.

Gossip

“There is so much good in the worst of us, and so
much bad in the best of us,
that it hardly becomes
any of us to talk about the rest of us.”
—Edward Wallis Hoch

Its spice, its ire, its hot desire
__Will lure the listeners in
To stoke the blaze of Hades’ fire—
__This weasel’s out to win.
Its schmooze tempts snoopers ripe for fun
__With tantalizing bait.
Its spill of juice will thrill and stun
With ills that dull and chill the sun
__In tales that devastate.

Its slick veneer of calm and charm,
__Its smokescreen of concern
Masks the snarl that stirs alarm
__When tides begin to turn.
When truth and proof nip at its heels
__Enchantment turns to hate.
Its graces slip away like eels
Revealing snide and vile ideals
__In tales that devastate.

Its bilge will always blurt from lips
__Of goons with much to gain
From yak attacks on tongues like whips
__Whose lashings dish out pain.
Its tricks will always draw the flocks
__Who like to preen and prate—
The soapbox cocks who faze and fox
With gilded drivel spun for shocks
__In tales that devastate.

.

.

Two Sides

a rondeau

There are two sides to every tale—
Two gusts upon the gossip gale.
Two slants. Two chants. Two points of view.
Which one is false? Which one is true?
No sleuth gleans proof from just one trail.

There is one whine, one woeful wail,
One boo-hoo rumor setting sail.
On tittle-tattle tides of blue
__There are two sides.

Tosh sweeps the net. Trash hits the mail.
The snoopers swoon. The priers pale.
This balderdash and bunkum stew
Is poppycock-a-doodle-doo.
With just one clue truth won’t prevail.
__There are two sides.

.

.

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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34 Responses

  1. Margaret Coats

    A dangerous topic, Susan! The poet must adopt the techniques of the gossip to attract those sensation-desiring listeners. There may be two sides to every devastating tale, but if one is bunkum and the other balderdash, you reach as far as you can toward the moral with “poppycock-a-doodle-doo!” Can gossip stew be sorted out to “false” and “true”? Hearers beware!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your take, Margaret. It’s most interesting and has a slight deviation from my train of thought, but nevertheless makes very valid points… hearers beware, indeed!

      Reply
  2. David Whippman

    Written with your usual skill, Susan. I like the way you fit modern terms into the traditional rondeau form. And the message is so true.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, I thoroughly appreciate your fine eye. I have fallen in love with the rondeau and feel it works beautifully with modern terms… as long as they’re musical. Thank you very much.

      Reply
  3. Michael Pietrack

    The smokescreen of concern is so true. Sometimes the person appearing to console you is just trying to find the juicy bits to share with others.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Michael. You are quite right. It’s amazing how much information a person can glean from someone and then twist it to pernicious ends when pretending to ‘care’… something we should all bear in mind.

      Reply
      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Watch out for anybody who tells you that they “care.” It usually means they are after your wallet, your maidenhead, or your freedom.

  4. Paul Buchheit

    Susan, your ability to weave a tapestry of words is unparalleled.

    Thanks especially for “Two Sides.” Couldn’t be more true.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Paul, thank you very much for your observations. You’re right on target with ‘Two Sides’

      Reply
  5. Roy Eugene Peterson

    I am particularly enamored with your creative side, in particular, “This balderdash and bunkum stew Is poppycock-a-doodle-doo.” How appropriate are the words and the thoughts about gossip that resonate.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Roy, I thoroughly appreciate your comment. Thank you. In an era where the truth is twisted every which way, we should be aware that listening to gassy hyper-gripers who make a profession of pointing fickle fingers is likely to snuff out the sun.

      Reply
  6. Brian A Yapko

    These are two marvelous poems, Susan, which handily demonstrate your brilliance in the use of poetic devices. Reading these out loud has given my tongue such a work-out I don’t have the energy to gossip!

    A poem like “Gossip” doesn’t come out of a vacuum. I get the feeling that there’s a story here and would love to hear some of the background. Sans gossip, of course! Your particularly concentrated language of insipidly vacuous terms tells us your disdain for the gossips. When Susan Bryant concentrates those alliterations and assonances, watch out! But all of these tantalizing tongue-twisting turns of phrase only barely camouflage a truly serious message observing the poison that underlies the fair facade. I was particularly struck by these lines:

    When truth and proof nip at its heels
    __Enchantment turns to hate.
    Its graces slip away like eels
    Revealing snide and vile ideals
    __In tales that devastate.

    It’s that revelation of “snide and vile ideals” that reveals the innocent subjects of the poem to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. “Tales that devastate” reveals the consequence. Gossip really is poison. Much to think about here.

    I also greatly enjoyed your rondeau which you have reinvented and weaponized for modern times. The repeating form of the rondeau coupled with its venerability really highlights the age-old, endlessly recurring problem. Brilliant!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, as ever, I admire your insight and the lines you have highlighted are at the very core of my message. When plain truth shines its light on malignant spin all becomes clear… that’s exactly why truth must be suppressed at all costs and irksome, mealy-mouthed, smirking jerks will go to moronic ends to do it. All I can do is thank these malicious, misogynistic windbags for inspiring poetry that grates on their nerves. Brian, thank you for your fine eye and for your appreciation of my poetry. It means a lot.

      Reply
  7. James Sale

    What is there to say that has not been said? But we need to say it! It could be said that you have a way with words, Susan: I love many lines but this especially, ‘The soapbox cocks who faze and fox’ – really, brilliant!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      James, thank you so very much! Like a bad comic laughing at her own jokes, I sniggered when I wrote that line… I’m thrilled you like it.

      Reply
  8. Cheryl Corey

    In the rondeau, I think that words and phrases like “boo-hoo”, “tittle-tattle”, “bunkum”, “tosh”, and “poppycock-a-doodle-doo” elevate the piece. They give me the impression that gossip has a secret language all its own.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Cheryl, thank you very much for your fine eye for poetic detail… I wanted to conjure up that gossipy feel and your comment lets me know it’s a babbling triumph. Gossip really is a secret language… and secret languages lead to dark places.

      Reply
  9. Paul Freeman

    As always, some well-wrought poetry on display, especially the rondeau, I felt.

    With the very first line of ‘Gossip’ (nice Rockwell pick by the way, Evan), have you considered ‘Its spice, its ire, its hot desire…’

    It seems to me that in addition to two sides, we have multiple angles and perspectives getting in the mix these days.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking (as usual) reads, Susan.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Paul, thank you for this. The Norman Rockwell image is an excellent choice. Thank you, Evan!! I would also like to thank you for your suggestion, Paul. It’s a good one – it makes the opening line much stronger with more impact. I will get Mike to change it.

      Reply
  10. Norma Pain

    Wonderful works Susan and so enjoyable to read out loud. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, it’s always lovely to get a comment from you. I’m thrilled you like the poems. I love the musicality of language and love to hear that it’s fun to read the poems aloud. Thank you for making me smile.

      Reply
  11. Russel Winick

    I enjoyed both, especially Two Sides, which makes a needed point in unique Susanistic style.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much, Russel, especially for the “unique Susanistic style”… to whatever ends, I think I may have found my voice. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Joseph S. Salemi

    Gossip is a nasty tool , but so is a machine gun. Sometimes they can be useful in bringing down an enemy. Remember how gossip about “Fauxcahontas” brought down Elizabeth Warren.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, I agree with you on the “Fauxcahontas” front… entertaining chit-chat that points out the glaringly obvious is an effective way of dealing with lying politicians and iron-fisted fabulists in authority, just as a hard-hitting or humorous poem may be an effective way of highlighting the wily nature of the wicked. It’s pernicious prattle that deals in damning lies to inflate the enormous egos of vengeful, hyper-vexed blowhards who have nothing better to do than to bleat their deceit that I’m referring to… although, I don’t think there are words strong enough for my point. Perhaps I ought to make up a few of my own… Jabberwocky style.

      Reply
  13. Joshua C. Frank

    Great ones as usual, Susan!

    “Gossip:” Your poems have turned me on to irregular 8/6 forms (I’m used to regular ones from music). This is an interesting one, with ABABCDCCD rhyme and 868686886 meter. I love the refrain at the end of each stanza, it’s a nice touch. Also the lines “Its tricks will always draw the flocks/Who like to preen and prate—/The soapbox cocks who faze and fox.”

    The second stanza sounds as if the speaker has had someone pretend to be her friend (I always assume the speaker is the same sex as the poet until proven otherwise) in order to learn juicy bits of gossip.

    “Two Sides:” I love a rondeau! French forms are my favorite fixed forms (now you’ve got me talking in alliterations!), possibly because of my familiarity with the French language. I especially love the lines “This balderdash and bunkum stew/Is poppycock-a-doodle-doo.” Love the pun!

    It’s precisely because there are at least two sides to every story that we often have trouble knowing which side is true. Without God and His Word, we would all be left to do no more than compare ideas, which explains a lot of the horrors committed by pre-Christian pagan cultures (and once again as our culture turns away from the light back into paganism).

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Josh, thank you very much for your generous and interesting comment. I love to play with form and I adore the musicality of words. I’m over the moon you appreciate the end results.

      I am especially drawn to your observations on the different sides to every story. The Western world was built on Judaeo-Christian values with laws vested in the word of God. These days our doctored laws (no pun intended) are increasingly geared towards the will of big, unelected governing bodies, Big Pharma, Big Tech and those who promote those voices, to forge a path to a “safe”, “environmentally friendly” “trans-humanist” future where rights bequeathed to us by our Creator are meaningless. We must all think the same, act the same, and accept the word of man, not God, which means whoever has the most power owns the truth… and man’s subjective truth tells us quite the opposite of the Ten Commandments. Thanks again!

      Reply
  14. Mark Stellinga

    2 more wonderful pieces! You just may go nuts trying to decide which ones to include in the book you’re working on. U may have to do 2!!! Great job, young lady.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mark, you have tapped into my present dilemma… I have too much choice and it’s doing me no favors. I’m thrilled you like my latest. Thank you very much for your encouragement and your appreciation.

      Reply
      • Mark Stellinga

        For that latest beast I had to select 167 out of 700+ ‘shareables’, pestered all the while by that good old second-thoughts-syndrome. Between the 2 of U, you’ll git ‘er done, I’m sure. If I *do* do one more monster book there are now a couple hundred more shareables to consider! It comes with the addiction, but isn’t it a wonderful addiction?

  15. Damian Robin

    Neat and forthright. I like the use of commonly-used phrases and words in the rondeau.
    Just looking at both from their dexterity is amazing sewn into the deep truths about human thoughtless interaction.
    Both marvels of the age, Susan. Thanks for doing them and showing them.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Damian, I thoroughly appreciate your fine eye, and I’m thrilled to hear you’ve enjoyed these poems – “marvels of the age” is a huge compliment, one that will spur my Muse on… to greater works I hope. Thank you!

      Reply
  16. Shaun C. Duncan

    Brilliant as always, Susan. The subject matter really suits your rhetorical and poetic skills as the delightful twists and turns of language convey something of the guilty pleasure to be derived from sharing gossip and, as Cheryl commented above, the use of nonsense words really works to highlight the fatuousness of it all.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Shaun, I always appreciate a comment from you and I’m chuffed with this one. I know you sweat the details on the ‘twists and turns of language’ front, which makes me thankful for your fine eye. Thank you!

      Reply

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