Saturday, June 16, 2018

This Poem is a Broken Heart

This poem is a father, sitting in the sun and laughing.
This poem is a sunny summer's day,
the day before his world collapses.
This poem is a boat sinking,
along with  his brightest hopes.

This poem is a father, sitting in the sun,
laughing, on a day when all is well,
when life is as it should be.

This poem is a sunny summer's day,
just one day later,
the sound of helicopter blades whirring,
and many boats searching the shorelines
from dawn till dark.

This poem is cries for help in the night,
a boat sinking, one man plucked from the water,
one swimming to shore, three young men missing.
This poem is the village
collectively holding its breath,
waiting for word,
keeping hope alive.

This poem is the family,
grouped on the dock,
waiting for their young men
to come home.

This poem is 24 hours later,
still searching, still waiting,
the helicopters making fewer passes.
This poem is a father's aching heart,
praying for his sons' safe return.

At two in the morning on Friday, a small boat went down off Tofino with five young men on board. People on land heard cries for help and the Coast Guard was sent out. They plucked one man from the water. Another swam to shore. Three men are still missing. They searched with helicopters and many boats all day yesterday along all the shores, and a scaled back search is going on today. This father's two sons are among the missing. I dont yet know who the third man is, but in this close-knit community, this is heartbreak all around. It is beyond imagining, what this family is going through. In just an instant, everything can change. Appreciate the ordinary days, my friends. Life can change in an instant.

I adapted Hannah Gosselin's Boomerang Metaphor Form for this poem.

shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. Come join us on Sunday. And for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads - fathers and sons.

My Heart, a Tiger's Nest

My heart yearns toward a monk's cell
perched on the edge of a mountain cliff,
halfway between here and heaven.

Yet here I am, in a grey little town
in the valley,
trying to fashion my unwieldy life
into something
that does not give offence.

My challenge, the cliff-walk
of understanding the distance
between where you are
and where I long to be.

My practice, the lighting of incense
and, sometimes, hearts,
with the weaving of words.

My sorrow, the mantra of my soul:
how to tame
the tiger's nest of
keening for all that was,
all that may never be again,
so it may bed down
in peace.

A poem from 2015, thatI will share with the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


The Saffron Road - A Journey with Buddha's Daughters by Christine Toomey from Christine Toomey on Vimeo.

What is the magic
that picks me up by the scruff of the neck
when I open the pages of a book?

Meet me in Kathmandu.
I will arrive leading an elephant
I have liberated from her chains.
Twenty-six years, she lay on the pavement,
without hope.
Her eyes now gleam:
with relief, with awakening trust, with
-amazingly – kindness.
Although I am human,
like the beings who chained her,
she is willing to believe that
I mean her no harm.
Elephants forgive.

On a rooftop, above a monastery,
at three a.m.,
nuns are practicing kung fu.
Even the birds are not awake.
It is four hours until morning tea.
Below, monks’ rumbling mantras
grumble sonorously.
All is peaceful, conscious, awakened.

I have arrived along the Saffron Road
in the pages of a book,
where I live with delight

as the slow hours pass.

At the monastery,
the youngest nun is six years old.
Her parents brought her to the nuns
to gain good karma,
and also because
there is no money to feed
so many children.

She is nervous, watching the other nuns
to see what she is supposed to be doing.
In her bed at night,
I wonder if she remembers home,
cries silent tears,
feels unmoored,

I turn the page,
and now, so soon, it will be eventide
in the purple mountains,
smoke rising from the chimneys
and the cooking fires,
as amber light falls on stone walls,
and pilgrims make their weary way

I must make my own way home.

Meet me in Kathmandu.
We will speak of the magic
of books that lift us up and away,
taking us on magic carpets
to the land of our dreams.

Today the power was out from the minute I got out of bed until almost suppertime. I recognized my dependence on technology. I began reading The Saffron Road, A Journey With Buddha’s Daughters, by Christine Toomey, who travelled the globe  to tell the stories of Buddhist nuns. The book took me right into its pages.

For Karin’s prompt at Real Toads: to use the phrase “What is the –" as a starting point for our poem. I dont know how to make the film go on top of the doggy faces. But it is a beautiful glimpse of a mysterious way of life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Contemplating the Prompt of the Day

Wild Woman contemplates
the prompt of the day: lust

defined as
a passionate desire for ________

She cogitates.
Kindness to animals?
More years on the planet?
A dog?
All of the above.

Carnality has never been
her strong suit.

She shrugs,
remembers a blackbird heart
she truly loved and swiftly lost,
proclaims her kinship with the wild,
her unwavering companionship
of wave and shore.
Too late for lust,
she does not wish for

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Lust

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Recipe Has Always Included Sorrow

What I Know For Sure:

that even the worst times were necessary
to teach me the lessons 
my soul needed to learn

that it doesn't matter 
how much or little you gather,
in life, only what you give

that each cell, particle, tree, rock, 
each being, in the world
is connected to every other, and to me

that even in times 
when we feel most alone,
we are being guided and helped

that, in order to be truly  
happy and at peace,
we must follow our hearts, 
even when it scares us ~
especially if it scares us!

My Memory Bowl, this lifetime,
got filled to the brim
with laughter, with song,
with wonder, with broken hearts,
with lessons learned, and taught,
with miracles and serendipities,
with golden friends,
with broken trust which taught me
to trust myself,
with a dream in my heart
that forced me to take risks,
with a search for love
that taught me to love all people,
with a journey made
and the price I was glad to pay.

I sift through the bowl
like a goblet of grapes, plucking one
and then another:
those long-gone people,
from a gentler time, which was,
in fact, the harshest of times,
reviewing my heart’s perilous
yet joyous passage
from yesterday
into tomorrow.

The recipe, my friends,
has always included

Never Fully Gone

Collage created for me by my friend,

I feel it coming, this poem I will birth
on the seventh year of your passing
from this earth.
So close to tears, I realized, of course, it is you.
Just how much and how long I would miss you,
back then I never knew.
Like a burrowing owl, you have lodged in my heart,
like a prickle-burr that hurts, from which 
I do not want to part.
You live there, night and day, in a corner labeled Grief.
From the missing and your-being-gone
there is no relief.

Ghost voices whispering on the wind,
and wolf howls in my dreams,
you look right into my sad heart;
your wolf-eyes gleam.

The barn owl says to light the lamp
on the windowsill for you.
But how can you find me in this place
that was never home to you?

I'm homeless in the universe, alone, without you
and I fear you're out there somewhere,
feeling homeless too.
Lead me back, wolf-spirit,
to the land we loved together.
I will walk there again
as we did in any weather.

When I can hear the rhythm of
the turning of the tides,
my spirit may still find a home
once more, where peace abides.
Maybe your ghost shadow
will accompany the hours
as I walk forever beaches that,
for a time, were ours.

*** *** ***

I went to bed and slept, and then they came:
four beautiful, snowy white wolves
who already knew my name.
The first one came close,
oh! the beauty of her face!
pushed a friendly nose towards me,
as I stood still, accepting,
but respectful of her space.
We were at the beach, the wolves and I.
A visitation from the spirit-world
of the not-alive,
and from deep in my spirit,
which needs both wolves and ocean waves
to thrive,
because it has never been enough
simply to survive.
The barn owl called sleepily
in the early light to wake me.
Four white wolves live within me now,
never to forsake me.

***   ***   ***

And you?
big, black, laughing, hilarious
creature of the dawn?
You live in my heart
forever, now.
You are never
fully gone.

This is not the anniversary of Pup's death on January 15, 2011. But somehow I feel like posting this poem of remembering.  When I first wrote it, I was still living at the farm, where Pup had never lived. I worried that his spirit had remained in our former yard, across the street, as I could not feel his presence. I hope he has followed me back to the beach that he loved so much, that his spirit rejoices once again in the song of the waves.

Shared with Real Toads in the Tuesday Platform

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Greenly Greens

When you enter the forest,
walk with an open heart,
with good intention.
Greet the tree beings,
and all who live there.

The forest knows
you are coming.

At the trailhead,
it sends messages about you
through its root system.
If we walk unthinkingly,
with heavy boots,
the ferns and bushes 

So tread softly,
with kindness.
Let your good heart
bathe in green energy.
Breathe in peace.
Breathe out gratitude.

Thank all that is alive
in the greenest of greens,
from gigantic cedar
to lowly slug.

you are walking
in their territory.

I was taught this by a young Nuu chah nulth woman, Gisele Martin, who gives workshops about the history and protocals of the first people to live on this land, who were and are its guardians for thousands of years.

I am fortunate to have this forest a short walk from my apartment. There is a long interconnected system of trails, so that many can enjoy the peace of the forest. Shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. Do come and join us.