Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One Spooky Night, When the Moon was Full

Dad and Brother hooked up horse and wagon,
went into town for a night of drinking.
Sister stayed home, as the hours passed,
finally heard the hooves in the lane at last.

Thundering down the poplar-lined lane,
horse and wagon were coming fast.
She opened the door; no one was there.
The thundering hooves were made of air.

Next day they came to tell the news.
Her dad and brother got into the booze,
over-turned their wagon on the way home,
horse and men all dead; she left alone.

For the rest of her years, when the moon was full
at the stroke of midnight she'd hear the hooves
galloping down the poplar lined lane,
all three heading homeward once again.

A hundred years passed, the tale oft' told.
Two teens set out, scoffing and bold,
parked their car towards midnight 
at the end of the lane,
heard the hooves and never were the same again.

True story. In Kelowna, off Guisachan Road, I would bike past this long lane lined with poplars - it always looked spooky and forbidding. My grandma told me the story of the horse hooves, and one summer the local paper reported  two teens, who decided the story was a lot of hooey,  parked their car, one full moon night,  at the end of the lane and waited. Sure enough, towards midnight, they heard the hooves galloping. It totally freaked them out. I dont think anyone ever lived in that house after the woman died. No wonder.

posted for Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motif: Hallowe'en, or Celebrating the Dead. Write a poem that tells a story.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Face of War

Marcus Cirillo, age 5

This is the face of one touched by war,
by those who refuse to find a way
to live peaceably with others,
a face touched
by extremism, by hatred,
by misguided anger 
towards perceived "differences".
This is the face of
a five year old boy
who just lost his dad.

These are the faces not yet touched by war,
by division, by ideology:
a dad and a boy and their dog,
just starting out,
with all of the future before them,
and happy.

This is a soldier who was proud to serve,
his honor to guard the monument
of the Unknown Soldier,
gun standing down,
no defenses,
when an unstable soul
full of misguided ideology
raised his rifle
and blew away
all of his dreams.

These are the faces
of those who wait
day after day
for their person to come home.

And that does it.

Old Woman can no longer contain
all her tears
for all of the sorrow
and all of the loss
that living on this earth 
requires of us.

Weep with her, friends,
an ocean of tears,
enough to wash away
the pustulence of war,
hatred, divided ideologies,
fundamentalism, radicalization,
perceived differences,
lust for power and land and resources;
till the earth is washed clean
of all toxicity:
leaving behind only our dream,
a planet at peace,
with no more need
of soldiers.

Funeral cortege: Reuters/ Mark Blinch

Today, as I write this,  Cpl. Nathan Cirillo is being laid to rest in a state funeral, after being gunned down six days ago as he stood guard at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. The longer I live, the sadder such things become, so his son's face, his dogs' faces, just do me in. It is hard to remain hopeful and yet, when I look at the smiling face of this young soldier, with whom our whole country has fallen in love, I have to believe life, love and goodness will ultimately triumph over all that threatens it. After every assault, the human spirit rises up to overcome.

posted for Gabriella's prompt at dVerse: War which, for me, must always mean anti-war.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Raven's Gift

Raven travels the Blue Road
to bring Wild Woman a gift.

You carry a message of trust,
says Raven,
light for the darkness of our times.
There is magic in the void,
creative forces swirling in the cosmos.
Reach up, and grab yourself a fistful of hope.
Scatter the news that all is far from lost,
that for every troubled soul, 
there are one thousand more
dreaming only of peace,
of justice.

Continue affirming
that being more, not having more, 
is where peace lies.

Raven hopped onto the hood 
of Wild Woman's car just yesterday morning.
She gifted him with crumbled biscuit,
and he flew, swift, away,
bread in his beak, and happy.

A gift for a gift.

This morning, Ella of Ella's Edge pulled a medicine card for me, and it was Raven. The message was timely, given the darkness of this week. Another friend sent an affirming email about the content of my poetic message. So I feel on track. Thanks, friends.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Inukshuks at Rogers Creek, Port Alberni

October, 1996

Spirit in the stone,
you sing to me
of bygone centuries
and ancient mystery.
Once you sat with other Grandfathers in the fire
in times that were so close to life and death.
Water splashed on stone and in the vapors
Spirit-prayers rose upon the Old Ones' breath.
The sacred smoke carried the prayers higher -
words of trust in sustenance and seasons -
up to the Spirit-world on wings of fire,
full of a gratitude that did not ask for reasons.
You once ringed communal fires upon the common,
where families came to take hot coals away,
carried them home to light their own hearth-fires
for needed warmth to keep the dark at bay.
You have known the ocean's roar, ice floe, volcano.
You have been a temple in another land.
Water and fire and earth and ice have honed you
til now you come and fit into my hand.
You connect my heart with all that has a spirit:
all that lies upon the ground and all that flies,
the Standing People and the winged ones,
those breathing peace and those soaring the skies.
Your ancient presence speaks an untold story,
has witnessed centuries of joy and pain.
I place you back on earth in testimony
to all that passes, all that will remain.

One from the archives, kids. I have carried on a love affair with rocks and stones for a very long time. This was written when I worked at Kakawis, on Meares Island, where I took a boat to work and back every weekday. In those days, I  found heart-shaped rocks by the dozens on the walk uphill from boat to office. Those were good days.

The Lost Art of Listening to the Land

In Yellowstone Park, by Frans de Waal

White Buffalo Woman holds a sacred white calf
in her arms.
See their tears flowing, mingling,
with red blood and rain from Mother Earth,
cascading down the mountain slopes,
bouncing off cliff faces, that wear
the eyes of the ancestors,
stoic, resigned to our unceasing folly,
our refusal to wake up, to see
what is plainly before us.
Mighty river roaring through the gorge
storms the mountain pass,
trees waving their arms in distress,
Mother Wind battering the earth
with pounding rain,
a furious housecleaning,
trying to rid herself of parasites and vermin
clinging to her skin.

There is a thin keening in the wildwoods,
cries of the young and their dams,
all hungry and ever in search of a home
away from the Two-Leggeds
who stalk them to the end of their lives, 
walking ghosts with no eyes
and small, unawakened hearts.

Every inch of this earth is alive, and beautiful.
Every inch of this earth is alive, and suffering.

The pale ones wander the earth
in search of their vanished spirits.
Who will call their souls back into their bodies?

The blood of the fallen trees is on the land,
which is grieving bitterly.
The stones that receive their blood
hold strong healing for ones who know they are ill.
Hold one in your hand.
Feel, and listen, for the spirit in the stone,
the ancient memory it holds.
It will speak to you
in the language of mountains and rivers,
tell you of long-gone times upon the land,
when buffalo coloured the landscape brown
and then, so bitterly, red,
and then were gone.

The stones, the land, remembers.
Listen, for all this earth has to teach us
about being alive.

This poem was inspired by my wild ride through the mountain passes in storm, this past weekend, the faces I saw in the cliffs, the roaring rivers and waterfalls, and by reading  Tim Lilburn's wonderful Ghost Song while I was at Chris's. The way he writes about the land, and nature, just blows my mind. My poem is in response to all that reading his poem drew forth in me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Today's News

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, age 24
Rest in Peace
Globe and Mail photo

Before morning coffee,
my sister comes in to say
"Turn on the tv."

A young man serving his country,
beloved, a son, striving for honor
in his life, and purpose,
and dreaming of a future,
standing guard at the War Memorial
on Capitol Hill,
like any other morning of his working life,
is shot dead by a gunman,
who then runs into the Centre Block of Parliament,
pursued by security.
30 to 50 shots are exchanged,
till he is shot dead, in turn,
by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Canadians are shocked,
watching emergency responders
and SWAT teams 
on our tv screens.

The madness is at our doorstep, too.
No escape, anywhere.

Two young men, at opposite ends of the spectrum,
with likely diametrically opposite pasts,
will not return home tonight.
A nation loses some
of its innocence.

for Mary's prompt at dVerse: the news. Sadly, there is only too much of it to report, on any given day. This is today's.

One Day In Autumn

“Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough.” 
― Thornton WilderOur Town

One day in Autumn.......
Nekiah hand-stitched every single leaf
to make Tree Spirit costumes
for you and your friend, 
Isaac Blue Sky.

How could we know, back then,
just how precious
were those fleeting
days of grace?
Just how fast it all was
flying by?

First, you grew.
Before I knew it,
before I was ready,
you were out of the nest
and away,
living all of your heartbreaks
and hard times,
so young and heedless and rash,
my hair slowly turning
the color of silvery ash.

Nekiah is gone.
It was cancer,
Isaac Blue Sky's life,
forever fractured.

Those innocent faces up there,
those round trusting eyes
that enraptured,
those smiles that had not yet
known pain........
remind me that once,
once in autumn,
we all lived precious days
that will not,
will not ever

for Susan's prompt at Mid-Weel Motif: One day in the life..........I admit, I slightly altered a poem written in 2010 for this prompt, given I have spent the day online working on other things. It just seemed to fit.