Saturday, December 31, 2011

Should Auld Acquaintance

Bill, and his faithful Lara

Kids, it has been a watershed year. A year of changes, a year of gaining and losing, a year of grief and gratitude. A year of truly knowing that, no matter what, deep within my old crone spirit, I am okay and can handle what comes.

Gratitude, always, for the gift of life, for the beauty of this incredible planet, for people I love, for a successful letting go of my own place to find a cozy refuge in a much smaller space, with resulting relief and a reduction of stress. And amazing gratitude for the writing I have done this year, thanks to all of you, who keep reading and, thus, keep me writing. There are 800 poems in the world that would not be here without you. I thank you, and am eagerly looking forward to writing our way through 2012 together.

Today I spent with Faiza, whose husband, Bill, is dying. Each week I have been amazed to find him still there. Today his face lit up like the sun when he saw me. "HELL-o Sweetie!" he beamed. He made it through Christmas, thankfully. And through the very end of 2011. Not much longer, I dont think. This past week was a hard one, for him and for Faiza.

The photo, above, was taken some months ago, when Bill was stronger. Now a hospital bed is in that corner and Lara is very upset - she doesnt like the bed, and she feels all of the stress of things not being well in the house, and with her people.

This morning Bill told me how much he wishes he could go out on the back porch for a smoke. He loved his cigars. But it has been a year since he was able to have one. He is on oxygen and has trouble with his lungs.

Faiza is literally on her last legs. The strain of caring for him, and the stress all of the "helping agencies" cause her, with their regulations and requirements and endless hassles, have about done her in. She keeps going on will power. I know something about that.  I so worry about her, after Bill passes. But she is brave: "Whatever God wants, is what we'll do," she says.

As we sat in the sunny window and had coffee this morning, her engagement ring sparkled in the sun. I commented on its beauty, she fingered the ring, recalling how Bill had given it to her, and then she said, to the ring, "I love you, Billy, and I will for the rest of my life."

So touching.

The end of 2011. The beginning of a brand new year of possibilities. I am lifting a glass now, to all of you wonderful friends, who have enriched my life all this past year. I look forward to writing and reading poems all of the next.

Happy New Year!!!!!!

When You Love a Wild Thing 2

When you love a wild thing
your heart becomes wild too.
You gallop together joyously
along deserted beaches
to the roar of the waves
with an exultant song
of freedom in your heart.
You track through old growth forests,
padding gently on the mossy floor,
alert for other critters
in the bush.

You walk the beach
to the moo of Lennard's Light,
in fog so thick that others' voices
are disembodied spirits
that emerge, startled and laughing,
when you get close.

When you love a wild thing,
your heart soars with eagles
and is tethered to the land
only by love.
When you love a wild thing,
the bond of devotion
runs deeper than any human
you have ever encountered
was capable of.

And when you lose a wild thing,
your heart resists
its return
to being tame.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wild Woman Hates Goodbyes

[Maxine character created by Hallmark's John Wagner - image from google]

On the eve
of the eve of 2012,
Wild Woman asks
the Big Question:
when is she going to
be done grieving?

She is taking longer
to get over
a wolf
than Jennifer Anniston
did getting over Brad Pitt.

She understands the grief cycle,
but seems to have misplaced 
the terms somewhere.
Either that,
or the processing equipment
is faulty.

There are days when
she begins to believe
the phrase "a no-brainer"
must have been coined
especially for her.

That's all right.
At least it proves her
short term memory
isn't completely gone!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When You Live With a Wolf

When you live with a wolf,
you learn about
to the wild,
and to another being,
without barriers,
even speech,
because, so often,
your minds meet
and, sometimes,
he tries to talk.

When you live with a wolf,
you must seek out
the wild places
He must never
be caged,
or enclosed
or tied up,
for his spirit must
run free and unfettered,
as it would with his pack.
He resists all restraints,
refuses to submit,
remains Alpha,
stays with you because
he chooses to,
not because you make him.

Living with you
is a negotiation he makes,
because he loves you,
but you know
that he relinquishes a lot;
it is a compromise he makes,
in giving up the wild
to live in a house
with you.
Walls remain foreign
to his substance.
He will eat a doorjamb,
of an afternoon,
to be Out
rather than In.

When you live with a wolf,
his intelligence and devotion
shine in his eyes,
which never leave you.
They follow you as you move
about the house.
They watch your halting progress
around the yard.
He remains on the alert
for danger,
lies at the front edge of the yard
where he can survey
all goings and comings.
He is ready to protect you,
places his body between
you and any threat.

But when you are walking
through the forest,
by the river
or along the beach,
then he is gone
far ahead,
his spirit joyously
at one with the wild,
and he wont come back
until he is ready.

He loops back
to check on you
every now and then,
and he always knows
just where you are.
When it is time, he will return
and, with resignation
and a heartfelt sigh, 
climb grudgingly
into the car
to resume domesticity once more.
His heart accompanies you,
but his wild free spirit
he has left behind,
as have you,
on those beloved wild shores,
to be picked up again
on your return.

When you live with a wolf,
you live with a very large presence.
This makes his eventual absence
somewhat difficult to bear.
But  those years
as twin souls,
that called forth your
deep wilderness nature,
taught you joy
as no one and nothing else
ever could.

For them,
you would not have
traded anything.
For them,
you can bear the pain.
For them-
for him -
you will,
eternally and forever,
give thanks.

Kids, I have just finished reading The Philosopher and the Wolf, by Mark Rowlands, recommended to me by Mary. It stirred up a lot around missing Pup, but also explained why that particular bond runs so deep. Wolves are highly intelligent, and have very evolved personalities. Pup and I had a somewhat psychic link - he could read either my mind or my energy. All I had to do was think about going for a walk, to have him leap up, excitedly barking and herding me to the door.

Pup suffered the loss of the wild when I was forced to leave Tofino. He grieved it, as did I, in the years following. He suffered the restrictions of living in town to be with me. For both of our sakes, I had to get us to a wild place every afternoon, until his legs gave out on him, in his last year.

It was bittersweet to read about Mark's life with his wolf, Brenin. Mark says it is not what we have, but who we are during our highest, and our lowest, moments, that defines us. Some of my highest moments were lived in Tofino, with a big black wolf at my side.

Free Tibet

Boddhisattvas at the roof of the world
breathing peace through daily prayer,
revering your exiled leader,
the Ocean of Wisdom,
hold fast to your prayerful ways.

May your words rise
to the heavens
on the winds of change,
like prayer flags fluttering
in the breeze.
May your right to your own
religion, identity
and autonomy
be recognized and assisted
by the world community.

May no more monks' heads
be bloodied.
May no more
prisoners of ideology
be tortured.
May no more self-immolations
cry to the heavens
of the need for
justice and self-government.

May Tibet be liberated.
May the Panchen Lama be
released and returned to his people.

Free Tibet.
Long live the Dalai Lama.

Notes: I watched Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion last night. Holy beings, monks, tortured and bloodied,
an invasion of a small country by a major power's army, children taught in school to report their parents for their religious beliefs. Lhasa, the Holy City, transformed to a place of commerce. Secretly held photos of the Dalai Lama, illegal but treasured at great personal risk. No assistance or backing from the rest of the world. In fact, our governments trade with the occupiers. Money rules.

But I still believe the spirit liberates. I see it in the eyes of the monks, burned and bloodied, but their heads and fists raised high : Free Tibet.

All The Christmases That Were

[I wrote this back in December 1997, when I still lived in Tofino and my health was beginning to fail. At this time of year, looking back through all the Christmases, I sometimes like to re-read some of this history, though a lot more has been added since 1997.]

This year, for Christmas, I decided to make each of my four children a small collage of their childhood photos. I spent one evening down on the floor poring through my multitude of albums, revisiting those busy years which seem , in retrospect, to have flown by at the speed of light.

There were all their faces, alight with laughter. Kids playing, mugging for the camera, on jungle gyms, kids grinning through stacked tire-holes, one face atop another. Lisa and Jeff, hanging upside down by one leg each from the metal bar. Jeff and Steph, upside down, butts to the camera, grinning at me through their legs. Jon with his first rocket, his new bike. Jeff and Steph, arms wrapped around each other, beaming. Jeff and Steph dancing, faces aglow with a gaiety too great to contain. Lisa leaping into the air, her mouth square, shrieking her joy at getting the clogs she wanted so badly. Jon fishing, hiking in the hills. Jon on a roughly made raft, poling up the lake in the dead of winter. Lisa cuddling a furry little pet under her chin, looking out at me with the same tender softness I see in her eyes now, cuddling her children and her kittens.

Jeff and Jon, plastic swords over their shoulders, marching to some Tolkien-like music we all loved during winters when my boys read Lord of the Rings over and over. Jeff, tongue out comically, his head inside the mouth of the concrete Ogopogo outside City Park, pretending he was being eaten by the monster.

All of us, up Knox Mountain, flying kites. All of us strung out in a row on bikes. All of us, having a winter picnic at Gyro, on ground white and frozen, grinning around our sandwiches.

And there are all the Christmases, when somehow against all financial reality, magic happened in our living room, and the wee hours of Christmas morning resounded with happy shrieks and an orgy of gift-opening. Now I dont know how I did it, but I remember being determined that, on that one day of the year, my kids would have what they most wanted. I was trying to make up for the reality of never enough money, never quite enough food, and all the days when they wanted things in silence that they never asked for, because they knew our lack of money by the contents of our fridge.

That Christmas magic lasted until my children hit their teens, when our family blew apart for a time as they explored drugs, alcohol, and paths that took them away from me and any magic I might have available. My throat closed over a massive lump, looking at their shining faces in the years when I could still afford some slight protection, or so I thought, and had not yet learned that the most perilous years yet lay in wait, full of dangers far scarier than my children's worst childhood nightmares. We entered those years all unaware and unprepared, and none of us came out unchanged.

What the photographs dont show is the other side of Christmas, in the years when my heart was aching for my children, when I valiantly traveled from place to place among them, bright smiles and cheerful wrap belying the hidden pain, the unspoken words one or the other of us were not yet able to say. Christmas lost its magic for me in the years when Lisa was away from home, and Jon. And in the years when Jeff, so sunny a youngster, made his lonely trek through the valley of despair.

I remember the Christmas concert just after Lisa left home, and the depth of sadness in my heart and on my face as I watched the two children still with me, the sweet sound of children singing piercing me through. Another year, another Christmas, Jeff, pale and wan, singing "if I were a swan, I'd be gone", me encouraging his talent and brilliance, at the same time trying to anchor him to this earth he had such a fragile hold upon.

Some Christmases we spent scattered, me traveling among my children. Some we spent together, with inner distances between us we did not mention, our smiling faces turned to the camera, our secret pain and memories hidden within.

There are no photographs of the fractured Christmases, when one or another of my children was either physically or emotionally distant from me. No photographs mark the passage of those years of family unraveling and reweaving. Years when I learned to pad protective layers around my heart, cling firmly to my life and carry on, believing in the power of a mother's patient, steadfast and unconditional love - and the healing powers of the passage of time - for my children to make their inner journeys away from and back to me.

Back and forth among my children, as the years passed, I traveled, a little shorter, a little tireder, a little more frazzled with each year. Encouraging, supporting, trying to instil my belief that life holds goodness and wonder, once we are ready to let go of the pain. For a time, I thought the Christmases we once had only came with small children and were forever gone.

This year was the right time to give my children some of their childhood photos. There had been years when it hurt too much to look at those young, shining and innocent faces. Then came years when I took pictures of scenery and tried to heal myself from all the pain and struggle. This year, I could look. My children are on their own journeys now, the time of healing of memories, and they are finally coming to a place of peace and happiness.

And I am traveling too, to the season of life when time becomes more finite, when there is a lot of looking back and summing up, and a wish to pass on all the love and gifts and wisdom one posseses while one still can.

While my children were growing, I was growing too, willy-nilly. I did some growing up, some growing whole, some seizing of the reins of the galloping wild horses that were my children in those years. There were times when I felt utterly unable to cope, knowing I had no choice but to cope with what felt like too heavy a load. My children were floundering in treacherous waters, and somehow I had to encourage them from shore, throw life preservers, guide them through. Sometimes I felt like I was hanging onto the tail of a lashing dragon, that was wagging me. Sometimes a distance came between me and my kids' realities, when everyone was communicating but no one was really listening.

Those years are finally past. My children are coming to terms with life then and life now. No longer children, they are assuming the reins and taming their own wild horses.

There have been other changes in these years. Grandparents' faces are now missing around the table, and I find myself the matriarch and Grandma. But my children have been coming home for Christmas these past years, and I've been feeling some of the magic creeping back into that day for the first time since their teens.

This year was like the Christmases of old, kids disappearing under a sea of wrap, their heads poking out above the surface. Jon, giving me the best gift he could possibly give me, in gifting his brother with a ghetto blaster for his music. Jeff, more himself than he has been for years, hovering protectively over freshly caught fish Jon was cleaning, like a young priest, tenderly patting and reassuring them. Lisa, wracked with pain, and full of tears, yet filling also with a new strength and awareness of her worth and her rights as a human on this earth.  Strong enough to  hold her head up bravely under judgment of those who do not know, in order to live her truth. Gifting me with the honesty of her communication. And Steph, who for so long sought family outside of our family, hurt by the turmoil of her siblings' adolescence, now finding it with her brothers and sister. Our family has grown strong at the broken places.

My friend Mahara had a similar Christmas with her children, her son giving her the verbal gift of forgiveness first thing Christmas morning, reducing her to tears. As we remark on the growth we are seeing in our children and the richness of our new relationships with the fine young adults they have become, she remarks, "Our Christmases will be different from now on. There is consciousness growing in our children." And she is right.

I know I feel less lonely on my path, now that my children are so strongly embarked on theirs. I feel proud of the journeys they are making: journeys of the heart, of finding and living their own truth - pride in these young people who show so much heart and courage and honesty.

This year, once again, we took the Christmas photo. This year I have been privileged to see deeper into who my children really are, the greatest gift they could bestow upon me. We are now a mutual cheering section for each other, as we compare notes on the journey. We've traveled a long way since last year's photo. My health has been faltering, my body exhausted from decades of pain and struggle, wanting only rest. Two of my children still struggle with painful demons, but their lights are beginning to outshine the darkness and it is an awesome sight, brighter than any yuletide tree. Sometimes I feel it is by my sheer determination that we will all make it safely through.

If I had one gift I could give them it would be the incredible gratitude and reverence I have for life, just life. I have made it through my dark times because there has always been blue sky and sunshine and trees to lift my heart up in thankfulness. I wish that heart-lift for them, that gift of seeing past the pain to all the beauty that is available to us when we are ready to reach out for it.

Sometimes I worry about what might yet lie ahead, knowing I dont have the strength for much more. I feel the deep tiredness of someone who has been paddling very hard for a very long time. My mother's heart is always braced against the possibility of unbearable pain, should anything happen to any one of my children.

This year, the difference was, my children were helping me, and easing things for me. And it felt really good, like we're all in this together, so maybe I dont have to be so strong any more.

As I am losing strength, my children are gaining it. With what pride I survey my life's work: four very special young people who have emerged from some very perilous passages with the mark of the wayfarer on their faces, and new knowledge, compassion, caring and strength shining from their eyes. We are now journeying together, and can recognize and applaud each other's progress as, by different paths, we make our way. The cycle of life is turning, turning, and my children are leading me Home.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Warm Wishes

Kids, this afternoon I am heading down-Island to be with my youngest, Stephanie, her fiance Gord, and her three doggies, for a quick visit. I'll be back late tomorrow evening and next morning will be ready to plunge into cyberspace with gusto.

Meanwhile, I wish all of you warm, happy family times full of laughter - whatever you celebrate, or dont, as this season passes.

I am so looking forward to reading your poems and writing some of my own all through 2012. Thanks to all of you for being your own wonderful selves and adding so much to my world in 2011.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Sorrow

This is my son Jeff, pictured here with a beloved friend - the pony died this past year, sadly, of cancer. For Christmas, Jeff composed the most beautiful song for me. He said I may share the beautiful lyrics here with you, as some of you have read his poems and loved them, this year, and asked for more. He played the hauntingly beautiful melody to me over the phone. He doesnt have the technology to put both together and post it on youtube. I wish he could. What a wonderful Christmas gift, this beautiful song, and the one who wrote it is to me.

My Sorrow

My sorrow withers like the scarlet rose
That proudly stood as queen of summers’ field
When the day should fold and finally close
The flower to the night must graceful yield

My sorrow calls me by name in a dream
Of you upon the wild green mountain lee
In your embrace tears are a flooding stream
Dark secrets of my heart must come to be

My sorrow is the word I dare not speak
But for the agony that dwells in you
As human I am strong yet I am weak
I want to weep the tears we never knew

My sorrow grips my heart not just for me
But so the suff'ring one may be released
And every tear upon your face I see
That flow from memories that are deceased

Tread lightly; there are tomb-stones in my heart
Take the flowers you gathered; plant them there
In songs of joy and sorrow play our part
And in the summer day meet me with care


My sorrow withers like the scarlet rose
That proudly stood as queen of summers’ field
When the day should fold and finally close
The flower to the night must graceful yield

Copyright Jeffrey Merk 2011

On Gifts and Gratitude

Kids, this morning someone dear sent this link to my inbox. If you have a few minutes to watch it, it will make you SO GRATEFUL to be a human being on this beautiful planet full of other amazing beings. The images are spectacular, and the philosophy spoken is heartwarming and wonderful. This video is my gift to you in this season of giving.

I want to tell each one of you who comes to my site, whether you leave a comment, or read and click away, how absolutely blown away I am by the fact that you are coming to read my words from wherever you live on this glorious planet of ours. And how very much I value your friendship, your kind and encouraging words of support and appreciation.

Because of each one of you, I went from a dry spell of barely writing at all, to writing almost daily. You have walked with me through a difficult year and, often, it was your words that I clung to, your support that helped me make it through.

I so look forward to another year of sharing our poems, our philosophies, and our life journeys. May 2012 be our best year of writing yet.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Running Free in the Forests of Heaven

Running free in the forests of Heaven
is how I see you,
tail and ears up
and that old wild gleam
in your eye.
I never tamed you.
I never wanted to.
We both loved the wild,
and I honored it in you.

Those big puppy paws,
I hope they're lolloping along
miles of sandy beaches,
dipping in and out
of the waves,
the way you always did,
impervious to my calls
as you always were,
until you were done,
and then back you'd come,
galloping along
to me.
You'd pick up a piece
of driftwood
as we left,
and carry it to the car,
for remembering.

Now I am the one
who is
And one day,
when it's time,
old wilderness pal of mine,
may you come lolloping
back to me
to guide me safely home.

There are only three things
I need to see in Heaven -
the first is you,
and old growth forests,
and the sea,
so we can walk those trails,
hike endless sandy beaches,
and watch the sunset, once more,
you and me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An aubade

The prompt at Real Toads is to write an aubade, which is a morning song of parting.
Timely prompt, as I have been thinking along these lines of late.

The pines, darkly shrouded
in morning mist,
line the river
like guardians of the wild.

The water roars its winter fury,
white spray tumbling
over rocks
and through the narrow
rock-walled chasm,
green with the river's passage,
all these years.

An eagle surveys all
from his perch atop
a giant cedar.

And me? I walk in sorrow
along your favorite river,
holding your leash
and still - always - missing you.

Do you feel me,
searching for your spirit,
lost in the absence
of your soft
padding footsteps
by my side?

How many sad walks
along the river
will it take
before there are no tears?
Your being gone
is still too big
an absence,
and it has nearly been
one year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Wealthy Critter

[image from MSN]

Meet Gunther,
the world's richest dog.

His owner died
and left him, like,
363 million dollars.


Wild Woman wonders:
is he single?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Song for Eric

image from google

If I were to
see you
only one more time,
this lifetime,
those kind dark eyes,
head and beard
now sprinkled white,
I would
give you that hug
I have been saving
since we parted,
hoping  one day
that our love story
would come right.

I remember
Blackbird singing
through our nighttimes,
and the coo of doves
at daybreak
when we'd stir,
watching the morning
rise behind the greenhouse.
As you pulled the curtains open,
I would wake.

If I had known that
that one year
was all I'd have
to know true love
that disappeared so fast,
I would have held on
tighter, longer,
maybe long enough to
quell my fear
at last.

Sometimes we choose wrong
and hang on for a long time.
Sometimes we choose right,
and run away too soon.
You opened the dove's door
when I told you I was leaving.
What I wanted was a promise.
Might as well have asked the moon.

We were young.
We only knew
how love had hurt us.
But those summer days
live in my memory.
All these years
when I had withdrawn
from the game,
my heart has circled,
always circled
round your name.

Merry Christmas from Ming

This old gal, ten years old, was about to be euthanized
at the SPCA because no one adopts ten year old cats.
But we do!
Lori brought her home,
where she immediately expressed
her gratitude for
and appreciation of the comfy setting
and the good eats.
She's a very affectionate girl
who loves
living with dogs.
So sometimes, boys and girls,
life gets it right, hee hee!

Say What?

She was a blonde bombshell.
Heads turned
when she passed by.
And, what's more,
she had a shining
and valiant spirit,
but  no clue
of her own worth.

Her mother dreamed
a bigger dream for her
than her daughter 
dreamed for herself.
With awe and admiration,
she had watched
this girl
make her journey:
every time she fell,
her spirit would
find its way
to rise again.

The flying
was always
a wonder to behold.

This time
this spirit
so meant to soar
had trembled
on the brink.
Almost - almost -
the girl was
going to fly
higher than
she'd ever
flown before.
But at the
determining moment,
she retreated
to what felt like
a more comfortable branch.
There she
perched uneasily,
surveying what
she hoped
might turn into 

It had felt too scary
standing on the brink,
and she had fallen back
into what was familiar.
And now
she glows beside him
like a star
a most unlikely planet.

Her mother has watched
this pattern
repeat itself
for generations.
She has lived
this pattern
She knows
a soul can only learn
at its own pace,
in its own time,
in its own way.

A choice has been made.
It will play out as it will.
She has no more
to impart.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Strawberry Blonde

At Real Toads,  Marian's prompt was: Strawberry Blonde. Do click on the link, as the other poets participating wrote some terrific poems from this prompt. It made me think immediately of two hair stories from the long-ago..........

Her dad lifted one of her soft red curls,
saying, "You have pretty hair.
Isn't this the color your mom's hair
used to be?"
He was trying to be nice
but she froze him out,
because of what happened
during his blackouts,
that he could never remember.

Her mom said, later,
"You should be nice to your dad.
He is trying hard."
But she was too young
to be forgiving, then.

He died soon after.
No more chances to be nice.
Years more, to forgive.

Her mom was sixteen
when they met -
thin as a rail, beautiful,
with long bleached blonde hair
hanging all down her back.

Her dad was playing in the band,
a Tommy Dorsey song,
but when she walked in,
he set down his saxaphone
and jumped
over the piano
to come down and meet her.

And that was it.
"The only man I ever loved,"
her mother would say,
for the rest of her life.

It was a hard life:
alcohol, raised voices and
bumps and crashes in the night,
poverty, and desperate struggle,
and then his early death.

But at the end,
the blonde bombshell,
who once was a strawberry blonde,
could say, with satisfaction,
somehow, that
"In my life, I had it all."

Christmas Dogs Must be Blogged

This little girl, Penny Joy, is the new light of Lisa's life. Such a sweet little face! She arrived as "the best Christmas present ever" from a dear friend of Lisa's, after her former person, sadly, died unexpectedly. She is eighteen months old, and from what I have observed, has made the transition to fully bonding  with Lisa very easily.

I went over to visit her yesterday with a little bag of doggy treats and toys for her, which she took immediate possession of, warning the kitten away with a few muttered little grrrrr's in the back of her throat. But then she and the kitten raced and tumbled around like two puppies. So adorable.

Here is Blakey, who kept his hat on for one-second intervals, while being tempted with liver bits, in a rather wild attempt to get one functional photo.

Noella, so named because she was a Christmas puppy thirteen years ago, wearing the obligatory antlers. Noey is showing signs this may be her last Christmas, sadly. We will make it such a good one.

I cant wait to give them all their new stuffies - a talking pig and a singing pig among them! There will be excitement at Dogs R Us, this Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Epistle to the Downtrodden

Kerry, over at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, offered a challenge mid-week (I am behind, as always): to write an epistle, a letter of sorts addressed to whomever we choose. Some amazing entries have been offered by fellow poets. Please do click on the link to check them out. Mine is a more humble effort. In the middle of the night I woke up and suddenly knew who I would address my missive to. It makes for some very long sentences, and I didn't know how to remedy that - I just wrote it down as it came. Apparently, I have deep feelings about the disenfranchised :-) Images are of Vancouver's East Side, taken from google.

I am also linking to Poetry Jam, whose challenge this week is: Occupy.

To the supposed Misfits and Outcasts of the World,
brave enough to be
who you really are, judged for being different,
rejected for circumstance,
or appearance
which doesn't fit the perceived
plastic bubble
of what our crazy world considers beauty,
or for mental illness
which really just means
you are attuned to a higher
(and truer) frequency
than we more limited beings can hear,
take heart, for
in the Old Ways,
you were considered
the tribe's magic person,
your utterances heeded with respect.

You seekers and speakers of truth,
you downtrodden,
who burn with the spark of humanity,
offering your true smiles to others
even as you struggle,
looking at us out of your honest eyes,
you who have nothing to hide
and don't know the word for facade,
wanting only to be acknowledged
as a fellow human being
of worth and value,
know that, by some of us,
you are seen.

You, the oppressed, marginalized, disdained,
your poverty causing many to
avert their eyes in discomfort,
you, who pass the ringers of the little bells
collecting money which may, one day,
feed you a meal,
while all around you
people pass by
with their loaded shopping carts,
merrily loading bags and boxes
into their SUV's,
while you think of your children at home,
in chilly rooms with an empty fridge,
remember that your children
have your love and devotion,
worth more than a hundred SUV's
in the grand scheme of things.

Dear fellow being,
know that you have already found
the truth of authenticity
the rest of us are seeking,
know that you are heroic
in your daily putting of one foot in front of the other,
for keeping on keeping on,
that you are worthy and needed in this world,
that your struggle is seen, and noted,
and that, while it may not happen in this lifetime,
in the karmic turning
of the Wheel of Time,
whether as madman or prophet,
as a spokesman for the disenfranchised,
(but never as a CEO or corporate tax evader),
you will come back to this world
of disparity and urgent need,
once more glad to be here,
for life, in all its guises and disguises,
is beautiful.

As the great toppling monolith
of capitalism and commerce
slowly begins to buckle
you, my friends,
who have already learned
how to live richly, with little,
are the experts who are going,
one day, 
to show us the way.

You may feel invisible now,
your voices unheard,
but Believe!
The force of the small and common man
is beginning to rise all over the world,
throwing off the oppression
and manipulation of the mighty.

The tide of man will turn
and turn again,
until the mighty are fallen
and the way made new,
and then, fellow pilgrim,
what a world awaits us
when at last
we come into our inheritance
and Occupy Earth.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yuletide Musings

[Note the expression on Jasmine's face - she thinks Lukey got a big treat and she didnt!]

There are so many faces missing
as each Yuletide season passes,
so many to remember,
all the bright-eyed lads and lasses.

The old black dog
who stuck his head
right in the Christmas stocking,
and glared offended dignity,
thinking our laughter mocking.

I'll walk a snowy winter trail
to honor his memory,
and I'll keep a candle glowing
on the sill so he can see,

set out a rocking chair
for Grandma
and a flowered plate of treats
so she can rest her tired spirit.
Grandma always loved the sweets.

Around the Christmas table, now,
so many who are gone -
we'll watch the film of those old days,
tell  stories all night long.

I know now
why my Grandpa cried,
with emotion overcome:
so many dear ones gone away,
so many young ones come.

The wheel of life,
it turns and turns,
ushers us out and in,
enjoy the present
while we can -
someone leaves
with every spin.

The ghosts of Christmas past,they glow,
so pretty on the screen,
the folk of Christmas present
all too briefly
to be seen.

So lay the yule log on the fire
and set the table merry,
bedeck the dogs with antlers
and pour a round of sherry.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Personally, I LOVE My Antlers

A younger - and much thinner - Jasmine, the only dog in the family ham enough to actually enjoy the antlers!

I'm a little under the weather, kids, and am terribly behind online, which bothers me greatly. Just wanted to add this little bit to the season, and to let you know that, when work slows down, if it ever does, the first thing on my list is catching up with all of you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Singing Bird

[image from google]

At Ella's Edge, I found  this lovely Chinese proverb, lovely to ponder, on a snowy morning in December. May your day be a bright one and, at day's end, may you return to a warm and lighted home, where loved ones celebrate your return.

Keep a green tree
in your heart
and perhaps
the singing bird
will come.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Brief Gifts

[image from google]
Fireblossom Friday's prompt at Real Toads was:
Arrivals and Departures. Cool! (I'm late, as always!)

Life teaches us
arrivals and departures
from our first
until our last and final breath.
What a glorious  parade
of plots and people
passes by
our wondering eyes
from birth till death.

As we open each new door,
and walk inside it,
we already know
that one day we'll be gone.
We say hello
and hear a farewell echo.
We want forever
yet nothing  lasts too long.

Day burns brightest 
just before it fades
to darkness,
but do not mourn,
for soon the dawn will come.
The months, the cycles,
everything has its season, 
each ending programmed,
even just begun.

From bud to leaf,
bare tree to bud again,
the wheel of life 
adds, then subtracts,
the years.
Embrace it all:
the love, the pain,
the laughter,
even those moments
of pain
so fraught with tears.

After the darkest hours,
the sun comes shining
with a radiance
that has never looked
so bright.
Hold every thing
and every moment
Each gift is given
only for a night.

Friday, December 9, 2011

City Streets

The Vancouver skyline at night - from Google

for the Thursday Think Tank prompt: The City

Night after night,
she walked the city streets,
lookingly longingly
in lighted windows.

A man brings a woman
a cup of tea.
She looks up from her book
and smiles.

What must that feel like?

In search of Home,
she walks on,
miles and years of walking
city streets,
looking in at other lives,
longing for a place
for her heart to land.

Turned out she had been
carrying home around
inside her
the whole time.

Christmas Dog

Good morning, kids. This is bad little Blakey, who keeps the memory - and obstreperous behavior! - of Pup alive at our house. He is registering the same offended dignity that Pup did at donning the Christmas hat. But he looks so cute we just cant help it. He has a new red and white collar with bells too this year.

At my house, this morning, Il Divo is singing Christmas tunes, there is a foggy morning outside which tells me both sides of the island are sunny and glorious, we expect snow somewhere over the weekend, and I need to start getting packages ready to send away.

Christmas is such fun!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Greatest Gift

There is such quiet pleasure
in wrapping gifts,
each selected with love
for one's dear ones.
But I always remember
those across the world
who live with empty bowls,
without gifts,
often without their loved ones.

There was a little boy
in a village on the plains of Africa
who came home one Christmas Day
to find his mother cooking
the everyday porridge with vegetables,
that they ate daily.
He started to cry, because on Christmas Day
everyone in the village ate rice.
She was supposed to be cooking rice.
But his father had died.
There was no rice.
His mother's heart must have twisted
at the sight of his tears.
She must have wanted
to shower him with rice
and with every other good thing.

Now that little boy is a tall young man.
He is carrying home
to his mother in the village
a sack of rice,
and his good, shining heart.
There will be laughter,
and tears of joy,
and gratitude, and humanity.
There will be feasting and
the telling of stories.

And the knowledge
of that small happiness
will sit in my heart
all through the holidays,
through the unwrapping
of the gifts,
and the sharing of
the Christmas meal.

It will be the greatest gift
that I receive
this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


[Sunrise over Kelowna - photo by my son, Jon Merk]

Ella's prompt at Real Toads is to write about gifts, or to write about the first poem that really meant something to you, after which your love affair with poetry began.

I began falling in love with words when I was very young. I have been carrying home an armload of books from the library weekly since I was five - that is a lot of books. I lost myself in them, and still do. I always have a book on the go, and twenty more stacked waiting by my bedside.

The first poem that began my writing journey was one I wrote myself. I dont know why or what sparked it, but I wrote it, and the floodgates were opened. A torrent of poems flowed through me, for the rest of my life. Many composed in my teens were written   in language that seemed to come through me from somewhere else, someone older, with some  understanding of things my teenage brain certainly wasnt yet capable of  comprehending.

I wote feverishly all through high school. The teachers were very good. They encouraged me and turned a blind eye to my feverish scribbling, which I could not help - when a poem was coming, nothing else mattered. I had to write it.

I hadnt read much poetry until then, but was drawn to the classic novels: Wuthering Heights (Heathcliff!), especially.  I loved all of the Brontes, books full of moors and turbulence and suppressed longing.

During high school I  was finally exposed to poetry and loved so many of the poets:  Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, e.e. cummings.

I remember writing these lines in class, then sitting and staring at them, wondering where they had come from and what they meant. It was 1960. My dad had died that summer before high school started, and I was just barely fourteen.

Each acquaintance on the road to Never
whispers through the soul
and leaves a soft thought to remember
when tomorrow dawns cold.
It seems each person that I meet
on this long journey to the end of things
is someone I can love
and I must tell him of my love
for if my heart stopped beating
e'er one more sky was streaked with dawn,
how would my many loves live on,
uncertain of this extra dream of life
only my heart, in love, can dwell upon?