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A Hopeless Rondelet 

All trust is dead,
Killed by lies in love’s disguise.
All trust is dead—
It’s buried in a sigh of dread.
Its memory spills from mourning eyes.
Can Truth rekindle sunless skies?
All trust is dead.

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A Shrill Villanelle 

My manner’s far from mild, it’s never meek.
I seek a peaceful heart and blissful sigh.
I yearn to learn to turn the other cheek.

I burn to quell these hellish fits of pique.
I crave a cloudless air and cool blue eye.
My manner’s far from mild, it’s never meek.

The rosy balm of calm is ultra-chic.
I hold the bold control of angst on high.
I yearn to learn to turn the other cheek.

I want to purge my surging urge to shriek,
But cannot let a crass quip pass me by—
My manner’s far from mild, it’s never meek.

With zeal I screech and squeal just like a freak
When witnessing a jackass tell a lie.
I yearn to learn to turn the other cheek…

But when a politician starts to speak
My brazen lips will bawl a battle cry.
My manner’s far from mild, it’s never meek—
I yearn to learn to turn the other cheek.

First published in Expansive Poetry Online   

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Silence

a rondeau

My silence listens to the crows
Of bloviators’ blow-by-blows—
They rise in flares of air so hot
They boil and stir the bubbling pot
Of heaving sobs and howling woes.

My silence slips on tippy toes
Between the sly, melodious throes
Of crooked lines to learn what’s what…
__My silence listens.

My silence hears the fears of those
Bombarded by bombastic shows,
Ensnared and scared by plots that knot
The stomach with rhapsodic rot.
I have a nose for phony prose…
__My silence listens.

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Golden

a rondel 

I’m sailing in silence as golden as sun—
No mulling. No musing. I’ve nothing to say.
My creed’s not in sync with the screed of the day
From lips spinning tricks from the tip of the tongue.

To swallow a bowl of baloney’s no fun;
I’m feasting in peace on a cirrus soufflé.
I’m sailing in silence as golden as sun—
No mulling. No musing. I’ve nothing to say.

I’m deaf to all drivel. I’m finished. I’m done
With parroted twaddle that waddles one way.
I’m floating my boat in a soundless array
Of summery beauty where bunk isn’t spun—
I’m sailing in silence as golden as sun.

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Susan Jarvis Bryant has poetry published on Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Light, Sparks of Calliope, and Expansive Poetry Online. She also has poetry published in TRINACRIA, Beth Houston’s Extreme Formal Poems anthology, and in Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets in the UK). Susan is the winner of the 2020 International SCP Poetry Competition, and has been nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize.


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27 Responses

  1. Michael Pietrack

    Bombarded by bombastic shows,
    Ensnared and scared by plots that knot
    The stomach with rhapsodic rot.
    I have a nose for phony prose…

    Masterful

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Michael! I had fun writing those lines – I’m glad you like them.

      Reply
  2. Brian Yapko

    Susan, a splendid quartet of French-formed poetry – tres beaux indeed! I like the way the four work together as a first-person journey which addresses and finally transcends the dreck that poisons our modern society. I note that you go from sunlessness in your “Hopeless Rondelet” to golden sunlight in your “Golden” rondel. This is a marvelous passage of attitude the progress of which is charted in your use of sound words. We are taken from the huffy silence of the first poem into the shrill shouts of the villanelle onward to shrewd silence described in your rondeau as you take the high road while coolly appraising the bloviators. You ultimately achieve transcendence of all the dreck in “Golden” where silence is both meditative, visual and victorious.

    There are many chewy phrases and images in these four poems (how will I ever forget “I screech and squeal just like a freak?) You present many memorable descriptions of anger, along with images of bombast and bloat, images of canniness (I love that “nose for phony prose”) all starkly contrasted in the end with lush images of summery beauty in golden silence. I share your shrill anger and I also long to be “deaf to all drivel.” With these four poems I feel as if I’ve joined you on a memorable journey from the land of bullcrap – a corrupt place it sounds like you have escaped by the skin of your teeth – onward to something timeless and real. A treasure of a quartet, Susan.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, you always manage to tune into my poetic intentions and explain them with such finesse – none of my endeavors have passed you by, and I am thrilled with your reaction. It’s always great when the message of a poem comes across loud and clear, and when a series hits the spot, it’s an added bonus. I am thoroughly grateful for your fine eye and over the moon that you enjoyed the poems and their connections. Thank you!

      Reply
  3. Adam Wasem

    Beautifully written and formally flawless as always, Susan. Truly exquisite examples of poetic craft. You describe an enviable journey to the narrator’s “Golden” destination. And the beautiful language makes me yearn to learn to follow, but without copious referents external to the narrator’s inner monologue, I’m afraid the signposts are too difficult for a literal-minded reader like me to translate. Instead, I’ll have to content myself with watching in envious admiration.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Adam, thank you very much for this wonderful and encouraging comment. Form inspires me… I’d love to throw myself into it without alluding to today’s concerns, but I simply can’t help myself. Beauty meets tragedy seems to by my Muse’s thing these days, and I am powerless to resist.

      Reply
  4. Russel Winick

    “I yearn to learn to turn the other cheek.”

    Constructed by a poet who’s unique.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Russel, I love the word ‘unique’ and I’m embracing it as my own today – thank you!

      Reply
  5. Julian D. Woodruff

    Dear Susan,
    We know things are going to get worse:
    The evidence mounts day by day.
    Spite, envy, and greed are the curse
    That drives the U.S. further astray.
    No silence from you, please! Your verse
    Resounds to reject the decay.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dear Julian, thank you very much for this encouraging poem… I love it!

      You’re spot-on, America’s curse
      Is going from awful to worse.
      My thumbs up for silence is fiction –
      I cannot ignore fibs and friction.
      Whene’er there’s a lie or a riot
      My Muse will not let me be quiet. 🙂

      Reply
      • Julian D. Woodruff

        Your “fiction”: I just didn’t buy it.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Julian, you always manage to bring a ray of sunshine to my poetry pages… for that I thank you!

  6. Joshua C. Frank

    Susan, great ones as usual! Not only are your poems in general exemplary, but these show a thorough mastery of French forms. Having done some translations of poetry from French to English, I know that because English has fewer words to a rhyme in general than French, French poetic forms are a particular challenge for poets writing in English. Well done!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Josh. I thoroughly appreciate your fine eye. It would be great to read some of your translations. This site is just the place to publish them.

      Reply
      • Joshua C. Frank

        Wow, that comment was so nice to read! Thank you.

        You can expect to see one of those translations next month.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Excellent news, Josh. I thoroughly look forward to reading your work.

  7. Norma Pain

    Thank you Susan for these wonderfully descriptive poems. The above comments say it all. I love each one of them and am in awe of your talent with words, rhyme, rhythm, message, etc. Brilliant.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, I thoroughly appreciate this beautiful – thank you!

      Reply
  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    All these medieval French forms were originally meant to be sung to the accompaniment of string instruments like the lute or the cittern. Hence the prominent repetitions, and the tendency to short lines, as in the rondelet and the rondeau.

    All four of Susan’s poems maintain that inherited aura of song, in that each poem invites the reader to sing or recite its lines out loud. That seems especially the case with “Silence.”

    Susan, please don’t learn to turn the other cheek. Smash the offending bastards in the face with a cricket wicket.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, thank you very much for this beautifully clear description. I adore the musicality of language and these fair forms give me the chance to showcase just that.

      I am laughing out loud at your ‘cricket wicket’ advice – just the sort of encouragement that makes me want to hit every jackass for six!

      Reply
  9. Margaret Coats

    A fascinating feast of fair forms, Susan. They are all good examples of their kinds, but the rondeau and rondel are especially good. With all the required repetitions, you take care to fill the limited space remaining with artistry and significance.

    The sequence too is exceptional. Short forms lend themselves to sequences, but the only similar one I recall is a set of six rondines and rondelets by Christine de Pisan. Like you, she didn’t say it was a sequence; the reader has to discern it–but we know she arranged the poems in their order. And although it is six poems in only two lyric forms, none of them is like any of the others. She varies line length and rhyme scheme to differentiate, just as you use the different forms. You have used them in sequence to show the special qualities of each (the rondelet insistently closed, for example). Four varied melodies for four feelings in progression. Fine work!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, as a connoisseur of feasts of fair forms (love it!), I was hoping you would sample my fare. Thank you! I am over the moon with your observations. I had the most fun with the rondeau and rondel, so I’m glad you enjoyed these.

      They do lend themselves perfectly to a series and I am intrigued by the set of six rondines and rondelets by Christine de Pisan. I’ve never studied these forms in great depth. I’m just drawn to their aural beauty. I’m ashamed to say, I’ve never heard of a rondine… all that changes today. I’m going to look the form up and try one. Thank you for your fine eye, your appreciation, your inspiration, and your encouragement!

      Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      The easiest example of a rondine to find online is Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “To Death, of his lady,” in imitation of Villon. Algernon Charles Swinburne imitated the very same Villon rondine, but his poem beginning “Death, I would plead against thy wrong” is not so easy to find. If you have Lewis Turco’s Book of Forms, his example is his own “Rondine of the Rare Device,” attributed to his avatar Wesli Court. But to my mind, the finest of rondines is Taylor Graham’s “La Rondine” posted online in 2017 but currently unavailable. I’ve asked the website to dig in their archives. Meanwhile, it’s fairly easy to find Graham’s “Where They Dug for Gold” at poetrysoup Graham uses rhyme and form, but her pentameter lines are colloquial and only very roughly iambic. They form quite a contrast to Rossetti and Swinburne in self-consciously poetic Victorian English. But the rondine form stands out.

      Reply
      • Margaret Coats

        Forgot my own rondine right here at SCP, in “Comparing Translations of Charles d’Orleans.” I was the only translator to put the famous spring poem into rondine form, but as I explain in the discussion, Orleans’ works contain about 80 possible rondines. He helped develop the rentrement that features in today’s standard rondine.

  10. Roy E. Peterson

    Short poems like your, “Hopeless Rondelet,” that communicate in stark, but elegant fashion, meaningful truths always have a great appeal to me. The “shrillness” of your second poem echoes my own internal turmoil over “My manner’s far from mild, it’s never meek.” I agree with Joseph, no need to turn the other cheek. I love the positing of the position in the third poem, “My silence listens.” Although you are “sailing in silence as golden as the sun,” I love your castigations and social critique that are innately included.

    Reply
  11. David Whippman

    Beautifully crafted work. I like the intricacy of the rhymes within lines of “A Shrill Villanelle.” Medieval French forms these may be, but you use them to address topical issues.

    Reply
  12. Shaun C. Duncan

    Fantastic stuff as usual, Susan. I agree with Margaret that they form a wonderful sequence too, peaking stylistically with the anger and intricate rhymes of the villanelle before gracefully descending into the serenity of “silence as golden as sun.” Beautiful stuff.

    I agree with Dr Salemi though: turning the other cheek may be virtuous and good for your mental health, but the strength of your satires are a blessing to all who read them and we’d all hate for you to lose your edge!

    Reply

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