20 October 2013

Portraits of Peace Gallery

In Peace Pilgrim Park, my own photo


Peace is set in stone face and bare nipples
getting dressed or undressed in public
Peace sizzles, restless in parks and chapels
with mammals settling into her presence
aware (or not) of vacating struggle

Unframed, uncrowned with victories
Peace seeps
unseen into water, air, games and feasts
Peace so loves community that she fills
its thirsty wells and she flowers wildly
in its beds, its borders and its walkways.


The International Peace Day Teach-In
is under-attended.  I’m sorry, Peace.  

I wrote poems to honor community
but didn't go to the Center.  I shopped.
Went to the Farmer’s Market, hardware and
grocery stores and the new Goodwill.

This is not confession; it’s discussion.
What if all errand places closed for Peace?

You go to the Laundromat and find signs:
Closed for Peace Day
May there be many more!  
You stash your clothes basket and join the crowd
rushing to the rally, ready to learn
or teach—whichever is needed.  Peace found
you this day.  She cannot live without you.


Fill us up and spill over, Peace.
Let us know you with all our senses.
Attract us, Peace.  
Move us to wake, rest and broadcast you daily:  

Peace has broken out of the sanctuary! 
Peace is in Paris, Jerusalem, Baghdad and here!

Peace is arriving everywhere.
Let us spill into the streets
Let us be it.


Gandhi and India went outside
and again
living the changes
though beaten and shot
and they made history

How do you, do we, step outside again?
without knowing the enemy
without weapons
without sweeping everyone suspicious off their feet

Pretend we are not targets, but peace?
Be peace
Step into a community of peace
Sweep terror off its feet with love and bravery 

Look around at the stadiums
full, yes
full, and
airports, shops, schools  

Look at the Olympics
Step outside without fear
Step outside our own countries
Face down terror
Where it lives between battles

Step outside comfort zones
Witness peace's front lines


Witness peace in the front lines
then come home
to begin again with the heartless
plant ourselves outside corporate headquarters
seed ourselves on Wall Street
occupy again
as if peace depended on it

Mine is beginning to at last
And I am finally asking
What is peace? 
Who or what benefits from preventing peace? 
Where do the profits go?
Who or what benefits from poverty? 
Who is poor?
Who is rich?

You say we, though poor, are rich in spirit
I say maybe—
maybe some of us are rooted
and thriving in answers
but I had not been listening
seeing where profiteers contaminate the temple
asking what tablet will break the golden calf
seeking my burning bush
walking the walk
willing to be peace in the world
as if my life depended on it

Forgive me for complacency and for absence
Hold me accountable for action
as thee and we do, dear
     Nature and God
     Universe and Earth
     Hemisphere and Country
     Community and Family
Peace, I thee wed, until death do us …

Today is Blog4Peace 2013—the 10th launch for founder Mimi Lenox—a day dedicated to imagining peace in the Imaginary Garden for Real Toads where this poem is linked.   Thank you for your previous comments as I was building this poem, especially for feedback from its latest posting in the POETS UNITED PANTRY.   I removed section #6 and made a few other small changes.

Copyright © 2013 S.L.Chast


Vandana Sharma said...

A wonderful effect comes out:)

Brian Miller said...

i think they work well enough together, linked by the topic they could be appreciated together in a gallery...its like a jewel and turning it to appreciate each facet...i really like that first one....def my fav.

kalpana solsi said...

Peace spills into the streets. Perfect amalgamation of poems.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

YES! This totally works as one brilliant manifesto for peace. I especially love "Peace cannot live without you." The crux of this poem and the global situation is what you write about corporate boardrooms - no hope for peace as long as they profit. I think we need to individually stop buying anything that profits corporations to effect any change. But that kind of grass roots action would be hard to manage - not impossible though.

It would do my heart good to see a corporate tycoon on the news, rending his garments and wailing.....let's Hold That Thought!!!! GREAT write, Susan. Brilliant.

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...


You have worked very hard to set out variations on how peace may be found, felt and lived. Different to different world situations I believe.
In my own Northern Ireland situation, there is a peace of a kind. Not perfect, but a better situation than of old, but I disliked the price paid after such loss of life and loss of freedom with opportunities. That evil doers were rewarded is hard to accept, for those who were peaceable. Life changed for me forever...


Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Hi Susan--I think they do work well together--Nicely framed and each one works on its own and through the progession

Scarlet said...

Yes, they do work and come together ~ Each facet a different voice for peace but the overall meaning is achieved Susan ~ Good work on weaving them all Susan ~ Happy Sunday ~

Maude Lynn said...

Yes, I think they work well together.

Kay L. Davies said...

This is brilliant, Susan. I think they do work together...the message is hard to ignore, for us. But so many will ignore it, will never give peace a chance. Sad fact.
Luv, K

Mary said...

Susan, I definitely like the way all these poems work together! And I think you have arranged them in the right order!

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is quite powerful. I liked the vividness of the first one and the messages you sent across through each one of them. :-)

Kerry O'Connor said...

Closed for Peace Day
May there be many more!

Amen, sister!

This is a fabulous post, Susan. Thank you for sharing on Real Toads.


Vandana Sharma said...

Ultimately peace resides in mind and heart:)

Sumana Roy said...

The path of evolution is a long one and the human kind has to struggle hard to step on that path.....your lines are a reminder to that as well....see the fate of an evolved person..got shot....a great write up....

Laura said...

om shanti, shalom, salaam, peace, peace, peace.
Please consider yourself officially invited to participate this year's 5th Annual Gratitude (word) Quilt. Instructions (it is very simple) and a link that explains the origin of the word quilt can be found at the top of my blog. In past years there have been participants from every continent except Antarctica. I hope you'll join us:-)

Anonymous said...

Answers so many of the questions when someone asks, Well, what does peace look like? Feel like? What's a peaceful day like? A peaceful world? Fine job.

Marian said...

wow, Susan. imagine! beyond comprehension, sadly.

Susan said...

Thank you, HA.

Susan said...

Thank you, Kerry, for every day presence!

Susan said...

Yes, Vandana, it does. Thank you.

Susan said...

Thank you, Sumana.

Susan said...

I will check it out, Laura. I know you have featured one of my poems a couple years back. Thank you for your visit.

Susan said...

Thank you!

Susan said...

Oh, Marian, I hope not. If we cannot imagine it, how can we bring it on?

Grace said...

Perfect Susan ~ I thought of this post when the Peace prompt came up ~

Other Mary said...

Wonderful Susan. And peace be with you.

Susie Clevenger said...

Perhaps if we can dream of peace, we can become a person of peace. A beautiful manifesto of peace.

Margaret said...

"Where do the profits go?
Who or what benefits from poverty?"

I have really been pondering that of late - and I don't like the answers I am coming up with.

"Hold me accountable for action" … or non-action, perhaps.

"Closed for Peace Day" can you imagine. That would certainly draw my attention. Such a sign the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas! Quite the marvelous effort you have put forth in this poem!

Ella said...

Wonderful Susan! I wish more people would marry peace~
I love the idea of a sign saying:
"Closed for Peace Day" you made me smile!!!

Karen said...

Wonderful work, Susan. I love the joining of these and the depth. Peace Day - National...International...intergalactic!

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Susan, this is epic splendor. Your visions of Peace as a personage, as a holiday or day of commemoration, and finally, as lifelong partner "I thee wed," simply sublime. You are first of a long list of Peace Poets, but I cannot imagine anyone pulling off the breadth of feeling you have captured. Masterpiece. BRILL. Amy