19 August 2017

Big Earth Ball (2017)

Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today)

Lawn party for the March 1970 solar eclipse, me 
sitting on a blanket in an army jacket and long skirt,
embroidering inserts to bell jeans and holding thick
negatives for the sun show when . . .
Uncle John’s Band” plays from dorm windows lining
the quad and both the stoned and the merely happy
rise in swooping dance, eyes closed, inner harmony . . . 
We needed a break from anti-war demonstration,
the Black platform and certainty of right and wrong. 
Clarity grew from confusion, a sharp diamond set
in too much all at once . . .
Say it, A Ball of Confusion” “The first days are
the hardest days, don’t you worry anymore . . .
The disco ball had not yet turned, rock ruled ~

Temptation to “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out
was hard to resist: I cut all my classes that spring, 
started smoking, played hours of duplicate bridge
in the Student Union . . . 
parted my long hair straight, wore wire-rimmed
glasses, carried Sartre’s Being and Nothingness 
in my pocket, took on Nausea and avoided the gaze
of those who just didn’t get it:   We walk in space.
We build things to destroy people and we walk in space.
We walk and look up at the sun, see its angry glare . . .
Who cares if we go blind?
Sight from blindness grows as clarity from confusion
You know all the rules by now and the fire from ice
Darkness rises as the moon bites into the sun.

Posted for Poets United Poetry Pantry 
because of tomorrow's solar eclipse.

This poem is slightly revised from 2 August 2012, over 5 years ago, when I wrote it for dVerse's "Poetics ~ ‘His’tory, ‘Her’story & time machines" hosted by Brian Miller.  

(Oh what a prompt!  What a post!  I miss Brian.  
Almost every poet who blogs was there, and 
most of you read this poem at that time.)

"Big Earth Ball" is about the March 7, 1970 Solar Eclipse. I was a freshman at Clark U in Worcester, MA.  We could look up that year's events in an encyclopedia, but here's what I recall: 
1970 was the year "Uncle John's Band" appeared on the Grateful Dead's 4th studio album "Workingman's Dead," and the year the Temptations recorded the hit single "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" for the Gordy label. Both songs helped shape my take on  world, sun, and moon on that grey day. "Turn on, tune in, drop out" is a 1967 quote from either Dr. Timothy Leary or Marshall McLuhan to popularize a psychedelic counter-culture (of which I was not a part). On 21 July 1969, the  Apollo 11 moon landing with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was televised live, and we heard Armstrong say his famous words "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."  I watched in a little bar near the Hunter Mountain ski resorts where I was during the 1969 Woodstock Festival (but that is another story).   !970 was the year the Vietnam draft lottery began and set male students on edge. Protest against the US involvement in Vietnam and its undeclared war there had escalated since 1964 and was particularly heated by 1970. It was one year after Black student protests took over the campus, and finally gained them some scholarships and courses. On May 4th, 1970 ~ 2 months after the solar eclipse of my poem ~ the  U.S. National Guard killed four young people during a demonstration on the Kent State campus in Ohio. "As a result four million students go on strike at more than 450 universities and colleges" (Wikipedia).
My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright. 

Copyright © 2012 S.L.Chast
Revised © 2017 Susan L. Chast


  1. I love this, Susan. I especially like the way you have described yourself. (I think I would have enjoyed knowing you back in the day....) You have really given a vivid picture of that time. Dense with references to things I remember. Made me nostalgic really for those days, despite the serious issues faced. And...this poem just awes me!!

  2. Thank you for this wonderful walk through nostalgia as the moon again blots out the sun.

  3. You lived that time in your life the way i wish i had. Instead, i tried to be a housewife from the 50's -in the 70's. That didnt last long. Then i grew my hair long too, jeans became my uniform, and i was on my way. One of my new faves of yours.

  4. As I was reading the poem taking me to a time we heard from elders I was wondering where are the youths of this time. Where is that protesting voice? In my country it's only the aged, at least over fifty, are concerned about what's going on while the youths are drowning in their own world, Facebook etc. There are exceptions of course, in minuscule for making the word 'hope' still breathing very slowly.

  5. Wow, I must say, a great walk back in time, a time that you've captured so well.

  6. What a time that must have been.. but that war came and went and so many thereafter. And the protests and the shootings continue. What a time this is too. A beautiful poem Susan... and it reminded me of the year I lived near Worcester, MA.

  7. What a wonderful backwards glance

  8. My goodness!๐Ÿ’˜ This is like a walk through time.. I felt like I was transported into that era and was listening to you in person! Especially moved by; " We walk in space. We build things to destroy people and we walk in space. We walk and look up at the sun, see its angry glare.. Who cares if we go blind?" Beautifully penned. Thank you so much for sharing!๐Ÿ’˜

    Lots of love,

  9. How beautifully you painted the scene, the times and you of course in your own words. What a delight it was to read Susan

  10. This really hits home for me not only because of the eclipse but because I'm sending my kid off to college as well

  11. Being a few years younger I can still relate to this... and maybe being young is when it is like this. I can see it in the face of the young ones of today. I do miss Brian too....

  12. What a nostalgia trip! (And hey, it was Leary. McLuhan's famous line was 'the global village'.)

  13. I found these 3 lines to really speak out in today's changing world. Maybe, it's just me, but there is wisdom hidden in these words.

    Sight from blindness grows as clarity from confusion
    “You know all the rules by now and the fire from ice”
    Darkness rises as the moon bites into the sun.

  14. You have written your history, like Mr. Bojangles, you sing my song.

  15. Cool... Brought me back there.

  16. I thought I posted hmmmm
    Thanks for the DeJavu ZQ

  17. Sounds like my freshmen year at university. Those were the days. I miss Brian as well over at dVerse...


  18. I was struck with the fact that, through the years, there was always civil unrest for one cause or another. Seems we're not happy without crisis! Thanks for the trip down memory lane, and the reminder that the "good old days" were sometimes not so good either!

  19. I was a bit behind you not yet ready to start high school, but feeling into the civil unrest, the changes coming and trying to discover just who I was....it seems we are still on this path...perhaps with this eclipse we may get on the right path to love!

  20. A wonderful time capsule: opened and thoughtfully sifted through. I loved reading this post!

  21. Sharply reminds me of my freshman year at a college near Spokane in '74, the countercultural flower opening is aromatic and toxic perfume in the commons. You eclipse for me plays "Season of the Witch," a door turning form the wild '60s to something much darker and perplexing. Still not sure what that was but the vibe here is rich. Amen and amen.

  22. Luv this lil memoir. I read and felt like I was there, only you passed me, you didn't see me. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Much love...

  23. To go back in time is a privilege. One gets to relate to one's own of what happened then!


  24. "Who cares if we go blind?" I think the ancient Greeks knew the answer to that question, especially the seer Tiresias. Sometimes blinded eyes are better than having 20/20 vision---one of life's many paradoxes.

  25. Such great memories! I hope the eclipse this year was as eventful. I think eclipses come to America when we really need them -- the midst of Vietnam and now.


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