25 March 2015


Poster created for the 2015 observance
International Day of Remembrance 3/25/2015

Thrice oppressed—black women slaves—iron spines
held nerves of steel for endless resistance
masked for survival—there is the wonder.

I would not have survived, I know.  It is
not among my privileges to be
that strong and here is where my awe begins.

Despite the hundreds of victims not yet
adequately honored, descendants give
and give to the society whose laws

Stripped them of humanity and ever
since manufactured obstacles to health,
liberty and pursuit of happiness.

While such environmental museums as
colonial Williamsburg debate showing
the truth, interpreters want to show it.

Why else look at the colonial times, if
not to finally face the evil facts
of white supremacy and ignorance?

In this strength is where my awe continues
and I look for ways to assist—to promote—
not restoration but transformation.

No justice lies in rebuilding what does
not foster equality.  No statue
can heal wounds or establish dignity.

Nor does reversal of fortune offer
more than saturnalian playground to we
who are hungry for new relationships.

Thrice blessed, I want to say, both oppressed and
oppressors freed from power systems that stop
our natural empowerment and love.

Written for my prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Captivity

Copyright © 2015  S.L.Chast


totomai said...

transformation and not reformation. so true Susan. everyone's obsessed with the "symbols" but is afraid in facing and acknowledging reality and the truth.

Wolfsrosebud said...

a very sober subject finally getting the much attention it needs

Sanaa Rizvi said...

The bitter truth is not for everyone to be able to accept... one needs to be strong to face the realities of this cruel world in which we live in. Your poem depicted this quite beautifully..!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love the awe and respect in this poem. And I especially love the wisdom of "not restoration but transformation." That is it. Exactly. An awesome write, Susan.

ScottlB said...

To acknowledge truth one must acknowledge the wrong that has and continues to happen, good write Susan.

humbird said...

It seems starting to change... love the idea of transformation and that people ' are hungry for new relationships'. ~ I hear your powerful voice/speech.

moondustwriter said...

I love the conclusion that ties with the beginning of the verse; that is where the hope lies in the blessings of the future.

Old Egg said...

Such discrimination and non-acceptance are common everywhere even in nations where equality seems to boast of such freedoms. It is almost as though there is some faulty gene in humanity that niggles away swaying the unthinking to deny what they think they espouse. Is it just poets that must continually cry out for humanity?

Sumana Roy said...

".........No statue / can heal wounds or establish dignity."...the words carry much weight and truth and reminds me of the statue of Martin Luther King Jr....so 'not restoration but transformation' should be the slogan...an awesome and timely write Susan....

Jae Rose said...

I have the sense as in many things that in order to rebuild we have to take apart what already exists - otherwise we tend to make the same mistakes again and again...

Hannah said...

Powerful closing, Susan. Transformation in Love...

Panchali said...

Using painful pieces of history, you opened ours senses to the painful truth.. Unforgettable piece, Susan! Reading positive poems are a fantastic way to recharge your spirit. Thanks!!

Mary said...

Oh, I think it would have been so difficult to be a slave....mentally as well as physically. Your poem sends such a strong message, Susan:

"No justice lies in rebuilding what does
not foster equality. No statue
can heal wounds or establish dignity."

Yes, yes, so true.

Unknown said...

"not restoration but transformation" I find that phrase to be deceptively simple in structure but a widening chasm of meaning. Thank you for sharing this

Myrna R. said...

No justice lies in rebuilding what does
not foster equality. No statue
can heal wounds or establish dignity.

This should be a banner in Washington. Your entire poem is truth. I like that you promote transformation.

Gen Giggles said...

The best part of studying the past is that we can see how to be better now. If we romanticize and "white" wash it we fail to be citizens of this country. While expressed in this poem.

Torie said...

'No justice lies in rebuilding what does not foster equality', so very true!! It's amazing to me that it's 2015 and we still don't have equality for all. I hope that one day we can just be known as the human race instead of the division we keep ourselves in now. Great writing, Susan! :)

C.C. said...

"iron spines held nerves of steel"--yes! What a way to word it. Unfathomable, isn't it?

rallentanda said...

Interesting poem and take on slavery. Equality for all seems to be the operative concept. Christianity is the only religion that has this as a tenet of their belief system. That is why it is even more appalling when slavery occurs in countries based on Chritian ethic than in others whose belief systems do not promote this ethic at all.

Susie Clevenger said...

"not restoration, but transformation" I love that. My heart grieves so much at prejudice. I cannot understand a mind that would have any desire to own another person, to think there was anything right about it. Thank you for your voice.