19 October 2016

Cultivating Our Garden

Image result for conversations in art

We are people, humans of earth—
a new core to the whole ripe apple—
a multi-racial inter-
faith body of many
and we see us everywhere
we look—the ones and twos we have
sat with in conversation on
race and ethnicity.  Why fear?

We’re friends. We came to unity
through telling stories urgently—
as if our lives depended on
asking questions and relishing
each person’s dignity and each
individual journey home—
a landscape of conversation—
the most beautiful earth of all.

For my prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Conversation

Here's a future vision that comes from participating in NewCORE~a new Conversation On Race and Ethnicity.  The language in italics is from the description of its purpose.  We gather once a month for a long breakfast to listen to a speaker tell their story and draw them out further until we are nourished in every way.  It's the most hopeful group I know.  We are not great at keeping up a website or being on Facebook, but we connect by email and then we show up.

I think this is Part One of an epic poem detailing real conversations.  I wonder if I will ever write it!

My blog poems are rough drafts.

Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast

18 October 2016

Listening to the Music of the Nght

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship
~Bob Dylan, “Mr. Tambourine Man”

Oh Jesus!  Here I am up late again
aware of your call “Follow Me,” trying
with clumps for feet and wobbling knees and head
that’s leaning back to pause my forward step.

Oh Jesus!  I hear loud the part that gives
before the triumph of last surrender—
the chapter after promises at birth
and early years with rabbis in temple.

I hear that when you left the pavement,you found
narrower roads with companions at hand
and plowed them like the fertile fields they were,
took them on board your ship that cut the waves.

Friend Jesus, That small ship was theirs and you
both welcome guest and safe pilot through storms
with cloak enough to shelter multitudes
and faith and friends enough to feed them all.

Oh Jesus!  Your music has me dancin’
when I would rather sleep, and singin’ though
my voice is not a performer’s treasure
In truth, I’d rather sit right here until found.

Dear Jesus, Forgive my hesitation--
I thought it was Dracula who defied 
sleep's call and howled at night to defeat death.
To find you near instead, I'll give up fear.

And dear Jesus, I will calmly prepare
the journey, leave my home, and yield other
destinations.  Wait, please.  In the jingle
jangle morning I’ll come following you.*

*from "Mr. Tambourine Man

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2016 Susan L. Chast

17 October 2016

The Burning Bush We Choose Not to See

File:Book of Exodus Chapter 4-5 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media).jpg
Commons: Bible Illustrations 

Is this bush burning for me, too? This one
insisting I accept the life of love
that claims my spirit?  No second guessing,
no supposition that it's mere ego
self-congratulating, or . . . . Listen: 

How many calls can you prepare at once? 
Me with only two feet to follow one
path of bread crumbs.  (If only Moses’s
hard-burning bush was a short pre-arranged
pathway and not a long, blind leap of faith!)

I say trail-blazing and ministry serve
for love, dear God, but you respond with more
fire until I finally see that this 
bush, too, love-filled and  brilliant, 
burns for me.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2016 Susan L. Chast

15 October 2016

When I Consider How My Time is Spent


I wonder if we also serve who only stand and wait?
So Milton said, but he was blind when channeling his God,
and I am wholly here without severed limbs to excuse
my absence from the crowds that show up for justice today.

The sun I thought would hide behind the rain shines brightly now—
even her majesty could not remain away.  She glows
and heartens all who pay respect to those who must be heard.
(I know the arguments, I’ll say to those who question me.)

Yet sun just knocked upon the door of my blind heart to say
Presence is power, as you know by now,” and I nod, “Yes.”
A cloud sets in as she departs, and I begin to pray
"Hold safe all who gather there and the rest of us forgive."

I know there’s other ways to serve then gathering en masse,
but the invisible is hard to count in streets and polls.
I know no one will miss my voice this day among the throng,
yet I will mourn this one more time my “yes” seems to be a ‘no.”

Do I dare tell of derision the silence now unfolds?
God asks “What use is being counted when you do not heed
the call that fires words neglected and dying in your soul?
Give up your need to be a part of what you have not earned.”

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2016 Susan L. Chast

*Here is Milton's famous sonnet:

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."


12 October 2016

A Fortune in Relationships

File:Van Gogh - Obstgarten mit blühenden Aprikosenbäumen.jpeg
Orchard with flowering apricot-trees, van Gogh (1888)

If I could choose my fortune, I would pick
an infinite orchard to frolic in
and care for in ideal weather with friends.
Imagine us singing and laughing when
it’s planting dawn and harvest moon, talking
low when at work serving relationship,
enjoying benefits of work well done.

Yet now, despite imperfection, nature
and supernatural relationships
hone and shape me in small woods and gardens,
vast skyscrapers and in my tiny room.
My fortune lives in all I open to—
and knowing this, I balance off- and on-
stage time, grateful my part is not yet done.

For Sumana's prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Wealth

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2016 Susan L. Chast

08 October 2016

Albany, the Cradle

An aerial view of Albany showing tall buildings at center, a river running from the 11:00 to 3:00 positions of the photo, surrounded by greener housing zones.
Aerial view of the Hudson River and the city of Albany, photo by Karthikc123

Revisited where an old self gadded about,
not seeking spirit’s presence, but I found it here 
as if backwards returning from future zones.

This spirit fertilized my egg of theatre, teaching and 
peace work with faith—changing focus from turbulent 
youthful romance and dreams of instant utopia.

Faith recognized its nest and sat me down behind
the Quaker Meeting House to write with calm intent
my gratitude for nurture without conditions.

But mind had painted Albany a grey shadow
until today when it broadcast its bright colors
spirit to spirit.  In this nest my heart was shaped.

Darkness was ever half the story started here.
My fledgling memories henceforth I’ll hold more dear.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2016 Susan L. Chast