10 December 2014


You would think breath would be pretty basic
in the pantheon of in-alien-
able human rights,
but it’s not
a given.
At least no one
was hung at dawn today,
but I heard someone gasp—no—maybe
I doubt, therefore I am a citizen of the United
States of—
                   You know—this poem would
be completely different if—
keep breathing—
if I hadn’t read
highlights of the U.S.
Senate Select
But I needed
to be educated
to our brutality—ours—
though I never agreed to it as a tactic
for police or military or secret service or parents
or animal trainer.  I think. I. did. not. agree. 
I breathe regularly, intersperse
breath signs in music
I write, intend
to link to all
this rhythm,
note that the rising
and falling—expansion
and contraction—is the same
in animals, in plants, in the earth’s
aliveness: Breath is basic, is prayer, is touch—
gentler than choke holds and marching,
gentler than thinking.  Gently.

For my prompt at 

Copyright © 2014 S.L.Chast


Jae Rose said...

It seems so simple but 'we' always seem to get it wrong...we are travelling similar paths in the UK news...perhaps it easier to obey bad rules than follow your human instincts for breath and kindness...thank you for the prompt and your poem!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Did you see Amy Barlow Liberatore's daughter's sketch on facebook of the man who died saying "I Can't Breathe"? It is stunning. Yes, one would think an inalienable human right. We have so far to go. It is such a conundrum, as Obama says, the disparity between what North Americans say we believe and our actions.

Unknown said...

Sadly not everyone gets to choose the day they stop breathing

Old Egg said...

Freedom to agree with authority or be jailed. We are ruled by megalomaniacs and multinationals. Even our opinions are formed for us. Well it is over to you youngsters sort it out for '1984' will be with you soon.

humbird said...

A breath ...now it's not enough everywhere...this is why we have to bring it from inside....

PT said...

intend to link to all humanity through this rhythm...Great ideology here
Breath is basic, is prayer, is touch—great emotion and sentiment in these words
touching lines Susan!

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Did Obama happen to acknowledge his failure keep his promise to make closing Guantanamo a high priority if he was elected?

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Well said, Susan!

Christopher Barnes said...


Arathi Harihar said...

great lines Susan..i completely agree with you..

Mary said...

"Breath is basic, is prayer, is touch." --- Oh yes!

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


A very fine perspective on the state and sadness of the situation we have seen develop in recent weeks..Who would have thought that these incidents, would replace fictional films, as prime viewing...Something dreadfully sad and wrong is amiss in the world right now..The right to live, is becoming so precarious, even on a whim..


Gen Giggles said...

Very powerful message.

Brian Miller said...

and the more we know, the more scared we should be of those that carry the power...or the abuse there of...gentler than choke holds...yes, its a sad world we live in at times...

Amrit Sinha said...

"Breath is basic, is prayer, is touch—
gentler than choke holds and marching,
gentler than thinking." So well said :-)

brudberg said...

Alas I see this happen everywhere - the brutality can only be met with more brutality.. Breathing seems to be something we should be happy for - wonder if anyone will sell it to some corporation soon...

Nicholas said...

Inalienable rights were all given to people, animals, plants, anything that is able to live on this earth. this is a sincere ode to them i enjoyed reading.

rallentanda said...

The world has become increasingly brutal in our treatment of each other and our policies over the years.
Secularism and cultural marxism are contributing factors. Good poem.