30 July 2014


At four, I opposed fried eggs and cold tomatoes
uselessly—it takes more than one child to frustrate
a persistent parent. Then, when the school budget 
failed and book use cost bucks, Dad refused to pay, but
I was the only one hurt by his defiance.

I grew up knowing people boycott when compelled
to resist, when done talking; group action is more
effective than individual acts; powerless
people sacrifice most in the process
and Montgomery’s bus boycott was successful!

We had fewer news sources in the fifties, or
I was protected in my white town from
learning about Rosa Parks and Montgomery’s
challenge to institutionalized racism
until two or three years later, but I was thrilled.

My home showed little evidence of such freedom.
The fact of it made me want to be an adult
who voted and created change and held power
in my public hands.  I was ready to boycott
grapes and to march against the war in Vietnam.

Boycott, sitting down and marching work better than
bullets do, though they take more time and patience
too.  Yet boycotting pleases the little girl in me
who was so young when she first began to see change
is possible with refusal to pay and play.

Written for my prompt 

Copyright © 2014  S.L.Chast


Jae Rose said...

One of the good things about growing up is that you can boycott the things you choose (or if you're not entirely grown up yet..find difficult)...it is good to remember that personal struggles always tend to pale in comparison to ones that change the wider world..

Brian Miller said...

i def think passive protest is the way to go...as i said at PU i wonder if we could get enough like minded people to give notice these days...or if it just would not be drowned out by convenience and necessity...the opening made me smile...the boycotts of our youth...i tried the same with lima beans....

Sumana Roy said...

oh i can soooo relate with the first few lines though the items were different :)...and i think slow-but-steady-change is sure-change.. :)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

"It takes more than one child to frustrate a persistent parent." What a fantastic line that is! I am smiling. I might need to steal that line and put it on my fridge door. Since I have four kids, hee hee.....I am glad that little girl who began with egg refusal grew up to march against the war in Vietnam!

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Sometimes boycotting is the only power we have. Use it.

Anjum Wasim Dar said...

These lines connect the reader to personal as well as world history.Further they are expressions of personal interests demands and achievements, many of us may remember that the first thing ' boycotted by a child is food'-and that probably is the most effective in childhood-a different style of poetry here well penned

Nicholas said...

thank you for the trip down history lane. Great job!

rallentanda said...

Boycotting is an effective strategy provided that you can get people to co-operate.

Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil said...

Well, I'm a squeaky wheel from my high school Vietnam sit-in days until... ever since then!! I loved your take on this, the notion that being able to protest can prove you are sowing adult oats. I still believe in active protest, as long as it is peaceful and uses words, not weapons. I'm with Cos. USE IT. (Wise words from a wise man!) amy

Steven Federle said...

Nice conversational tone... love the "pay and play" at the end.

Arathi Harihar said...

boycott surely works better than bullet..excellent lines Susan..i can relate to it a lot...

Unknown said...

A great look Susan back to a simpler time. One voice did matter

Unknown said...

i love the lastline... boycotting is the natural instinct when being forced to do something... on a bigger scale it can impact the world like hell ... in 30's when Gandhiji boycott the use of british made goods and british rule in general in India the east india company had a loss of 1 crore rupees in matter of 3 days... threw them offboard really!!

Anonymous said...

teach them young :) ~

Judith C Evans said...

I really like the way you tie in your memories of learning as you grew up. Well done!

Gen Giggles said...

Oh to have such strength as a child is a wonderful thing. Lets hope we keep it.