A Journal of Contemporary Arts 






I have a fierce urge to declutter,
To purge every crevice of grime.
I’m lusting to dust every surface with thrust –
A gusto that challenges time.

I’m yearning to steam through the ironing,
To burn through a bundle of chores;
To speed through each deed till my conscience is freed
From shame born of slovenly drawers.

My passion’s to polish the silver
And fashion a fab flowerbed;
To heave with a hoe, to crochet and sew,
Then cook a delectable spread.

But trapped in a somnolent body
Too listless to brandish a broom,
Dreams dim and hopes pass, I can’t leap off my arse
To scrub every splotch-mottled room.

I pine for a potent prescription
To fix mismatched body and brain –
A magical pill to imbue flesh with will
To zap every obstinate stain…

I’ll seek affirmation from wizards
Who tell me assumptions are real –
Outside I’m a loafer who’s sprawled on a sofa,
Inside I’m a handmaid with zeal.

Till apron-clad housewives of vigour
Who beaver beneath a veneer
Of unabashed sloth hurtle forth with a cloth,
I’ll lounge as I choke back a tear.


He’s witty, from the city, fit and fun.
He’s blessed with looks. He’s into books. He cooks.
He oozes warmth and wonder by the ton.
While smitten sweeties vie to sink their hooks
Beneath his skin to steal his heart away,
He chooses charmless, chilly days with me.
I stroll with him along the wind-whipped bay,
Not hand in hand but close enough to see
Tomorrow – just a flicker through the tears
That swim in salt-stung eyes as sunrise beams.
I know he burns to kiss away the years
Before we met… now blazing in my dreams.

His rose-red flare will melt my frosty blue
When I love him as much as I love you.




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That sun-soaked siren sign, it lures me to
The buzz and bustle of the market stall.
Neath sprawling Texas skies of springtime blue
I see those words and feel their magic pull
To dusty days in Kentish strawberry fields
Spent reaping juicy troves of crimson wonder.
While sneaking nibbles from the luscious yields
My sticky chin sang of my scrumptious plunder.
Post-picking, Dad bought duck eggs for our tea –
Exquisite ovoid marvels of delight.
In shells the shade of summer by the sea,
They harbored golden manna. Yes, tonight
I’ll float across the ocean as we dine
On omelets with a glass of fruity wine.

     a pantoum

You kiss my soul and slide beneath my skin
In searing notes that thaw my air of ice.
You rock me in your moonshine swing and spin,
Your jazzy twang and smoky mountain spice.

In searing notes that thaw my air of ice
You burn like molten sun in gloaming’s gaze.
Your jazzy twang and smoky mountain spice
Bedazzle with a dizzy beat and blaze.

You burn like molten sun in gloaming’s gaze.
You ooze beyond the bourbon buzz of bars
Bedazzling with a dizzy beat and blaze
As fireflies flash and flirt beneath the stars.

You ooze beyond the bourbon buzz of bars.
You smooth the shrill cicada serenade.
As fireflies flash and flirt beneath the stars
My senses swirl. My inhibitions fade.

You smooth the shrill cicada serenade.
You rock me in your moonshine swing and spin.
My senses swirl. My inhibitions fade…
You kiss my soul and slide beneath my skin.


     a rondeau

I feel her song. I hear her speak
In dreams that pledge to beat the bleak.
I spy her in a loud sunrise
That melts the chill of frosty sighs
And woos a warble from a beak.

I see her kiss the withered cheek
Of Winter as his grip grows weak.
Beneath the bloom of bluer skies
I feel her song.

I seek her chic and green mystique
In verdant grove, on velvet peak,
In bursts of buds, in emerald eyes,
In fleecy leaps of lambkin highs –
As sweethearts coo and piglets squeak
I feel her song.


     a triolet for Lionel Richie

My heart was stuck on you back then –
It danced on ceilings all night long.
It won’t be truly still again.
My heart was stuck on you back then –
An endless love that ended when
Your penny lover stole my song…
My heart was stuck on you back then –
It danced on ceilings all night long.


I placed my brittle heart within your hand.
You cupped it in your palm. I dared to care.
You weren’t aware that every trusty strand
Once holding it together had worn bare.
Its hollow chambers bore the jagged scar
Of spite and scorn – enough to shock a shrew.
While snuggled in love’s savage abattoir,
My heart pulsed to a rhythm I once knew.

It sang the song of sands and seas and skies,
Of kites and highs and brackish dawns that bled
In citrus mists that fired a sweetheart’s sighs –
A song to beat the blues and drown the dread…

A serenade that turned into a joke.
You crushed my heart once more. This time it broke.



I want them to guide me – those rhapsodic sages
With noses for poesies to scent empty pages;
My betters of letters, the rhythmic trendsetters,
Those hot sonnet jotters – poetic go-getters;

Word wizards who hex with their shimmering lyrics
Rising from leaves like a lexical phoenix
Imbued with the hues of the ancient trailblazers
Who mingled with muses and mixed with stargazers;

Those crafters of stanzas Poesque as a raven
Soaring like swans beyond Stratford-on-Avon
On sunniest couplets that burn tyger-bright
With forests of metaphors freckled with light;

All bold balladeers of the less-traveled road,
Urge me to forge a superlative ode
That rings with a thorn-impaled nightingale’s croon
As smitten owls sing neath a runcible moon.

I’m a wannabe wordsmith in search of a key
To loose the lax laureate lounging in me.


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        a sonnet corona for Doris  

I watch you view the newness of your world. 
Your widened eyes are dazzled by the light.  
Your fists of curiosity unfurl
Like flexing wings on chicks who dream of flight. 
I see you snooze to music in your sphere
Wooed by Mommy’s lullabies. Your coos
Are burbled bursts of buoyant crystal cheer
Unsullied by the hues of wisdom’s blues. 
You soak me in a splash of sunshine beams 
That stream and gleam when fun is in the air. 
My stoic poise is fraying at the seams. 
I’m overstuffed with fluffy tufts of care 
Escaping from my effervescing heart.   
I’m giddy with the glory of God’s art.  

I’m giddy with the glory of God’s art –  
Your velvet skin, the vim within your soul, 
Your cherub cheeks and lips, each peachy part 
That makes you whole; the whisper of your role 
In moons to come when skittish springtime blooms... 
That hazy place beyond these baby days,
Beyond the bib and crib and pink balloons 
Where stars and thorns stud undiscovered ways.
I quake at every future scrape and fall –   
Mistakes your naked heart is apt to make. 
I’ve heard the silver song and honeyed call 
On cunning tongues who vow they won’t forsake 
The one who’s yet to learn that cold lies burn... 
The one who’ll tell me, Grandma, it’s my turn! 

The one who’ll tell me Grandma, it’s my turn 
Is you – the best gift since I had your dad,
The one who smiles in rocking arms that yearn 
To guide you to the good and through the bad. 
You’ve graced me with a gush of gasping glee 
To quench the thirst of parched, untrodden ground. 
The newest bud upon the family tree,  
You’ve blessed me with a zest I lost – now found 
In eyes that brim with all that’s bright and fresh, 
Eyes that flash with wishes set to fly   
Beyond the weight of worn and weary flesh, 
Above the strain of history’s jaded sigh. 
To soar to highs where purest prayers are hurled, 
I watch you view the newness of our world. 




Our words collided out in cyberspace,
Then tangoed in the ether to the tune
Of dactyls dipped in dew and graced with lace
The color of an opalescent moon.
We fashioned cloths of heaven from the stars.
A web of iambs silvered eager screens.
I dwelt on Venus. He hung out on Mars
Composing nightingales in odic scenes.
One day our stanzas melded in a kiss
That brought linguistic bliss straight down to earth
In wondrous words made flesh. I’ll tell you this –
That’s when we learned just what our words were worth...

They lit us like a Tyger burning bright –
We won’t go gentle into that good night.


Leave behind the weight of fate –
Dread that taints the day with grief.
Tread the feathered realm of rest –
Somnolence’s soft relief.
Shun the grueling grind and grate.
Surf the crest of twilight’s spell.
Hear the sandman’s zealous quest
In a nocturne’s soothing swoon
Lilting in the melting moon –
Give yourself to slumber’s swell...

Swathe your blues in sheets of white.
Rest your heavy head on down.
Snuggle in sweet sleep’s abyss
Far from morning’s glaring frown.
Rise on eider wings of night.
Ride the rush of silver beams.
Swim in Luna’s luscious kiss
Wrapped in honeysuckle balm
In the hush of star-spun charm.
Float through time in gibbous dreams...




A hand for the bandit in leathery livery
Advancing through grass to go grubbing in shrubbery –
Escaping the squeal and the squish of the rubbery
To comb and to roam neath the sun.

A bow to the wow of the charmer in armor,
A friend to the poet, a foe to the farmer –
This bug-crunching muncher, this flowerbed harmer,
Is digging up dirt just for fun.

A nod to the plod of this sod-lobbing critter
Whose shovel-shaped nose prods the gardeners bitter –
He begs me to bless him with lexical glitter
Till wittiest ditties are spun.





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I see your glow amid the sweep and sprawl –
Your glimmer twixt the glitter of the stars
That stud the ebon voile of midnight’s shawl.
You draw the gaze of guttersnipes and czars.
As melancholic magic swathes the earth,
You radiate your opal alchemy.
You spur the howl of wolf and hoot of owl.
You kiss the slavish tide with silver mirth.
As fireflies flash in garish rhapsody,
You lure the pampered felines out to prowl.

You spark the eerie laughter of the loon.
You whet the glinting edge of ire’s knife.
You toy with passions. No one is immune –
The lover swoons; the loser steals a life.
With gold-dust luster stolen from the sun
You beam your mystic sheen through chink and blind
Till sweet things sleep and thirsty Counts take flight.
While manic minds and maidens come undone,
I contemplate your duties and I find
Your alabaster beauty lights my night.

Your lunar legends ripple through my dreams –
A werewolf’s claw, a monkey’s paw, a knock,
A bloody fang, a pitchfork gang, shrill screams
From critters in the bitter aftershock
Of something grim and ghoulish in your glare.
You rouse my Muse who passes me my pen,
Then fills my head with words in hues of blue –
Words that spill in ink and sing with flair
Of reasons why and how and where and when
I swung on stars… but fell in love with you.



Inspired after reading ‘Rambling in St. James’s Park’ by John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester and seeing a pelican eat a pigeon at the same location. I don’t know which experience was more shocking.

Today I trod the path where knights
Spent risqué days at raunchy heights,
Bedazzled by the juicy flesh
Of peachy damsels in distress –
Hot scenes that stirred a saucy Earl
To poetize each curve and curl
Of floral floozies teasing bees
To sip and suck at syrup seas
In words to shock and serenade –
Words that sang of knave and maid,
Of cooing doves and rutty rabbits.
I trod his path of carnal habits –
Of phallic mandrakes probing skies
All seen through Wilmot’s ribald eyes

Today I ambled to the lake
And saw a sight I knew would make
The Earl I speak of drop his jaw
Along with thought of pimp or whore.
A pelican of bulging beak
Had plucked a pigeon to the shriek
Of crowds who’d gathered near the water
Gawping at this savage slaughter.
The sun beamed through elastic skin.
The thing with feathers flapped within.
A chomp… a crack… a lifeless snack.
All hope was crushed. Alas! Alack!
A scene to quell the quill and passion
Of earthy Earls with odes to fashion…

A barbarous scene of brutish bent
That prompted this foul fowl lament.

      In Memory of Queen Elizabeth II, 1926 - 2022

Muffle the clamorous chime of Big Ben.
Mute the mauve beauty of heather-kissed glen.
Silence the keen of the bagpipes because
Nothing will ever be just what it was.
Comfort the corgis and fold gloves of white.
Make sure the moon isn’t overly bright.
Dim twinkling stars. These sparkling gems
Shouldn’t crown ripples that ruffle the Thames.
Now that the funeral procession has gone
Bow the proud head of each fine-feathered swan.
Feed the King’s horses and put them to bed.
Mop up the tears all the mourners have shed.

Stoical Lilibet, Queen of my past,
Your legacy’s valiant, vibrant, and vast.


I spied a shiny, bulbous, ebon spider
And wondered if another died inside her.
Her glossy body veiled in mourning sun
Oft feasted after lush arachnid fun
On sacrificial tidbits. Spider lore
Dictates the female scoffs her paramour.

Her scarlet-harlot, hour-glassy figure
(All aquiver and a smidgen bigger)
Couldn’t hide a fangsome smile much snider –
Her belly was one virile spider wider.
O what a sticky web this widow weaves –
A web no leggy suitor ever leaves.

Ingesting grooms straight after intercourse
Ensures they’ll never file for a divorce.



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The surgeon does it in a snip within a stitch of time.
The comic does it with a quip, the actor with a line.
Morticians do it clad in black with grave and stiff demeanor.
The lawyer on the legal track while clutching his subpoena.

The padre does it with a prayer and flourish of the cross;
The pirate with a patchy stare, the model in lip gloss.
The surfer does it with a wave, the pilot on cloud nine,
The barber when he’s had a shave, the fullback at halftime.

Sopranos do it in full throat, librarians are hushed,
The flasher in an overcoat, the plumber feeling flushed.
The chef with zest and extra spice, the counselor with care.
The jogger does it in a trice in Lycra underwear,

The ballerina on her toes, the archer with a quiver,
The drunkard with a rosy nose, the coward with a shiver.
The gardener does it with a dig, the con man in cahoots,
The sailor with a hornpipe jig, the cowboy in his boots.

The artist does it with panache, the florist wreathed in scent.
The diver does it with a splash, the nun with good intent.
The barman with a stir and shake, the gymnast with a roll,
The altruist for Heaven’s sake, the pianist with soul.

Magicians do it with a trick and something up their sleeve,
Philatelists in just one lick and hypnotists with ease.
The zombie does it in a trance, the optimist with glee,
The diva with a song and dance, Mad Hatters after tea.

The prankster does it with a wink, the gangster in a mask.
Ventriloquists while sipping drink (they’re born to multitask.)
The maestro does it in a beat, in bow tie and tailed coat.
The buzz upon the busy street is – get out there and vote!

                                * The writer became a citizen in 2018



Yesterday, in Walmart, next to the prickly cactus
(a spiky reminder that I'm living in Texas)
were leeks, leeks, leeks upon leeks.
They were long and cool and cream and green,
dusted with earth and the dream of soup.
An autumnal bowl of soul...

Today, I snip, slice, dice, steam and stir
until a cosy aroma of my homeland
bubbles to the top of the pot.

This evening, as dusk's haze of humidity
seeps beneath the mesquite,
and runs in rivulets down Lone Star longnecks,
I'll serve my velvet broth.
I'll garnish it with talk of flame-licked trees,
frost-nipped leas, Guy Fawkes and bonfire smoke.




Uncivil tongue
In shades of blue,
You’ll come undone.

You think it’s fun;
You have no clue
Uncivil tongue.

The gall you’ve spun
Won’t bid adieu;
You’ll come undone.

Let poison run,
Let rudeness spew,
Uncivil tongue.

For those you’ve stung,
Each barb you’ll rue;
You’ll come undone.

You haven’t won;
You’ll pay your due,
Uncivil tongue –
You’ll come undone


Their lilting trills fill twilight skies,
Their aerial flair delights my eyes,
Their wings fan dreams with certainty –
Through birds I glimpse eternity.

They hop the trembling treetop trail,
They skim the breeze, they surf and sail;
Resplendent in God’s livery –
Through birds I glimpse eternity.

They lift my heart when life is grim,
They’re feathered blessings, Heaven’s hymn;
They’re hope’s celestial artistry –
Through birds I glimpse eternity.




Spyder Spyder, spinning fright,
in the moon-kissed bloom of night,
gracing air with prayer of death
before dawn draws her morning breath;

cloaked in husk of bristling jet,
lurking in the devil’s net,
willing teasing breeze to bring
a lush and juicy wing-éd thing;

looming ghoul of drooling fang,
watches flitting pretties hang,
scuttling in to pierce and wrap
the manna snared in terror’s trap -

moreish mite in sticky silk;
hors d’oeuvre served for fiend to milk
and guzzle on ambrosial grub
with the zeal of Beelzebub….

Spyder Spyder, spinning fright,
in the blue-moon doom of night,
lacing air with lair of death
before dawn draws her mourning breath.



I’m drawn to the window where dreams drift and fly
to celestial realms above the sun’s eye;
away from the fray of the rat-racing day
where time has succumbed to eternity’s sway;
beyond your goodbye and my question of why.

I gaze past the blaze and seek a reply
to the sob in my soul and the grief my eyes cry.
While the moon soothes the night and knees bend to pray,
I’m drawn to the window.

As dawn dips the earth in a gold-dusted high
I yearn for your words and to feel you nearby.
I burn in the sting of my searing dismay
at the day when your wonder was wrested away
to a place above space, beyond the word “die”...
I’m drawn to the window.



She’s locked behind the bars of time
where roses fade and dreams decay
in crumbling cells where death knells chime.

Her clocks have stopped. Her sun won’t climb
on wishes where Spring zephyrs play.
She’s locked behind the bars of time

where weak bones creak and grim ghosts whine
and peach-cheeked grins have dimmed to grey,
in crumbling cells where death knells chime,

as slighted soul seeks heaven’s sign
that stars still shine at ebb of day.
She’s locked behind the bars of time

enmeshed within cobwebbed confines,
where weathered lips kiss yesterday
in crumbling cells where death knells chime

and salt-seared eyes sting at the crime
of hands that crush love’s lush bouquet.
She’s locked behind the bars of time
in crumbling cells where death knells chime.

      First printed in Openings 31 published by Open University Poets, 2014


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   Susan Jarvis Bryant EPO Poems Prior to 2023