When Humanity Becomes Human

 

On this day after,
We are rightly amazed,
When humanity becomes human,
Random kindness by strangers,
Simple acts of courtesy displayed,
These are not what anyone might do,
But grand deeds of bravery,
Shocking, surprising, astounding,
Utterly beyond our belief,
People standing together,
Against the bigots for all to see,
Surely this is how we are… normally?
Or are we kind of kind,
Only when innocent children die,
Morality appears to survive,
When it seems,
random people offer tea,
Does terror no longer thrive,
When our phones are charged,
And Instagram knows were alive?
Keep calm and carry on being human.
For this we need no special reward,
Though I offer my prayers,
For my faith in ordinary decency,
Is somewhat restored.

–Richard Bryant

A Poem for Mother

I could not stop for life,
So mother stopped for me,
She picked me up on the way,
From a hospital drawer,
Slightly past the ides of March,
In the spring of nineteen hundred seventy four,
Feared once to be hydro-cephalic,
My cranium was merely extravagant,
Instead of a crib or a new baby bib,
My head received a cabinet,
Here I remained,
Until taken to see
Mrs. Lela M. Payne,
Where I learned to play piano,
Mother took me to lessons,
Every week because I wasn’t an alto,
My melon head couldn’t play an octave,
She loved me all the same,
Who needs eight notes?
When Bartok used six to such acclaim.

–Richard Bryant

Angry Thomas

Shut up already,
I wasn’t there,
Yeah, I get it.
While you wait here,
I dodge soldiers and guards,
You see Jesus,
I did not.
Rub it in,
Get off my case,
OK, I want to see him for myself,
Quit being jerks,
Somebody has to go outside,
I don’t see you all volunteering to find food,
You don’t want to get caught,
Those were your words,
Suddenly I’m the doubter,
We’ll you’re a coward,
Mr. Three-Time Denier,
Go ahead; rub it in my face,
I want to touch his hands,
Let me see these wounds,
Leave me be,
Keep your peace,
I watched him die,
like you did too.
Don’t play with my mind,
not this time,
Lazarus, Jesus,
I’ve gone tone deaf,
to dealing with death.

–Richard Bryant

A Sonnet

A vegetarian me thinks I be,
Upon eating beasts, I pray to be through,
Instead my love, I eat, carnivore free,
To linger where your tomatoes queue,
Hobbling along the radish path, sweet peas,
Mulberry bushes hidden by bamboo,
To sit now where we take afternoon tea,
Drinking in even sips; a chill accrues,
From lip to tongue fragrant dreams flow carefree,
Despite my fears, your hands always subdue,
With ancient creations from figs and seas,
Dates from Rajasthan which I shan’t eschew,
Oh now I hope you can rightly see,
My plate barren, my life is mere debris.

–Richard Bryant

A Prayer for Syria

Christ of the Cross,
Christ of Sarin and VX,
Christ of Nerve Agents,
I am in the multitude,
one of many, indistinguishable from the rest.
I am here.
I do not speak.
I stay silent.
I close my eyes.
My heart wants to stop beating.
I am somewhere beyond your pain.
I am my own guilty mess.
They are crucifying you.
You are dying.
Before me now,
In the faces of Syrian children,
I am compelled to pray,
Unable to go beyond,
The words of a thief,
If you are the Christ,
Save them first,
Before you save anyone else.
Amen

–Richard Bryant