24 July 2016

Words Try to Catch Up



You are the cracks in my sidewalk, Dear One,
     through which the healing herbs have grown.
Today plantain and chamomile, clover
     and comfrey on my path replace
the mints and garlics I walked on before—

     and Mother’s back did not break from
these cracks—Her burden lightened with insight
     hindsight finally brought me
when wrinkles took my neck in hand and slowed

     my pace from apprehension to
participation in each moment’s call
     to move and happily to fall

in love, Dear One, again again always
     caught up in depths that amaze.



I think this little sonnet is meant to be part of a much larger piece which I will write when my words catch up with my experiences.  Inspired by Falling in Love by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast


19 July 2016

Inside the Voting Booth

University at Buffalo voting booth.jpg
An American voting booth. Photo from the U at Buffalo (2009)


Harried and hot, she finally entered
the voting booth and quickly pressed levers
for her choices.  She paused before the last
lever that entered her free vote.  How long
she had waited to arrive!  Not just lines
today, but photo ID and proof of
residence, citizenship test and Eng-
lish classes after years of exile and
insecurity.  She placed one tired hand
on the cold machine’s grey edge and she sighed,
inhaled and sighed again, a moment’s peace
and pride energizing her to move when
a voice penetrated her private space,
“Any problems, Ma’am?” spoken kindly
but urgently outside the closed curtains.
“No,” she replied.  She pushed the last lever
registering her vote and opening
the curtains simultaneously.  She
noticed the levers now in their upright
positions, turned tall and made her exit.





This morning I added haiku, making the poem into a haibun of sorts: 

Stand and be counted
gestured the lake to the tree
then bend and kiss me.

All the world's our stage
and we will play fully
before we exit.


 My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast


17 July 2016

Restorative Poetry


canyon in Chiapas with waterfall


Fall silently into this poem, my friend,
and you will find its source—a mind at rest
from ideas and suddenly aware of it.
Oh!  I have stillness!  Wow!  Quiet mind
abruptly ends, but here we are, alert
and questioning ways of falling silent:

The balm of undisturbed forests and lakes—
bodies and paddles dipping carefully
through substance that allows us entry
and bids us notice light differently
as leaves and birds and water droplets seize
on opportunities to exit shade

The resonance of city streets before
the dawn when few awake and none ramble—
straight lines and vectors try not to intercept—
when coins and bills fall from our hands gently
onto blankets of those who have no homes
and we remain anonymous like them.

How different moments of fear can be!
Those that we tiptoe through to save our lives
and those we stand up in to save others—
when we question the choice of falling silent
as action or avoidance, when we fear
making mistakes and getting too involved. 

But, ah!  This poem can act for us right now
while writing and reading, before leaving
this sweet window seat with its open air.
Later, in balance, heart-mind link regained
spirit leads us beyond our doors, restored 
powerfully from this poem, my friend.



Posted for Poets United Poetry Pantry #311


 My blog poems are rough drafts.  

Please respect my experiment and my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast


13 July 2016

Witnessing at the Town Hall Meeting

Rg1024 Set of water drops.svg
Source



You rose up powerfully from your seat
and moved the truth-force field with you toward
the mic.  We felt the spittle on our cheeks.

Despite your testimony, one spoke
again again how There’s No Evidence
of Racism within the police force.

Which made me wonder how much evidence must
accumulate before it stopped up drains
and ruffled smooth-surfaced communities.

Small quiet places that have laws about
removing trash and poop and mowing lawns,
and test water before it poisons kids.

Small quiet places that pretend they’re
not like everywhere American
rather than look hard at what could be true

If they would test and clear the pipelines that
accumulate secrets and harm the flow
of love eroding hate again again.



Posted for Sumana's prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Absence



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


12 July 2016

The Earth Moves Under Our Seat

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Confidences.jpg
Confidences by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1878)


Once upon a time
imagination and play
made the earth move

And somewhat later
chemistry and nakedness
did the trick

Then spirituality
sifted through passion
as a revelation

O!—this is the holy
so many speak of—
this undulating swimming

and mutual reaching
both physical and beyond,
until, one day, too busy

We find in our greying
a pause in which
the earth moves

In unexpected
sit-down conversation
marvelously like playtime

Long ago, the earth moved
and still circles 'round
ready and true.



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



09 July 2016

Confession of a Christian Quaker / Black Lives Matter

Repulsed by premature death and its instruments
be they crosses, electric chairs or drugs, hanging trees,
fires or bombs or knives or starvation and neglect

I find it difficult to embrace the Christian symbol 
of transformation—Jesus on the Cross—a step toward 
resurrection, rebirth and pain-induced understanding.

Which isn’t Jesus’s fault, is it? 
He who transformed everything he touched, moving past 
fear of repercussion—O, I embrace him!  

His story speaks volumes.  His life inspires.  I know 
he lives beyond his death,  but give my life 
without this guarantee into God’s hands.

Intent on obeying the call when it comes, I accompany
others and make God visible through willing action.  
Afraid or not, using twilight, dawn and community

to symbolize potential, using spirals and mandalas
to symbolize transformation, refusing violence,
I enter the story I cannot write alone, and here

I pray to honor—not envy—those whose
callings and actions are larger than mine,
public acts through which divinity shines.   




from Kissing Fish 7/8/2016:
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Samaritan lives matter.”  Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Children’s lives matter.”  Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Gentile lives matter.”  Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Jewish lives matter.”  Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Women’s lives matter.” Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Lepers’ lives matter.”   Even though Jesus loved everyone, even to the point of dying for their sins, he went out of his way to intentionally help specific groups of people — the alienated, mistreated, and those facing injustice. So saying “Black Lives Matter” is one of the most Christ-like things we can do." 
—Stephen Mattson
(Used with permission)





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