Friday, August 7, 2020

CURRICULUM VITAE OF A STRUGGLING WORLD

The night trump was elected,
I went to bed disheartened,
knowing a nightmare lay ahead. 
(Even so, I never dreamed how bad.)

The divisive rhetoric is constant;
it has changed us.

My voice at first resisted, outraged.
Over time, I grew weary and discouraged.
(That is the strategy; it works.
Keep the uproar coming; no one
can muster the moments of clarity
needed to resist.)

The climate crisis is still happening;
we have just been too distracted
to pay attention.

My poems have all become poems of grief:

Tahlequah, Mother Orca,
swimming a thousand miles
with her dead calf on her nose,
expressing our collective heartbreak;

children in cages at the southern border
(still in cages. Is anybody helping?)

The wildfires in Australia, burning up
all the koalas and kangaroos.

George Floyd.

Chantel Moore.

Takaya.

The corona virus.

The people rising up in protest;
the goons in camoflauge beating
them back, yet still they
bravely march.

The forests of California, burning.

This morning Russia is talking about
nuclear responses to perceived threats.
Really, it couldnt get much worse than that,
and they are Going There in their minds.
Will we wake one morning in the rubble?

The earth has the energy of life, 
of interdependence of all species.
It moves through its seasons struggling
against the opposing forces of human
destructiveness, misplaced power and greed.

We need everything to change.
We need leaders to lead, and care.
Mother Nature needs to get some help.

Mother Wind, sing through our
broken human hearts
a song of illumination
and transformation. 

May the ways this past four years
have changed us, change us back
into beings of light and hope once more.


Wild Writing inspired by "Curriculum Vitae" by Lisel Mueller


Thursday, August 6, 2020

August in Tofino


It is August in Tofino, and the tourists are in a frenzy. The whole town is slightly crazed, as too many people and cars overrun our tiny village. One hears the locals lamenting; one gets messages from former Tofitians saying they miss how Tofino was. I miss how it was too and am so glad I was here during those years, when we stood on the road for the trees - the largest incidence of civil disobedience (at that time) in Canadian history. The event that let the world know how beautiful it is here and began the stampede that has made it hard to live here for everyone except for the very rich.
However, I have always been a glass-half-full kind of person, and everything I love about Tofino is still here: the sweet little village, with its familiar funky buildings; the way fog and clouds play along the slopes of Wah'nah'juss; the pink sky at dawn when the world looks brand new; sunsets at the beach, and those white forever waves rolling in like white-maned horses.

I love the conscious, awakened village folk, too, so aware of the privilege it is to live in this environment, on the Ha-hoolthii of the Tl-o-qui-aht people, in this beautiful Sound, full of some of the last old-growth on the planet, home to wolves and bears and cougar, to the aboriginal guardians of the land - and to us.

The tourists come here for a season, pay thousands of dollars to spend a few days here. A motel room can cost four or five hundred dollars a night here, more for the upscale ones. Yikes. This makes finding housing and hanging on here difficult for we low-income folk. Rents are equivalent to most of our monthly incomes. We cling on like marsupials to a wavering branch.

But how rich in spirit we are, hearts expanding at the beauty we are surrounded by, immersed in, in love with. My eyes bless every beloved, familiar shape. My prayer is a constant one of gratitude: Thank You. Thank You. Thank You for this beauty, and for bringing me home a second time.



NOTES FROM AN IMPERFECT LIFE*



"Things are far from perfect.
So we may as well dive into the water
and swim with imperfection."
Laurie Wagner, Wild Writing

Things aren't perfect.
The climate is in crisis.
Wildfires and hurricanes rage.
A huge explosion just rocked Lebanon.
Oppression and corruption are everywhere.
Refugees flee homelands
in search of safety, finding none.

Everything has changed.
Masked, we walk wide swathes 
around each other,
evading the corona virus 
which stalks our days.

Everything has changed.
This isn't the life I was living,
but one that has veered off the rails
and into uneasy and fearful territory.
It is both good and bad
to be old in such times.
Good because, for me,  
there is an end in sight.
Bad, because I can remember idealism, 
optimism, hope, honour, integrity,
dreams we would change the world,
and it is hard to see how far 
we have fallen short.

Everything has changed.
This earth was once a garden,
and then we came.

Things are far from perfect.
But some things are.
Morning still dawns pink with promise.
Clouds and fog still make sweet patterns
on the slopes of Wah'nah'juss.
The white-maned waves roll,
lovely and eternal, 
into shore.

My eyes trace the beloved landscape 
with such love;
my heart is joy and pain
in the same moment: joy for the beauty,
pain for all that has gone so wrong.

We have so much work to do
and we are tired, tired, tired,
on the verge of becoming
unbelievers.
How do I stay a believer?
Sheer stubbornness.
Child of the sixties, 
those once-bright dreams of mine
still shine.
They refuse to die.


* The title is from a line in the poem "Riveted" by Robyn Sarah. The prompt is from Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner, the source of most of my poems these days.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

SORROW MOUNTAIN

                Available here



Step by painful step
I climb Sorrow Mountain,
iron bar chafing my ankles,
starvation one long pain.
My captors are cruel;
when they beat me, I pray
that my suffering will liberate
my people, and my country.

 In isolation, my mind
seeks its peace in 
memories of the past,
in one hundred thousand prostrations
in the darkness of my cell.

Will my soul achieve forgiveness
for the oppressors of my people?
The Dalai Lama's face before me,
eyes wise and kind.

If I do not die, I will continue to climb:
my duty to my people, clear,
my beliefs holding firm.
Step by painful step,
I climb Sorrow Mountain,
watering its rocky path
with brave and loving tears.

May my suffering
be for the benefit
of all sentient beings.
May my pain
help to liberate
my people and Tibet.



I am reading Sorrow Mountain by Ani Pachen and Adelaide Donnelley, the story of a warrior nun who suffered greatly and courageously during the invasion of Tibet. She survived years of imprisonment to finally reach Dharamsala, and the Dali Lama. 

Reading about the cruelty of oppressors, I reflect upon how many places in the world - including North America - where people are made to suffer greatly simply for being who they are. 


Monday, August 3, 2020

STRANGE WORLD


[Apathy, Denial and Hope, oh, my!]

s events conflate, crisis upon crisis,
opulations shut down, overwhelmed,
A very effective strategy for corrupt rulers,
hat care only for power, profit and greed.
ow can we awaken to our plight,
et stay strong enough to resist? We

are not close our eyes & ears, or turn away,
ven to preserve our own well-being.
ow every vote and voice is needed.
n the voting booth, in minds & hearts, let's
ll join our voices, demanding
eaders of integrity, ethics and compassion.

ope is what keeps us moving forward,
nto a kinder, and more caring path.
eople of the earth, let's rise up, singing,
xit this strange time, dream a better tomorrow.


Well, we can dream. For Earthweal, where the challenge is: Strange World. It has never been perfect. But neither has it ever been this strange, or felt this wrong. My last shred of hope is for the coming election. Just to have the nasty rhetoric stop would be SUCH A RELIEF. People not dying would be wonderful too. Stay safe, my friends.


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Owl Woman Calls From the Forest Deep



Darkling the night spins its web of stars,
Hazy the moon in its tangerine shroud.
Owl Woman calls from the forest deep:
Waken, all dreamers, from your sleep.

I rise, all unwilling, from my wildish dreams.
The midnight is peopled with the wild ones' screams.
The trees lie in wait with their strangling roots,
ready to trip my scruffy boot.

The forest moans low as the fog moves in.
When I look up, the starry heavens spin.
Dark and drear, the ground I tread upon;
When I turn to go back, the path is gone.

A poem from 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Owl Woman


Artistic Photography Dreamlike Portrait Photography by Damien Casals


Owl Woman
calls from the forest deep:
"Waken, all humans,
from your long sleep."

I wake to the sound
of the wild ones' cries.
We may be smart,
but we are not wise.

Owl Woman
bids us change our ways.
Her hope is fading;
she prays and prays.

"Time is short"
warns the owl on her shoulder.
I fear we'll grow
no smarter, just older.