horse tranquilliser administered by dart. PS my bugle practice always starts at 4.00am and usually reaches about 80dB. I shall see you both shortly.

      • Mike Bryant

        Great! See you soon. You have the cabin on the other side of the back forty acres!

      • Mike Bryant

        By the way, Peter, you won’t need an ice axe in Texas. The only ice here is in the margaritas.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Peter, you are the perfect houseguest and most suiting to our wild environment… I am sure your staid nature will have a calming effect on Mike, who tends to display unorthodox behaviour beneath a gibbous moon. I trust you have packed your furbelows for putting the rubbish out on Mondays and Thursdays. I will join you in my feather boa and tiara. We have the tranquilizer ready and waiting and we will not disappoint the dog… we’ll send you home with a Christmas stocking for him. Roll on good times!!

  3. Cynthia Erlandson

    I agree with Peter — this poem is saturated with brilliance in so many ways!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Cynthia. You make the posting of controversial subject matter within poetry thoroughly worthwhile!

  4. Paul W Erlandson

    I love it!

    But I was perhaps most pleased by your juxtaposition of “slaughter” and “laughter.” Just yesterday I was telling my wife that I wanted to rhyme “laughter” and “daughter” in a poem.

  5. Brian Yapko

    Susan, thank you for another great poem! I’m trying to identify the form. It looks like a sonnet form (the couplet at the end is what leads me in that direction) but with an extra quatrain. Is that right? As for the prosody, you are superlatively talented at using all of the poetic devices available – alliteration, internal rhyme especially. You have managed to make annoying virtue-signalers funny with lines like “cold-shouldered super-scolders” and the Fusspot Corps which gripes and groans and goads. Funny, yes, but in the gallows sense. Laughing at these people who would also be our overlords is better than allowing them to drive us to despair. I’m with Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks and Susan Bryant on that one.

    That being said, I have been vaccinated. But not on compulsion and I would never dream of imposing my decision on others. Free will matters. Frankly, I have a very hard time believing that vaccine mandates are constitutional and expect the courts to invalidate any government-imposed requirement to introduce chemicals into one’s body.

    Lastly, on the “slaughter/laughter” pairing: I jot down ideas to write about from time to time and one of them was “This evokes the Enemy of Man’s laughter: manslaughter.” I’ve never found a place for it until this comment. I’m glad you beat me to it! Although I get to use the identical 12 letters with only an apostrophe distinguishing content – alas – to what avail? And while we’re at it, kudos for fitting “life’s a bitch” into a poem. Not everyone could do that and get away with it!

    Thanks again for a compelling read. You always make my day better.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, you’re spot on on the form. It began as a sonnet and needed an extra few lines… hence the strange arrangement… such is the wayward nature of the pursuit of perfection through poetry. Thank you so very much for your appreciation of my employment of poetic devices, and especially your compliment on the humor front. To be mentioned in the same line as Charlie Chaplin and Mel Brooks is a huge honor. I especially appreciate the pairing of ‘manslaughter’ with ‘man’s laughter’ and encourage you to pursue it… I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with. This pairing is far superior to my slaughter/laughter endeavor.

      But, most of all, I appreciate you putting personal freedom above any choice concerning the Covid shot. You understand exactly where I’m coming from as well as appreciating the artistic form I’ve used to deliver my message. This is exactly why I respect you as a poet and as a person – you have made my day!

    • Margaret Coats

      Susan, an excellent use of the extra quatrain; we need to make extra efforts remind others to hold on to the power of personal decision making.

      For both you and Brian, my little collection of unusual sonnets includes a few 18-liners with an extra quatrain. There are also a few 16-liners with an extra couplet. And even one 26-line double sonnet with six quatrains and one couplet. There are of course many pairs of sonnets on the same theme, but a double sonnet is a single poem of special form, distinct from a pair. All of these variants come from the 16th and 17th centuries, but there was also experimentation in the 19th century, with such things as sonnets made up of tercets rather than quatrains, and many unusual rhyme schemes.

  6. Joe Tessitore

    Dear Susan,

    A number of us are clearly on the same wavelength.
    It’s a hell of an honor to believe that we’re standing together.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, absolutely – this is a freedom thing and the more of us that come to that realization means the weaker the government’s power over us becomes. The reaction to my poem has filled me with hope. United we stand!

  7. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, thank your lucky stars that Peter is only bringing a bugle, instead of those turbo-charged bagpipes he strangles daily, that we can hear from thirty miles away. I just wish we could instruct this Covid toad, squatting on our lives, to just hop off but the hooded spectre wielding the sickle is still haunting our local A&E. A great piece today full of the twists and turns of wordsmithery that you are so brilliant at.

  8. Paul Freeman

    Let’s hope an Omega variant isn’t brewing up while the ‘we’ point the finger at the ‘they’.

    An instructive read, full of poetic brilliance, even if I am largely on the ‘them’ side of the debate.

      • Paul Freeman

        There’s a lot of information out there, much of it slanted one way or the other. To be honest, you have your opinions, I have mine. Can’t we leave it at that?

      • Mike Bryant

        This is called conversation. People used to do it all the time. Anyway, it’s not my opinion it is the opinion of the inventor of the jab.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Paul, thank you for reading and commenting on my poem, and thank you for your appreciation of the composition of the words even if their message isn’t necessarily to your liking. The only point of my poem is to express the desire to be left to make up one’s own mind. It is most certainly the unvaccinated that are literally receiving bad press and being pressured and coerced with the threats of not being able to work and participate in society if they don’t conform to mandates issued by a draconian government. The ‘unvaxxed’ are the lepers of today’s society, and are regularly treated as such. That is why I am heartened by the reactions to my poem. Regardless of personal choices surrounding the shot, one thing is absolutely clear – the freedom to choose is the main priority for the majority. Surely, no one wants to live in a medical police state… do they? No one group should have their liberty stripped away because they won’t be bullied by their government into making a medical decision that is wrong for them… I thought history had already seen to it that this cruel, authoritarian behaviour was frowned upon.

  9. David Watt

    Susan, you have written eloquently about a subject which is of great importance. The pressure to conform has never been greater than now due to a host of restrictions imposed on those who still believe in freedom of choice.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, you have summed up my message in a nutshell… I hope the right to make one’s own decision concerning health wins the day. I respect the individual’s right to decide, and whatever choice each individual makes should be respected. Thank you very much for your kind words.

      • David Watt

        Susan, unfortunately, the right to make one’s own decision concerning health is fast slipping away here. My wife works as a retail manager and must have both jabs in order to continue working or even to enter the store. Retail shopping, hospitality venues, and pretty much everything else will soon be excluded for the ‘hesitant’.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        David, this breaks my heart. Texas is hanging on by her fingernails to the very last vestiges of freedom surrounding the decision to get the shot or not, hence my poem. The thing that really saddens me is that many people have taken it upon themselves to ostracize and bully people who are ‘hesitant’. They’re doing the government’s dirty work for them… has history taught us nothing? My thoughts and prayers are with you and your wife and all those whose voices and choices are being crushed in these draconian days.

  10. David Watt

    Susan, your prayers are greatly appreciated. I do hope that Texas can maintain some of her precious freedoms.

  11. Cheryl Corey

    Love the opening line, and the CS Lewis quote. I just saw online that Australians are going to the beach, masks, mandates and distancing be damned!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Cheryl, this is the only way we can fight back and wrestle our liberty back from these duplicitous thieves… collectively quit obeying their nonsensical, hypocritical rules that never apply to those in their mansions on the beach pushing their authoritarian agenda. Go, Australian freedom lovers, go!

  12. Mike Bryant

    COVID cases are plummeting in India thanks to new rules that promote Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to its massive population. The 33 districts in Uttar Pradesh, India have now become free from COVID-19 government informed on Friday. The recovery rate has increased up to 98.7% proving the effectiveness of IVERMECTIN as part of the “Uttar Pradesh Covid Control Model.”
    This state has an estimated population of 241 million people in 2021 and has the highest population in India. This is almost two-thirds of the United States population in 2021 and yet it is now a COVID-19 free nation.

    Hindustan Times reported on this big development:

    Overall, the state has a total of 199 active cases, while the positivity rate came down to less than 0.01 per cent. The recovery rate, meanwhile, has improved to 98.7 per cent. As per the state’s health bulletin, Uttar Pradesh reported only 11 new Covid-19 cases and zero deaths in the last 24 hours.

  13. Mike Bryant

    Last August, the government of UP issued a notification to have Ivermectin (12 mg) tablets. The Dialogue reported:

    “The government notification reads, “Doctors are advising to take ivermectin 12 mg to contain the impact of pandemic. This medicine is quite effective in protecting from covid-19. Therefore, we appeal each and every citizen to have this tablet.”

    The notification then goes on to explain the dosage: For positive patients isolated at home (one tablet per day for three days and for primary and secondary contacts (one tablet each on the first and 7th day).”
    Both Uttar Pradesh and Delhi have seen an incredible drop in COVID-19 cases because they use Ivermectin early and preventatively. Whereas Kerala, a tiny state located in southern India that is over-dependent on vaccines and less dependent on Ivermectin, has been reporting a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. Keep in mind that Uttar Pradesh has eight times larger population than Kerala.

    More information on Kerala’s COVID- 19 cases on The Desert Review:

    “While Kerala included Ivermectin in their state’s guideline in April, they restricted it’s use to only in Class B – severe cases or those with associated disease, making its use much less than if mild cases were allowed. This meant it was reserved as a late treatment if used at all.

    Finally, Kerala abandoned Ivermectin use altogether on August 5, 2021.

    Juan Chamie, the Cambridge-based data analyst who has provided graphical insight and published on COVID, provided his answer to why Kerala’s COVID cases have spun out of control.

    “My main current explanation is the lack of early treatment. Kerala’s COVID protocol from April 2021 included Ivermectin, but not as an early treatment. As a result, only a small group qualified, those in Category B patients having high-risk factors. The new protocol from August 5 is even worse. They removed Ivermectin (completely).”

    Despite a widespread attempt by the media and WHO to convince the world that India has dropped Ivermectin by citing the DGHS, the ICMR and AIIMS have not changed their position, and Ivermectin remains in the India National Protocol.”
    Of course, the WHO, pharmaceutical companies, fake news media, and Fauci are not happy with this big development. New York Times will have a meltdown with this news.

  14. BDW

    as per Wilbur Dee Case:

    As have many readers here, who have commented on Ms. Bryant’s “On Vaccine Mandates”, I likewise noted her poem thick with “tongue-twisters”, alliteration, and assonance; yet it is her opposition to medical conformity, id est, the “individual’s right to decide” medical decisions, that I most appreciate. The anti-conformity strain has been a strong motif in American literature, from Emerson and Thoreau to the present moment. In this context, as Ms. Corey noted, Ms. Bryant’s use of the quote of Modernist British writer C. S. Lewis is a very good choice. (His “Screwtape Letters” of WWII, are an excellent reminder of the problems of the Patient.) Also, I very much appreciate Mr. Bryant’s research on the vaccines; he does not just stick his head in the sand and simply obey, like so many others do. I particularly am impressed by his collating research of Uttar Pradesh and Kerala. The issue is so much more complex than political operatives, like Dr. Fauci, or the corporate media suggest. Sadly, even in Texas, vax requirements pop up in various areas, as in hospitals, companies, etc. even though vaxxed hospital personnel and others here are testing positive for the Chinese Coronavirus.

    I also appreciated Ms. Coats’ comments on sonnet experimentation of the 16th, 17th, and 19th centuries, as well as what she calls the “eighteen liners”. I think it would be interesting to read her “little collection of unusual sonnets”, and compare notes. Although I very much appreciate the 18th century’s wide disdain for sonnets, particularly Johnson’s, British Romantics Shelley, and mainly Keats, have been the go-to figures in English poetry for my own development away from the sonnet in the 1980s and beyond. As Modernist Robert Frost, who wrote about three-dozen sonnets, once noted (according to PostModernist Richard Wilbur), if you have something you’d like to say for about eight lines and then want to take it back for six lines you’re on the verge of writing a sonnet. During correspondence with PostModernist William Stafford (1914-1993), I was impressed enough with his eighteen-lined poem “Traveling Through the Dark”, that I have since called the “eighteen-liners” that I wrote from then on Staffordian sonnets.

  15. Norma Okun

    Susan, the question Hamlet was confronted with, “To Be Or Not To Be” meant was he going to do something about what his ghost father was telling him to do? Or take arms against the sea of trouble, or simply do nothing at all. It is the same with the vaccine and you say in your poem people ought to have the freedom to choose. It is amazing how disorderly the government appeared. Where I live Pelosi had all beauty salons closed. She was the only one who could go have her hair done. The other figure Newson went out to dinner while he closed every restaurant. Tells you about double talk. What the truth about the vaccine is no one knows. They are not interested in who or where it came from. If there is no seeing there is no way to remedy the problem. Poetry may never change anything. It only gives you a way of seeing a bad thing in a beautiful way. It has the order and the freedom we seek as inhabitants of a ever loving earth. Thanks for addressing the subject poetically.


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