Thursday, June 30, 2016

POETS ARE SKY ANIMALS



Poetry is the journal of a sea animal
living on land and wanting to fly in the air.
~Carl Sandburg

I.
In fevered dream, she sat in class,
while others attended the teacher.
The words and thoughts
came thundering ~
a hurricane of horses
she could barely contain.
Scribbling faster and faster,
she was spinning
the straw of her life
into gold. 

She knew not where
the magic came from,
only that her pen must fly,
lifting her out of the pain of her life
into the freedom of the sky.
Ignoring all else,
she wrote it all down,
the words tumbling
from who knew where,
sprinkled with magic dust. 

II.

She wrote swiftly,
lest a strange little dwarf
with an unusual name
might come to take the gift away.
She kept his name close by,
the better to hold onto
her flying pen, for the moment
of triumph
when he’d rage at her
for all she had to say.
She would laugh at
having foiled him;
he’d put his foot
right through the floor,
then hobble, defeated,  away.

Teachers praised her flow of words,
making her feel exposed and odd –
feel Other, when she wanted
to belong.
And yet she could not
stop her pen.
It spun with its own power,
all through high school,
and the years that followed,
silenced only by marriage,
oppression and trauma,
those dark years that honed
and hollowed.


III.
Then Words began again,
(for they are always
right there, waiting).
Like the Pied Piper,
poems piped her away
from the years of captivity,
onto the freedom road,
the sky her GPS,
her heart fastened on Hope,
words charting the journey
of discovery, brave and bold,
spinning, ever spinning,
pain, joy, loss, love and memory
into gold.

With thanks to Elizabeth Crawford at Soul's Music,  for some excellent mentoring.

BLACKBIRD



You came to me in the dream-time,
smiling with your blackbird eyes,
my lost love, and you asked me

Will you come back?
Yes.
Will you stay?
Yes.
Forever?
Yes.

It is the question I was waiting for,
back then,
the promise you could never make,
with so many other
beautiful birds
in the sky.

But in the dream-time, 
now that we are old
and silver-haired,
in the dream-time
you came back to me,
smiling with your blackbird eyes.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Arctic Wolves Are Howling



The Arctic wolves are howling,
the polar bears floundering from floe to floe,
their big feet trying to gain purchase on a
disintegrating edge.
Can you hear all is not well
with the land?

Skinny and exhausted, the big white bears swim
in search of survival, in a melting landscape.
As they tire and weaken, their heads
slowly sink below the surface of the sea.
Can you see their defeated eyes looking at us,
asking us why we are vanishing
the ice that holds the earth together,
pole to pole?

The G-8 talk and talk and talk,
deadlines for reduced emissions
a comfortable decade away,
buying time when there is no time.
What is the sound of the tundra thawing?

In the summer heat, across time and space,
can you hear the wolves' mournful song,
as the Arctic, drop by drop, iceberg
by iceberg, slowly dissolves
into the sea?




Birthdays



Birthdays were always streamers and balloons,
pineapple-whipped cream-angel food cakes,
jelly beans and Jello,
and kids gathered smiling around the table.

The year I turned nine, the five and dime
 had a sale on Peter Pan panties.
Ten kids lined both sides of the table. Ten gifts to open:
each one a pair of Peter Pan panties.
My first lesson in diplomacy, 
my face no doubt betraying
my true feelings.


LOL. For Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Birthdays, as Susan is celebrating her birthday today. Happy Birthday to you, my friend!


Monday, June 27, 2016

Halcyon Days, Bioluminescent Nights



Halcyon days and nights, when I first arrived
in my place of heart, every day
an adventure, an awakening. I stood, one midnight,
on a small island across the bay, the only light
from a campfire. The black bowl of sky
overhead was alive with more millions
of stars than I had ever seen.
On shore, I was waiting
for the putt-putt of the boat that would take us
back to town. Finally, it came.

I stood in the water, in my shoes, looking up
at the impossible distance I needed to reach
my leg up and over, while the other stayed in the water.
Just barely, I  hauled myself up and in -
a feat of willing feet, and will.
Then we were off. Slowly, I became aware
that the wake behind the boat was alive
with a miracle of glowing colourful dancing lights.
"Bioluminescence!" the others oo-ed and ahh-ed,
as I added one more miracle to the
cornucopia of raptures
flowing into my soul.

How lovely to remember, those years when I
sailed through bioluminescent nights,
and halcyon days,
the song of the waves exultantly singing
in my soul.


for Gillena's  prompt at Real Toads: A-Sailing We Will Go

WOLF DREAMING



This cool picture was made for me by
Ella Wilson, the artist who blogs at Ella's Edge.
It is one of my treasures.


Four white wolves live in my heart,
four pillars of my soul,
like Earth, Air, Fire, Water.
They came in dreams,
in my sorrowing, to bring me peace,
to remind me that, in Spirit, love never dies,
death is just another room, behind the veil of sorrow.
My grieving has been for the cutting of
my last link to wilderness and joy,
as if, with my black wolf’s  death,
I lost the wild we both loved so much as well,
and that wild, free Self that I was there, with him.
I grieve the me that I lost, unhappy with
the me still sitting here, suspended,
in this tame, grey, unexpected existence,
where I am less than all I can be,
stranded because of fear and age,
disability and poverty,
of diminishment of spirit,
and the slow falling away
of hope.

In my dream, I gave White Star a bowl of milk,
which she received, in trust.
Her nose nudging my knee, a message
from my boy, to say that he
still thinks of me.


I wrote this last week, during a moment of recognizing some home truths. This poem took me Deeply In. But I emerged with more awareness, and am now feeling much stronger, so no worries............

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Walking With Duck Feet


animal-dream.com

We enter this world
like a duck with its feet on backwards,
tumbling and falling
as we learn to make our way.

We leave this world
in much the same manner,
hobbling on our walkers,
(if we're lucky).
What we learn in the years in between
is resilience,
and how to cackle.



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Wolf Howl In My Heart




White Wolf steps into a trap and is caught.
Thrashing, in terror, she hears the hunter
crashing through the trees.
She tries to hide, caught, no escape.
Slowly, eyes fixed on him, she sits.
She raises her snout and howls
a sorrowful long howl,
a goodbye to the life she has loved,
so fraught with peril
because of his kind.

She is shimmering, beautiful.
He can see her breath in the cold air.
He hesitates. But then,
"I shot her anyway," he tells
the wolf researcher,
whose heart sinks in the telling,
as my hope sinks, in the reading:
another beautiful life, snuffed out
without reason.


I am reading "Wolf Spirit" by Gudrun Pfluger, about her research work among the wolves of western Canada.

Flight



I had eyes that sought romance,
then I married the loveless.
I sought a home to wrap around me
that became a cage.
Like the lion, I feared and loathed
the cracking whip.
Like the raven, I grew shrewd
and plotted flight.

Does every dream have to die
to gain us wisdom?
I packed my traveling bag with 
a lust for freedom,
pulled on my walking boots,
started down Liberation Road
on dancing feet.


for Susie's prompt at Real Toads: to write a poem in the style of Amber Rose Tamblyn, a girl who packs a lot of punch into her fantastic poems.  Wild Woman harked back to the 70's and remembered a few things. LOL. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ringed By Wolves

Council of Wolves Celtic candle holder 
(I happen to own one) available here.

Lazily, I turn
the kaleidoscope of my mind round
and round. A giraffe mama's long neck
bends down to kiss her baby's head. A line
of elephants parades ponderously past, trunk to
tail. And tawny golden lions lie amber
in the setting sun, as twilight falls
over the savanna.

Two more turns, and there is ocean: wild waves
galloping in to shore like white-maned horses. Eagles
spiraling lazily in the air currents, wind-surfing
the sky. And Old Growth standing sentinel
on this last pocket of pristine wilderness
before the logging trucks roll in
to carry it all away. The wolves,
with diminished homeland, are thin and hungry,
and wrestling seals for a hard-won dinner for their cubs.
My heart loves the wild ones, but my eyes
see clearly: my loves are in peril.
The wild ones are Third World citizens
in our young-souled country. I would ask for
forgiveness, for we know not
what we do. But before forgiveness must come
protection, restitution and restoration,
(as with First Nations, who are waiting,
along with the land and its creatures,
the ocean and its dying denizens,
for all wrongs to be made right.)

In a dream-state, the journey from
doormat to healer unfolds, frame after
frame. Drums sound,
owls hoot, shamans chant, and wolves
sing their kinship song to me, for they
have claimed me for their own, recognizing
that I am more identified with wild
creatures than  uncivilized humans,
who still have centuries to go
in the evolution of soul.

I click ahead just twice more, for that is all that is
left: the unknown yawns before. But I have faith,
and trust that there will be wolves and ocean waves
within my Heaven. I will sit in the centre
of the circle, ringed by their wise loving eyes
and bushy tails, and we will speak together, in kinship,
of many things.


shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Little Death


photo by Marnie Creamer


Death says to Night,
"I do not always come at two a.m., you know.
Sometimes it's 11:15 in the morning.
Just depends on when the moving hand has writ*."

Night replies, "Every midnight,
when they close their eyes
and enter the little death* of sleep,
they are practising
for the moment
you arrive."


* "The moving finger writes and, having writ, moves on." Omar Khayyam.
* the little death ascribed to Arthur Schopenhauer. I next went to read the other poems and discovered that jabblog and I had the same idea and even a shared quote. Synchronicity.

For the Sunday Mini Challenge at Real Toads: The Sisters - Death and Night. (Formidable sisters!) Do check it out. There are some wonderful responses to this prompt.

REFLECTIONS FROM A PORCH SWING



This poem is a woman on a porch swing.
This poem is hummingbirds at the feeder,
dogs on the deck and horses in the field.
This poem is a blue-sky puffy-cloud 
afternoon in the country.

This poem is a woman on a porch swing,
rocking and swinging as her mind roves back
through the memories of all the shambling years.

This poem is a summer’s day:
hummingbirds buzzing and darting, 
dogs lazily thumping their tails,
and horses munching grass under tall cedar.

This poem has early summertime bees in it,
and flowers, and the sound of the sprinkler
swoosh-swoosh-swooshing across the yard,
to grow lush grass for the horses’ evening meal.

This poem is stillness, slowness, 
reverie, and contentment.
This poem – and this woman – know how to
see the glass half-full; sometimes brimming,
but always, stripped down to the essentials,
quenching thirst.

This poem is a summer-blue sky, 
and puffy white storybook clouds.
This poem remembers the whole story, but also is
its Right-Now story, even when the woman 
forgets to remember that,
and even though she knows 
the pages remaining are slim, 
compared to the bulk 
of the chapters gone before.
It is still the same story.

When she remembers that, 
she raises her eyes up, and up,
tracks a bird in flight, 
scans the horizon – the her-izon –
and finds much satisfaction
in sky, in dogs, in horses, in trees,
in that true blue dream of sky
she fell in love with in her childhood,
that has kept her Looking Up
(-head back, grinning at the azure vault -)
all these years.

A variation of a Boomerang Poem, created by Hannah Gosselin, and a great leaping-off place for poems.


Friday, June 17, 2016

FAIRY TALE TREASURES



When I was young,
I couldn’t imagine being brave enough
to climb a beanstalk into the sky.
But, in life, that is exactly what I did,
stepping off into the abyss,
a bemused Ms Magoo,
somehow managing to land 
more or less upright.

There were times I felt
the giant’s hot breath on my neck,
but I was nimble,
I was quick,
and hopped fast away.

The goose that lay the golden egg
eluded me.
My treasure was found
in the forest,
by the sea,
in golden friendships,
in music and the love of words,
in dogs, and all wild creatures.


My journey taught me things
I have been happy to pass along,
- not that anyone wants to listen -
they are all too busy leaping off
their own precipices.

I now sit in my counting-house,
counting golden memories.
My treasure still lies
in the heart-lift to be found
in that vault of blue fairy-tale sky,
the sheen of that
shimmering rainbow,
in windsong and the sight of
birds on the wing,
and the memories of so much love,
                        the memories of so much love……….

Inspired by Elizabeth Crawford and shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Archetype



The big bad wolf was standing by my bed.
Through slitted eyes, I saw him,
then shut my eyes, fast.
If I couldn’t see him, he wasn’t there.
I was three.

He was tall, had a long bushy tail
and sharp, dangerous teeth.
In the morning, I told my mother
I had seen him by my bed.
“That was your father,” she scoffed.
But I knew it was The Wolf.

I wanted a safe house,
one with no danger in the night,
no smiles with sharp, pointy, biting teeth,
a house that could not be blown down.
I turned left, and kept on turning:
past the oppressive, stifling marriage,
the heart-numbing traumatic relationship.
With my ducklings following me,
I found my little home at last,
stood at the door, arms crossed,
to defend its peace,
let no man in.

In time, a real wolf took his place beside me
as companion and protector.
He loved me well.
He led the way, his bushy tail
ahead of me down every forest trail,
his big paws lolloping before me
along miles of sandy beaches
stretching to forever.
Our joy was the song of the wild surf
crashing on the shore.

Our favourite time was
just before twilight,
when the sun spilled amber glow,
setting the trees aflame,
painting the mountainsides rosy pink -
eventide, when day was done,
and hearts turned homeward
towards that time of welcoming.


An Ill Wind

credit: AntiMartina



"it's an ill wind that blows no good"

Wiktionary states the saying is based on the premise that, when something is bad, someone else will usually benefit. However, it must be very bad, when nobody at all benefits.


His lizard eyes peep out
above puffy cheeks.
His words blow hot and hateful,
like a wildfire that torches
everything in its path
to scorched earth.

He is an angry wind indeed,
blowing.....
               inflaming........

Nothing good rides the currents
of this ill wind.


for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: wind power

I love the thought of wind power - a free source of clean energy, as is water and solar. But, right now, all I can think of is Mr T's cheeks, huffing and puffing. And those slitted little eyes.  Argh.      


Sunday, June 12, 2016

JOURNEY HOME

photo art created for me by


My life was a long search for home,
an escape from the things that go 
bump in the night,
an odyssey towards peace,
autonomy and freedom,
and a nest
to keep me safe.
Nature held me by the hand,
and the blue sky pointed my compass
diligently towards hope.

The middle of the journey required trust
and a mighty leap,
from inland desert to siren shores,
like a murrelet drawn unerringly to its nest,
or a migrant whale to its feeding ground.
Then there was joy; ten years of beauty,
my soul having found its wilderness home,
a big black laughing wolf dancing by my side.

Journeys, until they end,
tend to continue,
so once again I find myself
a distance from my beloved waves,
having lost homeland and wolf companion,
spirit ever attuned to the call of the sea
beyond the mountains,
heart still tethered to a black spirit-wolf,
whose paws pad forever across my heart.

The lesson: to be happy in this unexpected place,
heart suspended, and listening,
still trusting the universal plan;
to honour the place for loss and grief
within; to carry it along, and keep on walking
towards that final destination
somewhere between earth and sky.


THE CALL OF THE DRUM



The crone, wrinkled and gnarled,
with her long stringy hair,
is stirring in the forest
in her nest of leaves.

Rabbits and wolf cubs perk their ears
and the bear is arrested mid-swoop,
while fishing in the river.

The Old One is sounding the drum,
its reverberating thrum
calling the Council of All Beings
to the river's edge.

Her drumbeat is calling me
out of the grey town.
It beckons me deep
into the forest's heart,
where all is green, and silent
and sacred.

I enter the primeval sepulchre
as the world goes still
and falls away.

The way forward is written
somewhere
within that stillness.

I need but listen closely,
to find my way.


One from 2013, my friends, shared with the Poetry Pantry this Sunday morning.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Christina's World


Christina's World
Andrew Wyeth


Christina's world
was seen at the level of the grasses
she crawled across,
foot by foot,
towards the farmhouse
a lifetime away,
daunted but persistent,
accompanied by butterflies
and whispered windsong.
She thirsted
for all that was not.
She did not know that,
through his brushstrokes,
she would live
forever.


I have always loved Andrew Wyeth's painting of this young woman. But I had  regarded it as a romantic scene, rather than a testament to survival, until I read that the young woman neighbor he painted had been crippled by polio and was unable to walk (according to Wikipedia). He saw her crawling across the grass, and was moved to paint her.

posted for Margaret's prompt at Real Toads : the art of Andrew Wyeth

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Elephant Bones




They come, trunks swinging,
the matriarch, her daughters,
and their young,
swaying along the grassy veld,
ponderous steps shaking the earth.

She startles, the Old Grandmother,
when she comes to bones alongside the path:
elephant bones, the bones of her kin.

Distress, low rumbles among the herd,
swaying from side to side.
Delicately, then, their trunks
whiff along the line of bones,
sensing, detecting, remembering.
They understand a trauma happened here.
They smell Man on the bones, on the land.

With love, the Old One tenderly lifts a bone,
carries it a little way,
then brings it back and gently sets it down.
She is saying she wants the bones 
to rise and follow her,
to be back in the body as once they were,
and walking free under 
the arching African sky.

As she sets it back down, she acknowledges
that, sadly, this cannot be.
She gathers her herd, calls to the little ones,
and, with a low rumble,
slowly, reverent with remembering,
full of sad thoughts,
they all move on.


I wrote this poem before finding the film, as I knew this from reading about elephants, that they  recognize the bones of their kin, when they pass sites where elephants have been poached and killed. They stop and spend hours with the bones, caressing and smelling them with their trunks. Sometimes one will lift a bone, carry it for a few moments, then return it to where it had fallen. As if in recognition of a clan member, and their wish that this had not befallen her. Elephants remember long, and feel much. 

The only thing I disagree with in the video is the statement that only humans and elephants honour their dead in this way. I know other animals do as well. I have seen it in wolves, dogs, horses and cats, and have read about it in lions. Knowing all animal families care about each other, I am certain all species feel grief at the passing of their kin. 



Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine



Your dad said
you were not alone,
that night,
beaten, bleeding,
tied to that fence
under the great curved bowl of
that starry Wyoming sky.

He said your friends were with you:
the moon,
her face turned to you with love,
the stars you gazed at in wonder
with your dad 
as a child on family trips;
the sky you loved was with you,
and so was God.

You were a gentle soldier
in the army for gay rights.
From the ashes of your death,
your mother rose like a Phoenix,
determined that some good,
some healing,
would come out of 
your cruel and senseless loss.

Your mom and dad were there,
when President Obama signed into law
the Matthew Shepard and James Ayrd Jr.
Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
And so your life is remembered,
Matt, as you so longed to be,
as someone whose being here
made a difference.

Matt, you must smile
to know that, now,
just as you once dreamed,
the whole country
knows your name.


An oblique attempt to write about commitment for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif. I just watched the documentary Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, about the young man's brutal beating and subsequent death in 1998, a hate crime perpetrated because of his sexual orientation. His mother became, with that event, committed to having some good, some change, come out of her son's death. She became an activist and speaker for gay rights. She and Matt's father were present when President Obama signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009.  The Matthew Shepard Foundation: Embracing Diversity  is here.

source: Wikipedia


Saturday, June 4, 2016

ELEGY TO THE WILDLANDS





Mother Earth,
your clearcut slopes bleed mud and tears.
Down into the valley wander
displaced bear and wolf,
who are shot for intruding
into "our" territory,
though their perplexing plight is
how far we have encroached 
into theirs.

My heart hangs heavy
with how badly we have
ravaged you,
razed the beauty of your wild lands,
hunted to extinction
your beautiful wild creatures.
We have even endangered 
the inoffensive butterfly.
What manner of species are we?

I listen to the loons' peaceful song
and try not to think about
the poisoning of your lakes and rivers
and oceans,
which still sing so beautifully.
The trees still hopefully
bring forth their buds 
and miraculous bounties,
the animals still try so hard to live,
no matter how badly
we have husbanded
the bountiful earth 
that was given to us
with more than enough
to share.

I can find no acceptance in the desecration.
Our souls know
we should be much better than we are.
The planet spins,
strangling in our emmissions.
Our hearts grow as polluted
as the coral reefs, the fish in the sea,
the hunted whales,
the sky above the billowing 
industrial smokestacks.
Even as I watch the beauty of the loons
at Narrow Hills,
hear their beautiful song,
in my heart, with pain,
I am already
waving goodbye.


for Gayle's very cool prompt at dVerse: to write an elegy, which is supposed to contain sorrow, admiration and acceptance. I stumbled over the acceptance part for, when it comes to the wild lands, the current situation must change, if planetary life is to survive at all. The clock is ticking.

also posting this for Poets United's Poetry Pantry, where you will find good reading on a Sunday morning.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Grandma



A wise owl lived inside
my grandmother,
looking out through her round-rimmed glasses.
When she looked at me,
I thought she could see all my transgressions,
laid bare, like God could.

Her words carried weight
because they came from wisdom, and love.
She wanted me to be
better than I had much hope of being,
in those days,
when home was not safe,
and my spirit shriveled.

Mostly, she saved my life,
by showing me that life could be
peaceful, and ordered, and calm.
Her little cottage was so quiet,
you could hear the clock 
on the kitchen windowsill
ticking all over the house,
like a heartbeat,
steady and true.
In those days,
she was my North Star.

She was infinitely kind,
and raised all of us grandkids, one by one,
telling us of a mythical little girl
called Vivian, who would never do
the kinds of naughty things we did, 
never in a million years.
We all hated Vivian,
prim and proper
and impossibly good.

She told us stories of ghosts and goblins,
and showed us blue fairies dancing in the flames
of the gas fireplace on winter afternoons.
She believed in us, until we grew old enough
to believe in ourselves.

She showed me the kind of peaceful life
I wanted for myself,
and tried to create,
once I had left childhood behind
and made homes of my own.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif:  significant adults in a child's life. For me, that was my Grandma.