Out, out, brief candle!


I am black-dog blue and blinded
by the glitzy gaze of stars.
Lucent moons will never light
__my skyless eye.
I am frequently reminded
of my fear
__of future scars—
when he stills my howling heart
__my angst will die…

I have wondered at his whisper.
I have wallowed in his words—
songs that pull me to the power
__of his pledge.
Now contorted thoughts are crisper
and my whims
__aren’t captive birds,
I am tempted ever closer to
__his edge…

I am on the brink of sinking
into calm, embracing arms—
For too long my blistered brain has
__boiled and burned.
I am thinking as I’m drinking in
his darkest
__draught of charms
that the press of his fierce kiss cannot
__be spurned…

While the clock hands scythe through morning
in my sunless, cheerless sphere,
I am thirsting for the hour
__he’ll snatch my breath,
as he slakes this hellish yearning
__for an end
to sorrow’s sneer
on my medically assisted date
__with Death.




(Medical Assistance in Dying)

We have a grim but gracious goal
To kill (with kindness) every soul
Too worn and torn to hope and pray,
Too glum to seize a sunny day,
Too weak to wrestle with dismay—
__We specialize in slaughter.

We staunch the spill of weeping eyes.
We silence agonizing cries.
We stem the flow of waves of woe.
We show the low the way to go,
Assist them with a fatal blow—
__We specialize in slaughter.

We snuff out lives that folk can’t face.
We leave a bleak and tear-soaked space
Where shattered kin on buckled knees
With battered hearts and tattered pleas
Curse cawing crows in churchyard trees—
__We specialize in slaughter.

So, if you suffer endless stress
We’re here to bless (with grave finesse)
All those who know they’ve had enough
Of reeling from the rougher stuff—
When being is a tad too tough
__We specialize in slaughter.



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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29 Responses

  1. Brian Yapko

    Susan, two poems which address the Grim Reaper himself – who I like to think of as Justin Trudeau. More on Canada’s diabolical law in a minute.

    “Out Out Brief Candle” is vividly chilling and something of a fever dream which romanticizes death. It’s memorable and exciting and the stuff nightmares are made on.

    “MAID” with its repeating chorus “We specialize in slaughter” is the very voice of evil in a musical rhyme which almost recalls an advertising jingle — but with the most despicable of products to be hawked.

    How dare Canada decide that the mentally ill can choose assisted suicide? Who is more vulnerable and incapable of rational thought than the very individuals they are giving state promotion to dispatch? This is Nazi Germany here and now. What does the state stand to gain from this? Enormous savings on socialized psychiatric expenses? Practice for the next level of genocide? This is what happens when Western culture is repaganized. Either life is sacred or it is cheap, disposable and meaningless. I think the Canadian Reich has gone on record with its choice.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, your perspicacious comment with its spot-on observations highlights the wickedness of this health “care” path to the ultimate the solution for depression… talk about take advantage of the vulnerable! How can anyone who has mental issues make a rational decision? You are right when you say, “This is Nazi Germany here and now.” The sad thing is, many are willing to walk to the Western world’s equivalent of the gas chambers… that’s the evil result of decades of propaganda – the opinion pieces many are still blindly and readily pushing. As ever, thank you for your fine eye, appreciation, and support. It means a lot.

  2. Joshua C. Frank

    Wow, two great and chilling poems about euthanasia! But I expect nothing less from such a master poet as yourself.

    “Out, Out, Brief Candle” has the speaker on a date with a man who turns out to be death, and she’s falling in love with him. The uneven syllable count shows the unevenness of the whole event. The subject matter reminds me of a Georges Brassens song about the speaker’s uncle whose death was portrayed as a courtship with death, who was a woman (the French word for death is feminine). All in all, very good!

    But it’s the second one, “MAID,” that really grabs my attention, especially the refrain “We specialize in slaughter,” which directs my mind to abortion clinics and brings to the forefront the fact that once we as a culture decided that killing unborn children is right and good, we can’t say no to killing adults. The mentally ill are no more fit to decide whether they want to live or die than children are to decide whether they want to be boys or girls. Yet Canada is giving both cases “free choice,” when their choices are not really free because of their limited understanding. It’s important to pay attention to all this because what Canada is doing today, liberal states will be doing in a few years, and the United States as a whole will surely follow. Robert Hoogland in Canada was arrested in 2021 for calling his daughter female, and now California and Indiana are taking people’s children away for the same “crime.” Euthanasia will be the law of the United States before long. In the Netherlands, where people can choose euthanasia for whatever reason, doctors scarcely know what to do with someone who refuses death.

    I agree with everything Brian says about the similarities to Nazi Germany. Except Nazi Germany’s victims were dragged to their deaths kicking and screaming. Modern culture is encouraging people to walk into the death rooms themselves, just as it’s encouraging mothers to have their unborn children butchered. Though it will probably soon force people to “choose” euthanasia if they resist…

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Josh, thank you very much for your generous comment, a comment which points out the pitfalls of this evil agenda. For me the most striking aspect of your comment is your “free choice” remark. How can any choice be free if it’s uninformed or made while mentally impaired? Your closing paragraph is a chilling wake-up call to all, which brings me back to Brian’s spot-on observation: ” Either life is sacred or it is cheap, disposable and meaningless.” Let’s hope for the majority of us life is sacred and it’s worth digging our heels in and speaking out for. I think if we all start kicking and screaming in the face of abuse and slaughter, we have a good chance of turning things around. Josh, thank you for your comment and your brave poetic fight for the sanctity of life.

  3. C.B. Anderson

    I have always thought, Susan, even in my darkest hours, that there is no need to court death since death will come soon enough on its own. If persons such as Arthur Koestler, who, I believe, founded EXIT or the Hemlock Society or some such, wish to do away with themselves, I have no problem with that, but to validate and certify persons like Dr. Kevorkian is another matter. What’s really wrong about suicide is that it is virtually throwing the gift of life back into God’s face, but I cannot speak for persons for whom life is one unending agony. There is an idea out there that God never causes suffering a person is unable to bear. Think of Job.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., I agree with you wholeheartedly. The reason I wrote these poems is because suicide is becoming a fast-growing business industry, so much so Canada is on the verge of encouraging mentally ill people to seek assistance in killing themselves when life is seemingly unbearable. Death is being sold as the kindest cure for these ailing souls. I consider this to be pure evil. If only Job was held up as an example to young people of today. Life is exceedingly tough, but the tough times will give way to moments of joy and beauty if we look to God and not the Government for guidance. I live in hope.

  4. Norma Pain

    Susan, these two amazingly constructed poems are so needed right now. I am horrified at what is happening in Canada under Justin Trudeau’s so-called leadership. I used to feel so proud of Canadian values but they are becoming very destructive under this man.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, thank you very much for your appreciation and your support. I have a horrible feeling that the whole of the Western world is on the brink of following suit… let’s hope I’m way off track with my train of thought.

  5. jd

    Both excellent, Susan, and so timely. It seems like
    Canada is the only perpetrator now but it’s everywhere with the jabs just another form .

  6. Mike Bryant

    These perfect poems really highlight the madness of our times. The repeating line in the second is like a punch to the gut… every time.
    The doctors that are getting paid by the government to administer the coup de grâce to these people describe their “work” as “rewarding,” I bet it is. I wonder how much the state is paying per head. One doctor brags about dispatching 300 unfortunates, while another claims 400! It seems to have become a competition.


    From the article:

    In 2021, only 486 people died using California’s assisted suicide program, but that same year in Canada, 10,064 died used MAID to die that year. MAID has now grown so popular that Canada has both anti-suicide hotlines to try and stop people killing themselves, as well as pro-suicide hotlines for people wanting to end their lives.

    Great work bringing this perverse perfidy front and center.
    May God have mercy on their souls.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you for this, Mike. I believe greed is at the root of this evil… when one begins to follow the money it leads to the answers… and they’re horrific.

  7. Robert

    Hello Susan.

    After reading this work concerning the subject of euthanasia, I find it a reminder of how western civilization has become haunted with the idea of death. It begins with abortion and ends with euthanasia. I recently wrote in an essay that with this new culture folks need to familiarize themselves with a couple of movies. The two movies are Soylent Green and Logan’s Run.

    In MAID, you end each stanza with a frightening, repetitive phrase that is like a clarion call. I think the use of repetition in poetry is an outstanding technique when used to intensify the message. It reverberates with the reader in this work. It is very well done.


    • C.B Anderson

      This sort of repetition is sometimes referred to as anaphora, Robert, though usually there is the expectation that the repeated word or phrase will come at the beginning of a paragraph or stanza.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        C.B. thank you for this. I also tried to depict an unstable mind with the layout of “Out, out, brief candle!” but feel I may have been a tad over ambitious… I’m not sure it works.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Robert, I thoroughly appreciate your comment. You are spot on when you say, “western civilization has become haunted with the idea of death.” There’s a lot of money to be made from death – the coffers of the fat cats swelling during the Covid chaos proves it. There’s also a lot of money in euthanasia – that polite and gentle term that sings with notes of care, which is why I chose to replace it with “slaughter” and repeat it to emphasize exactly what the authorities have in store for those suffering with depression. Today, I read about a suicide machine, a ‘Sarco’ Death Pod that lets users kill themselves in salubrious surrounds, showcased at an Amsterdam funeral fair. This sounds like the plot of a Sci Fi film similar to those greats you have mentioned… only it’s for real.

      Robert, what has our world come to?

      • Robert

        Hello again Susan.

        I think our world has come to the position where everything that occurred before today is irrelevant and must be changed to suit the new normal. What is called normal today is not normal by any standard. I appreciate the language you used in the poem. Using the word slaughter is brilliant in my mind. It requires no explanation. Orwell would have loved the use of that word.

        As a side note, the theatrical posters for the movie Soylent green started with, “It’s the year 2022…” It was filmed in 1973. If you are not familiar with the movie, people are taken to euthanasia parlors filled with comfortable beds, soft music, and videos of fields and valleys. Their bodies are turned into food to feed the overcrowded population. A catch line from the movie is, “Soylent green is people.”

        Another disturbing fact is 6 states have approved using human bodies as compost. I can’t say what the world has come to but it’s not the world I grew up in. Your poem is profound.


      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Robert, I appreciate your further comment. It’s chilling and that’s a good thing. We should all be opening our eyes to exactly what our overlords have in store for us… it’s not pretty, which is why I’m opposed to repeating their euphemisms… euphemisms sugar coat and cloak horrors we would otherwise avoid… a wicked lie in my book. How soon 1984 and 2022 have come upon us. There’s a lot to be said for sci-fi. I happen to think it’s nearer to the truth than any news article. Robert – thank you!

  8. Shaun C. Duncan

    “Out, Out, Brief Candle” is an extraordinary piece, Susan. It’s reminiscent of Poe in that it’s chilling in spite of the beautiful use of language and, as Joshua pointed out, the fractured presentation of the stanzas is very effective in conveying a sense of disorder.

    Both poems are very powerful and perfectly befit such an important subject. The culture of death the western world has embraced is appalling and made all the worse because it hides behind notions of “dignity” and “choice” when in actual fact it makes a mockery of both. Having watched a loved one die an agnozing death, I understand the desire to end suffering but it’s a hell of a thing to ask another person to do it for you and any medical professional who would be comfortable doing so shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the sick.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Shaun, I thoroughly appreciate your observations on my poems, especially the first, which (presentation-wise) was something of an experiment. Your fine eye has let me know it works – I’m thrilled.

      You are spot-on with your opinion on the culture of death in the Western world hiding behind notions of “dignity” and “choice” – a wicked lie cloaked in care. I’m hoping these poems may reach just one person out there who will be shocked into thinking a little deeper, seeking alternative opinions, and changing their mind. That’s what drives me to write these… I simply have to. Shaun, thank you!

  9. Mark F. Stone

    Susan, Two superior poems on a critically important topic. Thank you for speaking out!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mark, it’s lovely to see you on my page. Thank you very much for your appreciation and your encouragement. It means a lot!

  10. Roy Eugene Peterson

    I applaud your poems that previously have included abortions and these that singularly and brilliantly call attention to the devolution of western society that once valued life in all its manifestations but has descended into one that should scare us all.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Roy. I am yet to tackle a poem on abortion. I’ve read plenty by Joshua Frank whose inspirational work has prompted me to think about steering my poetry in that direction. That’s the beauty of being on this site. Thanks to Evan we are able to speak freely. And thanks to poets and commentors, we are inspired and validated in a world that cares nothing for diverse opinions. Roy, thank you for your appreciation and inspiration.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        Susan, I’m honored that you, with all of your talent, find my work inspirational and that it’s influencing what you write!

        It’s true, our poetry would go unpublished if not for Evan. What would we do without him and this site?

  11. Anna J. Arredondo

    Susan, once again you have used your artful word- weaving in the cause of uplifting life. I was thinking the other day of how many poets on this site are coming in on current events and social ills, and the phrase “social justice bards” occurred to me. Then I had to smile at the aptness of “SJB”, as you are certainly one of the most prolific!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Anna, I love your comment. Thank you! My initials are all the dearer to me now that I am fully aware of their potency! It reminds me of the time a wonderful Texan Sista bought me an engraved tumbler to celebrate my American citizenship. It proudly shouted out the name –
      “sUSAn” I was obviously born to be an American social justice bard!! 🙂

  12. Patricia Allred

    Dearest Susan,

    MAID is one of the most powerful poems, I have ever read! Thank you thank you


    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Patricia, what wonderful encouragement. Thank you so very much for your beautiful words. They make my poetic efforts thoroughly worthwhile. I am over the moon with your feedback. Thank you very much indeed!


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