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A Truthful Triolet

I want the truth. I want to trust
The words that trip from lips that lied.
I want all doubt to fade to dust.
I want the truth. I want to trust.
Truth hurts. Truth heals. Truth’s heart is just.
My faith in you, it hasn’t died.
I want the truth. I want to trust
The words that trip from lips that lied.

.

.

I Search Beyond… 

I search beyond the journalese.
I rise above the taunt and tease
Of those who mock my watchful gaze
In days when charlatans claim praise
And bigotry bends feeble knees.

While masked applauders seek to please
And blather billows in the breeze
From buzzing tongues that blab and blaze—
___I search beyond…

The newspeak spews while schemers seize
Our freedoms as they stoke unease.
A shift to truth will lift the haze
In mayhem’s manufactured maze.
I’m done with fiendish expertise –
___I search beyond…

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Face It

It slithers neath the shiver of the skin
To burrow through the marrow of the bones.
It bruises brains with grim and guttural groans.
It cleaves through calm to snake and seethe within.

It withers spirits with its scorching stare—
A glare that crushes hearts and hushes hope.
It binds the thing with feathers with a rope
And drags it to the darkness of its lair.

It quivers in the starkness of the truth
From those who brave its slash of tooth and claw
(Its gash and maul, its gnash of gnawing jaw)
To track down, super-sleuth-like, crucial proof…

The proof that at the core of fear are lies—
A fact that every fabulist denies.

.

.

Your Word 

As cons with crafty mouths wield callous power
Your Word unfurls beyond the twisted tongue.
It buds and bursts and beams just like a flower
To gleam with glorious gifts that go unsung.
As scammers serve up schmooze infused with treason
Sweetened with a smattering of charm,
Your Word slakes thirsty minds with draughts of reason:
Sagacious waves of thought that stave off harm.
Your Word frees swindled souls who’ve swallowed horror:
A swill of lies that choke unspoken dreams.
It chides the cheats and shames the sly abhorrer
Of liberty, exposing heinous schemes.

Your Word is love and light: the song of choice.
All those who prize the truth will hear Your voice.

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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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32 Responses

  1. Mo

    Susan,
    Thank you for expressing, in these poems, my constant frustration, that is frankly debilitating to me on a daily basis. Makes me feel less alone in my views.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mo, I really appreciate your comment. We’ve been lied to and divided for far too long. In spite of how we are conditioned to feel, we have much in common with many out there. I am glad my poem has connected with you. Don’t let the liars grind you down, Mo!

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Norma. The line from Hamlet is a timeless treat that serves to prove that humankind is not about to change its ways anytime soon… so beware those sweet pledges of care rising from the smiling mouths of those who know what’s best for us. Shakespeare knew a thing or two.

      Reply
    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Or earlier Shakespeare: Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile (Henry VI, Pt. 3, I, 1).

      Reply
  2. Dave Etchell

    truth seems to be a strange beast these days– as in my truth–do they mean faith in what they say? I find that as a generality people don’t like the truth- it distorts their reality. Well done Sue — technically brilliant — as usual,

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Dave… and you’re absolutely right on the truth front. I really do think ‘faith in what they say’ has replaced immutable truth. That’s exactly how we have come to live in a gender-fluid society. When chromosomes count for nothing, neither does the truth.

      Reply
  3. Brian Yapko

    Susan, each of these is a treasure of truth presented in tight poetic form — a triolet, a rondeau and two sonnets.

    I’m most intrigued by your triolet. I’ve never written one — it strikes me as an interesting little form which lends itself to a sort of Seussian sing-song style. This works well with your triolet’s theme of wheedling the truth out of someone for whom your “faith hasn’t died” — almost like a parent having to talk down to a child with tense restraint (all that internal rhyme) and a nursery-rhyme vocabulary. At the same, I don’t think there’s a child involved. I think you’re talking to adults who, through their lies, have earned being condescended to. As the speaker does so with tense “let-me-spell-it-out-for-you” restraint, there’s a certain unhingedness (is that a word?) to this poem which I appreciate. We do indeed run the risk of becoming unhinged when people gaslight us. Gaslighting seems to be the rule these days and we would do well to be armed and ready to face it. Your poem gets this even as it insists on facing the truth.

    Your rondeau is quite splendid, but it’s the two sonnets that I really relate to. I love “Face It” and its allusion to Emily Dickinson. “It binds the thing with feathers with a rope” is sheer genius. Ultimately, I love “Your Word” for seeing through all the dreck of our society and its culture of fraud and yet finding hope in God. What a fantastic quartet of penetrating poetry!

    Reply
    • Peter Hartley

      Susan – These four poems on truth and lies have great topicality at the moment, don’t they, with our British PM having difficulty distinguishing between a working lunch and a bring-a-bottle social gathering, technically known as a beano, as if it makes any difference what we call it anyway – he’s still completely ignored his own injunctions. Like Brian I’ve never tried writing a triolet but when I do I shall use yours as a model for its self-evident technical accomplishment. One admirable and ubiquitous feature of your verse is exemplified by the way in which, in one of the repeating phrases, “…trip from lips that lied,” the word trip is linked by its letters to lied via lips. This clever little device is used to such good effect in your verse; so too the alliteration in the stressed initials in line five. “Seek to please / and blather billows in the breeze” is one of my favourite lines in the second poem with its striking imagery. “It bruises brains with grim and guttural groans” is more sheer genius in consonance. The more I read all four though, the more, it seems, there is to find. Half-invented words are another hallmark, like “super-sleuth-like,” among others, that conveniently proclaim their meaning without sending the reader scurrying for the dictionary. The final couplets of both sonnets are masterful, especially the last with its turning to “Your word” (the gospel) to love and light and to God.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Peter, I really appreciate your attention to the fine detail of every poem I write. You pick up on the intricacies and make all of my efforts worthwhile. I love the music of language. I love the onomatopoeic wonder of words that help to lift an image to another dimension. For me, poetry should appeal to the senses, letting the words fade into the background as the message of the piece dances, sings, and soars… and, before I get carried away and have you wondering whether I’ve taken leave of my senses, I’ll stop. I simply say – thank you very much for your fine eye and your beautiful and encouraging words.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, I love your analysis of the triolet. I had many thoughts going through my head when I wrote it, the main one being – I want to spell out the significance of telling the truth, simply and plainly, with no embroidery and no frills around the edges… in keeping with the subject matter. I like ‘Seussian sing-song style’ and your ‘gaslighting’ observation. My tone is – you’ve fooled me once; never, ever do it again, or we’re done! ‘Condescending?… perhaps. Unhingedness (great word)? You bet… I’m tearing my hair out at the crazy mind games lies play. It also has hope… hope that the ones I’m speaking to, the ones I still have faith in, will see the light.

      The rondeau form is now etched on my heart. I had fun with that thing with feathers and I’m thrilled it paid off. ‘Your Word’ was pure muse and served as the idea for the theme of truth and lies. There may well have been a soupçon of divine intervention for which I am most grateful.

      Brian, as ever, thank you very much!

      Reply
  4. JD

    My refrigerator magnet quotes Mahatma Ghandi, “There is no God higher than truth.”
    But in following the poetic theme herein I would like to offer the following. I quote from Herman Hesse, in one of his works titled “Hours in the Garden” in part which goes “…while the world is ruled by coarser yet more violent forces, wisdom remains alchemy and diversion for the wise, and so let us set our course on that calmness of soul, which the ancient ones praised and aspired to, let us do good, without a thought of changing the world, even so it will pay…”

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      JD., in this chaotic world, the perspicacious words of Gandhi and Hesse assist in maintaining a sane outlook. Thank you for dropping by and thank you for these superb quotes. I’m off to buy my Mahatma fridge magnet.

      Reply
  5. Margaret Coats

    Susan, “A Truthful Triolet” is one of my Top Triolets. Brian Yapko and Peter Hartley have given excellent analyses, and as a collector of fair forms, I will simply say it is superior to nearly all examples of the triolet known to me, either in English or in French. And the two sonnets in this group make a well-considered pair. “Face It,” an English sonnet with closed quatrains, is about lies, while “Your Word,” with open quatrains, concerns the highest truth. Very nice distinction of form between the two, well suited to the opposite topics.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, you have taken my breath away and I am honored. If anyone knows the true depth of the triolet, it’s you. I am thrilled mine is up there with the best. For me, unembellished simplicity was hard to achieve. I chose the straightforward form of a brief triolet to reflect the sheer magnitude of truth and the importance of telling it. “Truth hurts. Truth heals. Truth’s heart is just” is exactly what the truth means to me. The truth is never easy, but it is rewarding… that was my experience with writing this triolet. Never has such a short and simple form proved such an immense challenge… the truth really did hurt… but, the end result is well worth it. I am looking forward to reading some triolets. I have a great respect for them.

      As for the sonnets, I’m delighted you enjoyed them. I think they work well as a pair. I always have fun with a sonnet, and I write them a lot quicker than a triolet. Margaret – thank you very much, and would you point me in the direction of some fine triolets. Is there a book or site you can recommend?

      Reply
  6. Russel Winick

    Susan:

    These poems are like paintings that one can look at repeatedly, and see something different each time. I know – I’ve been reading them over and over all day. Your talent is a gift to all of us.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Russel, it pleases me to know you’ve not only enjoyed my poetry, but you’ve enjoyed it more than once… editing really does pay off. In my youth, I used to cling on to my stanzas as if they were ingots of gold… now I’ll toss a few tarnished nuggets back in my stanza jar to polish up for another occasion. Thank you very much for your continued encouragement.

      Reply
  7. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, we expect no less from you. These should be on the lips of all our politicians today as we are reeling from the news of wine-swilling “work” meetings in “Downing Ten” street, I will be re-reading these all week and thank you for “Triolet” which is new to me. I echo Russell’s comment and thank you for sharing your talent, free of charge, to us all.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, I think I’ll put forward the suggestion of an SCP page that’s devoted to hilarious comments. “Downing Ten Street” is on the top of my list for this week… my sides are aching. Peter’s “our British PM [is] having difficulty distinguishing between a working lunch and a bring-a-bottle social gathering, technically known as a beano” is up there with it. I think we all ought to follow Boris’s boozy lead… it certainly beats taking vitamin C, D, and Zinc to stave off Covid… although, I think an excess of real ale may lead to wild hair and covidiocy. Jeff, you always manage to shine an extra ray of sunshine on Texas… thank you!

      Reply
  8. Margaret Coats

    Susan, this is my answer to your question about reading some good triolets. I think I will have to write the book myself (I seem to have enough material), and every website I know gives very few good examples. But for writing “A Truthful Triolet,” you deserve some citations.

    Right here at SCP, take a look at Carol Smallwood’s “How to Write a Triolet.” She cites the best of three triolets (the first ones in English) written by Patrick Cary in 1651. Her other classic example is by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and may be the first triolet written by an American. Carol did not know who wrote it, because the internet cites it over and over again as the work of French medieval poet Jean Froissart. See my long comment on Carol’s article.

    Also, look online for
    Triolet by Robert Bridges
    A Kiss by Henry Austin Dobson
    The Triolet by Don Marquis
    Under the Mistletoe by Countee Cullen
    How Great My Grief by Thomas Hardy
    Birds at Winter Nightfall by Thomas Hardy

    Especially in the last one by Hardy, you can see the repeated lines used in different syntax each time they appear. This is a modern technique unknown to medieval triolet poets. Joseph S. Salemi uses it with panache in his triolets; perhaps he may see this and give us an example.

    Here are two American triolets not easily found online:

    AUGUST
    Hottest day of the year
    by Brander Matthews (1852-1929)

    Now, isn’t it hot?
    There is really no breathing
    In the devil’s own pot.
    Now, isn’t it hot?
    A true Hottentot
    Would confess he is seething
    In a city so hot.
    There is really no breathing!

    The following is by Ernest McGaffey (1894-1941).

    What should the Poet do?
    Sing, because fate had willed it!
    Nothing beside he knew.
    What should the Poet do?
    Echoings keen and true
    Swept o’er his heart and thrilled it;
    What should the Poet do?
    Sing, because fate had willed it!

    Here are two of many by Eustache Deschamps (1346-1406),
    translated by me.

    Come salute my jubilee!
    I have past my fiftieth.
    Good times now are quick to flee;
    Come salute by jubilee.
    You may not remember me,
    Worse for wear and out of breath;
    Come salute my jubilee–
    I have passed my fiftieth!

    For all the gold there is or that will be,
    God-given freedom ought not to be sold.
    When it’s disclaimed, there’s no recovery
    For all the gold there is or that will be.
    By all means guard this noble dignity;
    No man should give up being self-controlled.
    For all the gold there is or that will be,
    God-given freedom ought not to be sold.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, thank you very, very much for this information – a smorgasbord of literary deliciousness that I will be feasting on for some time. It is a real privilege to be on this site… I’m inspired, educated, and entertained by talented lovers of literature who bring more joy than I deserve.

      Reply
  9. C.B. Anderson

    Here’s the thing, Susan: No matter how much humor you inject or special effects you add, you seem incapable of expressing anything but the truth as you see it, which, as far as I am concerned, has always been founded on as deep a well of integrity as I have ever beheld. You are the real deal, and I’m just glad you’re an anglophone.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., I greatly appreciate your kind words… especially now. Thank you.

      Reply
  10. David Watt

    Susan, I am yet to read a poem of yours that doesn’t roll delightfully off the tongue. The highlight for me is also the poetically inventive line “It binds the thing with feathers with a rope…” I guess you could say that hope bound with rope is a slippery slope. Thanks for your entertaining expressions of truth.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, thank you very much. This afternoon you’ve given me a much-needed laugh… I’d be a dope not to realize hope bound with rope is a slippery slope. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Yael

    Very nice, as always Susan. I love the topic of Truth and your poems are always so fresh and beautiful. My favorite and every-day working definition of Truth is found in John 14:6.
    Triolet is a new thing I learned about just now, thanks to you and Margaret, and I like it, keep them coming please.

    Reply
  12. Tamara Beryl Latham

    Susan, I love “A Truthful Triolet” and for some strange reason I associate it with a partner that may have lied to you once, as was the case with me. After such an incident it’s difficult to trust again.

    Referencing your three brilliant sonnets that emphasize truth and lies, they remind me of our politicians, whose tongues continually wag, yet nothing truthful is spoken.

    You are truly a talented poet and your poems are a joy to read. Don’t ever stop writing, but thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Reply
  13. Julian D. Woodruff

    Thank you again, Susan, for your single–mindedness re the current socio–political awfulness, and for your usual technical brilliance. The Dickinson reference almost begs the question, what would anybody reading her poem when it was first published think of the mess we’re in today?
    Thank you also for introducing me to the triolet, a form I’d not previously encountered.

    Lines spun from a mind like a jenny,
    Sinking lies and extolling what’s true:
    The villains are ever so many,
    And laborers like you too few.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Julian, I write for beautiful poets like you. Your comment and the appreciation in the words of your trimeter quatrain mean the world. Thank you.

      Reply

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