13 September 2021

Flat Line


What is the line between life and death—
a line not obscured by death in life,
seemingly alive, but hiding
with dead things at hand:
this paper (the death of a tree)
this plastic pen (the death of land and sea)
a usefulness, a profit, life killed (though
well-used, excess can help others live).
What is the line between life and death
for those who’ve left everything—escaped—
not me who simply jettisons excess cargo—
What is the line?  The one before the thought
“I’m awake; I’m alive; let me keep moving.”

The line before “As long as I have breath . . . “


 My blog poems are rough drafts.

   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast

07 September 2021

Body, World ~ Awe, Terror


 Human Body 101 
National Geographic, 5:10

This amazing body.  Alive.  Awesome as a whole

and in its systems and all the little pieces that add up

to functioning as a whole world: a body-world

exquisitely designed to move among body-worlds,

to form and dissolve relationships as we move

along our own short life-spans. Wow. Amazing

to grow big from something quite small, each

like an acorn growing into an oak, as a blossom

becoming an acorn.  And then tree, body-world,

and other life forms communicate.  Brains blow

my mind, existing to hear and learn sensually,

experientially, musically, and mystically within

each body-world, partnering with each heart. 

I’m in awe, prizing how heart and brain enliven

and direct my body-world, this complete world

that thrives and functions like planet-earth, each 

part of it in necessary relationship, working as if 

both random and pre-ordained.  I type in amazement

at damaged synapses that allow action against body-worlds,

to act against pieces of it.  I type awed and terrified.


 My blog poems are rough drafts.

   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast

04 September 2021

Waking in the Spirit of September


Marc Chagall, 1912, Still-life (Nature morte), oil on canvas

As my feet hit the floor, I say Hello Earth,

let me stay attached to you today. Hello God,

let me stay aware of what I am, and alert

to the agency you give me.  Let me hold

the intention to use the gift in giving.


I recall the story of Abraham and Isaac and

say, Let me help you do it again, God.

Let us prevent the sacrifice of children,

so they, too, breathe and touch the earth

each morning, and grow into their gift. 


Dear Earth, let me greet children with apples,

challah, and honey where they wake among

trees and buildings, where they see life wild

and tame.  Let me teach and learn with them

to recognize self and society and their gifts.


Our work here is to see the agency of life, and value

those living over those unborn and dead, to use tears

as libations in earth friendly places that welcome

children.  Let them wake and breathe.  Let our every

breath radiate the possibility of well-being.

 My blog poems are rough drafts.

   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast

17 August 2021

A Lullaby


Sing a song. You sang to me to tuck me into bed,
remember? How I liked those moments. Now, let me
tuck you in, while we sing: Sleep. My Child,
and peace attend thee. All. Through. The night.*

Or hum. Strum your lips on memories bright,
and we’ll sing darkness into art—warm or cool,
whichever we need tonight—velvety tones low
in sound and sight—the night light in our throats.

By swallow and breath, we’ll open wide our hearts
so words slip through and spin. The path we make
we’ll use again; we’ll use it now and then. Sleep. 
Sweet dreams attend thee. All. Through. The night.

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

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast

Ar Hyd y Nos (Welsh “All Through the Night”)
All Through the Night (The version I know, that moves from sleeping to dying.)

08 August 2021

Now this sketchbook seems small


Now this sketchbook seems small—
prayers stretch it, oceans don’t fit, 
time overflows the pages.
How long is this minute?
How wide is the street I have to cross during it?
I’m not talking relativity. Time and space actually
change—stretch and shrink like a favorite pair of jeans.
And the change isn’t dependent on an unknown
waiting on the other side. I set my goal 
before trying to get my hands and feet on it, but magic is reality.
I won’t complain about insights that surprise, astonish,
and at times please in the logic of mystery that builds my faith
in nature, in the marriage of nature and extra-natural life like feeling,
spirit, soul, God, and intention. See how thoughts get too big for the lines
allotted them? It’s like two fishes feeding a crowd, or how
some of us lasso reality and bend it to our needs—
things as small as words, as big as oceans and ideas, and
spilling over as how words, oceans, and ideas marry
or intersect, and send out offshoots that run to and from
other fields of creativity. Now this sketchbook seems small.
It’s too small to nap on, but I’m tired of opening
to flowing life that wants to animate me. So small.
And life is big, big. I haven’t reached the other side.

 My blog poems are rough drafts.

   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast

21 July 2021

The Sea's Roar



I go to the ocean to come alive.
Whether I step in the waves or sit on the shore
I’m lured into trance by its waves, colors, constant
roaring without a breath, and the piercing answer
of sea gulls. This only lion I dare approach
looms larger than the land of earth, and paws
at toes, tugging, trying to pull me in. It roars
Move Now Or BeCome Part Of Me now as always.

I carry a small trash bag which I fill
with bottle caps and cigarette butts. I don’t see
the plastic I've read strangles sea life. Plastics don’t
stifle the lion’s roar on the shore—but at night
I dream plastic wrap ‘round my cats till they can’t breathe,
till they drop in their tracks while waves roll on and on.
And waking, I see the plastic sea in my home
trash—bottles, bags, and wrappers. I feel them roar.


 *Here is the caption: "A monk seal (Monachus monachus) with a plastic water bottle. Marine animals often mistake plastic items with food. Photograph by Paulo de Oliveira"

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

     © 2021 Susan L. Chast