19 September 2017

Waiting for Peace to Hit


Waiting is hard 
when the stream flows
briskly and the fire
burns mighty hot.
(Last night "Vietnam"
television showed
the burning monks,
and I cried anew.

At times there are
people and living is
not a metaphor.)
How much can
a lit match hurt? 
Once my fingers burned
when I tried to light
a cigarette in the wind

blowing category five
hurricane across
the Leeward islands
the Virgins and Puerto Rico.
Beauty disappears
with death.  And does
it leave peace behind? 
Where will peace hit?

I am turning
the other cheek.
Hit me, touch me,
take me to work
while my soul is
close to bursting,
this close to peace-
fall, peace earned.

For my prompt 

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

© 2017 Susan L. Chast

13 September 2017

Nights of the Round Table

refinished antique oak furniture

She liked reunions best, this oak table,
her indentations, water stains and burns
perfect testament to humanity’s
loving attention and carelessness.  Yes,
she enjoyed spills of laughter, anger, tears,
and wine, water and salad dressing, the
flour of apple pie crust and the soap
used in between.  She adored flying words
of overlapping voices and Scrabble,
the layered scents of food, ashes and oil.

Her clawfooted pedestal remembered
the feet—both shod and bare—that touched her own.
She noticed absence more.  She felt kinship
with waiting floors, with open and shut doors.

(She wondered that she had been abandoned.
She could float, she thought, she could be a boat,
and pass through time as only heirlooms would
to hold re-union, to bring people home.)

For my Prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Reunions

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

© 2017 Susan L. Chast

06 September 2017

Bedlam, therefore the Miraculous

From the Library of Congress

It is beyond bedlam, this sense of having been there
lying in human waste, climbing naked to the auction block,
feeling fear and whip, choosing to survive hours of forced, underfed,
and dull labor without the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

It is not in my bones like crowds force marched across white supremacist lands
to reservations and labor camps and cruel experiment, starvation and ovens, 
but it is there, informed by current Nazi hate, impaled with the history of America,
present again and again in treatment of prisoners, immigrants and poor people.

Call it film and memoir, call it dwelling on the past instead of the present
call it anything but truth—and argue the philosophies of time, stoicism,
and absurdity, argue the Be-Here-Now practices of meditation and yoga,
but I tell you, I am glad for this space of empathy you call confusion.

It is beyond bedlam, this sense of having been there
and yet surviving—such a miracle—survival and the soft touch
of unforced relationships, of rooms-of-our-own, of doors that open
and close as only we wish, of smiles and love for each other. 

For Sumana's prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Memories

(I need a better title.)

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

© 2017 Susan L. Chast

30 August 2017

A Lesson Without Words

File:Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant.jpg
Claude Monet

Sing a song like Whitman or Hughes
how we grow strong, how we share molecules
how my house is your house

Or wear a sign saying
“I want to repair the breach”
or “Let’s go to the beach.”

Anything to invite conversation
with neighbors we pushed away
with the harsh words and fears of yesterday.

Will it take a flood to break the walls?
So we can touch—a lesson without words—
showing respect for each others’ lives?

I want you to live!  No words are stronger,
not even “I love you,” not even
reparations.  I want you to live

And I want to be a light for you
in the darkest night, I want to be
a raft for you in the encroaching storm.

For my Prompt 

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

© 2017 Susan L. Chast

23 August 2017

A Child Watches the Flood

   “Just living is not enough….one must have sunshine, 
freedom and a little flower.” 
— Hans Christian Andersen

She sees us overflow
tears when nature rises
she sees us creative,
too, our resourcefulness.

She sees soul seek its breath,
mind seek its sinking heart—
ready to rescue it,
ready or not—with ropes

and boats, ladders, words.
She sees us work, watches
heart flounder a minute
while we scramble.  She feels

blood pounding her ears like
tall waves storming a shore,
feels blood leaping homeward
like salmon moving up stream.

She marvels as blood flows
up arms and legs, around
the deltas, fresh, fertile.
All this in an instant.

We take her hands and turn
to safety, to saving
what earth touches with
anger. She feels the love.

For Sumana's prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Nature: Her Words

This feels like part one of an epic poem.

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

© 2017 Susan L. Chast

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