Sum total of all life is death,
And breath sustains us for a time.
We’ll live until we’ve spent God’s dime.
The meter’s running faster still.
No matter what we want or will,
We’re always in His debt.

Some say that life’s a losing bet,
But we embrace its burning fire.
We’re partial to the soul’s desire.
We love the earth and all within,
We love rotation, love her spin,
We love the love and all we get.

We’ve not been called away just yet,
But if our fire died yesterday,
And we were laid to rest today,
We should not hold God in the wrong,
For He shall wake us with a song
__And so our future’s set.



A Rose and Me

__My words, like models, only pose
As simulacrums of this perfect rose.
__No one can know or comprehend
The rise and flow of love, the weft, the bend.
__For love is what we know and feel—
The deathly lows, the height of heaven’s zeal.
__Intensity is what I see
In every moment that you look at me.

__So, please accept this long-stemmed rose
Which reaches out to you, the one I chose
__In softened sighs, and read the note
That answers all the questions that you wrote.
__I hear you sotto voce here
Within my mind and see your blue eyes clear.
__I’ll always hold your memory—
The stem, the bloom, your fingertips and me.



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

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24 Responses

  1. Brian Yapko

    Mike, I greatly enjoyed both of these poems — especially upon analyzing the unique rhyme and meter for both. Are these forms that you have created?
    “We” is interesting with its a-b-b-c-c-a rhyme pattern but which maintains the repeating A rhyme for the first and last lines of the subsequent verses. This creates a really interesting pattern which recalls a cycle of birth and death.

    And then it took me a couple of readings of “A Rose and Me” to realize that you had very rigorously created a meter of 4-5-4-5-4-5-4-5 in your two octets. I’m not sure if there’s a textual reason for your use of this metrical form — is it to keep the reader slightly off-balance but symmetrical like the speaker who admits uncomprehension of love but who symbolizes love with a perfect flower? Perhaps I’m projecting intent, but either way, I think it’s very clever and well done.

    Thank you for the enjoyable afternoon read!

    • Mike Bryant

      Brian, I wrote “We” a few years ago and I swear I can’t remember how I came up with that form. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it has been used before. I like it as a kind of gut expression of faith. As for the flower poem, I wrote the first few lines, and then I just had to go on with the metrical scheme. Thanks for thinking I did that purposely in order to keep people off kilter… if only I really was that clever! And thanks for your wonderful analysis.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, I simply had to smile at this train of thought you had: “I’m not sure if there’s a textual reason for your use of this metrical form — is it to keep the reader slightly off-balance…” You have captured Mike’s personality to a tee. Keeping people off balance is Mike’s favorite pastime… friends and family visibly brace themselves when Mike is around. LOL

  2. Margaret Coats

    Mike, both of these read just beautifully. I love the earthy lines in “We”: “We love rotation, love her spin.” When I come to “A Rose and Me,” I seem to see some poetic horseplay with grammar. Wouldn’t the expectation for a title be “A Rose and I”? And you immediately make a self-deprecating point, saying that your words are “simulacrums” of this perfect rose. The correct Latin plural is “simulacra,” even in American English, but I get the feeling you like the humble and ungrammatical sound of “-crums.” Lovely love poems!

    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks for your comment, Margaret. I love the word earthy and, as a plumber, I have moved plenty of it… so I take that as a compliment of course. As for me and that rose… I suppose it depends on whether that phrase, that sentence fragment, is from the subject or the object of the unknown complete sentence! You know, I did take Latin in high school and should have known the plural of simulacrum, but I did just check it out and simulacrums is acceptable, at least in American English… but, yes, I do like the way it sounds. Again, thanks so much.

  3. D.G. Rowe

    Aye, “The Rose and Me”, Mr Bryant, is crafted rather well with also lovely sound and sentiment.

    They both are, to be frank, but the second one edges it for me, pal.


  4. Peter Hartley

    Mike – I like both of these poems, especially the first, and, like Brian I can admire its unique rhyme scheme. It is a little difficult for the ear to remember rhymes that are six lines apart but I think it works very well in the reading in unifying and rounding off each stanza. I wonder if this stanza form is your own invention or if it has an actual name (like Alexandrine or Spenserian) because it looks as though it really should! I admire the optimism in the second poem, and its very memorable last two lines.

    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks, Peter. I don’t know the name for that poetic form or even if it has a name. It does remind me of something, but I don’t know what! I am an incurable optimist.

  5. Cheryl Corey

    Mike, the line “I hear you sotto voce here” gave me pause. Shouldn’t it be “your” instead?

    • Mike Bryant

      Cheryl, I believe that ‘sotto voce’ is typically used as an adverb or an adjective in English. If I’m not mistaken the Italian ‘sottovoce’ is an adverb, so, either way I think it’s okay.

      • Cheryl Corey

        Not knowing any Italian, I’ll defer to greater minds.

      • Margaret Coats

        “Sotto” means “under,” and “voce” is “voice,” which makes “sotto voce” a prepositional phrase used as an adverb, meaning “in an undertone.” “I hear you in an undertone” is correct English, and if Mike wanted to say “I hear your low voice” using Italian, he would have to say “voce bassa” because the feminine adjective comes after the feminine noun.

  6. Mrs. Bryant

    Simply beautiful… the sort of poetry that could lead a lady up a church aisle. 😉

  7. Yael

    I find both poems thoroughly entertaining, but We is my favorite of the two. It’s a great story and very well told. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Sally Cook

    Mike –
    I have been back to these poems three times. First tune, I considered them an interesting expansion of your poetic viewpoint; second tune I went to find out why you would choose to do this; the third time I am here to question
    myself. What am I here for, other than to say each time the poems get better.This time, I’m here to say I find them to be like fast growing vines. Like those vines, your poems have used those off-hours to grow in strength and intensity. Mike, I had to stop this cycle less I find myself driven to have them printed on sheets of gold leaf, and bound in rubies and encrusted in emeralds. Amazing effect!
    Susan is right to say that when you are around there is no telling what might happen.

    • Mike Bryant

      Sally, what a beautiful comment. It has almost rendered me speechless, a very rare occurrence. Thank you!

      • Sally Cook

        Mike, thought I had offended you. As that was not the case, I’ll just add – Happy Birthday ~

  9. Paul Freeman

    I thought ‘We’ was superb. ‘Complex-simplicity’ comes to mind. The ideas are profound but are stated with free-flowing simplicity.

    Thanks for the reads.


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