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.




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.

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48 Responses

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Great to see you here, Dave, and thank you! As for Hell, I think I’m already in it… I catch a whiff of sulfur in the hot air above Downing Street and the Whitehouse… I see the demons of Davos flicking fork tongues across lips dripping with beef juice… I hear the rumble of Thunberg… blah-blah-blah. 😉

  1. Jeffrey Essmann

    Susan: Can’t thank you enough for “Church Mice”–and couldn’t agree more. I think the first sermon we need to hear is about the difference between the meekness that will inherit the earth and plain-old cowardice. Bravo!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeffrey, I believe that knowing the difference between meekness and cowardice is the key to recognizing how we can save our children from predators and our world from serfdom. Your spot-on comment says everything. Thank you very much for your appreciation and your insight.

  2. Russel Winick

    Three more wonderful Susanisms to start the day! Church Mice is a classic, of worshippers who harmonized with might. Marvelous!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Russel, thank you very much… I like the “Susanisms” observation… it encourages me to summon up a few more.

  3. Norma Pain

    Susan, I am in awe of your poetic abilities. All three poems are bitingly, truthfully accurate and such a pleasure to read, apart from the atrocious subject matter. Thank you for these inspired creations.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Norma. You are absolutely right on the subject matter front. I am aiming to keep the harsh atrocities of the world as palatable as possible through poetry… but I can’t promise they won’t offend the sensibilities… the horrible side effect of the truth. Norma, thank you for your appreciation and constant encouragement.

  4. jd

    I am once more amazed by your artistic prolificacy, Susan. All three are timely, true and enviable in their construction.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      jd, thank you very much. I try to channel my shock and horror at today’s evil into poetry… that way I quell the tempest within while being productive on the creativity front – sadly the shock and horror in today’s wicked world is coming in tsunami-size waves.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        We’re very similar in this way. I, too, try to channel the same shock and horror into poetry. I would have described it as coming in like Noah’s Flood… it’s hard to capture it all in writing. But I keep trying, and I applaud you for doing it so well!

  5. Brian A Yapko

    Wow, Susan, these are three extraordinary poems — you’ve outdone yourself. I love “Church Mice.” The title threw me because its tone is rather meek given the power and gravity of the poem. But I fully understand its relevance to the accusation of cowardice you are going for. I think this is an extremely brave poem full of damning observations concerning churches and with lines of depth and power. “Are shepherds blind to pits of despair?” It doesn’t get any better than that.

    “A Modern Wordsmith” is a hoot except that it’s so full of painful honesty concerning the way the fullness of our language is shackled by wokitude run amuck. Your cheeky language is both amusing and (dare I say?) transgressive. It’s quite wonderful.

    The “villanelle” is also a wonderful indictment of the litigious language police who might as well have come from the pages of Orwell.

    All three are spectacular snapshots of the world of groupthink and social engineering which exists today. I love them.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, thank you very much for your astute observations, your thorough understanding of the message each poem conveys, your poet’s ear, and your appreciation of my work. It means a lot. It’s tough to get grave words across in an entertaining tone without losing the crux of the message. I know you know this because you have mastered the technique perfectly. Thanks again.

  6. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, please, never let the music on your veins run cold. These are three extraordinary brilliant poems. Your talent is a lesson to us all. I love “Susanism” by the way. Your work is very, very special. Thank you.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, what a wonderful comment – I am thrilled you like my Susanisms and will never let the music in my veins run cold… it’s talented musicians like you who spur me on! Thank you!

  7. Roy Eugene Peterson

    I am ecstatic I am on your side. I would hate to be on the other one. Your powerful poems join a growing pantheon of protests to what is defacing and disfiguring our culture and has penetrated all the way to the altars of churches that much like Israel, in the time of Exodus, turned to idolize the golden calf with the image of a pagan false god. I hope there is a way for the world to read these and for Christians to repent of their ongoing sins furthered by an apostate leadership.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Roy, thank you very much for your enlightening comment. You make an excellent point. I’m ecstatic you’re on my side too!

  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    Susan, I love the villanelle. It’s perfectly crafted, with delightful rhymes and choice diction. “Snakeskin” is one of the few on-line venues open-minded enough to publish it.

    “Church Mice” touches on a major issue — the cowardice and timeserving gutlessness of the bulk of the clergy in mainstream churches. These types are as paralyzed as deer caught in the glare of an oncoming car’s headlights. The slightest peep of left-liberal outrage sends them into quivering panic and incontinent terror.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, I’m thrilled you like the villanelle. I had huge fun writing it, and I got lucky with “Snakeskin” – the editor is a man of integrity who believes in free speech for everyone… even a poet like me!

      “Church Mice” came from the heart… a heart broken by churches that refuse to address the problems of the world and by doing so, exacerbate them or (even worse) they push these atrocities themselves. I’m beginning to think religion of any denomination is a problem, and that’s a horrible frame of mind to be in. I have faith in God but not in churches.

      Thank you very much for your comment.

  9. Larry Coltin

    Thank you, Susan. What are the rules about republishing your poems? Is it OK to post them elsewhere at my discretion? Yours truly, Larry

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Larry, of course you can republish my poem, as long as it’s attributed to me. Let me know what you have in mind.

  10. Joshua C. Frank

    Susan, these are among your finest! I can’t hold a candle to you. Not only do you write so many of these (I know there are some published in other journals but not this one), but you manage to make every one of them really good.

    “Church Mice:” Great title! A lot of sayings come to mind: “Are you a man or a mouse?,” “Poor as church mice,” “The best-laid plans of mice and men,” etc. All of these fit with the scathing indictment of church leaders who aren’t man enough to stand up to our government’s regime of mass murder, just as German church leaders wouldn’t stand up to Hitler. Sadly, the answers to all your questions are yes… an answer with which “Is the Pope Catholic?” is no longer synonymous. I don’t want to get started on that one, so instead of going through each excellent line, I’ll just say: this one’s great!

    “A Modern Wordsmith’s Dilemma:” Also really good. It says so well how few these days want to hear what poets like us have to say. I especially love the lines that say it all: “Alack, the women most revered/Are those who have a cock and beard.” I burst out laughing with that couplet.

    “Grunt:” Love this one too. It makes me think of the quote I see circulating online, attributed to Dostoyevsky: “Tolerance will reach such a level that intelligent people will be banned from thinking so as not to offend the imbeciles.” We’re pretty much there!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Josh, what a wonderfully encouraging comment. I am over the moon you enjoyed the poetry and the messages came through loud and clear.

      The title of “Church Mice” sang to me with all of the sayings you mention swimming in my head. I’m also glad to hear you laughed at my risqué line in ‘A Modern Wordsmith’s Dilemma’. It tells me you fully understand the utter ridiculousness of this insane ideology, an ideology that allows a male sex offender to identify as a woman, be sent to women’s prison and to rape the female inmates… because HE can for reasons obvious to the sane and rational.

      The Dostoyevsky quote says everything about our present dilemma. Let’s hope more and more people will open their eyes and mouths before we’re all bound, gagged and dragged off to Hell… it’s just around the corner.

      Josh, thank you!

  11. Mo

    Susan, surrounded by so many shallow ideas today, I appreciate the depth your poems share with us. Thanks! Always a pleasure to read your work.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mo, thank you very much for your wisdom and your encouragement. There are many who buy into these shallow ideas not realizing where they’re leading.

  12. Cynthia Erlandson

    Susan, you have absolutely outdone yourself! (And that’s saying a LOT!) You are a virtuoso at using just about every poetic device to create a brilliant piece of art that also says crucially important things!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Cynthia, I really appreciate your words… I adore writing poetry and only hope the direction my poems are taking these days will result in something good. Thank you very much indeed!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Cheryl, I don’t know the origin of this sonnet series. I got the idea from a great poet on this site, Dusty Grein. There are other sonnet coronas online, some are a much longer series – the sonnets needn’t stop at three. Here’s a link to the sonnet corona that inspired me to write two of my own. One for my granddaughter published on Expansive Poetry Online.
      I like the use of repetition… I feel it enhances my point in Church Mice. Do you think it works?

      • Cheryl Corey

        Susan, I checked out the source of your inspiration. According to what I researched online, a corona (or crown) of sonnets consists of seven sonnets linked by theme, the last line of the first sonnet becoming the first line of the second and so forth. This linkage does carry the reader forward to the next sonnet. The last line of the seventh sonnet should be the same as the first line of the first sonnet. You have at three sonnets, so that’s an accomplishment in and of itself! I wonder – has any SCP poet completed all seven? What an undertaking that would be!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Cheryl, yes, I saw the seven-sonnet corona online and felt it was a bit ambitious for me… but, now I’ve got three points to my crown… maybe I’ll go the whole hog. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it and think it works for what I had to say. I really appreciate your interest and your encouragement. Thank you!

  13. R M Zimmerman

    Hello Susan.

    I consider a crown of sonnets to be quite an accomplishment in writing. The writer must stay focused on the message. I like the repetition in Church Mice. Repetition is often a key to making the message clear. My philosophy about repetition in poetry is you have to hit a nail more than once to drive it into a board.

    In “Wordsmith’s Dilemma,” You have pointed out some of the worst offenses of destroying the language. I have found that when people have bad ideas, they change the language. It makes no sense to anyone but them. Your reference to “pregnant men” makes the case.

    My favorite is “Grunt.” Last line of the last stanza sums up what we have been confronted with in modern language. I wish more people would grunt so they wouldn’t have time to keep fouling the language. If they would do that, they would all sound alike. Wait a minute, I think they do. In the second line of the first stanza your alliteration is beautiful. Again, repetition of the word grunt drives the nail home. Well done.


    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Robert, I thoroughly appreciate your wonderful comment. You have picked up on everything I have tried to convey in each poem. We are living in a world that has no respect for freedom of speech on the side of the argument that doesn’t parrot our global overlords and their bought and paid for shills – the main one being the mockingbird media. The rationale of the discerning mind counts for nowt… we have reached a stage where merely questioning the deeds of the government-paid “experts” is likely to result in being shut down and cast out. Thank you very much for your integrity and your fine eye for poetry.

  14. Yael

    Wow Susan, just awesome poetry, as usual. I love all 3 of these, but I feel like you have outdone yourself with Church Mice. Thank you for remembering and addressing this episode from German history which unfortunately is repeating itself all over the world at this point, and is only gathering momentum I’m afraid.
    I would also like to point out that those trains were not only carrying Sabbath-keepers to the extermination camps, but all kinds of marginalized and “imperfect” people of different religions, ages, mental abilities and ethnic origins, because they were deemed useless and inconvenient to the state by time-serving bureaucrats in administrative positions. It’s crazy how humans under the influence of demonic forces can go to war against humanity.
    Keep up the great work you are doing, as silence is not always golden!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, I thank you very much for your appreciation of my poems and for the further insight. You are quite right when you say:

      those trains were not only carrying Sabbath-keepers to the extermination camps, but all kinds of marginalized and “imperfect” people of different religions, ages, mental abilities and ethnic origins, because they were deemed useless and inconvenient to the state by time-serving bureaucrats in administrative positions.

      This observation is chilling and in perfect keeping with a mindset labelling human beings “non-essential” during the Covid atrocity. In fact, transhumanism reduces the human species to mere beasts – “hackable animals” to coin a phrase from the cold, calculating Harari. I have often wondered how the people of Germany couldn’t see what was going on right under their noses… BUT we have the benefit of history and still many cannot or will not see history repeating itself. A terrifying thought in and of itself. Yael, your comment should be read by all… it’s a wake-up call that enforces the words of warning in my poem. I thoroughly appreciate your wisdom and your encouragement, and your willingness to impart with both.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        Once you believe that people can and should be hacked like computers, it’s a short step to believing that it’s acceptable to hack people like meat. The Nazi Holocaust and the Abortion Holocaust are no accident.

  15. Mark Stellinga

    Hello Susan, discovering your superb work has rekindled my hope that serious fans of genuine verse can still find the truly top quality legitimate poetry they yearn for but is SO hard to find. The site is impressive and I’m joining it today, but having finally found a sizable number of truly outstanding poets feels soooo good. I think I read where you live in Texas. Have you come across one of the finest living poets in America – Red Steagall? I believe he lives around Ft. Worth. Red penned me a very flattering blurb for one of my most recent books. While I’ve nowhere near the vocabulary required to pen the sort of piece your lot can, you and I write so much alike – in essence – I just wanted to say ‘Hello!” I’m hoping to whip up one last super-duper hardcover before I fade away. Keep up the wonderful work, I know how difficult it can sometimes be to produce work of this quality. PS: My website often functions poorly, definitely not my field of expertise! All the best, Mark

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Hello Mark, how lovely to read your message. Evan has given me your email address. It will be a pleasure to contact you tomorrow.

  16. Mike Bryant

    I guess if your church is NOT politically correct this might happen to YOU!

    The FBI generated an internal report on Radical Catholic Groups in the USA. They depended on information from the radical leftist group The Southern Poverty Law Center.
    Following are the nine Radical Traditional Catholicism hate groups operating in the United States in 2021 as defined by the Southern Policy Law Center, followed by the location of their organizational headquarters:

    * (U) Catholic Apologetics International (Greencastle, Pennsylvania)
    * (U) Catholic Family News/Catholic Family Ministries, Inc. (Niagara Falls, New York)
    * (U) Christ or Chaos (Corsicana, Texas)
    * (U) Culture Wars/Fidelity Press (South Bend, Indiana)
    * (U) The Fatima Crusader/International Fatima Rosary Crusade (Buffalo, New York)
    * (U) In the Spirit of Chartres Committee (Glenelg, Maryland)
    * (U) The Remnant/The Remnant Press (Forest Lake, Minnesota)
    * (U) Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Town of Richmond, New Hampshire)
    * (U) Tradition in Action (Los Angeles, California)

    The FBI admits that this internal report does not meet their exacting requirements and have reportedly deleted it.


    I think the Babylon Bee got it just about right with this article:

    FBI Investigating Plot Inside The Catholic Church To Worship Something Other Than The State


    • Joshua C. Frank

      Wow… I, as a Catholic, agree with a lot of things those groups say, and find it scary that the FBI is investigating them for believing what the Church teaches. The United States becoming China West is not far off.

      It just shows that we have to get our message as far and wide as possible before we’re silenced.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        One more thought: the United States has always been anti-Catholic, so much so that many American Catholics fought on the Mexican side of the Mexican-American war. The difference is that the anti-Catholics still had the same view of right and wrong; the differences between Protestants and Catholics (at least back then) were largely theological. Today, anti-Catholic forces are fighting for evil, and even most of the Church hierarchy has defected to their side.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Joshua, left-liberalism (or cultural Marxism, to be more precise) has thrown off Protestantism like a hermit crab throws off a shell that it has outgrown, or like an insect throws off a cocoon.

        The really dangerous anti-Catholicism today comes not from a mainstream Protestantism that has largely been co-opted by the feelgood “social gospel.” It comes from a much more savage and venomous enemy — the anti-cultural, anti-civilizational, counter-normative revolution that includes feminism, sexual perversion, contempt for tradition, anti-white racism, ferocious prejudice against masculinity, and sheer hatred of Western culture. Those are the real engines of anti-Catholicism today.

        With some honorable exceptions, Protestantism has been essentially gelded and denatured. It has no real arguments with the drift of modern society towards collectivism and statism. It celebrates and blesses much open perversion. When even the supine and effete Anglican Church is planning to change God’s pronouns to become more fashionable, they are no longer a serious threat to anyone. They are just silly, the way all trend-chasers are.

        Our real threats come from fanatical secularists of the sort who control the Democratic Party, the American Deep State, the damned E.U., the world-encircling NGOs, and the now totally “woke” capitalism of transnational corporations. And yes — there are far too many members of the Catholic hierarchy who are traitors to their own religion.

      • Mo

        THANK YOU, JOE! You perfectly spewed out the nagging thoughts that I have been stewing over for quite a while. Reading your comment was actually cathartic for me. Thanks again, I needed that.

  17. David Whippman

    “Alack, the women most revered
    Are those who have a cock and beard.”

    Susan, you are priceless! But don’t visit Scotland, where lines like that could now get you jailed.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      It looks like Scotsmen love the trannies
      More than lasses with cute fannies.
      Pseudo-women put a tilt
      In Jock MacPherson’s tartan kilt.
      If you go to Edinburgh
      Make a search that’s full and thorough —
      See if you can find a laddie
      With balls enough to be a daddy,
      And doesn’t need six drams of Scotch
      To fill the crack in a lassie’s crotch.
      You won’t get new Scottish folk
      By screwing with a trannie joke.

      (To the Scottish police: Come and arrest me.)

      • Joshua C. Frank

        Love it! Though I can’t help but think that what we see in the United Kingdom today will be seen in the United States before long…

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Reminds me of that guy who got arrested for retweeting an anti-transgender meme: https://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/irishman-arrested-uk-causing-anxiety-27639423

      When Sir Salman Rushdie was attacked, Boris Johnson had the gall to tweet:

      “Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend.

      “Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay.”

      Then someone replied: “Your government arrests people for tweets.”

      I should go write a poem about that…

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Well, as Mike Bryant has pointed out, we are all living in an embryonic leftist-fascistic state now, and the traditional freedoms of Magna Carta and the American Bill of Rights are trembling on a razor’s edge.

        Our situation is eerily similar to that of Russia in the short period of the Kerensky government, just before the complete takeover by the Bolsheviks in November 1917. Kerensky (the typical idiot liberal) couldn’t do a thing to stop it.

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