.

All Aboard!  

a pantoum

He’s pumped and ripe to ride the gravy train.
He’s armed with cheese and charm to save the day.
He’ll pulverize all poverty and pain.
He’ll magic melancholia away.

He’s armed with cheese and charm to save the day.
From golden heights his Midas might will shine.
He’ll magic melancholia away
With words that soar like herds of flying swine.

From golden heights his Midas might will shine.
He’ll bless us with a plethora of pleasure.
With words that soar like herds of flying swine
He guarantees unmeasured troves of treasure.

He’ll bless us with a plethora of pleasure
If doting droves deliver him their vote.
He guarantees unmeasured troves of treasure
Like every gloating, bloviating goat.

If doting droves deliver him their vote
He’ll pulverize all poverty and pain.
Like every gloating, bloviating goat
He’s pumped and ripe to ride the gravy train.

.

.

Hobson’s Election Advice

Some talk and talk. Some stand and gawp. Some trip at every turn.
Some fail to cork their inner dork. Some fizz with faux concern.
Beware the tongue of fib and fork. Shun crimson eyes that burn.

Smell the smarm and taste the charm as sweet as cherry tart. 
Look beyond the spin and grin for traces of a heart. 

Some wear a frown. Some act the clown. Some dish out fuss and fear.
Some think they’re born to sport a crown.  Some speak yet never hear.
Beware the toad whose nose is brown, the sly and insincere.

Watch the green set board a jet and feast on beasts that fart. 
Look beyond the grin and spin for traces of a heart.

Some waft hot air. Some sniff at hair. Some clutch an ice-cream cone
With time to stop and lick and stare like one not fully grown.
Beware the twit who’s unaware he’s in the twilight zone.

See them please and baby-squeeze and ply their cheesy art. 
Look beyond the grin and spin for traces of a heart.

Some preen and puff. Some blind and bluff. Some shock and mock and curse.
Some are far too rough and tough. Some peddle the perverse.
Some are stuffed with fluff and guff. Some are bad… some worse.

Use your voice and make that choice. You know just where to start—
Look beyond the grin and spin for traces of a heart.

.

.

Seizer

I am the Seizer of the Sphere,
__The Master of the Mind.
I muddy blood with crud and fear.
I bubble brains in bile and beer.
I’m here to baffle humankind.
I render doubters deaf and blind
__And take all they hold dear.
Bamboozled by the bogus news
Fools overlook the crucial clues.

I have the silken upper hand—
__So slick and smooth and fair
That when I grab their cash and land,
Their diamond days on golden sand
With greedy gestures sold as care,
The spellbound saps won’t be aware
__Of what this czar has planned.
Too glued to likes and hearts on screens
They miss the fiend behind the scenes.

I am the Spirit of the Age.
__I’m born from ghosts of old.
As history echoes on my page
I’ll seize the day by gagging rage
With tricks I’ve honed, all learned from bold
And barbarous bastards—tombstone cold.
__I’ll lure my subjects to their cage.
I’ll steal their wealth. They won’t be free.
Yet still they’ll kneel in praise of me.

previously published in Expansive Poetry Online

__

__

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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31 Responses

  1. Roy Eugene Peterson

    With rakish irreverence, your poems are a superb indictment of what has become of the Amercian political landscape and the abject politicians who inhabited it. There are so many morsels of wit and verse to sample and imbibe. Alliteration is your forte and like ardent arrows it enhances the sting of your allusions. These are worth saving and savoring.

    Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Wayne, thank you for making me smile!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Roy, as ever, thank you so very much for your continued support, encouragement, and appreciation. You spur me on.

      Reply
  2. Mark Stellinga

    Absolutely mesmerizing, Susan, and I’ll not hold my breath waiting to discover a finer poet. IMO – you, and these 3 poems, are as good as it gets. 🙂
    And here’s the heartfelt tribute I penned to celebrate your extremely impressive body of work –

    My Tribute to – You Know Who

    I’ve surfed a ton of poetry sites for close to forty years
    In search of what, to me at least’s, the ‘best’ among ‘The Best’!
    One that towers – again, for me – above her learned peers,
    And now, at last, have found a bard that ‘aces’ every test!

    Alliteration superstars are few and far between,
    But when it comes to trimming verse with ‘words that sound alike’,
    And utilizing perfect terms and metaphors to ‘preen’
    Her every composition — with her doting husband, Mike,

    Posting quite profusely from the coastal plains of Texas —
    Who the ‘all-around-champion’ is I’m carrying on about –
    (The stinker who’s the reason I’m a dear friend of ‘Alexa’s’) –
    Shouldn’t – with all I’m sharing – be that hard to figure out!

    She takes the first-place trophy, friends – Susan has no equal,
    And I – along with all her fans – are keen for every sequel!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Mark, thank you very much for this lovely tribute. I feel certain I do not deserve such praise, but I will graciously and gratefully accept it and draw upon it when my Muse is silent.

      Reply
  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    Three great political poems, and they could apply equally to Democrats and many Republicans.

    When I first read “Hobson’s Election Advice,” I assumed that the reference was to the old English story of “Hobson’s Choice,” where a dealer named Hobson in horses for transport said that any customer who came to him had this choice only for renting an animal: the next animal in line. Therefore “Hobson’s Choice” was heavily sarcastic — the customer had no choice at all.

    I couldn’t fit this in with the poem. But then I realized that Susan was alluding to Mellody Hobson, the financial investment counselor who gives advice on various methods for growing your wealth. The poem then made sense: it presents you with various bad choices in an election, and tells how you as a voter need to “Look beyond the grin and spin” for a worthwhile candidate.

    “Seizer” is somewhat frightening. Could the title be a play on the word “Caesar,” used as a symbol for evil earthly power — or in religious terms the Devil, who is the Lord of this World? On the other hand the speaker of the poem seems to be much more than a political tyrant or dictator; he is also a purveyor of false ideas and pernicious doctrines and perverted trends. That would make him more of an intellectual than a politician.

    If we think of the Latin feminine name for earth (“Terra”), then the poem’s title suggests the phrase “Seize her!” That’s what the Spirit of the Age and the powers that be want to do.

    Susan’s use of the Russian term “czar” (a derivative of the original name Caesar) tips the balance towards an earthly ruler, but her use of the word “fiend” is a common epithet for the Devil. When the speaker identifies himself as The Spirit of the Age,” I think we can understand Susan’s basic point in this poem: the Zeitgeist that controls the world today combines evil doctrines, lies, and the fanatical urge for totalitarian control over the entire planet.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, I thoroughly appreciate your close reading of these poems and your eye for the finer details. Thank you! We’re living in tough times where the truth is almost impossible to uncover making choices increasingly hard to make. Just recently, I’ve noticed how my attitude towards politics has changed from the days I first joined the SCP until now. My values and heart are still the same, but where does one go with one’s beliefs when all trust in Government (local and global) has gone?

      Reply
  4. Phil S. Rogers

    All three poems are right on target. As for most politicians of any party, the simple words; ‘Some speak, yet never hear,’ is pure gold.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Phil. I’m glad you like the speak-yet-never-hear line. I believe the people’s voices are lost in a wild wilderness at present. Not until those in power fix the broken voting system and listen to we the people, do we have a chance of moving away from this insane chaos we’re mired in. The trouble is nearly every significant politician we have is riding that gravy train… sadly.

      Reply
  5. C.B. Anderson

    A world in which these poems were a bit less truthful would be a much better world, but here you are, calling ’em like you see ’em, which is what we have come to expect you to do. Du kannst nicht anders.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you and I agree with you wholeheartedly, C.B. I’ve had a word with my Muse and she’s trying her hardest to glean inspiration from the moon… but the skies are a tad cloudy at present. Could it be all the hot air rising from the White House and Westminster, I ask myself?

      Reply
  6. Norma Pain

    “Too glued to likes and hearts on screens, they miss the fiend behind the scenes.” How true this is for a lot of people. These three poems are amazing Susan.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, thank you very much for your kind encouragement and appreciation. It’s always lovely to hear from you. The line you’ve chosen makes me shiver. I am certain most people have no idea what is going on around them. We have become so used to being shut away from people and dealing with everything online – work, friendships, family, shopping, doctor’s appointments, education etc. etc. that we have no idea we are in prison… and soon it will be too late to escape it. What a cheerful soul I am. I hope I’m wrong.

      Reply
  7. Brian A. Yapko

    Susan, a trio of powerfully piquant probings into the venal nature of politics! Each one of these is a little gem and I’m hard-pressed to select a favorite. I’ll start with the pantoum, which is a superb choice of form for the story of the idealistic politician who boards the gravy train and becomes a hack – that old chestnut. That this happens over and over and over could not be more perfectly represented in verse.

    Hobson’s Election Choice is a compilation of pithy observations regarding the many ways that politicians can cheat, insult our intelligence, lie, manipulate, etc. So many of these lines are hysterically funny. I laughed out loud at the prospect of eating beasts that fart and your spotlight on the disdainful hypocrisy of our Climate Change Overlords. I notice one of your favorite adjectives for these first two poems is “cheesy.” That actually strikes me as really funny because there are so many horrendous adjectives you could choose from (and you do) but what really gets your goat (sorry) is the terrible taste these awful elected officials demonstrate in word and deed.

    “Seizer” with its fun pun on “Caesar” is truly a fascinating conceit! You’ve identified (in horrifying first person) the zeitgeist of this awful period in history and it is both very entertaining and terrifying. I often find a little C.S. Lewis in your writing and here, once again, I get a sense of Screwtape describing the various techniques an effective and efficient demon uses to ensare people. . Greed and narcissism emerge as two of the most potent weapons in his arsenal of manipulation. Marvelously wrought and it leaves me with the odd combination of a smile and a bellyache. How in hell do we fight this thing?

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, I just love the alliterative opening line of your comment – a poem in itself. I’m also thrilled you enjoyed the poems, and as ever, I am grateful for your eye for the finer detail and underlying meanings.

      I’m especially glad I’ve managed to pick up on the zeitgeist of our age in Seizer – a poem that made me shiver as I wrote it. I think you can probably tell that what little trust I had in politicians has now gone. What I was concerned about four years ago is only just reaching headline news… and I am numb. A quote attributed to Alexander Solzhenitsyn springs to mind: “The rules are simple: they lie to us, we know they’re lying, they know we know they’re lying, but they keep lying to us, and we keep pretending to believe them.” This the stage I think we’ve reached.

      Your question on where we go from here is an excellent one, one I’m sure is on many minds. For me, the answer is to keep telling the truth. Not your personal truth. Not the fluid truth. But the immutable truth – starting with two plus two equals four and ending with men cannot give birth. I believe the only way we can pull ourselves back from the edge of insanity is to not fuel the madness with our silence and compliance.

      Brian, as ever, thank you very much indeed.

      Reply
  8. Cynthia Erlandson

    You truly are amazing, Susan — in many ways — but here especially in your talent for combining ominous subjects with humor, “with words that soar like herds of flying swine.” You do this often and well in your book, “Elephants Unleashed” — for example, in the poem about eating bugs (“Snub the Grub”). For anyone reading this comment, I’m highly recommending Susan’s books, especially when you need to see the humorous side of these things.
    As well as the content in “Hobson’s Election Advice”, I like the verse form you’ve used, with refrain.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Cynthia, I am thrilled you enjoyed these poems and particularly thrilled you enjoyed my book. It’s far more popular than I imagined it would be, and I’m in the process of gathering more elephants for a follow up. I value your opinion and it’s always lovely to hear from you. Thank you for cheering my day!

      Reply
  9. Linda Alice Fowler

    It’s always a pleasure to read your poems Susan. Just spit it out, it is what it is. Each party can claim ownership of your observations. A ‘rose by any other name would still smell…’

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Linda, thank you very much for your kind comment. You are right when you say, “Each party can claim ownership of your observations…” – I don’t know the left from the right these days, and I don’t trust a word from either party. I’m hoping it’s nothing more sinister than the skepticism of mature years… but I have a sinking feeling it isn’t.

      Reply
  10. Yael

    Ah yes!! “Words that soar like herds of flying swine”, I love it. Your poems are perfectly entertaining and enjoyable as usual Susan, and possibly even highly contagious to the regular reader such as myself. Recently I felt challenged to assert my stance in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of my life, so I made a short declaration in order to convey the reason for my actions or perceived lack thereof. After I had said it, I noticed that my utterance had rhyme and rhythm to it, so I wrote down what I had said to analyze it. It turned out to be a quatrain I believe, with an ABAB rhyme scheme and an even syllable count. My immediate impression was that I must have been infected with the SJB variant and I’m debonairly delighted!

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, it’s always great to hear from you and today’s comment has me grinning from ear to ear – a tough call in these dismal days of murk and mayhem. It’s music to my melancholic ears to hear that you have been infected with the SJB variant – it appears to be highly contagious on this site. Yael, please get out there and spread it far and wide. Debonairly delighted is where it’s at! The most serious of cases leads to a sonnet… I have a feeling we are about to see one from you any time now! May the rapture of the rhyming and rhythmic force be with you and may an array of alliterative days beckon you to truth and beauty. Thank you for making my day complete!

      Reply
  11. Warren Bonham

    Three gems! We collectively never seem to learn. For some unfathomable reason, we keep praising those who put us inside our cages. Job well done as usual.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Warren, thank you for this oh-so-true observation. By nature, we don’t like change… but I have a feeling that at the moment many are craving change and feel they can’t put up with the overwhelming deluge of BS raining down any longer… let’s hope the breaking point leads to blue skies and sanity. I still have hope.

      Reply
  12. Margaret Coats

    “All Aboard!” is a prize pantoum. As Joe Salemi says, it applies to many politicians of all stripes who have to win elections–and to some who don’t. I have just witnessed John Swinney becoming First Minister of Scotland by virtue of the Scottish National Party choosing him as new leader. He is unknown to me, but I wish him and Scotland well. What is his major goal in a terribly divided land where many people want political independence and desperately need better economic conditions? To eradicate childhood poverty! When and where and how on earth has that ever been done? Does Swinney think he can manage it in Scotland before the next general election? He’ll pulverize child poverty? Depressing slogan from someone who has been in office for 27 years, and is apparently best known for heckling opponents.

    My one little suggestion about the poem, Susan, is that you make the epigraph, “a political pantoum.” That and the words “gravy train” will clearly and immediately signal its nature to any reader who comes upon it in a collection of the best fair forms, which is where it belongs.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, thank you very much for your encouraging and appreciative comment and the advice on the epigraph. I hope that John Swinney makes a difference. I use the climate-change litmus test for any politician I don’t know. If they’ve ridden the global-warming gravy train for the most part of their career, they belong to the dark side… and he still has a golden ticket to destination Globalism.

      Reply
  13. Jeff Eardley

    Susan, a Party Political Broadcast from the Jarvis Bryant party is far better than the bluster from the bloviating (oh, how I love that word) buffoons who will soon take the reins over here. We oldies are in despair that it has come to this. These are just great to read and savour come polling day. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Jeff, thank you very much indeed. I have a horrible feeling the bluster from the bloviating buffoons has blown over the Atlantic to bugger up our increasingly bizarre election. Let’s hope for a miracle. Jeff, as ever, thank you very much for your support and your appreciation.

      Reply
  14. Joshua C. Frank

    These are all great! Sadly, all the things I was going to say have already been said, but I have to say I agree with Norma that my favorite part is:

    Too glued to likes and hearts on screens
    They miss the fiend behind the scenes.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Josh, thank you for this. I enjoyed writing those lines, and how true they are. We’re so focused on ourselves, the Western world is sinking like the Titanic while we admire our reflections in the iceberg.

      Reply
      • Joshua C. Frank

        Ooh, I love those lines too! I bet you could write a really good poem about that…

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