. Church Mice a sonnet corona There is a tale that’s writ in German history. A church was passed each Sunday by a train. Its death-knell whistle blew as it flew swiftly To Hell as stricken souls shrieked out in vain. These yells were muffled by the lusty singing Of worshippers who harmonized with might To quell the shock and stop a shudder ringing Through placid bones not fashioned for a fight. The plight and prayers of Jews, their destination, Meant naught if pious choirs couldn’t hear The cars that chugged right by the congregation To monstrous fates that begged for mercy’s ear. The deaf ignored the soaring roars of fright--- Howls that haunted corners of the night. Howls that haunt the corners of the night Taint my thoughts and taunt my starlit dreams. How do shepherds guide flocks to the light If they themselves are deaf to desperate screams Of lockdown lambs devoid of hope and help? Would shepherds of today just slam their door On every fretful yowl and fearful yelp From souls draconian overlords deplore? As ills are forced by experts decked with letters, As iron fists make errant thinkers pay, As means are crushed for questioning our betters--- Do all those called by God just turn away? In times of tortured facts and bogus care Are shepherds blind to pits of bleak despair? Are shepherds blind to pits of bleak despair Befouled with blood from babies torn apart? Are pastors uninformed and unaware Of brainwashed kids who nurse a joyless heart? Are vicars deaf to mutilated youth Neutered by the hormone-blocking ghouls? Do priests skip by the skewed subjective truth? Do pregnant men take clergymen for fools? Silence is salvation’s deadly foe. When preachers of our time refuse to speak, They’re dancing with the demons wielding woe--- The beasts who draw their strength from all that’s weak. The outcome of this stance is not a mystery--- You’ve heard the tale that’s writ in German history. . . A Modern Wordsmith’s Dilemma The wonder of our words has died--- __So many are taboo. My tongue and pen are now denied __The truth and beauty too. My heart is swelling with a song But twisted lyrics don’t belong __In all that’s fair and true. Rhyme and rhythm have no soul When iron fists are in control. The music in my veins runs cold. __It’s sluggish and offbeat. The notes are grim, not one is gold. __My tune is incomplete. No sonnet soars to lilting spheres When honest words offend the ears __Of those who overheat At stanzas blazing with desire Illumed with language kissed by fire. My Muse contorts my misted mind __Where hazy visions dwell. Today her words are ill-defined--- __The best have bid farewell. “It’s Venus!” I’ve just heard her shout. I burn to let this goddess out __To cast her odic spell! Alack, the women most revered Are those who have a cock and beard. When will it end, where will it go--- __This lexis-hexing craze, This pick-a-pronoun-hoedown show, __This crazy-making phase? I want my words to thwart each threat, To serenade and pirouette __Beyond these wacky ways Of banished bards and pregnant men Where truth and beauty bless my pen. . . Grunt a villanelle Free speech is deemed a dastardly affront To fussers flustered by a flip-side view, So, quit all words of wit and simply grunt. Long gone are times when tongues were loose and blunt--- One saucy quip and someone’s sure to sue. Free speech is deemed a dastardly affront. All beefing bleaters born to bear the brunt Of repartee will cause a ballyhoo, So, quit all words of wit and simply grunt. Be warned if yakking irks, your kin may shunt You off to find your charm and missing screw. Free speech is deemed a dastardly affront. The beastly-banter squad are on the hunt For tactless terms tagged toxic or taboo, So, quit all words of wit and simply grunt. To speak one’s mind is such a risky stunt To pull in front of runts who squeal on cue. Free speech is deemed a dastardly affront, So, quit all words of wit and simply grunt. First published in Snakeskin . 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.