Saturday, August 19, 2017

Uncomplicated Things

Some things are uncomplicated:
Air, that we breathe,
Rain, that makes things grow,
Love, that makes us feel happy and safe,
Food, to nurture us,
Wildlands, so other species  can also live.

The complications, the difficulties, the impossibilities,
Are because we  humans think we need
So much more than we actually do.

For micro poetry at Real Toads : Uncomplicated Things

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Bad news comes at us
like a falling sky.
We begin anew each morn;
each day we try.
Hope lifts our feathers,
for our spirits
were born to fly,
and, one by one,
these strangest of days
go by.

Today the sun came out;
the fog had lifted,
trees poking through the mist:
beauty golden, beauty gifted.
John Lennon and i were singing:
Let's Give Peace a Chance,
for music is joy and my feet
still can dance.

I watch the news with horror
and with tears.
The world is full
of pain and hate and fear.
But  when music from those
long-gone happy years
wafts through the gloom,
I still kick off my shoes
and dance a lick or two
across my empty room.

For Susie's prompt at Real Toads, to express dance through a poem. And shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. I am traveling today, kids, and have a youngster with me who wants a beach walk when we get home. But i will catch up with you later today and/or tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


A flood of rhetoric:
Alt-left, alt-right,
Endless discussion
About the morally indefensible;
How long until
We return to the land
Of Normal?
How long till we remember
Civil rational discourse,
Justice, integrity,


Floods and forest fires,
Displaced populations;
They say the cost of dealing
With climactic events
After they occur
Will topple the world economy.
When will they figure out
Resisting action on climate chage
On economic grounds
Will cost them more?


They say switching to clean energy would create millions of jobs. Fighting fires and mopping up floods costs billions. And we havent yet lost a coastline, whole cities, but that is coming. We are a species slow to learn, as we are seeing this week, with civil war and WWII issues resurfacing . The flood of words and argument makes my soul weary, watching history repeat itself on one hand, while failing to see the obvious on the other.

I have to believe this momentum will galvanise civilisation sufficiently to move us through to intelligent action. We live in hope.

For Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: floods

Ripples at High Tide

"Amidst the chaos, find your peace."
Turn off the talking heads, the horror,
the injustice, the insanity.

Find a green trail and follow it
down to the riverbank.
There are fish there,
swimming peacefully in verdant pools.
There is a heron,
contemplating his dinner,
intent and focused.
There are ripples spreading
outward from the centre,
the way hatred - or love -
spreads outward from its source
and gathers speed as it merges
with the tide.

There is an eclipse coming.
When the darkness lifts off,
may it take with it 300 years
- or three thousand? -
of social injustice.
May some light shine
into  the heart of darkness.
May the sickness burn off,
under the clarity
of a new sun.

In the sunrise of that
may we forge
a more lasting peace.

For the prompt at dverse: to take words from a song and write a poem. I chose the words in quotes, from a song by Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Singing Kites of Wat Opot

Photo from the book

Khleng ek - the singing kite -
flies the heavens
in gratitude for harvest.
It sings its prayers to the God of the Wind,
for dispersing the clouds and bringing the sun,
so the rice grew well.

Below, the orphans of Wat Opot
know joy,
watching Brother Kite carry
their dreams and prayers
to the heavens, 
where all their parents live.

In long gone days, the old kite masters
could fashion kites that sang in seven tones,
a glorious symphony
heard below, especially in darkness,
when the heat and clamor of the day was done.
The orphans' kites sing in three tones,
sometimes five,
a miracle of small hearts
that try to hold big dreams,
against the certain knowledge
of all that took their families

In 2014 I wrote this poem after reading In a Rocket Made of Ice, by Gail Gutradt, about the AIDS-impacted (and many HIV-positive) orphans of Wat Opot, in Cambodia. The orphanage, which now houses many orphans, and offers medical and supportive care to nearby villagers, as well as programs for the children, was begun by Wayne Matthysse, a former Marine corp medic in Vietnam. When he saw the need and responded, he had only fifty dollars in his pocket.

Now, he says he still has only fifty dollars in his pocket, but the work they are doing there, the lives they are helping, sustaining and, often times, honoring at their closing, is phenomenal.Gail has spent much time there among the children, and relays the children's stories so beautifully, that at each's chapter's closing, my heart felt a regretful ping. I grieved at the end of this journey among the children, upon closing the last page.

It is not the sadness of their plight, but the joy with which they live, that holds great lessons for the rest of us.

shared with the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wild Woman Knows What She Knows II

Wild Woman knows what she knows,
and her wisdom is hard-won,
but no one young will listen.
They'd rather live the web they've spun.


Wild Woman is finally free.
She can never again be tamed.
She is growing old disgracefully,
and refuses to be blamed.


Wild Woman is beguiled
by the beauty of the earth,
knows the things that feed the spirit
are the only things of worth.


Wild Woman knows what she knows.
With the universe, she flows,
and she'll share her wisdom well
before she goes.


The source of this poem was one I wrote in 2013, which can be found here.

Magaly at Real Toads has asked us to compose a poem from a line of one of our own poems, so I picked one that popped up today as a facebook memory. The line quoted is from the title: Wild Woman Knows What She Knows.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Voyager Heart

Baby Leo and Graham

Small puff-clouds
scoot across
the autumn sky
on the wings
of the morning.
I cross the road
to the rooster's
early cry.
From the sleepy forest
birds croak and caw,
the branches
stir and sigh.
The yard dogs bark
the new day in.
Horses whicker softly
over their apples and grain,
and the imperious marmalade cat
deigns a haughty nod
from his domain.

And I
am old enough
to be grateful for
such grace:
eyesight with which
to take this splendor in
the whole day long,
ears finely tuned
to hear
the planet's song,
legs that still carry me
though at a slower pace,
and that calm
voyager heart
that has
taken me
so far
while staying
in one place.

This poem is from 2010, when I was still living in my small trailer out Beaver Creek. I am sharing it in the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where there is always fine reading on a Sunday morning.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Ancestors Are Smiling

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his children
attended the opening ceremonies of
Tla o qui aht Days in Tofino.

The lead dancer holds up a feather
in each hand.
Behind her, the children follow,
one step, step-step-step, one step,
dipping and weaving
to the sound of the drum.

In a circle, the warriors sing
and pound their drums in a steady beat,
songs handed down
from grandfather to father to son,
songs of heritage,
songs of healing,
songs of pride in culture,
songs of coming home.

"The ancestors are smiling today,"
says the chief.
I can almost see them,
on the edge of the circle,
behind the veil between
this life and the sky world,
holding up their hands
in support of the dancers,
swaying to the beat of the drums.

for Isy's prompt at Real Toads: Writing Unseen, to write about something you can't see fully. The other day I attended  Tla o qui aht Days, a celebration of the rich culture of the Nuu chah nulth people, in whose territory we are privileged to live.

Prime Minister Trudeau was here in town on a family vacation. First Nations invited him to attend and he accepted.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tofino Summer

Fog rolling in to the harbour
in midafternoon

Wickaninnish Beach, overcast, with surfers

Always lots of driftwood

I saw bear scat on the trail
but there were so many people everywhere,
I'm sure the wildlife retreats during the day

On the path to South Beach

I stopped in at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre.
Kwisitis means "the other end of the beach".
This building, long ago, was the original
Wickaninnish Inn.

The carvings of the warriors
and the artwork are breathtaking

A scene from early times

A photo of the mudflats

Surfers were plentiful - they're
the clump of little dots on the left

Wickaninnish waves,
forever advancing and retreating
in my heart

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Art of Mending

Mending the Earth 


How to mend the heart
so grievously injured?
Infusions of love.


To help the oppressed,
we must extend our full hands
and give all we have.


How mend Mother Earth
ravaged by corporate greed?
With cupped hands, and our tears.


So much is broken
but it still can be mended:
Compassionate action.


How fight the darkness,
the tyrants, the injustice?
Pray. March. Act. Write. Vote.


for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Kintsugi: Art of Mending

Lord knows this poor world, its people and all of its creatures are in desperate need of healing, mending, turning a corner from darkness into the light.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Traveler Holds the Moon

Soul Cards by Deborah Koff-Chapin

Traveler wants to
hold life to her
like a huge
buttery yellow
She wants to
sip summer
out of a periwinkle blue cup
and listen to frogs
every evening
beside the pond
in a place
where winter
never comes.

Traveler wants
to roll downhill
with six tumbling
golden puppies,
to watch babies smile,
and old couples
hold hands.
She wants
to watch
the sun go down
beside the sea
for six thousand more
spectacular sunsets,
and wake to see
the sun peep
up over the hill
six thousand and one more
hopeful mornings.

The older she gets,
the farther she walks,
the more she wants
to hold close
all that is
and silently
slipping away.

This poem is from a Soul Card Journey I made in April 2011, with Elizabeth, during NaPoWriMo. Each morning we looked at the day's card and then I began tapping the keys, feeling like I was taking dictation. It was an amazing journey, as yet unequaled.

Shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where there is guaranteed to be good reading every Sunday morning.


Sun through smoke in Campbell River
photo by Brad Bourget

Wildfires burn;
 haze covers land,
 blanket of gloom.
Eerie sun,
apocalyptic sky,
a portent of doom.

Flames crackle,
wildlife flee,
humans displaced.
Everything burns,
a reckoning come
for the human race.

Mother Earth seeks relief
from unending heat,
but Sky has no tears.
 The land burns on,
the forests gone.
We're left
with our fears.

for  Flash 55 at Real Toads 

source Times Colonist, August 5, 2017: of 9 a.m. today, there were 122 wildfires burning in B.C. As of 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, there were 25 evacuation orders affecting approximately 7,127 individuals, plus 42 evacuation alerts impacting approximately 24,957 people.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Last Evening's Walk

Last night I wandered down to First Street dock 
to catch the sunset. 

I got there just in time. The sun was already
sliding behind the hills.

I love the misty shades of Catface 
in the evening.

Lone Cone, with Catface in the background

It is a busy harbour, between boats, planes,
kayaks, humans and water dwellers.

The far mountains turned
such a lovely blue.

As the sun disappeared,
humans slowly wandered off
to pursue their evening activities,
and I hobbled home, well content.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

In Search of Freedom

How I admire the beauty
 of this pink flower,
who blooms
despite the terror 
she has known.

It is a hard world
for girl children,
those pink bundles
who begin life 
so innocent and new.

Bloom on,
small blossoms.
Your journey
the world,
and "the stars 
are always with you*."

*The quote is from this young woman's speech. As Yeonmi Park traveled her harrowing journey from North Korea to freedom, she felt "only the stars were with us." She also said that in Korea there is a saying, "Women are weak, but mothers are strong." I do think women are extraordinarily strong, or we would not survive our lives, especially women in the Third World. I just discovered she has written a book, "In Order to Live", which I am looking forward to reading.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Cougar Annie

The poem was inspired by a quotation by David Whyte:

"I pull the bow out into the wide sea,
paddle dripping towards darkness,
and enter again
the quiet."

In the fading light,
I can just make out black shapes of trees,
tall sentinels that darkly watch me pass,
roots tangled thickly down the ancient banks
right to the water's edge,  the shore held fast.
Dip and lift,
the only sound the water's lick,
paddle moving cleanly
through the spreading flow,
the low call of a sleepy owl,
Earth falls away,
above all a starshine glow,
inverted bowl of sky at night
protects me as I go.

Around the point, I drift into Cow Bay
where the big greys are feeding
in a pod.
A whoosh, a whoosh, a whoosh,
a vast arched back, a fluke,
and then the mystical descent:
their breath sounds like
the hidden voice
of God.

Dip of oar,
scattered droplets silvered by the moon,
to the head of Hesquiat Harbour,
home so soon,
to farm and garden
mine now, only mine:
husbands and children
spilled like the sands of time,
homestead clawed from tangled bush,
hardscrabble years
in which I tamed this once wild patch
of ancient pine.

Now no one here but me,
no one to see:
an unexpected life of endless toil,
I now reflect upon.
I planted flowers and blooming bushes
all those years,
nourished with laughter,
watered well with tears,
they flourished longer
than leggy children,
grown and so swiftly gone.

Seventy years upon this place,
from young bride
to homesteader / hermit
no man stayed long beside.

At ninety
still a hard glint in my eyes
my face bird-like, alert,
intent and listening,
hands cradling the rifle,
head cocked - hush!-
ears tuned for the sound
of cougar in the bush.

72 cougar I killed over the years,
mice and chickens' necks I snapped
without a thought.
Four husbands lived beside me,
died / moved on;
eleven children brought
into the world,
eleven grown and gone.
What mattered most
this place, the life
that living in it wrought.
All gone now,
but this place meant for no other.
The blooms turn
their sweet faces up to meet me
like a lover.
The fog parts;
my canoe slips in between
the veil that hides
from this world the unseen.
These ghostly shores
I shall forever roam.
I'm Cougar Annie and I'm
heading Home.

for Karin's prompt at Real Toads: a narrative poem

I adapted this poem from  one I wrote in 2001. It is about Ada Annie-Rae Arthur, who came to Clayoquot Sound in the early 1900's, settling on rough land near Hesquiat Harbour, which she worked her entire life to tame and cultivate. She is one of the notable characters of the area, surviving four husbands,  killing 72 cougar, and raising and home schooling eleven children in the small shack seen above. Cougar Annie also operated a thriving seed mail order business, and ran a post office for those on neighboring islands. The garden is now maintained and held in trust as a heritage property.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Moon Raven

Moon Raven,
Lift me up on your bent wing.
Swoop me away, through the misty night
Into the forest.

There we will commune
With wolf-ghosts and ancient trees.
We will sing with the spirits,
Ululate with owls,
Keen with all beings over our losses,
And send out blessings and gratitude
For All That Remains.

Towards dawn,
Having divested myself of my tears,
And having rekindled my hope,
Let me curl up in the roots
Of Grandfather Cedar,
Pillow my head with moss,
Pull pine boughs over my shoulders
And escape to my haven of forgetfulness:
A dream.

One from 2014, my friends, to be shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Forever Wild

Wild Woman

In this, the Season of Lasts,
how to pluck a First out of the pot,
all new and shining?

The first time Wild Woman woke up,
after years of tapping on the inner bars,
there was a reckoning.

Her hair grew two feet overnight,
her eyes opened, astonished and amazed,
upon a whole new world:
The first of a thousand cackles
filled the air.

A Wild Woman needs a familiar,
and he appeared:
black wolf, hilarious, untamed,
he romped with her joyously
through the landscape of the wild.

Those firsts shine golden
in her memory.
Wild Women grow old.
They get tired.
But they always
remain wild.

for Paul's prompt at Real Toads: Firsts.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


is a place within.
Like a seashell,
I took sand, made it spin,
fashioned my home
on an inner sea,
and carried it
along with me.

It is a calm shore,
a gentle sea,
whose waves bring
back to me.

It's a key in the door
of a place called home,
where peace resides;
it's a brand new poem
that lifts the heart,
flies it away;
it's a morning song
of a brand new day.

It's a forest cathedral,
the song of the sea,
the hope that one day
you'll return to me.

It's an ancient pine
full of hummingbirds.
It's the feeling of home
too deep for words.

for Sumana's  prompt at Midweek Motif: Sanctuary. Wherever I live has always been my sanctuary - whichever modest dwelling I call home is always my safe place. Plus I have an inner refuge as well. In times when I have been without secure housing,  I carried home along with me till I could build a new nest. In all the years I lived away from this place I loved so much, inside my heart were the waves, endlessly advancing and retreating. In my heart, I was always walking those far beaches.

I am grateful for my present sanctuary, as I waited so long to return to this home of my heart and soul.  I am also mindful of the millions of people who are displaced and on the move all across the globe. We are blessed beyond imagining by those who struggle each day to survive.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The White Lions of Timbavati

The white lions of Timbavati
are wandering through my dreams:
star lions, sent to earth on long ago moonbeams.

Hunted to near extinction by humankind,
who know not that our fates are intertwined
with the white lions of Timbavati. 
Humanity, so blind.

These beautiful creatures commune with the aware.
They carry their message of life with us to share,
as they wander, white and luminous, 
through my dreams.

They came to earth for us and now, 
because of us, they leave.
 Their fate is linked to ours;
how unimaginably I grieve
 for those star lions, sent to earth, in trust, 
on long ago moonbeams.

I have been reading about the white lions, some of whom were rescued by Linda Tucker of the Global White Lion Trust and who live in their homelands of Timbavati, in the middle of a clutch of canned "hunting" compounds. Shamanic wisdom declares the fate of humankind is linked to that of the white lions. It is said if they disappear from the earth so will humankind. 

There are hundreds held captive in canned hunting compounds in Africa, to be shot by "hunters" in a closed area with no escape for the sum of $35,000 and a piece of their souls. There are thirteen living in the wilds of their natural habitat, protected by the Global White Lion Trust. Linda has devoted her life to protecting the white lions.

It isn't looking good, folks, for the lions or for us. But we live in hope that the global consciousness will awaken before the 11th hour. Actually it feels more like ten minutes to midnight at the moment.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not So Far To Fall

He said make-up was one thing, 
worn to a party,
but he didn't see the point, 
first thing in the morning
at breakfast.

He couldn't see that 
that pink mask I hid behind
covered my feelings of 
unworthiness, unlovableness,
It was those feelings
that made me leave,
in fear he would leave me first.

Soon after, I stopped
with the make-up.
I worked on coming home to myself,
knowing being all right within
was the most important thing.
That anyone to whom I wasn't good enough
-or enough-enough -
was not the right one for me.

A big black wolf
was the one to show me 
what unconditional love
truly was.
And no masks are possible,
when you love the wild.

At seventy,
when one might soften
the mask of aging with artifice,
I no longer care.
I face the world, 
clear and honest,
bad hair, wrinkles, and all.

From masks to authenticity
is not so far
to fall.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motiff: Masks