Monday, October 2, 2023

Desperate Beauty

Stary Night Over the Rhone
Van Gogh

In the old growth forest,
listen well.
Can you feel
the desperate beauty
of trees being all that they are
as the chainsaws and grapple-yarders
come ever closer?

Wolves and bears,
amble through the woods
and out onto the commons
- coats glossy, eyes bright
with the desperate hope
of tomorrows that
may never come -
because we took their habitat
and they have stumbled into
what was never

Everywhere I look
seems beautiful and doomed.
Everything appears to be 
pulsating with
the fear of being gone.

It feels, to me,
some days,
like everything
is saying one last long

for Brendan at Desperate Poets where we contemplate Van Gogh, and desperate beauty.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023



Renee Baker Carruthers
1918 - 1994

She had a heroic heart; she made
the hero's journey: forged in 
love and courage, honed by
loss and pain - forever hopeful.

"When times get tough,
we circle the wagons," she always said,
and of tough times
there were plenty.

She was always there, to support,
to encourage, to help. 
She bought my children and me
our little house,
so we could have a safe place
to live, somewhere
to plant our
wobbly roots, the home
in which my children grew
and then, too fast,
from which they flew.

They remember her pulling up
out front in her black LTD.
They'd spill out the door 
- one two three four -
to unload the groceries and produce
and goodies
piled in the trunk - a largesse
we only experienced
at those times.

Now that I am so
old and tired, I imagine
how tired she must have been,
doing all that helping
after so many hard years
of her own,
being there for my kids 
in their unhappy times,
when she should have
finally been less burdened.

"Too soon old, too late smart,"
my dad always said, and he was right.
How is it mothers never
get the thanks they deserve
until it is too late
for them to hear?

for Sumana's prompt at What's Going On? Mother.

Monday, September 25, 2023



Tahlequah, the orca who carried her dead calf
on her nose for 17 days, grieving, in 2018.
In 2020, she gave birth to another calf,
which survived. The warming ocean and declining
food sources are endangering the small orca
population off Vancouver Island.

After an oil spill, the mist above the inlet
is filled with the spirits of all of the animals
who have died.

Orca-, eagle-, heron-spirits,
hover over the ocean. They rest in trees
along the shore.

They carry a message for the people
of the earth: Wake up. Wake up to
Mother Earth's cries.
Heal her wounds.

After the wildfires,
the smoldering, parched earth
releases the spirits of all the animals
immolated in the flames.

They remain near the black, dead land,
near the horses' bones, the smoldering hooves,
near the deer, and rabbits, and wolves,
near the lives they loved and lost.

They hover near kangaroo bodies
caught in wire fencing,
swallowed by the flames.

After flood waters recede,
after the fires are subdued,
and all of the bodies
of drowned and incinerated creatures
have returned to the earth,
the spirits of that place
sit vigil near the watery
or smoking graves,
praying we humans will awaken
to our mandate: to restore
Mother Earth to wholeness.

They carry a message for the people
of the earth: Wake up. Wake up to
Mother Earth's distress.
Awaken to all you can be,
all you can do,
to heal the Earth Mother,
the only home of
 All Our Relations.

The idea for this poem came from reading Into Great Silence : A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas by Eva Saulitis. Eva spent twenty years among the orcas of Prince William Sound, both before and after the oil spill. The animals she grew to know like her family are now vanishing due to the after-effects of the oil spill, the intrusion of human development into their wild habitat, and the warming seas of climate change.

I think the spirits of the wild must hover around the scenes of devastation, in mourning. I hate to contemplate their terror, fleeing flames and floods, and enduring famine. 

Shared with Rajani's Climate Series. Come join this important discussion.

A Geography of Hearts


District of Tofino photo

He sits, peaceful, unhurried,
humble, wise, arranging his medicine
on the prayer cloth.

Carefully, he places them:
the rock, the antler,
the abalone shell, the sage,
the eagle wing, the tobacco,
and the pipe.

We sit in a circle, silent,
stillness deep within.
Thoughts are suspended.
Waiting is what is happening.

Then, around the circle he walks,
holding the abalone shell,
using the eagle wing
-the entire wing of an eagle -
to blow the sage-smoke
over us.

Each in turn bathes in the smoke,
lifting it to our faces, over our heads,
down our arms and legs, over our shoulders,
to cleanse our spirits.

The medicine man returns to his prayer cloth.
Sitting, slowly, he fits the pipe together,
tamps the tobacco down,
lights the pipe and draws.
He points the stem of the pipe
and breathes a stream of smoke
Above towards the sun,
Below towards the earth,
in each of The Four Directions.

The pipe passes. One by one,
we breathe in the sacred smoke
and pass it on.

When it has passed full circle
he dismantles it, puts his medicine away:
the rock, the antler, the abalone shell, the sage,
the eagle wing, the tobacco,
and the pipe.

Then he brings out the drum.
Its beat reverberates through my
innermost being and I am
spiritually filled.

My soul is Rainbow now -
it is many nations, for in all my lifetimes
I have been many people,
and in this lifetime I understand
that geography of hearts.

I am connected forever
to that day, to that circle
to that sacred place,
and to the larger circle
of humankind that we all are.

The medicine man is singing, now,
each word a prayer and a blessing
to fortify our hearts.

When he brings out the feather,
he tells us: "Times are going to
get hard. Remember, your greatest pain
is your strongest medicine."

He looks straight into my eyes.
He knows.
Message received.

And, years later,
though we were warned,
we did not act in time, and:
the world has turned mute
we cannot hear
the whales crying
we no longer see
the birds flying
we no longer speak
words of peace, "Are they slowly dying?"

When the message is as clear to us
as it once was to oracles and seers,
how do we forge the path of change,
come together in our geography of hearts,
speak the Earth Mother's pain
loud enough to heal our world again?

for Brendan's challenge at Desperate Poets: Desperate Oracles

The first oracle is a medicine man who performed a pipe ceremony at the native treatment centre I worked at for eight and a half years on Meares Island (Wah-nah-juss) in the 90's, when there was still so much hope. The italicized words are the second oracle: I opened Ingrid Wilson's Anthropocene Hymnal at random and my finger found these words, in the poem "Silent Sky" by Ivor Steven. How much has changed. I see it here in fewer seabirds, in less birdsong, in fewer bees, in hungry bears and wolves, in dying salmon, in dying rainforests, in drought and wildfires. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023


Cox Bay, Tofino
Warren Rudd photo

Take this beautiful morning,
this September sunshine,
this blue-sky day, with the song
of a thousand seabirds,
wheeling and circling
at the edge of the sea.

Take the eagle's cry,
from the top of the cedar,
as he surveys his kingdom.
Take the heron,
gliding past my window,
looking like a skinny matron,
purse clutched under
her wing.

Take the waves, rolling in like
white-maned horses, wave upon wave,
day after day - our own glimpse
of Eternity.

Take this moment, peaceful,
breathe deep the ordinary, when
so much in this world is no longer
routine. Feel the peace
of nothing-going-on.
Let your prayers be prayers
of gratitude. May your tears
bless those living through
apocalyptic times.
(Our turn will come.)

Take this poem which
I offer you with open hands.
Take its wish that you
and all you love 
be blessed. Take my dream
of a green and flourishing earth.
Maybe if we share it,
some green tendrils
will begin to grow.

Take a break from the terrible
and disheartening news.
Step out into your front yard.
Lift your arms to
the cloud-dotted blue above,
the trees breathing with us in tandem,
such generous and benevolent beings.
Take this ordinary morning
into your heart and let it live there
all day long.
Take this poem,
like a prayer,
into your very being.
Let it sing.

for Mary's prompt at What's Going On? - Take This Poem, inspired by the poem of that title by Elizabeth Willis.

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Perspicacious Quest

[image from google:]

I mount my horse backward,
from the wrong side,
my cape tangling in the reins.
The horse is blind.
Desperate, but well-intentioned,
I slap its flank and wait
to see where we will go ~
who, up ahead, needs saving,
or who might just save me.

It appears the entire world has gone mad;
whole towns are drowning far from shore.
Super Heroes are in short supply, so
Ordinary Heroes are stepping up.

Turn around, turn around,
the horse whispers. 
An eye for an eye has made
the whole world blind.

Facing forward, now, we plod,
on our perspicacious quest:
for leaders who understand how to lead,
for those in power to wield it well,
for the common folk to raise their voices
to a shout, for us all to understand
Mother Earth is trying to teach a world
full of imbeciles how to live.

On my quest, I have seen wonders: swans
at the edge of a misty river, hills purpling
in the falling dusk, the sun rising over
a sleepy inlet - beauty enough
to break my heart for all 
we are losing.

I pen my desperate poem, my song
echoing across the dimensions 
seeking help.
Its beat is weakening, but persistent,
a note of hope, faint, yet refusing
to give up.
I fling off my cape; it lands
on a grinning, big black wolf, who says,
while fastening its button under
his whiskery chin:

"Follow me. The ride will be wild,
and it will bring you joy and pain.
The world 
will save itself or not."
Oh yes! For, in a heartbeat,
in spite of all the pain,
I would do it all

Well of course it is a wolf who arrives to rescue the rescuer. 

For Brendan's challenge at Desperate Poets: Super Heroes.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Writing It Real


"It doesn't have to be beautiful," she says.
"It just has to be real."
Our pens move across the page,
listing everything that is in our minds,
the pain that is in our hearts:
wildfires, hurricanes, storm surges
that wash six thousand people away,
earthquakes, floods, war, devastation
of every kind.

I can't hold the suffering 
of the non-human beings
of the world in my mind
for long. It hurts too much.

"It doesn't have to be beautiful," she says.
I nod. It won't be.
These days, life is as real
as it gets.

Day Five of Wild Writing.