15 June 2021

The Things We Save

Things accumulated over years
concern us when we slow down enough
to see how they've anchored us.
We've lived under the illusion that
they love us as much as we love them—
these gifts from friends and lovers:
horse-covered pillows, tree paintings and
prints, a fuzzy green shawl, the angel-
winged begonia, carved maple bowls and
pine boxes, scented candles, ceramic
birds and glass cats, brightly feathered
butterflies—more and more everywhere.


But that’s a trick of a mind that thinks
memories flow from those things and not
our own bodies. So now we touch them
and let them go in twos and threes.
We find we didn’t need anchors.
We’re ships nurtured by memories we
co-create, but we root like flowers
to earth, her weather, life and gravity. We
matured and aged in the spirit that
conspires with earth to create and to die.
And after all, is this a mystery that
we need years and decades to discern?

My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast

10 June 2021

Dear God and Earth who share and show us creation

Do you see your creation in me?  

Do I show you physically, mentally, and other ways?

I look at you when I look up and down and within, even when I don’t remember you are here.

I remind myself multiple times a day to tune in to your reality in the day, the night and the ocean. So many colors and tones surround me!

And if I am not aware that I experience you, let me recognize you later, reflecting on my experience—a moment recalled in tranquility like a poem.

I am no longer trying to be too much or bigger or any other way than a learner in your light.  Let me see you in all life.  Let the joy I feel in writing this praise turn into hope.  Let my hope be full of courage. Let it be shared.

(Part of the larger writing Here.)

My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast

07 June 2021

An Over- Sized Sketchbook

I asked for an 8.5 x 11 one but that size was gone, so I have a 12 x 18 one.  It’s too heavy to carry, too vast to write a line on or a broken line on—unless I also draw in it.  Is that God’s plan?  Its way of leading me?  My mother said "Make it bigger. You could be an artist."  Do I want to be an artist?  Did I want her to confirm that thought in me?  The over-sized sketchbook matches my grandmother’s.  Hers lives unopened on the bottom shelf.  

Grandmother’s sketchbooks.  I deliberately don’t open them.  The sketches and watercolors would be gorgeous, and take me from vase-filled still lives to rocky shores with pine trees.  She couldn’t draw people. Or didn’t.  How do I know that?  I must have peaked once.  I imagine blunt irises in her sketch books—mistakes—not the perfection and rules of an art teacher.  I imagine people with scribbled faces, circles overlapping with fuzzy edges.   

Reflections from the cave, capital I-iris, capital G-grandmother with sounds and smells of brownies and homemade raisin bread.  Where is this perfection?  Instruction: Hems undone to redo with a measured stitch, not strained.  Embroidery undone to hide the do nots and thread knots.  Don’t touch the ceramic tiles.  Take up the spade instead.  Pile the rocks for a fence that doesn’t need mortar.  How is it done?  Must each canvass, each drama on stage be reinvented?  

Invention sparks as the over-sized notebook opens next to colored pencils, water colors, and chalks.  I find I like beginning tabula raza, looking out or in, capturing an image-thought my eyes pick up outside anyone else's lines.  I wasted paper in smaller scales, but this vision won’t be denied. Gosh it’s creamy, it’s inviting.  Here is room for whole new worlds, the only constraint common decency.  Wild decency, wild open spaces.  Worthy of its own weightiness.  I carry the possibility. 


Is An Over- Sized Sketchbook a poem? 

Written in RAJIV MOHABIR'S WRITING WORKSHOP "At Home in the Moving Body,"

zoomed 6/5/2021 from the Roxbury Poetry Festival Revised 1x.

The directions remind me of my work in Performance art, moving from object to object, association to association. 

1.      Breathe:  Start with everyday image specific to my experiences.  (4 min) 

2.      Breathe.  Deeper emotion that expands the original image or deviates from it some self truth (4 min) 

3.      Breathe.  Expand the myth of #2  let mind take me into my experience  (4 min) 

4.      Breathe—return to the original image which is somehow changed  4 min) 

My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast

31 May 2021

I'm Waiting for You


O my dear creator help me to channel you!
Months have passed since I made anything. Speechlessness
is bad for both writer and teacher—and what else
can I be? On this wee patch of earth, I’m waiting.
Typing here, I’m waiting for guidance. Cleaning up trash
from passing cars, I wait. Cultivating pine trees
and bushes of red and yellow roses, I wait.
Counting three parts per foot, I am waiting for you.
Counting four feet per line, I am waiting for you.
I’m occupying this corner as a free zone
while I wait, although I haven’t told this story.
Has waiting become its own prayer, creator?

Is this where you want me? Can I serve standing here?
Amen then. I’ll pray and wait for you without fear.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast


21 May 2021

A Wonderful Phone Call

For Sheila         

Here again is the cramp in the arm

I won’t complain about—the one from

an hours-long deepened talk with a friend

while holding the phone to my ear. Why

not turn on the speaker?  Stretch slowly,

then hang up, we who see digital

culture through relics of older days.

Do we still “hang up” the telephone? 

And talking, are we still distant and

invisible to the families we left, or

to those who left us along the way?

When it is more and more possible

to predict the future, will I want

to know?  When I am dead, will I watch

life as if it were a long movie?

My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast

17 May 2021

The Faith of a Tree

Must I schedule grief to allow for joy?
Or schedule joy to allow for grief?
I want to hold both at once like a tree 
in the autumn of its year
when it is both green and red (or yellow).
Like a tree in spring yearly budding, 
flowering, and letting go simultaneously.
Like a tree knowing another turn of the spiral
and the mystery will perform itself again.

O, to be as grounded as a tree
as ready for both routine and possibility.
O, to be able to say hello and goodbye 
in a word with patience and humility
without separating from the love in me.

Written during Meeting for Worship for Business while considering reparations.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.

     © 2021 Susan L.