Thursday, April 22, 2021

The River of Sorrow


I paddled the river of sorrow
with a voyager's brave heart,
for I always knew I'd emerge
from the rapids and find
a kinder, gentler way.

I set my compass to True North
and followed the Map of Believing,
for Hope was the name of my craft,
and Trust was the journey.

There came a turning
where some voyagers choose
the Fork of No Return.
It descends to the lower depths,
travelers stuck forever
in the swirling eddy
of pain and regret.

I took the sunnier fork,
with the blue sky above me.
Small birds flew ahead, circled back
to encourage. Their song led me forth.

I met fellow believers. We smiled
and we sang as we paddled.
We were now on the
River of All We Could Be
and the time was all morning.

The passage was swift and 
it taught me the joy of the journey;
amazement, reverence, humility 
as the river gave me its gifts.

It is eventide now, and my paddle
has slowed for my arms
have grown tired. Content to drift,
I'm at peace in the  Stream of Reflection.
In the Estuary of Gratitude,
I give thanks for all miracles and wonder.
When it's time, my craft
will slip softly away from its moorings
and I'll paddle off to the stars.

Day 22. 

My word from Elizabeth was Sorrow.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Presence, in the Land of Apple Blossoms


The Dead Woman came into her body
at mid-life; a slow emergence,
the thawing of ice, the painful
experience of feeling her feelings,
unfolding her icebound limbs,
that made her long for the frozen state
once more.

The others would not let her go back.
They insisted she Be Here Now,
fully present to all life would bring.
Allowing her space in their proximity,
until she felt safe, they
gentled her into bloom. Then, 
like a flowering tree, dropping 
poems like spent blossoms,
she unfurled her crossed arms,
opened herself to the world,
and the world loved her back.

The sunshine of love and life
 drew her forth, with music
and song and lovely people
dancing in a circle in a meadow.
Because they believed she was 
someone to love, she did too.
She became Wild Woman, 
fully herself, free, unfettered,
alive; and, after a short time,
she spread new wings
and flew.

Day 21

A poem about Presence, as a response to yesterday's Absence.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

In Absentia


The neighbourhood fell silent
once you were gone: your big,
noisy self left an absence
so huge it became a presence
that has walked with me for
over ten years.

Those big ears, your goofy grin
a forever ache, a yearning,
something missing: the absence
of laughter, how you cracked me up
every day, how your brown eyes never
left me. How they looked
into my soul.

Even my dreamscapes are
absent of you. Though I long
for dreams where we are
together again, you fail to appear.

Where are you,
my big, noisy boy?

You have become a state
of being away. You are
a vacancy that can never
be filled.

You are, forever,
a wolf howl in my heart,
a crying to the moon,
a walk on the shore
with half my heart. 
The other half went with you.
It is wherever you are.

You always went before me
on the path.
Wait for me.
As always,
I'm not that far
behind you.

Day 20

Elizabeth Crawford at Soul's Music gave me the word Absence. In return, I gave her Presence. And next we will contemplate Separate and Together. A way to get through the rest of April.

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