Monday, April 19, 2021

Hope Is a Radical Act


"Hope takes root 
in suffering and sadness."
          - David Montgomery in his essay
            in the Washington Post

Hope is a radical act,
an act of love,
a refusal to be defeated,
a promise to the planet,
an offer to help,
right here, where I am,
that says: I see you, each struggling
tree and wolf and salmon.
Your right to live is
just the same as mine.

Hope does not turn away
in despair. It steps out the door,
joins the blockade, writes the
letters, signs the petitions.
It holds out its hand,
says "How can I help?"

Hope is the Raging Grannies
on the steps of Legislature.
It is the refusal to allow
the Earth's destruction.
It is the peoples' voice
telling government
we demand climate action.

Hope cleans the beaches,
greens the planet,
grows a garden, saves an old tree,
unblocks the small creek where
fish are trapped, writes the poems,
sings the songs, finds homes for the strays.
Hope puts huge doses of positivity
and action and willingness
out into the world, an energy
that travels far, and catches fire.

May it spread through our billions
of hearts. May our billions of hands
reach out to heal Mother Earth
right where we are. May the grey clouds
of hopelessness draw back
to reveal a morning shining down
on Earth Warriors, encouraging the bees,
removing plastic from the ocean
and turning it into roads, restoring
wildlife corridors, planting forests,
walking more, driving less,
feeding the hungry and dispossessed.

May that morning sun rise upon
an earth that's truly blessed,
each of us doing what we do best.
Loving the Earth with hands and hearts,
where our Mother needs help,
we find a way. There is a little 
prayer I pray:
Let's turn all the guns into ploughshares,
and with them till the hearts of  humankind,
so together we can turn the soil
of Mother Earth
onto a better, kinder,
more all-inclusive

Day 19

for Brendan at earthweal whose wonderful essay prompt, in honour of Earth Day, is to write affirmations of ways of restoring Earth.

Sunday, April 18, 2021



Entering the forest,
there's a feeling of connection,
of being welcomed in
to a green and peaceful world
where everyone is kin.
Tall cedar,
spruce and hemlock,
candelabra snags,
hollow root-beds
for small critters
and mossy, rocky crags,
are homes for the wild ones
- squirrels and owls,
wolf and bear -
there is a kinship
in the forest
all we trees and beings

Fern and salal,
and old man's beard,
mushrooms beside my boot,
fiddleheads and swamp lanterns,
sedge, salal and root;
- nurse logs thriving
with new growth
and ever-thrusting life -
in the forest,
all is hushed
and absent of all strife,

and I, who am the go-between,
from this other-world
to mine,
would like to polish up
the green,
and make the whole world shine,
spread this blissful peace
to you,
in just the perfect rhyme
that will save
these ancient trees
that are
as old and rare 
as time.

This forest
will soon be gone;
the town creeps closer
every day.
I hear
their silent plea,
whispered, so sweet, to me.
I walk its trails
with guilty sorrow,
and turn my eyes away.
Mea culpa, mea culpa
 that I've
no power to let them

Day 18. I used an exercise Elizabeth Crawford gave me years ago, about how to write a poem when one has no ideas. It was posted as a chat at the former Poets United in spring of 2019.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Third Wave

It's the third wave of the pandemic,
numbers rising alarmingly,
the virus now attacking the young,
who are tired of restrictions
and, ignoring them, are increasing
the likelihood they will continue
far longer.

Small businesses are closing their doors;
grandparents languish for lack of hugs
from their grandchildren; we wonder
what it will feel like to walk around
with naked faces again one day.

This morning I remembered
the tiny Suzuki violinists,
who played one night at the coffeehouse -
how adorable they were, how their mothers
stood behind them, playing their own violins;
how everyone smiled, and life was golden,
and so safe. We had never heard
of a mass shooting, in that quiet town,
in that peaceful year.

A thirteen year old with his hands in the air
is shot and killed by police, and people
quibble over what he "might" have had
in his hands just before.
A thirteen year old, shot and
killed by police. We are having
the wrong conversation.

The cherry trees, in full bloom, are full
of hummingbirds: darting, drinking joyously,
their tiny wings buzzing overhead.
I sit and watch them against the backdrop 
of cloudless blue. Anyone would think
this earth is a garden, that life is meant
to be peaceful, that we are here to share
and lift each other up.

It is the third wave of the pandemic,
and the beginning of the Sixth Mass Extinction.
My heart is heavy with remembering
the decades that brought us here;
it is lightened by small hummers
in the branches overhead,
who make me grateful for
these hours and days of peace,
the gift of white blossoms,
sunshine and blue sky: that sky
that has companioned me
all my life, and kept me
Looking Up.

Day 17

Friday, April 16, 2021

The View From Above

You once took me up
in a small plane.
We looked down on
all the islands, small and large.

From our lofty perch,
we caught our breath
to see
the gigantic outline of
a resting grey whale,
adrift in the feeding grounds
of Ahous Bay.

One day we walked the trail
across Vargas,
me stopping at every leaf and fern
to exclaim,
you worried we would miss
the outgoing tide.
(We did, and had to row hard
back across the channel.)

Now you have left this earth.
What do you see from above?
Do you see me, still hobbling about,
mouth dropped in wonder
at one more unfolding spring?

Are you glad I continue
to pen words,
that I still find you
in sunrises and sunsets
as I always did,
that even though you are gone,
your presence in my life
still shines as golden
as it ever was, when we walked
these wild beaches

The view from above
must be
 just another way
to love this earth.

Day 16

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Small Philosophers


A small, weary metaphysician
sits on my left shoulder,
muttering in my ear: "there's no hope;
clearly the world has gone mad", or:
"surely, the transformation of consciousness
will occur; as the crisis escalates,
humans will know we have to
change our ways."

She is realistic, yet stubbornly
refuses to abandon hope.

Then we turn on the news;
not much hope there,
though we are both pleased to observe
the kindness of people to each other
when things are dark and scary.
We applaud those who stand up,
reach out, object. We love the helpers.

This is what we see: a schizophrenic 
population at odds with its own inner knowing,
angry, lashing out, forgetting how to
dive within and tap into our greatness.
My small metaphysician observes
a befuddling planet full of warring factions
who see only Others, and crown Self king.

We have decided our job is
to notice the small things: how the surfer
stands up on the lip of the wave and 
slides softly down; her joyous shriek;
the kindness in dogs' eyes, their tails wagging
an endless happy-to-meet-you.
(Let's all be like dogs.)
We stop to ponder the dewdrop
on a morning leaf, six fat robins on the grass
listening for worms (we listen, too.)

Since my small philosopher and I are old,
we are free to be as odd as we please:
to pontificate or cease from speaking
altogether; to be amazed by every blossom,
every bird, the way a cloud puffs 
perfectly against the sky.

For so long we "sought the approximate
weight of sadness
," but in the end,
it is joy and beauty and the possibility 
of peace which frees us.
For, after all, what a breathtaking, beautiful,
wonderful world this is! It has been  a journey
of Amazement, of Gratitude, and of Wonder.

Inspired by "The Metaphysicians of South Jersey" by Stephen Dunn. The italicized line is his, and my closing line differs in tense from his, which was "what a world it was."

Day 15

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

When Forests Fall


When forests fall,
do the mother trees weep tears,
do the roots grip hands
under the forest floor,
cling to the earth,
resist the grapple-yarder?

Do they hurt, coming out
of the ground like
the wisdom teeth of the planet
are being pulled?

When forests fall,
thumping hard onto the earth,
wild ones fleeing in terror
as the worst predator on earth
approaches with screeching saw,
do the nature spirits rage
or only mourn, rage being
foreign to their nature?

When forests fall,
and temperatures climb,
and forked-tongue,
self-satisfied politicians
speak untruths to soothe the masses,
we speak for the trees,
   we stand for the trees,
     we plead for the trees,
        we risk arrest for the trees

and still
the forests fall.

Day 14

Sharing with earthweal's open link

Every Song a Sad Song


Today, his human, whose life has been hard,
heard his time on earth is limited,
his main worry his fur companion,
four times rescued, another survivor
of this up and down life.
Today that creature's intelligent wolfish
light blue eyes are sad.
Somehow, he knows.

Sadness in the walls; sadness in his human's voice;
sadness for the trials and losses,
all the heartbreak and courage it takes
to keep moving forward in this world
through Whatever Comes.

Some nights, a poet just can't find the words,
though all the songs in the world
are of just this: life and death,
love and loss, joy and pain.
Some nights, 
all the songs are sad songs,
in human and doggy hearts.

Day 13