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May God Excuse Us

If life’s a falling knife then catch the handle…
Your every move makes enemies and friends.
If life’s a fading flare, a dimming candle,
Then slice it up and light up all the ends.

And when the sovereign sword swings up above us
Like that of Damocles on thinnest thread,
We might well wonder, does the good Lord love us,
Or would He rather have us done and dead?

But God is love and God is all-forgiving.
God’s demanding, understanding too.
God holds all the dead and all the living.
God knows everything we never knew.

Some have rather more to be forgiven,
Than those who never burned in love or sin.
May God excuse us, seeing we were driven
By soaring anthems lost in history’s din.

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


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22 Responses

  1. David Watt

    Mike, this is just the type of uplifting poem that most of us require now, or any time. Each of the four stanzas seamlessly link to express carpe diem, and the forgiveness of God.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks, David, I’m glad you see it as “uplifting” because that’s how I feel about it.

      Reply
  2. Julian D. Woodruff

    Very good and polished, Mike. It strikes me as Kiplingesque in its assurance, its straight-up regularity of accent (accented and unaccented in regular alternation), and its well separated lines. Lots of adroit, unstrained alliteration, too.
    Line 2 falls slightly short. Kipling might have been ok with “who,” grammatically speaking, but the word has to be understood as excepting God. Then it becomes an unsettled issue of recklessness: is in giving or in taking offense?
    I wonder if anyone would quibble over using “forgive” and “excuse” in pretty much the same sense.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Julian, thanks for your comment. Line two is a problem. Maybe, “Every move makes enemies and friends”?
      It doesn’t completely address the question, but might add a small truism.
      Kiplingesque has me smiling.

      Reply
      • Mike Bryant

        Julian, Kiplingesque works great for me… the smile is only because I take it as a huge compliment.

  3. Brian Yapko

    I like this poem very much, Mike. I’m intrigued by the title and your decision to use “excuse” rather than “forgive.” Pondering it I wonder if you’re bringing in the double meaning of questioning if God is telling us that we are “excused and can go now” or are we indeed “forgiven?” in the religious sense? That would fit in with your profound questions and be a quite clever pun. The other thing: I love your third stanza so much with its emphatic headless iams and strong statements about Man’s relationship to God — I wonder why that’s the third stanza and not the final stanza? Either way, it’s wonderful.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Thank you, Brian. I definitely don’t want God to excuse me to hellfire! But I do agree that would be very clever… and funny too. I like the third stanza as an answer to the second. I like the discontinuity too.

      Reply
  4. Jeff Eardley

    Mike, if only my plumber could write like this. (He has a job to sign his own name) A most thoughtful piece to read on a Sunday. I love catching the handle of the falling knife and agree with Brian that the work reads just as well with stanzas 3 and 4 reversed.
    One of your best. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Thank you, Jeff. You might be surprised by the hidden talents of your plumber. I have found that the more people underestimate you, the more you can charge! Thanks, again.

      Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Thanks, David. You wouldn’t even believe the discussions Susan and I have had about the themes represented in this poem. I’m glad it resonates with you.

      Reply
  5. Allegra Silberstein

    Your last stanza was powerful, especially in these times…Allegra

    Reply
  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Mike, I’ve already told you this, but I’d like to shout it out loud. I love this poem for multiple reasons… one of them being, we’re still discussing it – the sign of a literary marvel.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Thank you, Susan! You’re the literary marvel… I am thrilled you like this effort.

      Reply
  7. C.B. Anderson

    One of the things you’ve done here, Mike, is to take old saws and use them to incise entirely new kerfs, which is something I like to do as well — “burn it from both ends” for example. The final stanza is, for me, somewhat enigmatic. The second line reminds me of St. Paul’s dictum that it is better to marry than to burn, but I wonder what “soaring anthems” you are referring to in the last line.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      C.B., that last line is a bit of a head scratcher, but it is the crux of this small rumination. I have a feeling you know exactly what it means. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      Reply
  8. jd

    I love well-written poems about God.
    Thank you, Mike. I think you’ve done
    admirably with all of it from beginning
    to the last line, which I have a feeling
    wasn’t easily found.

    How blessed are you and Susan, talented
    as you both are, to each have an in-house
    bouncer, as in back and forth, not out.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Thank you JD, we really are blessed… and obsessed with poetry! You are right about the last line. The road there was a journey… a delightful one.

      Reply
  9. Adam Wasem

    What a gem. Plainspoken, pithy, accessible, beautifully balanced. Isn’t it gratifying to have one come out so nicely? I just wish there was one more stanza, elucidating on those “soaring anthems,” and just how, exactly, they drove those who burned in love or sin, and what, exactly, those who burned need to be forgiven for. Since what would a God of love need to forgive those who burned in love? Unless you meant by burning with love to say burning with sinful passion, as in “Better to marry than to burn.” Still, these are quibbles. Nicely done.

    Reply

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