Thursday, March 7, 2019

#77 Backstory of the Poem "I Broke My Bust of Jesus" by Susan Sundwall

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***This is the seventy-seventh in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 

#77 Backstory of the Poem “I Broke My Bust of Jesus” by Susan Sundwall
 Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form? This poem arose out of a frustrating conversation with one of the family atheists – and don’t we all have one or two of those? Armed with historical facts this person tried to debunk, one by one, all of the arguments I was making for the veracity of the gospel message. 

Chief among them was the assigning of the word “myth” in an effort to convince me that there are myriad resurrection myths that have arisen through time and the Jesus’ story  was only one among many. I allowed myself to take the atheist view in this poem first by acting out the destruction of the Person, next by feeling the freedom the atheist breathes at the beginning and then, confronted by His loving gaze, turning back to that unconditional love in sorrowful conviction.

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem?  And please describe the place in great detail. As I stood in my bedroom in our 200 year old house, I caught sight of the bust of Jesus I'd made in a ceramics class many years ago when I was a newly married young woman. 
The dresser is older than I am and I’d placed the white, fired clay bust there as a daily reminder of Who I belong to. Dust settles on the dark wood and through the window next to the dresser I watch the seasons pass. 

Now it was spring. I stood in the center of the room and imagined taking that bust and smashing it to the floor. How would that feel? Who would even care? My atheist relative would note triumphantly that his argument had been the more convincing than mine. From there the words flowed.

What month and year did you start writing this poem? I wrote this poem in the spring of 2011.

How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?) There were about three drafts all done on the computer.

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? If you’re an atheist, carefully study your position and be honestly willing to entertain the other side. If you’re a believer, do the same. Then live with your hard won convictions and be ready to defend them. Either position requires faith.

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why? When I stood in the bedroom staring at the bust of Jesus, wrought by my own hand, and considered smashing it to the floor, a deep fear and loathing came over me. Had the act been sincere, a lifetime of believing would have fallen among the shards.

Has this poem been published before?  And if so where? I have tried for publication, but rhyming poems are a hard, hard sell. Easier to memorize than stream-of-conscience poems, but a hard sell.

Anything you would like to add? Poetry is a soul endeavor. 

I Broke My Bust of Jesus

I broke my bust of Jesus
‘cuz I don’t believe no more.
I picked it up and laughed at it
then smashed it to the floor.

“It’s just a silly myth,” they said.
“How stupid can you be?
To think someone would hang for you
upon a cursed tree.”

You can’t imagine how it felt
To finally give it up;
leave hypocrites and thumpers,
the wafer and the cup.

A carpenter from long ago
He couldn’t have a clue.
And would have been much better off
to stick with wood and glue.

I got the broom, I got the pan
to give the floor a sweep,
then suddenly I felt the urge
to bend my head and weep.

The broken bits around my feet
were hard to recognize,
but somewhere in the rotten mess
I saw a pair of eyes.

The eyes implored, “I love you,”
and were somehow piercing mine,
the dirty windows of my soul
were cleansed in salty brine.

What madness had come over me?
What stupefying lie,
had crept into my very soul,
my savior to decry?

I scooped the broken pieces up,
my own eyes rose to Heaven,
convicted then,  I knew my doubts
in His love were forgiven.

Susan is a self-described late blooming Boomer Babe with attitude. She’s been a freelance writer, children’s author, blogger, poet and mystery writer for the past twenty years. Her stories, articles, poems and essays have appeared in publications nationwide. She is the author of the Minnie Markwood Mystery series which includes The Red Shoelace Killer, The Super Bar Incident and The White Pizza Caper. She lives on four lush acres in upstate New York with her husband and loves to interact with readers of every stripe.
Visit her blog at
My email address is


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

031  September 24, 2018
Mark Lee Webb’s “After We Drove”

032  October 04, 2018
Melissa Studdard’s “Astral”

033 October 13, 2018
Robert Craven’s “I Have A Bass Guitar Called Vanessa”

034  October 17, 2018
David Sullivan’s “Paper Mache Peaches of Heaven”

035 October 23, 2018
Timothy Gager’s “Sobriety”

036  October 30, 2018
Gary Glauber’s “The Second Breakfast”

037  November 04, 2018
Heather Forbes-McKeon’s “Melania’s Deaf Tone Jacket”

038 November 11, 2018
Andrena Zawinski’s “Women of the Fields”

039  November 00, 2018
Gordon Hilger’s “Poe”

040 November 16, 2018
Rita Quillen’s “My Children Question Me About Poetry” and “Deathbed Dreams”

041 November 20, 2018
Jonathan Kevin Rice’s “Dog Sitting”

042 November 22, 2018
Haroldo Barbosa Filho’s “Mountain”

043  November 27, 2018
Megan Merchant’s “Grief Flowers”

044 November 30, 2018
Jonathan P Taylor’s “This poem is too neat”

045  December 03, 2018
Ian Haight’s “Sungmyo for our Dead Father-in-Law”

046 December 06, 2018
Nancy Dafoe’s “Poem in the Throat”

047 December 11, 2018
Jeffrey Pearson’s “Memorial Day”

048  December 14, 2018
Frank Paino’s “Laika”

049  December 15, 2018
Jennifer Martelli’s “Anniversary”

O50  December 19, 2018
Joseph Ross’s For Gilberto Ramos, 15, Who Died in the Texas Desert, June 2014”

051 December 23, 2018
“The Persistence of Music”
by Anatoly Molotkov

052  December 27, 2018
“Under Surveillance”
by Michael Farry

053  December 28, 2018
“Grand Finale”
by Renuka Raghavan

054  December 29, 2018
by Gene Barry

055 January 2, 2019
by Larissa Shmailo

056  January 7, 2019
“The Seamstress:
by Len Kuntz

057  January 10, 2019
"Natural History"
by Camille T Dungy

058  January 11, 2019
by Brian Burmeister

059  January 12, 2019
by Clint Margrave

060 January 14, 2019
by Pat Durmon

061 January 19, 2019
“Neptune’s Choir”
by Linda Imbler

062  January 22, 2019
“Views From the Driveway”
by Amy Barone

063  January 25, 2019
“The heron leaves her haunts in the marsh”
by Gail Wronsky

064  January 30, 2019
by Terry Lucas

065 February 02, 2019
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by Alarie Tennille

066 February 05, 2019
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by Patrick Bizzaro

067  February 06, 2019
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by Angela Jackson-Brown

068 February 11, 2019
“Lunch on City Island, Early June”
by Christine Potter

069 February 12, 2019
by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum

070 February 14, 2019
“Daily Commute”
by Christopher P. Locke

071 February 18, 2019
“How Silent The Trees”
by Wyn Cooper

072 February 20, 2019
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by Sheenagh Pugh

073 February 23, 2019
“Make Me A Butterfly”
by Amy Barbera

074 February 26, 2019
by Sandy Coomer

075 March 4, 2019
“Shape of a Violin”
by Kelly Powell

076 March 5, 2019
“Inward Oracle”
by J.P. Dancing Bear

077 March 7, 2019
“I Broke My Bust Of Jesus”

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