19 July 2012


 At Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads, you saw "Water 7-10" and then "Water 1-6."  Here is the revised and united poem "Water" exposed first at Poetry United: Poetry Pantry #107 and then at its birthplace for "Open Link Monday."

"Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink."**

We cupped our hands for spring water to chill

Children splashed everywhere, knee high, hands free--
puddle, pool, spring, stream, river, tub and sea

Steel pots and pails, glazed cups and cowboy hats
displaced the coopers trade so “there’s a hole
in my bucket” lost its tune to the times

Mom and I found blue glass and bell jars
in the landfill behind grandmother’s shed,
washed them in the sink, lined them up on sills
to catch sun—I cannot go back there alone

We love; we wash each other in showers
the wash basin gone the way of the wringer,
the clothes lines, and the garden watering
one bucket after another then filled
with beans and snap peas and tomatoes

We lavish in each other’s love, waste daylight,
taste moon tides, sculpt face masks with petals,
race bicycles, play scrabble, drink coffee,
gamble candles and horsepower for love
dancing here, sleeping there and waking up
at last to hear of wars and scarcities

We sip from plastic bottles at our campfire
joking semi-earnestly that we hold the solution
to scarcity of water in our hands: making,
filling, shipping, distributing, hoarding
and profiting by what we take so easily
from our market-supplied packs—
spring water, artesian water, distilled water.

We name instances, a game, a fun contest
to  name and to be able to judge: the revenge
of Montezuma in Mexico; the drought in Ethiopia,
Near and Far East and elsewhere in Africa
and the Americas, droughts everywhere;
flood-floated poisons and fracking run-offs;
and the ancient mariner’s penance, the waste
land's thunder and the dust bowl's wrath.

Who wins?  You ask, pulling yourself from play,
entering your om shanti shanti shanti, thus
removing obstacles to peace and understanding,
thus resolving yourself of my company—still
in worn blue jeans, red corduroy shirt,  bandana,
and cap, you mix other worldly metaphors
to pour a libation on mother earth, crumple
your empty with crackle of lightening, and bury
it in your army fatigue pack, out of sight and mind

I want to win; I always do—so I crumple mine too,
pull out my journal, and record by the light of the fire
and the Light of you that we are the dunghills we make
and cannot rise above their mist, that we have been Job
and now must be able to rise to shovel our way out
along with our neighbors, to bend our words from swords
into plowshares AND pipe lines to . . . oh . . . I don’t know!
To season my thoughts into thunder, I fall back on the green moss,
place my hand on your damp libation; look up to the stars,
breathe and sigh.    I want to cry, but I don't.

                          by  Samuel Taylor Coleridge 

Other places I visited  include:  The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, "The Wasteland" by T.S. Eliot, "Upon the Burning of our House" by Anne Bradstreet, Lady Windermere's Fan (Act III) by Oscar Wilde, and the Bible. 

Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast
Submitted to Apiary


Daydreamertoo said...

We are this earth's worst parasite and, we have been now for probably 150 years. We've regressed in our care of her, plundered, her riches and left great gaping holes in her wherever we've dug and drilled for her resources. This is so deep on many levels. It begins light of heart and carefree and then gradually descends into life as it is now in all its truth and ugliness of greed. And yet, there is always the hope that before too long mankind will awaken to this destruction of the only home we have.
An epic tale Susan.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

WOW! This is one fantastic write, it made me sit up and take notice. You hit upon so much, so accurately, so well..............I so know the feeling, looking at the stars, or nature's beauty, and wanting to cry....but I dont.

Thank God for poetry, and thank YOU for this one. Wowzers!

Anonymous said...

Water flowing throughout, till the end!

Anonymous said...

This is a very beautiful piece!

kaykuala said...

So much in one offering! Need a revisit to savor the intricacies of your verses. Wonderful write Susan!


K McGee said...

Thank you for this! I love poems that stir me and others so emotionally. I love your passion. May many read this and think beyond the surface.

This problem is fed by man veins, and I do mean that literally. I won't go into a long dissertation. I'll save that for my private essays, but in short, crying is one of the best things you can do. It puts water back into the biosphere.

Abin Chakraborty said...

this was a mini-epic of sorts.your lines, esp the concluding stanza is precisely the seasoning one needs for new thunders.richly allusive and yet strikingly original.fantastic poem.

Marian said...

Susan, I just love this. I know I said it before, I was waiting to see the whole thing, and it is just tremendous. Tremendous! So personal and intimate, blossoming into something universal and vastly, hugely important. Please get this published somewhere! I have one idea of a place you might submit, if you're interested. Just great work. Bravo!

Lolamouse said...

Great poem, Susan! I love how it builds upon itself and gets more and more passionate.

Susie Clevenger said...

A wonderful piece about our epic failure to protect the planet that gives us life. Tears rest on my eyelids afraid to fall because there would be no end.

Susan said...

I look forward to your visits and comments, Bren.

Susan said...

Wow back, Thank you for visiting and getting it!

Susan said...

Yes, little vignette's based on water, long may it flow!

Susan said...

Thank you.

Susan said...

You are a generous reader!

Susan said...

Thank you for letting me know that "Water" moved you!

Susan said...

"new thunders" thank you!

Susan said...

Publishing Advice would be welcome. It's only been 4 months since I started taking myself seriously as a poet (since I retired), and--thanks to this and other blog/workshops--I am beginning to believe I should publish. I am not in a rush, though. I'm taking the dVerse urban challenge this week.

Susan said...


Susan said...

Yes. It's been a journey for me. I just bought an aluminum water bottle.

Scarlet said...

I like the format of this poem..the first line...then the ten lines.

I like the water references from the cup to the bowl to the thundering thoughts and tears ~

A lovely share Susan ~

Ella said...

So many reflections of insight! Wow, it was touching,really moving!

flipside records said...

Number 4 is my favorite.

Unknown said...

Missed the other but glad you put them all together, enjoyed the journey

vivinfrance said...

An interesting swim in troubled waters for me: water in plastic bottles cannot save the world, only destroy the planet. But somehow I don't think that's what you were saying!



Kerry O'Connor said...

I love the ambition of this piece of writing, and appreciate having seen your process at work and now the final product. Your approach reminds me of Steven's "13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird", which is one of my very favourite poems.

Please contact me if you are interested in membership of Real Toads.

Susan said...

Thank you for noticing the format--you are the first--and also the details. Thank you for continuing to read my poems!

Susan said...

Landfills are dangerous. (I know you mean the details.) Thank you.

Susan said...

Thank you, Ella, for letting me know you were moved by "Water."

Susan said...

good, thanks

Susan said...

No. Just bought an aluminum bottle. I thought the crumpling of the bottles would bring that across. Thank you for visiting!

Susan said...

Of Course! "13 ways" How could I have forgotten! I thought to follow this poem with a similar approach to the other elements. I'll be playing with it a little to see.

Kay L. Davies said...

A very difficult format, handled with apparent ease. Well done!
And oh, so right, about the earth, the water, the weather...Bravo!

Dick Jones said...

This is a wonderful extrapolation from the simple theme of water. The pace of its growth and expansion from brief stanzas into richly detailed description and reflection is skilfully handled. This is a really impressive piece.

Jennifer Wagner said...

Wow...you touched on so much here. Definitely a poem to read again. Beautiful write!

Susan said...

Thank you, Kay!

Susan said...

Thank you for this comment and your visit, Mr. Jones.

Susan said...

Thank you. You are welcome anytime!

Cad said...

I love the last two lines of the Number 8 stanza... You covered the subject with layer upon layer of meaning.