Friday, September 22, 2017

Is This a Dream Within a Dream?

I gaze at the tv screen:
hurricanes, flooding, wildfires,
earthquakes, collapsing buildings,
people crying, digging through rubble,
picking through destroyed homes.

I step out onto a West Coast beach:
sand and blue sky, the eternal waves,
ebbing and flowing for forever,
stalwart hills,
wrapping protective arms 
around the village.

Why is it that
the second scene
is the one that seems 

for Shay's prompt at Fireblossom Friday: to look at life through a distorted lens. I wrote a first one, but it was too dark, so I flipped the perspective.

The Trees Are Praying, Too

The Hanging Garden Tree
on the Tall Tree Trail,
Meares Island

Entering the peace 
of the forest,
a cathedral of giant cedar,
I incline my head,
bend towards 
the tender trunks.
I am attentive, 

In the silence. 
I feel an awareness,
a presence.
I sense the trees,
bending towards me
in return.
They are attentive, 

I am praying:
for the trees,
for the world,
for all the wild things.

And I can feel it :
the trees
are praying, too.

Te idea for this poem came from the book, The Global Forest, written by the forest sprite, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, who tells of an instance of communing with the trees.

I will share this with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United on Sunday morning. Do join us for some fine reading!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Brother Bear

Troy Moth photo

CBC video about this image here
The video is short, 1 minute long,
but haunting.

In the landfill,
the fires are burning,
flames flaring high.
The ground is smoldering,
as the food burns to char.

Brother Bear
is waiting
for the flames
to lessen,
so he can eat.

With decreased habitat, increasing scarcity of food, human encroachment, it is getting harder and harder for the wild creatures to live. The photographer saw this bear in a landfill in Ontario, waiting for the flames to die down, so he could eat the burning food. As he watched, the bear went down into the smoldering pit, looking for its dinner. This image haunts me. It is not just our home we have ruined; it is his, too. I remember a First Nations elder speaking of watching a mother bear and her two cubs walking across a clearcut, and how she cried, because it was so pitiful.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


This poem is a search for peace
on a suffering planet.
This poem remembers what we have forgotten:
that we are all one.
This poem has trouble seeking personal peace,
when most of the planet is struggling to survive.

This poem is looking at floods, hurricanes, 
wildfires, earthquakes, wars, genocides,
humans and animals terrified and dying.
This poem feels the pain of Mother Earth, 
of the wild things, of the children, 
of the mothers watching their children die.

This poem can’t bask in the sun 
while its sisters and brothers,
and the blessed creatures, 
both domestic and wild,
are fleeing for their lives in a world askew.
This poem can’t be all about me,
when the “us” of the world is in need.

This poem is a hope and a prayer for a peace
that swells from the grassroots 
and topples the tyrants.
This poem links hands with those on the ground,
trying to save the lives of those around them.
This poem believes that most of us want peace,
and that we have to build it ourselves,
community by community,
for our leaders have gone mad.

I adapted Hannah Gosselin’s Boomerang Metaphor form for this poem. For Susan’s prompt at Midweek Motiff: Peace. It is hard to hope we will turn this mess around, yet now is not the time to give up. A lot could be changed if one person were removed from office. The nuclear threat would lessen, for example. he is a danger to the world.

Monday, September 18, 2017



My friends, yesterday I attended 
a most inspiring event. 
At the Kwisitis Centre, at Wickaninnish Beach,
representatives of the Nuu chah nulth bands 
of the West Coast, 
and of the villages of Tofino and Ucluelet,  
came together to speak of living together 
in this wonderful place, 
 to talk of reconciliation and moving forward 
from the wounds of the past 
to the First Nations of this land. 

We were invited in by the sound of the drums.

On the beach, salmon was being prepared
in the traditional way,
 for our feast

Singing and drumming
by the Ahousaht band

Tofino's wonderful mayor, Josie Osborne,
told a story of being warmly welcomed
on a visit to Ahousaht,
and encouraged Tofino residents to welcome
visitors to our town as warmly. Then she invited
some of the local poets to come forward
and read poems about life on the West Coast

Jan McDougall

Greg Blanchette

Christine Lowther

Joanna Streetly

Many speakers addressed reconciliation.
An elder said words that struck  my heart:
"Speak without giving offence.
Listen without feeling offended."
That is respect, in a nutshell.

People listened with attentiveness to the speeches,
and demonstrated a great desire to live amicably 
and respectfully with those around us,
to remember that we are living
on unceded land, in traditional  territory. 
We are guests here,
as we are on Mother Earth.

These people of the land and water
know that everything is one, and interconnected.
They have much to teach we newcomers
about how to live with and on the land.

Closing words.

This was the day we had. In the morning,
there was a cloudburst, but West Coasters 
are not daunted by rain.
We donned rain gear, and the event was well attended.

At noon, the sun came out, unexpectedly,
to our delight. Bubbles soared through the air, 
children got their faces painted and, though I missed it,
arial dancers were dancing in the treetops down at the parking lot.
Using ropes, they performed among the tops of the trees. 

It must have been a wonderful sight.

I had waves to my heart's delight.

A most wonderful and enriching day.
Soul food.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dancing For the Trees

The blockades of 1993 in Clayoquot Sound -
the greatest incidence of civil disobedience 
in Canadian history ~
thousands gathered, 932 arrested, 856 charged, to stop
the clearcutting of the last of our Old Growth forests

This is Sally Sunshine, now departed
Both photos by Lynn Thompson Photography

Wild Woman remembers
dancing on the earth,
a hundred women
spiral dancing
to the beat of the drums
at the blockades of '93.
Primal, pulsing woman-power,
faces radiant, joyous,
powerful with love
for Mother Earth,
dancing for the trees,
in defiance of the Machine
whose voracious jaws, agape,
threatened to devour

wolf howls,
little girls with 
honest, determined eyes,
rainbows painted 
on their faces,
teens on the cusp 
of young womanhood,
mothers, sisters, grannies,
grey-haired women,
wise with living,
all deeply rooted 
in the earth,
united in the passion
of this moment
on the road,
a hundred women
dancing on the earth,
for the trees.

I am writing here of the Woman's Blockade. But all summer, thousands came to join us on the road. These were the most passionate hours and days of my life, the summer of '93, gathering before dawn on the road, the smell of smoke from the campfire, people sleepily arriving from the Peace Camp, the low beat beat beat of the tom toms. And then the big trucks pulled in, huge, intimidating, and the official would read out the proclamation to clear the road. Some of us stepped back. Those who volunteered to be arrested that day remained standing or sitting and were carried off bodily, to cheers and tears.

The protests received world wide media attention, creating national support for the protests. The clearcutting of the old growth was stopped and a Land Use agreement was eventually reached. 34% of the Sound is protected; 21% is under special management; the formerly 80% designated for resource extraction was reduced to 40%. But that is 40% too much for most of us.

The fight continues to protect Clayoquot Sound's ancient forests. 

For more info: Friends of Clayoquot Sound. These are the folks who made it all happen.

for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads: to write about what moves us, what powers us, what is our juice.

Friday, September 15, 2017

In the Dreamtime

In the Dreamtime,
the ancestors sang of
the way of humans,
being in the world.

They followed songlines
across the land.
Songs and chants
relayed spiritual truths,
the wisdom of how to
belong to the earth
in reverence.

If you go out
under the heavens
in the darkling hours,
harken to the sound
of the sky,
its great bowl
stretched over you
in loving protection,
its stars, signposts,
to guide 
your every step.

Listen, with presence
and attention,
to Mother Earth
and Father Sky,
for the Old Ones
are still singing,
still trying to teach
this wayward,
slowly awakening species
how to be.

Grandfather Cedar,
Grandmother Baobab, 
carry their prayerful messages
on the wind.

To be shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where you will find poems to delight you every Sunday morning.