Thursday, October 6, 2022

Okay, Pussycat

More afraid of us, with good reason,
than we are of him, he crouches,
assessing the level of threat.

Okay, Pussycat, we're going.
This man is wise in the ways of the wild.
He carries only a camera, not a gun.
He leaves hastily upon encroaching
on a wild one's habitat.

When wild creatures look at us,
I can see our betrayal of them
in their wary eyes.
The Two-Leggeds are heedless,
and we are everywhere.

There is no rain this fall.
Not enough water in the rivers.
Thousands of dead salmon litter the riverbanks.
Because we like our big trucks and cars
and can't connect the dots.

Humans need houses and more and more
and more land. Voracious, we grab it all,
the dominant arrogant species,
who refuse to hear the voices of the wild,
and so will one day finally realize:
we are all nature's creatures,
and will share the wild ones' fate.

Monday, October 3, 2022

This Is What I Have Heard


This is what I have heard:

The seas will rise in a single night,
as high as apartment buildings,
and will sweep back out with everything
- armchairs, SUV's, bodies, trees -
in its voracious maw.

My sweet village will one day swim out to sea.
My shelf of books - the work of my lifetime -
with all my poems about the climate crisis
 - be warned!  I wrote fruitlessly, endlessly -
will make good reading for sharks.
It is possible the entire island might
one day disappear and the mainland
will become the new coast. (In fact,
a futurist once told me, when I lived there,
longing for the sea, that when the poles melt,
the ocean will roar through the Fraser Canyon,
and the Okanagan will become its shore.)

The time of fires and floods is at hand,
as the ancients prophesied. And still
we carry on as if we aren't walking
the fine line at the edge of a cliff,
in danger of falling. In danger of it
crumbling under us. In danger of
being swept away.

This is what I have heard:

Human nature learns everything
the hard way, and won't change
until forced to. I'd have hope
if we elected indigenous grandmothers
all over the world
to clean up this mess. Grandmothers
understand about cleaning up messes,
and how to nurture life so it can survive.

This is what I have heard:

Before the storm, all the chickens
found somewhere to hide. All the gulls
sat on the sand facing out to sea -
a clue that big winds were on their way.
A dolphin got swept in and left behind
on somebody's couch.
Many animals are moving north
to higher ground. Humans, who do not
prepare well ahead of time, cry
bitter tears at all the clean-up.
And, when the whole world
needs cleaning, how many will be left
to do the work of relearning
how to live on a finite planet
that can provide for our need,
but not our greed?

I took the first line from the poem "Rain at Night" by W.S. Merwin. For earthweal: A Lyre for a Changing Earth. The dolphin was poetic license. But I do wonder, as always, how many non-human sea and land creatures were impacted by the storm. The unseen, uncounted dead.

Saturday, October 1, 2022



If there be loons here,
then, they are hiding,
perhaps in the tall fronds along the shore
where I walk no more
with you beside me.
Once we heard a beaver slap his tail
like cannon-shot,
the birds startling from the trees,
your ears perking up,
wolfish and knowing.

It is lonesome here,
without you,
my old pal.
Yet yesterday, I breathed in
a deep draught of dry, crackly leaves
and, in that moment,
was purely happy.

Life goes on.
We were two souls, travelling.
We are still two souls, travelling,
just on different planes,
and I can't find a loon anywhere,
for solace at Loon Lake.

A poem from 2015, to be shared with earthweal's open link, as this new October begins. The lagoon in Port Alberni is alongside a forest trail Pup and I walked so often through October afternoons.

Friday, September 30, 2022

The One Who Speaks of Pictures In the Sky


John Woods/Canadian Press photo

The One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky
can see the faces of the lost ones, the ones
who never made it home. Tears are sorrowing
for the children, whose pain, whose cries,
were not heard then, but are
still being felt and heard today.
He hears the voices of the ancestors,
grandfathers and grandmothers, on the wind,
crooning "Stand strong. Stand tall." 

With her papoose on her back, she sings
a soft lullaby for all the children
pulled from their mothers' arms,
taken to cruel, dark hallways far from home.
The small child on her back
waves a tiny hand. I think of
all the small hands and hearts
those years ago, and the black robes as cold
as ice who caused so much pain.

He speaks his pain with power and strength:
addressing the Monster that swallowed his youth
and tried to erase his culture. When he
returned, all grown, and stared at the school,
he did the impossible. "Monster,
I forgive you," he said. "This is where
I earned my diploma of survival."

I listen in awe at the stories of
a beautiful people, who have suffered
and overcome so much
and who still love to laugh.
I hear you. I see you. 
Your beauty, your courage, shines.
Your drum is the heartbeat
of Mother Earth. Your song is Truth.
May we mamalthni hear you well.

Today was the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.

The Honourable Murray Sinclair, speaking at the event, was introduced as the One Who Speaks of Pictures In the Sky. He was chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation commission.

The Monster refers to the powerful poem "Monster", about residential school, by survivor Dennis Saddleman.

Mamalthni is the Nuu-chah-nulth word for white people.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Somewhere You Took a Turning


Beached pilot whales

you took a wrong turning
and others followed.
You lie growling and clicking
on the sand,
at the mercy of the same species
who are trying to help
as destroyed the world
you once swam through
with ease.

A bucket of water
for momentary relief
will never be enough
to make reparation
for our fouling of
the seas.

we took a wrong turning
and others followed,
and now we can't seem 
to find a way
back to the garden
of that better

230 pilot whales beached themselves in the second 
mass stranding event this past week in the
Australian state of Tasmania.

Scientists say noise pollution, overfishing and warming seas - all human-caused factors - contribute to the many strandings seen along beaches in recent years. Half of the beached whales above are still alive and rescue efforts are being made, but the scope of suffering for the whales is devastating.

Shared with earthweal where we are doing an ekphrasis challenge as Brendan prepares for a major hurricane bearing down on the state of Florida. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

When the World Was Young


In the lifetime before the lifetime before this one,
and again in the lifetime before that,
I danced under the blue sky in the sundance,
when I and the world were young.

The beat of the drum sang in my blood,
and my feet moved in joy,
and I danced
and I danced
as if it would last forever,
when I and the world were young.

The Old Ones smiled on me
with kind eyes, but with sadness too,
for their dreams foresaw suffering
for the people.

Over in the meadow, grey wolves flitted
in and out among the Standing People,
paws prancing high,
and the backs of the buffalo
carpeted the earth
in the days
when I and the world were young.

And now I live again
in an alien skin,
in a world grown cold.
The buffalo are gone and all that moves
is made of metal.
And I am an Old One
with kind, sad eyes,
watching the young dance
in a world gone mad,
and the ancient spirits are crying still,
remembering the days of
dancing under the sun
when they and I
and the world were young.

From 2015, shared with earthweal's open link. I wrote it after attending a Christmas concert at a First Nations school. The young lad above was one of many students, dancing for the animals in a circular dance called Everything Is One. So beautiful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022



Ninstints, Guardians of Haida Gwaii
BBC photo

Weathered and leaning,
the guardians stand,
testament to the first people
of the land.

There are spirits here.
One can feel the energy
of times long gone,
and, when the wind is blowing,
one can sometimes hear
the wailing
of an ancient people, 
all that happened

They lived here
when the earth was young,
laughing, happy
under the sun.

Their totems tell
their story.
When you step onto the sand,
walk with reverence,
and listen
to the voices
of the land.

Ninstints is a small island off the coast of Haida Gwaii. The ancient totems are guardians of the land, now uninhabited by humans, and protected. In 1981, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A friend visited there and when I said "you must have felt the energy there" she replied "I could hear it, too." She said she could hear wailing, the spirits mourning - the entire village was wiped out by smallpox after the white man passed through.

For Brendan's prompt at earthweal : A Map of History's Mysteries