Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Batian


Batian, 
the eyes of love and trust


Batian
I see your tawny hide
shimmering golden in the setting sun,
see you leaping with joy
to embrace your beloved Gareth,
who raised you to be free
in the Tuli veld.

You were beautiful,
loving,
peaceful,
padding the grassy land,
providing for your sisters
and their cubs.

Born to be free,
you enjoyed life
for three short years.
Trophy "hunters" lured you
into a trap.
You heard the recorded sounds 
of jackals eating,
you smelled meat,
hung in a tree.
You were wary,
there were no vultures;
something was not right.
But you were hungry,
and so you came.

From the blind, shots rang out,
and you fell. 
Laughter and backslapping,
as your beauty
was snuffed out.
A trophy to decorate their walls,
blood money paid,
satisfaction all around.

Now you are gone,
and one sister and her cubs are gone,
shot one year later.
Only Rafiki is left
of the Adamson Born Free lions.

Because man thinks he rules the earth,
that can never be ruled,
because he thinks, in his arrogance,
that his wants mean more than others' lives,
the lions are disappearing from Africa.
Our world and our
aching human souls
are forever diminished
by that loss.


Gareth and Batian,
murdered at age three


I am just finishing reading With My Soul Amongst Lions by Gareth Patterson, who stepped in to raise and return to the wild three lion cubs orphaned when George Adamson (Born Free) was murdered.  Those three, and their cubs, have now  all been shot by humans, except for the one remaining sister, Rafiki, with whom Gareth  had to sever contact for her protection.  (The population wished both he and Rafiki gone from the Tuli lands. He raised awareness of the lions' plight, which did not sit well with those who exploit and profit from them.)

My heart breaks yet again,  and I wept all the way through this book, with the poaching and killing and horrible arrogance of man threaded through this heartbreaking story. Gareth fights on for the remaining lions of Africa.

Thirty years ago, says an article in the Daily Mail in the UK,  there were 200,000 wild lions. Now there are estimated to be only 15,000. There are no lions left in 25 African countries, and populations are barely surviving in ten others.

We think we're here to rule the earth. But we are guests here, connected to every other life form. Eventually, we will suffer, too, the fate of other species, as greed continues to destroy this planet we love so much.


sources: The Daily Mail and The Lowveld


Monday, May 30, 2016

Shinrin-Yoku


photo created for me by TUG, 

I walk under soft, dark greenness.
Peace falls on me like rain,
The fiddlehead fern of my being
slows,
softens,
opens,
gently unfurls.

I breathe in cedar,
moss,
fungi,
spores
that my Inner Old One
remembers
from centuries past.

Shapeshifters
dance
among the trees, unseen,
but felt,
perhaps in the dust motes swirling
in patches of golden sunlight
filtered through ancient cedar.

Somewhere,
an owl utters
a sleepy "who-hoo?"
Somewhere, a black wolf
watches
through the veil,
his eyes speaking
the language without words.
I feel them
in my soul.


*Shinrin-Yoku is the Japanese practice of forest bathing


A Whisper On the Wind


A small monk
in a crimson robe
releases his prayer of peace
on the back of a pure white bird
in the Himalayas;
it soars up and over the peaks,
floats along on a silver cloud,
hitches a ride on a chugging freighter,
is passed along on the lips of refugees
in a teetering boat,
plays hopscotch among the stars,
then rises with the morning sun,
blanketing this whole, shimmering,
magical green and blue globe
with love.

Can you feel its whisper on the wind?



for Bjorn's prompt at Real Toads: the Butterfly Effect, how something as small as the movement of a butterfly wing can set off a chain reaction that impacts things far away. 


Saturday, May 28, 2016

OWL WOMAN



Owl Woman has soft gray chicks
nestled at her breast.
In her brain lives the spacious sky,
dappled silver, shining.

Through her feathers, 
Sister Wind woos her towards flight,
beckoning from
the Four Directions,
for when she soars, she is free, joyous,
safe from harm.

She will teach these chicks
to fly.

Down her throat runs clear river water,
life-giving, replenishing.
The forest lives in her eyes,
green and golden,
and full of talking trees.

Her journeys 
are the flight-paths of the ancestors,
imprinted within her being.
The spirits fly with her
and whisper to her
the way that she must go.

Owl Woman is earth-bound,
for a time,
but ever dreaming of
the sky.


A poem from 2014, my friends, for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where you will  always find great reading on a Sunday morning.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Canuck the Crow



Canuck the Crow lives on Vancouver's Lower East Side. He was helped by one of its citizens when, as a baby bird, he fell out of his nest. Now he is well-known in the community, alighting on peoples' shoulders, and even riding the Skytrain.

On this morning's news, it was reported he got involved in a tense police standoff, where a young man wielding a knife was being taken down by police. Canuck rushed to the young man's assistance and made off with the knife. Police gave chase and eventually did recover the knife. They say the crow is "known to police."

Cracked me right up.




source: cbc.ca and Canuck the Crow, who has his own facebook page. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Picnic



"Life's no picnic," is the lesson
I was given as a child.
And yet, all these years,
that is exactly what it has been.

I find a grassy mound,
spread out the red checkered cloth,
lie back, look up, and take it all in:
blue bowl of sky, perfect puffy
storybook clouds,
birds on the wing.

The basket of goodies
changes every day:
the wonders of Choice,
and Delight.
I peek under the cloth;
every time: Perfect.
Just what I wanted.

The guest list keeps changing,
depending on who feels like a picnic
on that particular day.

The chore list changes too,
"from each, according to his ability,
to each according to his need".*
Some of us get to do more chores,
while others eat cake off a golden saucer,
because that is just the way of it.

The afternoon grows dreamy,
we replete with the perfection of the day.
Butterflies flutter by, bees buzz,
and no one is frightened of being stung.
We thank them for the honey.
They dip a wing,
and circle the hive.

Animals cavort and frolic 
all over the meadow,
unafraid and safe.
On my picnics, no animal
is ever harmed.
The homeless, the refugees, 
the outcasts, the disenfranchised, 
the suffering, the lonely,
are invited guests,
welcomed with love.
We open the basket,
distribute the choicest treats.

There is room for all of us here.


*Karl Marx said this, according to Wiki, though I did not know that when I remembered the quote.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Picnic. A metaphor for our world, the way it could be, the way we would so love it to be.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Begone, Swan of All-That-Is-Not

A lagoon in Port Albion I once 
was privileged to live beside


When ripples disturb
the surface
of the sleepy lagoon
that is my life,

when skunk cabbage and stinkweed
elbow their way in
and wave their smelly fronds
in my face,

when the waters grow turgid 
and the channels clogged,
as if the pond floor has become
an uneasy agitated beast,

May I focus on
the lotus blossom
in the center,
let the ripples flow
off and away,
breathe in the peace and beauty
of the flower's waxy bloom.

May the swan of All-That-Is-Not
carry itself to the farthest bank,
making way for 
the small fuzzy ducklings 
of gratitude and serenity,
thankfulness
for All-That-Is.


A poem from December 2012, posted for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United on Sunday.


Hearts Stay the Same



Lili:
 The soft silk slides along my skin,
A door opens. I enter in,
Everything in me comes alive,
no more the strangle of suits and ties,
committed to (anything else a sham)
becoming who I am.

Gerda:
While Einar may be gone from me,
I see Lili has set you free.
I love your heart, which stays the same,
regardless of your change of name.
The hardest path is mine to know,
to love and, lovingly, let you go.


For my prompt at Real Toads: Play It Again, Toads.  I chose Fireblossom's prompt:  The Art of Gerda Wegener. Gerda Wegener's art, popular in the early 1900's, has recently enjoyed a resurgence. She was married to fellow artist, Einar Wegener, who, during their marriage, became Lili Elbe, one of the first recipients of sex reassignment surgery, from which, sadly, she did not survive

Lili became Gerda's favourite model, and the subject of many of her paintings. Gerda's and Lili's story is fascinating,  and has been made the subject of a recent film, The Danish Girl.  In my poem, I imagine what they may have said to each other as Einar transitioned to becoming Lili, and Gerda continued to love her.

source: Wikipedia


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Remembering Marcel IV



Marcel, the Good Ole Boys 
made your life hell, in high school, 
taunting you to make themselves feel big.
You could not come out as gay
in 1964 Immaculata High,
but they sensed your difference from the herd 
and avoided their own insecurities by tormenting you.
"Begone, thou milk-faced fools!" you'd rage,
face red, tears of frustration in your eyes.
They fell about laughing like the fools they were.
I did not know how to stop their taunting cries.

I fell in beside you, as you walked away,
in solidarity, and wordlessly we trudged
away from those laughing fools, 
just one more day we'd spent  
surviving school.

You waited for me every morning after that,
at the corner of Richter and Elliott in the snow.
We'd trudge back towards the unfriendly, lighted school,
part at the lockers with a silent nod.
"Courage!" was the word we did not say,
but needed, to withstand each painful day.

In university, you lived your happiest years,
and found your one brief love,
 finally were accepted as the brilliant, funny, 
endearing intellectual you were.
Ten times more interesting than the fools 
who'd jeered,
you went on to a brilliant career.

I found you again years later,  
ill, struggling, impoverished, alone.
You had been gay-bashed, identified your attacker,
but the police were indifferent to your plight.
You grew tired of the struggle
of surviving. I heard you faltering, 
but did not recognize the clues,
one afternoon received a phone call.
You had left this world.
I'd lost the friend I thought I'd never lose.

I wish I could write a happier end
to the story that was your life, my friend.
I would write of kindness and inclusion
and your life continuing on.
The world is much diminished
by your being gone.




for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Bullying. 

I have written earlier poems, and a story, about Marcel's life, which impacted me profoundly. He left a letter for me when he left this world, saying he had just gotten tired of the struggle. In the photo he is holding his beloved Paprikas, two weeks before his death, when he already knew he would be leaving. I found out when it was too late that his dying wish had been that Paprikas be spared the trauma of going to the SPCA, that he be put to sleep. But the family had just 24 hours to clear out his apartment, and in haste they took poor Paprikas to the SPCA after all. This photo haunts me. A sad life, that should have been much happier.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Watch For Me, a Sandpiper at the Edge of the Sea



Dear Earth,
I will return to the shores of Wickanninish,
roiling in winter storm.
I shall come back to watch the morning break
against blue sky and rose-tinged puffy cloud,
to see all the creatures stir and waken,
and the day unfold.
I shall return to gaze in wonder,
at the end of day,
as the sun sinks, purple, azure, gold,
below the horizon,
and the skies become a masterpiece
painted by God.

I may return as a seabird,
as Jonathan, 
still outside of the pack, observing, 
still hobbling on the ground
and dreaming of the sky.
I'll pick a shell in my beak 
and carry it off to my perch,
then drop it,
deep in the forest,
for a wanderer to find, 
and marvel at, years hence.
Or I might be a sandpiper, 
one of the flock,
lifting and turning together
as one body, at the edge of the sea.

How could my spirit not return
to the forests and rivers and ocean I love,
to catch my breath once more as the morning mist
drapes itself companionably across Lone Cone,
to behold once more her slopes turning deepest rose
in late afternoon?
The call of the murmurous, forever waves,
the smell of salt, kelp and seaweed,
ocean essence will draw me, as before,
to the beautiful shore.

I will return, once again young, 
for the smell of peony
on soft-scented summer evenings,
for a shy, youthful kiss under weeping willow,
lake ripples lapping gently,
and all of life's hopes and dreams lying ahead,
all golden and shining.
I will return for apple blossoms, 
and the smell of sage on hot, dusty hills
covered with yellow flowers.

The blue sky will draw me back
as it drew my gaze for all my many years,
as will the ancient trees, where restless spirits live,
their mournful song whispering secrets and wisdom -
urgent truth for us to hear and heed,
if we but listen.

I will return to see the ocean
come back to life again, abundant,
recovered from its slow dying,
after the plastic waste and dumping, 
the polluting and the killing stops,
and all of its plants and creatures
stir back to life.
I will return to see 
the clearcut mountains greening up,
bees and butterflies and wolves
abundant once again, and thriving,
as that earth we are dreaming about now
heals and comes back into being.
I will return, with joy,
at that awakening.


If I don't return in body,
I will return as raindrops on salal,
as moss on an old stump,
or old man's beard on cedar.
I will return
in wagging puppy-tails 
and wise old elephant eyes,
or a grey whale, diving, 
its fluted tail arching over and up,
then slipping down, down, 
into the mysterious depths.

Watch the world with wonder,
as I have these many years,
and you'll find me,
never farther away than
the nearest beautiful thing.


This poem was inspired by some translated lines of a famous Bengali poet, Jibanananda Das, sent to me by Sumana, and included below. I love this poem so much, and it stirred a response. Thank you for the inspiration, Sumana. I needed some!

Shall return again to the Dhansiri banks 
of Bengal
Maybe as a brahmini kite or a myna 

if not as a human
Or a crow of dawn in this land 

of autumn harvest festival
Will come one day sailing on mists 

to sit in the orchard shade
I could be a duck, tying a lass's tinker-bells 

on my ruby feet
I'd glide the day on pond exuding
water spinach scent
Will return once more for the love of 

this Bengal's rivers, fields and meadows
On this mournful green banks 

moist with Jalangi's waves 



Posted for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, good reading every Sunday morning.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

If We Knew Then.........


Parksville, Vancouver Island



Did we understand,
when we agreed to inhabit these bodies
and grow our souls,
when we consented
to coming to earth at this time,
that we were coming to behold
and give testimony,
to give voice to the voiceless,
to stand against injustice in solidarity,
to bear witness and to mourn?

Did we know it would break our hearts
a hundred times a week,
that we would grieve so many losses,
start over so many times?

Did we know we would be strong enough?

We accepted the  earthly body,
whatever the cost.
Because we either remembered,
or were given a glimpse of
the sheer, breathtaking beauty of this world,
how it shines.

We would do it all again
for the sheer joy
of watching tendrils of clouds 
kiss a mountaintop,
the everlasting beauty 
of the silver shining sea,
for the exhilaration of falling in love,
the joy of bringing forth our children,
for the privilege of old age, 
and peacefulness,
for the love of blue sky and birdsong,
and sunsets,
and a brand new day starting over 
every morning.

And if we get the chance,
to do it all again,
we'll say "yes!"
so we can love it all,
in all its pain and glory,
just one more time.


This poem is my response to Rebecca Del Rio's poem, "The Pact", featured in Larry Robinson's Poem of the Day. She wrote that "it was broken before we arrived, the pact with life". That our work, immersed in mourning, is to turn loss into love. That resonated with me........ It made me think about all the horrible things we hear about daily, that have been getting me down, and yet how beautiful, still, this planet is, what a gift these lives of ours are. 

Charlie the Seagull

advanceair.net


In those days, an old seagull named Charlie,
came to his perch on the porch
every mealtime,
waiting for scraps from the children's plates.
He was a bit ragged around the edges,
a hardscrabble old mariner.
If I were slow in bringing out his meal,
he aimed his gaze at me,
and I hurried up.

Down below, the waves lapped
peacefully and rhythmically
on the shore.
The sound gave me comfort.

Upstairs, was the store
where I earned our living,
dawn to midnight.
Another ragged around the edges male
made brief appearances,
to palm money from the till
and go out drinking.

All that winter, his anger seethed.
All that winter,
as my baby grew in my belly,
I worked and worried.

In the summer, he closed the store
"for renovations", and  took us
to my mother's house.
Within weeks, the store burned down.
When there was no insurance money paid,
due to the suspicious nature of the fire,
he was on his way.

I often wonder where
old Charlie the seagull went,
when his perch was gone
and I wasn't there to feed him.
I never wondered much
about the man.

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Birds

Monday, May 9, 2016

A FAIRY TALE FOR WILD WOMEN



Wild Woman once was a damsel in distress,
but no prince scaled the walls 
or slayed a dragon for her.
She waited hopefully for a time,
till eventually a Prince rang
the castle doorbell. 
She surveyed this drooping creature, 
leaning against the doorjamb,
picking his nails,
with some dismay. 
But he was the only one who came
so, with a mental shrug, she let him in.

She had to machete her own way 
through the thicket of thorns
to clear a path for him to travel with ease,
so his clothing wouldn't tear.
She had to  challenge the fiery dragon
while the Prince hid, quaking, behind the curtains
peeping, "Is it gone yet?"

Pretty soon she got tired 
of hunting wild beasts for two,
tired of dragging them back to the fire, 
to skin and roast them,
tired of serving the meal and cleaning up 
all the blood and gore afterward.
She became a vegetarian,
banished Prince Cedric to the Land of Men,
roasted some marshmallows 
in the fire to celebrate,
then retreated to the tower to survey 
her own peaceable kingdom

LOL. Found this in my drafts file and decided it is perfect for this sunny peaceful morning. This is a second use of the phrase "peaceable kingdom", taken from Getting There by David Wagoner, who used the phrase "your own unpeaceable kingdom". Mine is peaceable, so I changed it. Have changed a lot of things over the years. Too late smart, smiles.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Animals of Fort Mac


This is one dog who got out ~
on a plane out of Fort McMurray,
where the wildfires rage on
 photo by Derek Allen

The bears are coming down from the mountains,
into the town. They have nowhere else to go.
In the subdivisions, through the smoke and flames,
people can hear dogs barking frantically,
animals left behind in the haste of fleeing.

100 animals were abandoned at a boarding kennel,
when an evacuation order came with no time to spare.

Dogs bark in cars abandoned
by the side of the road,
as the flames come closer and the people flee.

But Fort Mac is rallying.
There are shelters to care for abandoned animals,
rescue groups searching for 
the lost and missing fur babies left behind.
Many of them will be rescued.
For many others, it is too late.
They haunt my dreams
and break my heart.

God bless those who don't forget the animals,
at such a time.



God bless the Fort McMurray Animal Rescue group, and the rescue groups all across Alberta, who are uniting to help the terrified critters of Fort McMurray:
Fort McMurray Fire Emergency Animal Assistance


source: Metro News



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Riversong

Stamp Falls


Sing me a song of river, green and wild,
as it makes its steadfast journey to the sea.
With its beauty I'm enchanted and beguiled.
The wildlands is where my spirit feels most free.

As it makes its steadfast journey to the sea,
sing to me with Raven's husky gobble-cry.
In the wildlands, where my spirit feels most free,
the Old Trees listen to my whispered sigh.

Sing to me with Raven's husky gobble-cry,
with grak! of heron, hoot of sleepy owl.
As the Old Trees listen to my whispered sigh,
sing me eagle's shriek and Old Wolf's howl. 

With krak! of heron, hoot of sleepy owl,
all is beauty. I'm enchanted and beguiled.
Sing me eagle's shriek and Old Wolf's howl.
Sing me a song of river, green and wild.



A pantoum for Hannah's prompt at Real Toads: Transforming With Nature's Wonders. And shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Not On the Evening News

Steve Jurvetson photo


We won't see it on the evening news,
corporately controlled,
because corporations are not about justice.
They are about profit.
And profit requires an unaware population.

So we won't see on the news
that rivers catch on fire from fracking,
which releases methane into the water,
which can then be set alight.

Ruling powers suppress clean energy inventions,
have done for decades,
fight tooth and claw to maintain
dependence on oil,
cite "the economy",
hope we don't figure out
we don't need oil at all.
Why aren't governments leading
the switch to clean energy,
which would provide
millions of jobs world-wide,
plus give the planet (and us)
a fighting chance?

It isn't on the news that tigers,
(an endangered species),
are "farmed" to make alcohol,
their bones marinated in rice wine
for eager connoisseurs.
They don't want us to know
there are now more farmed tigers
than tigers in the wild,
4000 farmed,
3300 in the wild,
not many, either way.

Does anyone tell the starlet
that an ostrich died
so she could walk the red carpet
with her designer bag?

The big secret not many speak of is
that our immense, beautiful Mother Ocean
is dying: from our dumping, our plastics,
our effluent, pollution, radioactive waste.
Dying from our assumption
that there will always be More,
that our need  (our greed) is paramount.

Has humanity abandoned spaceship earth,
that only human want has any worth?

And, still, it can get worse.

There is a man
who makes my hair stand on end
every time he speaks.
If the unthinkable happens,
and he's the one in charge,
we will truly be up Shit Creek.
And he will be the guy
holding the match.


source: ForceChange.com

energy suppression cases: rense.com

A rant, after reading about the rivers, the tigers and the ostriches yesterday morning. For Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Secrecy. There is so much the general public doesn't know - that corporations (and governments ruled by corporations) don't want us to know, that I could go on and on.  But this is enough to ponder, for today.

Monday, May 2, 2016

This Poem Is a Wild Woman


This wonderful picture of Wild Woman
was created for me by Ellen Wilson of Ella's Edge

This poem is a wild woman,
knocking down invisible inner walls,
the better to observe the sky of mind.
This poem is agitated,
the inner wild a climate of unrest
when too far away from the untamed places.
Attuned to the call of the Raven,
the howl of the wolf,
this town full of monster trucks and logging rigs
assaults her senses, she feeling
as alien as a cougar
inexplicably materializing
on a sidewalk in the middle
of this grey little industry town.


Where is her soul’s home?
Deep, deep, in the wild places
where only the creatures live.
Sorceress of the midnight moon,
follower of the shaman’s path,
she drums a primal beat
that speaks “Home! Home!”
with a stick carved from her breastbone,
chants incantations to earth, air, water, fire,
prays her spirit guides will lead her well,
back to the ocean’s roar and the forest’s
sacred, hidden trails.


While waiting, Wild Woman
makes her escape in a poem:
sings to the trees, communes
with restless spirits, ululates with owls,
flies up and away over the mountain pass
every morning, every eventide,
to where the wild things are,
always and forever, forever and always,
a lover of rainforest and ocean-song,
she knows where she belongs.

Confined, her spirit finds no rest
away from her soul’s home.
Wild Woman restlessly circles and turns,
within the inner landscape,
like a too-large dog circling a too-small bed,
trying to make what does not fit, fit,
too tight the wrappings that keep her
from flying free,
for she has always been a seeker,
now hoping to find, one last time,
what has for so long been sought.

This poem was written in March, following the instructions of my friend Elizabeth Crawford of Soul's Music , as featured in our chat at Poets United.