25 August 2016

Joining Langston in the Kitchen*

Image result for Alice in Wonderland illustrations creative commons

When we perceive truth in polarities
do we merely hold them in balance, or
nibble at them to feel how they effect
digestion, health and energy? And then—
do we invite cooks in to taste of them,
see their preparation and seductions,
and finally, critique who they nurture?

Contradictions and paradox reveal
the deeper truths.  Parables tell them—
not so we’ll say uh-huh and keep balance
but so we'll act:  Can we decrease and end
the harm in our menus?  And then eat less,
feed more?  Can we rearrange our kitchens
to eat in them among the other folks?  

 My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2016 Susan L. Chast 

*referring to Langston Hughes:

                           I,  Too
I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,"

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

(From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Knopf and Vintage Books. Copyright © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes.)

23 August 2016

Feeding the Inner Light

Pendle Hill Shadows, Photo by Susan

She walked without noticing where her feet fell
on pine needles, metal grid, grass or concrete
drawn by ever green scent of pine and cut grass
called by cicadas, gongs, voices and silence
as if cocooned by what she hadn’t yet reached
in this hour set aside for rare solitude.

She thought—nothing—simply unwrapped shaded paths
while entering—as if they were gifts, tapped tears
of frankincense from days of yore laid out now
as guides and guardians.  Wasn’t that the gift
of kings under the wondrous star?  Mystery
became the food and drink of this hour’s peace.

And then when she—again alert—felt the weight
of air, she glowed through shadows she found there.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
© 2016 Susan L. Chast 

22 August 2016

Blessings Frozen Within the Mistaken Community

Privilege is not the same as being Blessed—
this is a mistaken belief some hold
with health and wealth and opportunity
blinding us to Bless-ed Community.

Giving up privilege is not The Gift—
that is a mistaken belief some hold
when sharing might open more doors and break
the walls that separate and classify.

I once taught revolution, taught how to
speak truth to power in one’s own language
with pride—and then balked when my own students
used this power to dis-empower me.

Ah, well, I thought, they may as well learn how
teachers resist letting go, too, may as
well be broken the first time they try this—
I was not free to love unless I joined.

To share, to join, to change are the Blessings
doorkeepers like myself abjure in fear
of loss when all we have to lose are chains
that keep us locked in step with oppression.

Privilege becomes a Blessing when it's shared,
allowed to make a difference, to break down walls 
instead of children.  When it removes
land-mined structures built to maintain themselves. 

This is our choice—stay safe or take a chance.
Between these we struggle and talk too much.
What we’ve been doing does not work, and yet
we’re blocking out something else that just might.

How many times have we heard “the only
thing to fear is fear itself” and “all we
have to lose are our chains”?  How many times
do we choose our comfort by keeping chains?

We believe we are part Blessing,  that “we
stand up for justice” and “we have your backs”?
That “we’re misunderstood” and that “we hurt
too”?  We’re fooling no one except  ourselves.

Privilege is not the same as being Blessed—
this mistaken belief keeps health and wealth
and opportunity safely in our
own hands while we think we know how to love.

Privilege is not the same as being Blessed—
this is a mistaken belief some hold
despite absence of opportunity
to build and join Bless-ed Community.

Is this a poem, or an out-pouring from a process of discernment?  I have another BLOG for thinking aloud, but these words wanted to be here. Perhaps your comments are part of clearness, perhaps not. But living out loud definitely has its place.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast 

21 August 2016

Between a Hickory Tree and a Blessing

Statues among bamboo and trees are shaped
steel, smoothed marble, cast bronze and concrete

Material and immortal, they space
themselves as if they breathe the air

As if they were an ancient Henge and not
recent, as if land-shaped and not landscaped

We walk a maze, surprised at every turn,
art teaching us to see forests as trees

And making us forget to read labels
on trunks, on posed and painted human forms

Indeed, to join the show, to rest, to note
movements of mortals, costumes of today

Or not.  To grab a bench, take out a pen,
find words and generate found poetry

And choose:  Enter deeper reality
or weave illusion on the spot.  Spit spot.  

Linger or speed, turn right or left, stand up,
or sit on architectural stages

As one with waiting things that envy trees
their roots, heartwood, green strength, wrinkles and grace.  

Nature’s Laugh by Gunnar Theel, my own photo

Posted at Poets United Poetry Pantry #316

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast 

17 August 2016

Child Play

File:Gat- Decoracio entre texts.jpg

A few feathers dangled on string and rod
turns cat into kitten—plucks her from years
of majesty into furry belly-
up stretching reaching paddling paws with claws.

Fury and purrs seduce, admiration
turns gleeful and concentrated on cat-
kitten’s serious hunt until human
turns into tender tricky puppeteer.

Symbiosis! Feeder and fed, leader
and led, a Mobius strip of marriage—
yet observers well may ask who owns whom
and why they each pretend to love the game.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast 

15 August 2016

The Ides of August

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Arbol in  Jardín Botánico de Caracas, photo by Fev

Heat waves up north; flood waves down south; we wave
and fall apart and not neatly. 
All is chaos.  Tempers flare in nature
and rescues are few.  Though protests
abound, they are also angry.  You say
stopping to pray does nothing, but
what then can slow the turbulence?  Prayer,
          is part of tactical cocktails  

Allowing "What Is" to spin from control
          while strengthening Resolve and Roots
in hand to hand comm-unity.  Thus trees
have roots which don’t stop them waving
leaves and joining branches.  Come unity
          however dangerous the storm.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast