01 December 2023

Conversation: The Core of Revolution


“Revolutionary love is how we stay in the fire. . . . Revolutionary love is the call of our times.”

~Valarie Kaur*


Revolution is turning
Turning from old practices that no longer work
Turning to other ideas, old or new.
Like “seeing no stranger,”
and instead, seeing people we do not yet know
and wondering about them.*
Older and braver than before
we ease toward neighbor trees 
close enough to learn. 
We show our wounds
and ask to see theirs, learning
what limbs the scars replaced.
We decide to fight
our instincts to freeze
flee, fawn, or flop. 
Faith shields our roots
as we let rage rise up like fireflies
signaling its truths.
And those of us who can
read fireflies, welcome their sparks
and take detailed notes.
From the dark we imagine,
not alone, but in collective creation:
What turning could change everything?
We breathe together,
exhaling as if we were trees with roots
touching and nearly entwined.
Failing at first, we try again. 
Forgiving failure in them and in ourselves,
we try again with a lighter load.
We are not alone.
Pain sears temporarily, and then
roots touch roots.
Turning, we are in relationship
Turning, we feel joy that change is possible,
Turning, we share grief that it takes so long.

For my prompt "Revolution" at What's Going On?

In See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (Random House, 2020), Valarie Kaur lays out her experience/discovery of revolutionary love in 9 steps: fight, grieve, wonder, reimagine, listen, rage, breathe, push, transition.  My poem accepts her model for living revolutionary love.  It is a rewrite of my Putting It All Together: Engage, Tend the Wound, Breathe and Push.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2023 Susan L. Chast


  1. "Turning, we are in relationship
    Turning, we feel joy that change is possible,
    Turning, we share grief that it takes so long "

    Sounds like wise words. To develop relationship takes time and trust and risks taken. But in the end, it can be a positive thing, if one dares, and then one wonders why one froze or feared in the past. It must be a positive feeling when 'roots touch roots.' I hadn't heard it expressed that way before, but it describes what happens well. Enjoy your new space, Susan, and I hope deeply rooted friendships follow!

  2. I love the reference to "seeing no stranger". I love Valarie Kaur. I LOVE the idea of us breathing together like trees. Awesome! Your closing lines are especially powerful - joy that change is possible, grief that it is taking so long.

  3. I love rage rising like fireflies and those who can read fireflies taking notes... that resonates, not everyone can read our rage... but we turn, in joy and grief... mostly grief...

  4. I like how revolution is turning to other ideas. It's a process of learning with time in a most positive way. We change inside out and 'breathe together'. May such togetherness spread all over. This is a beautiful poem Susan.


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