Where does inspiration lie? Everywhere!

This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

Please join me with your comments and make this a dialogue . . . and visit Susan's Poetry!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

VISION: Last Song of the Dead


Last Song of the Dead

by Sumana Roy at her blog "Vision"  

The guillotine voice whispers

An eye for an eye

We lost our land and eyes

Eons ago

We subsisted on black milk

Before decapitation

We cling

To the little root of a dream

Of a Child of Sight

To open all eye

Before this hour

Shall cease to be


I must keep this poem, remembering the brilliance of one of my partners at Poets United, but also recalling the scriptural basis of "an eye for an eye."  Was it Gandhi who said that "an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind"?  I cringe every time vengeance is the response--just as much as I cringe and weep at the violence of the original slaughter.  And never being able to know what was the original, I pray for the last act--for the one who will turn and say "Look at you continuing the violence! I will not join you in hate."  However, I am beginning to believe that some hatred is a devil that will not die unless we kill it.  I pray about this, that it not take over my life.  I reread Sheri Tepper's Grass where she examines this possibility and rejects it--rejects the superior innocence and withdrawal from the world of those who, under any circumstances, will not kill.  Is this a privilege of those protected in a land of political posturing where the weapons of destruction are being sold right in front of our eyes to countries we pay to do our dirty work?  I find this confusing, confusing.  At times, dear God, I wish to be a tree.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Poets United: A CHAT WITH SUSAN CHAST ~ ON POETRY AND SOCIAL JUS...: My friends, get ready for a serious, but very enjoyable, conversation on a topic our community has demonstrated a concern about - our need ...

That's how Sherry's interview with me starts.  She is the political one--or maybe we make a team--her in ecology and me in social justice but both working to keep spirit alive and form right relations among all things/beings on earth.  And true to form, here's my birthday poem--not really a poem--but this blog is for discussion, not for poetry. 

Birthday Poem at Age 64

Looking at the birthday candles I think
Fire next time. And James Baldwin leans in to
my consciousness. I can't help it. This day
is a happy one, indeed. So many
people are paying attention to my
birthday that I am overwhelmed. And yet
I can't forget the Black churches burning
five of them—which wasn't what the wise man
had in mind. Build an Ark, he meant—better
yet—End Your Domination because when
God acts again, we won't be able to
float away from it in a movable.
feast—nothing as easy as camping might
seem in conditions exiles have endured
together. Fire next time. Equality
and respect are that urgent. As urgent
as blowing out these candles before they
burn down into the cake melting sugar
meant to make life sweet—my life—lovely. Sweet.

And I am 64.  Amazing.  I never expected to get this far.  And I have a sense there are many more years to go.  Of course one never knows.  But just in case, I'm going to include Parker Palmer's beautiful picture with Mary Oliver's poem here:

Now this poem is a gift to all of us!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

re-Mothering: Poems by Susan Chast

My book, sent to Lulu.com, is being published today!!!  It will be "on the shelves" in 2-4 weeks!  It will be available for e-readers in 3-4 days!!!


Paperback, 92 Pages 
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To “re-mother” is to nurture, a mothering not outgrown by crossing the line from childhood into adulthood. Like falling in love with the same person again and again, mothering once is not enough. Renewal is necessary.
Re-Mothering: Poems by Susan Chast presents 70 poems about getting and giving nurture from family, friends, companions in faith and love, God, Earth, elements of nature, stories and imagination.

Scary! Cool! Exciting! Who will buy it? Who will review it? I'm going to buy 30 copies with my discount so I can offer reviewers a free copy.  Autographed!  So I can give them to the great women who helped me prepare this book!

I have other reactions that I cannot voice yet.
I would benefit from hearing the experience of others!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Back in the Day: 1970

Richard Rohr's daily meditation on Archtypal religion todayhis idea that Jesus himself spoke against permanence taking over the spirit of faithmade me remember the 1970s at Clark University in Worcester, MA, where I earned my BA degree during student strikes and the last three years of the American Vietnam War.  A small group of us  visited Goddard and Roger Williams Colleges to research Universities without walls and came back home to Worcester to start our own branch:

We called our course “Social Gut in a Nut” and supplemented it with neighborhood action from a storefront—“If you need a degree, you should have been born with one,” we said, and assisted walk-ins from G.E.D. to Universities Without Walls. “Get degrees for what you do well,” we said. But the immigrants who entered our store believed in hard work and weren’t buying “Beat the system” sessions on how to pass tests and other barriers. American dreams mattered less to them than dignity, so we helped with high school diplomas and food stamps much more than welfare and B.A.s.  

And this changed us.   

Where we had railed against hypocrisy, we now sought structures with built in change, rotating leadership and planned self-destruction. We kept records and rules in a cardboard box no bigger
than a bread box and destroyed overflow from the beginning, keeping the latest decisions only, process now more than history. 

But some few should have written the story of this 9-month old storefront before it disappeared. Not a relic on archival shelves, it also does not model optimism and action for those wrestling with crusty rules in living communities, systematic isms ever recycled and inability to see outside the boxes we clean and replenish with the same smelly litter.

I am back in those lessons today as I join other Quakers to “Undo Racism” by examining white privilege and systematic supremacy in our own meetings. I look for footholds in the apparently set processes and structures I am part of: "House cleaning begins in our own homes." I know we can dismantle instead of continuing exclusionary practices. More than surface faith will be needed, however, to be willing to pare down even what we think essential.  Existence is not all. With the model of prophets like Jesus we can forge new paths, and write a memo to our future selves: Destruct at the first sign of holding person and power over change and flow.  

Destruct when systems overtake missions and integrity.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Free-writing with Jen: Mothering and Re-Mothering

Falling into mother again and again is like falling in love again and again: Once is not enough; renewal is necessary.  The need for nurture is not used up by crossing the line from childhood into adulthood. 

I have wanted re-mothering from loves, therapists, friends, family, people of faith and even from books I read.  I have given re-mothering to others, too—not perfectly, but certainly instinctually.  Instinct to mother is not gender nor species bound.  It grows from acceptance of the self.

Ironically, the one I often neglect to nurture through re-mothering is me.  I want the external hug and lean in and eye depth.  I want knowledge of "the nurture need" to be shared sub-consciously without needing to be told, asked, instructed.  Ha!  I felt this most successfully in a counselling situation with a trained re-evaluation peer.  RE, or co-counselling breaks oppressive patterns by contradicting them; and re-mothering is the greatest contradiction to lived experience, daily wounding and larger blockages to our own ability to nurture others and ourselves.

Another irony is that the main character, Alice, in the novel I am writing can mother others and herself, but doesn’t want any mothering from outside sources.  An external touch would be an intrusion into the fine paradise she has built for herself.  It’s one of the many ways we are unlike each other.  Perhaps she isn’t as human as I am. Haha!

Today I  wrote a poem expressing how much we need each other to solve many of the world’s evils.  The poem is called “Simple,” meaning that the solution to starvation is simple.

Let God swoon for hunger
so you hunger no more
world without end

Whether food, touch or freedom
is missing within, God
open the door
we begin.

We who listen and act for God
are coming to rain now
where echoes of pain
roll the plains

Food, care and freedom
are coming your way
God speaks through
our thunder.

I want everyone to have enough food and enough freedom—but even more, I want everyone to have enough mothering.  I called it “touch” and “care” in the poem, but it is mothering and quite often re-mothering when childhood ends or never begins.  I believe we let God hear the great need, and then God works through us  to address it.

In my life, my cat mothers me and so does God.  My cat is a mother.  God is a mother.  Jesus is a tease, trying to bring out the mother in me.  What he does often works.  The presence of Jesus keeps me honest and active.  I also have family members including a mother and father who aren’t averse to re-mothering and often need it themselves.  I have had great re-mothering in all the best relationships present and past. 

The earth is also a mother.  The summer I spent on a mum farm—no pun intended—taught me that one, as my poem  “Mums” attests:

Back when I was sane
I labored at the Mum Farm.


Back when I was insane
I labored at the Mum Farm
to find what I had lost.

It's hard to tell the truth.

Back then I found myself
squatting between rows of color
knees and hands brown from being
kind to roots and buds while
upper teeth held my bottom lip
and a drop of saliva waited 
to parallel salty ones 
from the corners of my eyes.

Back then, sweat from my forehead
moistened my forearms, my shirt stuck
to my back, and my hands found
the healing heart of the Mother.  

Mother Earth is a face of God, a book without words that we walk on and ground ourselves in.  All she asks of us is that we remember from where we came.  “Honor your Father and Mother” says the commandment.  The division into two genders and the hierarchy of male over female in the Torah and in established religions is contradicted by the ideas of Earth as Mother, of mothering and re-mothering.  None of these are gendered except in childbirth itself.  God’s face and Earth’s face are the same.  God is all of life or nothing.  God is in-dwelling in each of us whether called by that name or another, whether acknowledged or not.  And Mother is the Collage of All including our faithfulness to our own beliefs.

I am grateful to know the coincidence of Mother and God.  Why do I forget about it so often? 

Today is a writing day with Friend Jen at her house.  She is writing across the room from me.  I am hungry, and I know Jen is going to make lunch for me soon, to mother me.  I’m also excited about our work this morning, and the excitement feels like another kind of hunger to fill. 

I have been afraid lately that I will let my spine injuries cripple me and the opposite—that I will cripple myself by not allowing the spine injuries adequate time to heal.  I’m aware of how close I came to depression recently because of pain and these accompanying fears.  But this week, the pain decreased and this writing, here, lifts me back to the joy of living.  I yelled out my gratitude into the indwelling universe—Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.  I feel possibility and even brave—as if I might take a step toward re-mothering myself and fulfilling God’s leadings by publishing a little.  A tiny step.  A beginning.

I am putting together a book of poems.  This is my fourth attempt, but this one will progress to publishing despite flaws, fears and foibles.  I will dedicate it to my own mother, to the great Mother Earth and God, to the living capacity to mother and to re-mother.