15 October 2020

Safe on the Tightrope



O, trees I need you now.

Wide or spindly, stand guard.

Catalpa and maple,

blue spruce and white pine,

hold the tightrope I’m on

between my surgery

and my mother’s, a span

of 27 years,

210 miles,

and brain and heart spirals—

There, now, I’ll close my eyes.

Let your crisp smell, warmth,

and familiar presence

take me from here to there.

Let my trust, faith, and love

balance despite absence

as my prayers reach yours.

There now, close your eyes and

trust we’re on our way

safe in these guardians' arms.



My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.
     © 2020 Susan L. Chast


03 October 2020

What Holds Our Dreams

File:Example of a scar tree at Amby September 2019.jpg
A scar tree at the Scar Trees display beside the Warrego Highway at Amby, Queensland


See, here’s the thing. On this earth, we’re embodied.
My brother texts Mom is in the hospital
with chest pains; and I wait with The New York
telling me the President and his
close staff have tested positive. 
Covid-19, not AIDS or HIV,
this is twenty, no, forty years later. I wait.
One month before the presidential vote.
Jimmy Carter turned 96. Like Mom. 

My brother texts that Mom feels better, but
the New York Times has nothing new to say.
These bodies we carry are faithful up
to a point. Then they sit us down and ask
What have you done for me lately? Have you
protected me from dangerous virus
and societal dangers? See my scars,
look at my open wounds and tell me what
you see. I am the story of your life.

We earn our medals of flesh and metal,
and in the end know which are more precious.
And everybody’s body must hold dreams.


My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.
     © 2020 Susan L. Chast




28 September 2020

Blind Curves

Looks like the road ends up ahead or never ends
after years of bends and bends and bends and bends and . . .
they never seem to end, but up ahead, there are no more bends.

Cliff top, mountain edge, line where hawks and vultures fly—
You are driving, or am I?  We are up so high,
restless. It feels so very reckless to be alone

where air is thin enough to make breath an effort.
Looks like the road could end or never stop
and guardrails are missing all round the top.

I'm scared to look but train my eyes and keep my head
You are driving, or is no one at the wheel?
Going among the hawks as quickly as we can.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.
     © 2020 Susan L. Chast

23 September 2020

Cushions Made of Sweet Learning*



In a class on subversive teaching, I recall the sweet learning of the world—the sweetness that occurred, for example, when I first held a car's steering wheel next to a trusted driver.  I remember arms wrapped around me to tie a scarf and lace a shoe and fry an egg and apply color to canvass and sew a hem. Sweet learning as safe and familial presence, with touching and mutuality; sweet teaching as the gift of being in the right place at the right time.  

Sweet learning cushions the bruises of life.  As if I missed out on the honey of encouragement and forgivenessas if I were youI build loving memories in this time by choosing a source of love, a mentor who pays attention—not a lover, but a kitten or puppy, maybe, or my brother’s children or a librarian or—more than one-on-one—an entire presence like a library, a forest, a seashore, a street protest; by choosing one focus within an environment to be both anchor and teacher.

Pick up and hold a book, lean on a tree, sit on driftwood or sand, hold a sign. What do you see? Let the ground and air support you.  Give yourself to them and feel the sweetness pour in.  A long minute, a short hour, a half day—long enough to let the place wrap around you while you grow part of it.  Or take a class, I suppose, to reach your brain or move your body or let your creativity spark between sensation and its materials. 

So much sweet learning! No judgment, and it's renewable again and again even though a parent or a planet dies, even though another part of the world waits to use you well or poorly. You drink in the sweetness and take it back out there as a new memory of loving arms, of a universe that is a marvelous container.  Let the earth hold you up, breathe.  Let the spaces among written words, right here, be a maze that your fingers trace for your heart's delight.


 For earthweal weekly challenge:  



* Find “Sweet Learning: Life's most important lessons are rarely taught in school.” By Linda Christensen in rethinking schools.


My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.
     © 2020 Susan L. Chast


12 September 2020

Love After All

Look at my body riddled with 70 years of scars
that I sanitize and cover with clothes.

Broken, I resemble earth or any one of its
family. I take my place between a rabbit
and a dogwood tree. Two of three of us siblings
move purposefully away from home and homeward,
while the stationary one grows up, down, and out
from its center, never detaching from Mother.

Mother Earth and Father Sky—that's what
I call them—embrace all their breathing children—still
or not. I don't wiggle away defiantly,
but claim my home, where Earth and Sky know me holy
alongside wrens and other flying things,
alongside trees and fruits of flowers' labor, too.

Nothing puts them off—not scars, clothes, nor my attempts
to disguise my brokenness. Let me, then, accept
this now wholly, embrace earth and sky and siblings
as they are, and open my heart to the moment's
beauty beyond truth, its joy beyond grief.
Together, we erode. We grow. And we evo

 For earthweal weekly challenge: THE JOY


My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.
     © 2020 Susan L. Chast


31 August 2020

To see the Future

File:Water Pollution with Trash Disposal of Waste at the Garbage Beach.jpg


No shell is thick enough to save humanity if it wishes

to extinguish itself, and no shell is porous enough to change

humanity if it delights in S&M imagery.


I used to like the mutual decisions in both, the don’t-ask

don’t-tell that came after the ask and tell, but no more.  They're unframed.

No history provides handbrakes.  Our garbage flows everywhere.


Earth’s crust is scarred. Messengers can’t get through.  She permits trees only

to reach under for sustenance.  Her streams can do no more than guard

fires burning, burning on up from her core when lightning knocks on doors.


Then put away the whips and chains, deaden the brains that play war games

without ceasing.  Leave the borrowed carapace that hides your shame, and pause.

Then, give away one thing you love.  One thing besides the right to live.


For earthweal weekly challenge: EVOLU-SONGS


My blog poems are rough drafts.
   Please respect my copyright. 
 If you quote, credit this page.
     © 2020 Susan L. Chast