Monday, April 30, 2012

Cloud Crossing Moon

google image

A cloud is crossing the moon.
I stand watching
as it becomes
a person,
then an angel,
then a face,
and next
 a heart.

I waited,
hoping to 
see you 
up there,
but then
it turned back
into vapor,
and was 
just a cloud,
moving on.

Little House

google image

Little house,
you respond to
my polishing
with gratitude,
we both
sit back
and bask
in the glow.

Did a totally anal spring clean of my tiny suite - so anal it took me all day. I am reminded of a fridge magnet I used to have - no idea where it went - that said "Little is my house, big is my heart." 'Tis true, my friends, and it is a pretty grateful heart tonight, at that.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Kimeuso Falls - Jon Merk photo

mountain peaks reaching
the floor of Heaven,
our planet an orb,
the sun just peeking
above its edge,
waterfalls tumbling,
frothing, roaring down,
the dark 
of an Arctic winter,
waiting for the sun.....

Image after image
moves across the screen:
caribou in the thousands,
white wolves
on the hunt,
skies full of birds 
flying with precision,
a mother bear
climbing out of winter's cave,
two infants following
down the slippery slope
on uncertain paws.

Every part of our planet
harbors beauty 
beyond measure.
When one watches it like this,
it stops the breath.
How can such 
God-given glory
house so much
anger and division?
We all should be
walking around
with our jaws dropped,
freaking out 
at the miracle
we live in,
much too blissful 
and visually distracted
to spare a thought
for anything
but peace.

I watch, transfixed,
nearly transcendent,
eyes glued to the screen.
And there it is,
that feeling I've been
waiting for all  week:
pure wonder.

Ella's prompt at Poets United's Thursday Think Tank was Wonder. Should be a natural for me, given my unending love affair with nature. But days have been busy and I didn't get around to it. Then tonight I watched part of Disney's Earth with my three year old weekend companion: glorious images on the screen of this spectacularly beautiful planet. And there it was: Wonder.


Babe and her buddy Omar, the camel

huge clump of bananas
grasped in gray trunk,
two chomps, gone.

watermelon held out,
trunk sniffs,
then wraps the fruit:
a pop!
juice dripping,
eyes rolling back in head,
and, unmistakably, a smile
of deepest pleasure.

gentle giant,
survivor of so much human cruelty,
yet you loved the ones
who gentled your final years.

May we learn from you
your gifts of generosity,
compassion and 

Kids, I am reading the most wonderful book for animal-lovers: The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them,  by Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.  Shay, stop reading.

Every page tells a story of animals who have suffered the most horrible of existences at the hands of humans, who are fortunate enough to be rescued and given sanctuary at Black Beauty Ranch in Texas. 

Babe's entire family was killed when she was a baby, when her herd was "culled" in a national park by order of the South African government. You can imagine  the trauma and terror among these intelligent creatures, who have strong emotional bonds to each other. Babe was "spared", but put in shackles and sent by boat to a circus in the States. Her state of mind during transport can only be imagined. She suffered leg damage, likely from the shackles, and the subsequent performances she gave, until she grew too lame to continue. Fortunately, activists stepped in to move her to the Texas sanctuary and she has lived the intervening years in kindness and contentment, with her special friend, Omar, the Camel.

Update: I just checked online and read that Omar died a few years ago, and that Babe was being readied to be moved to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where she will live with other elephants. I hope that all goes well.

I can hardly bear to read these stories. The author delves into factory "farming", medical research labs, and the most horrendous abuses. How humans can treat other beings, both animal and human, the way they do is beyond me.  I tell myself if the animals can endure the suffering, I can bear witness. I also remind myself of all the people who try to bring both action and redemption to these horror stories, by counteracting darkness with light. That's the one good thing I take away from these stories. But millions of animals never find  deliverance from their lives of pain. Those are the stories that haunt me.

Friday, April 27, 2012


It's Fireblossom Friday at Real Toad's, and Shay has challenged us to write a poem inspired by the Art Nouveau of Alphonse Mucha. Well, all righty then. Let's see what happens. Do click over to The Garden and see what the other toads have written - there are some great reads in there, as always. 

"Mr. Tambourine Man,
play that song" for her,
with her clear hopeful gaze,
and her pretty curls,
and her dreams of Tomorrow,
all shining.

Please don't tell her
how those dreams 
will warp and burn,
when the sharp-toothed wolves
begin to circle.
Leave before they
start biting chunks
out of her trusting heart.

Let her have this moment
when she believes
that the pain of today
will be magically lifted
when someone, somewhere,
finally loves her. 

Don't stick around
to watch the hope dim,
replaced by sorrow
in her eyes,
or to watch her
slowly stack the fortress
around her heart,
and lift the drawbridge.

Slip away, early on,
while the music
is still all about

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

From the Inside Out

image from google

Ella's challenge at Real Toads today is to write a poem based on observations from our inner and outer worlds, thus expanding our awareness, much like ripples in  a pond, which travel outwards. If you click over to Toads, you'll find some wonderful attempt simply wrote itself, as if it had been waiting to be typed:)

Under the cheerful voice,
behind the pleasant smile,
lies sadness.

Where does it come from?

Recent loss,
or so far back
all but my cells
have forgotten?

Out the window,
endless gray sky,
windows dripping
with rain.

But, if I stand on the porch,
and look,
and listen,
raindrops play
on the roof,
and a red-breasted
buzz-bombs the feeder.

A doe turns her head
my way,
still, considering,
from the pasture,
and I remember:
all is beauty,
right here,


Those old songs
take me back
to the 60's
when I wanted
so badly 
to shine,
to be noticed,
found worthy.

We should tell our children
early and often
that simply being
who they are
is shine enough.

This morning, there were tunes from the early 60's playing. How it took me back to that gawky, freckled, pony-tailed twelve year old who was so the opposite of cool.  Made me remember what Mya Angelou says about the Parent Face, critical, that children see so often. She asked "Do your eyes light up when your child walks into the room?" And the nanny in the movie The Help, who tells the little girl: "You is smart. You is special. You is important." 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Right Now

[beautiful image by Josephine Wall]

Now is the moment that never ends. 
Deepak Chopra

All the years that went before
are gone,
cannot be lived again.

Time ahead
is unknown,
not here.

Right Now
is the only
time we have.

What are you 
choosing, thinking, living
right now?
That will become
your reality.

Do not allow life
to happen to you,
as if you are helpless.
Dream yourself a future
as Chess Master,
not pawn.

Be the Observer,
watching your thoughts 
as they flow past.
You are not the musings
bobbing in the flow, 
you are the One 
who is doing
the Observing.

Dont wait for the fairy godmother
to wave her magic wand;
she isn't coming.
But Spirit is walking with you:
that is what guides your path
and makes
the way sacred.

Your awakening,
your transformation,
impacts the world
around you.
The bad news is:
you are what you think.
The good news is:
you are what you think.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Love Song

It's funny how we spend our youth
in a search for Love
in the form of one other person
and, the older we get,
the more we just
fall in love
with the whole world.

has a spirit.
Pick up a rock.
Listen to what
it says to you,
put it back.

Talk to the trees.
Listen for their 
whispered response.
Follow a bird's flight
with your eyes -
and your heart.

Drink it all in:
why does it take us
so long to understand:
Love is
all around us,
singing us
its song.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Buen Camino!

[The Camino de Santiago, from google]

The Way winds through rolling hills
 of brown and green,
vast wheat-colored prairies,
small villages where weary travelers
can find rest.
The stone bridge arches 
across the river,
and my feet know where
they want me to go.

We are making pilgrimage here,
for our differing reasons.
Some walk here in faith,
some come to believe again.
Some come for miracles.
For others, the Way is the miracle.

No one leaves
this path

At night, the tired dusty faces glow 
around the table,
as pilgrims gather in fellowship.
Gypsy shadows flicker
in the firelight.
Music and voices are loud
after the muttered prayers,
the silent walking, 
of the trail.

At dawn, after too little sleep,
the church bells ring,
and the faithful set out 
once more.

"Where the path of the wind 
crosses that of the stars*"
is carved in stone 
along the trail.

No one walks the Camino by accident.
No soul encountered on the path
is random.

Stones are tossed, with prayers,
at the feet of the sainted.
Stone steeples,
temples of tears,
arise through the 
afternoon's shimmering.

Somewhere along the hot and dusty miles
the heart heals over its broken spot.
The mind comes to love
its life once more.
The soul rests 
more peacefully
within, and the
pilgrim's footsteps
slowly turn towards

Mary's Mixed Bag over at Real Toads, suggested we go to the movies for our inspiration today. As it happens, this afternoon I watched Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez, in The Way, the story of a father completing the pilgrimage his son began, after the son's death on the trail. I would have so loved to make this pilgrimage during my lifetime. What I love about movies is, I can make whatever trip I want, have whatever experience, in comfort, on my couch! (The link to The Way features a short trailer of the movie.) I can now tick the Camino off, on my Bucket List!!!!

* This quote  is carved on a stone tablet along the trail.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Ella's prompt today at the Thursday Think Tank is to write a poem based on a quote that we like. I have collected quotes for decades, and one of my favorites is "A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." Online sources attribute this quote to Maya Angelou, as well as listing it as  an old Chinese proverb.  I dont know which is correct. 

the body
is not large enough
to contain
the joy of
being alive -

and then,
they call it

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Born a Woman

[I found this beautiful image on Google. Shay thinks the artist is Josephine Wall.]

Kenia's challenge at Real Toads today  is to celebrate the feminine. Kenia, you are playing My Song! SO easy to sing the praises of women!!

When you think you have 
already faltered
under the load
you have carried
for so long,
and life brings you another 
to add to
your heavy burden:
dig deep.
You are stronger
than you know.

You have done
one of the hardest things:
had your body split in two
to bring forth your children
and, after that, you would
walk into the fire
or lay your life down
to protect them.

When you are trying to herd your chicks
safely past the hungry wolves
slavering in the forest
and they start running and flapping
straight into danger,
stay calm!
Race after them, and 
snatch them back;
set them on the path
yet again.
Repeat this
until they arrive at
the age of reason.
Then comes the hard part:
you have to let them go
and watch them flounder 
      and flop
          and fall
as they attempt to fly.

When you refrain from crying
because there are not enough tears
in the world
to shed for all that has befallen you,
go walk beside the river.
Hug a moss-covered tree
and let the river's song
wash the pain away.
Let the tree 
speak to you
about Endurance
and Simply Being.
There are times
when it is all right
Just to Breathe.

When you marvel
at the heart's capacity
to break
and then to heal,
to open itself once again
to trust,
reflect upon
how a broken heart still beats
and how all blind things
turn towards the sun,
seeking the light
even through their sightless eyes.

When you look back 
at the journey
of broken dreams, lost love
and pain,
marvel at the way
one can take the batter 
of this lumpy and mixed-up life,
all the wrong ingredients,
too much beating,
rancid flour
and still wind up with
a pretty good cake.

It's because you're a Woman,
and women may kvetch and complain
but, while they're doing it,
they're rolling up their sleeves
and starting to do the work,
because it's there to do,
and someone has to get up
every morning
and feed the children.

I see you, grandmothers of Africa,
looking after fourteen orphaned grandchildren.
I see you, mothers of Mumbai,
pressing red spots on your daughters' foreheads.
I see you, First Nations mothers,
living in imposed poverty,
trying to teach your daughters
the Old Ways
so they wont be lost.

I see you, Mother Wolf,
trying to get your babies grown
in the wild and dangerous woods.

I see you, Girl Child,
assaulted in the dark of night
and wearing the shame,
instead of the perpetrator.
(It is Not Your Fault!)

I see you, girl and woman,
told your whole life
that you are Not Worthy,
and I want to tell you:
Not only are you  Worthy,
you are a miracle of fortitude 
and Keeping On.
You are a song of survival 
and transformation,
and your shine lights up the path
of those who come behind you.

Sing out, you grandmothers
and mothers and daughters
and sisters and wives and lovers
and single aunts.
Sing out and say,
though the way 
may often be hard:
I'm glad that I was
born a woman.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Critter Haiku

Two tentative big-eared deer tiptoe in the pasture,
a newborn brown baby calf, tall as my knee:
Spring sprinkles my world with love.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hear Me Roar

[image from google]

Those were the days,
my friend,
when we burst out of 
our polyester pants
and domestic straitjackets,
grew our hair long,
sang "Hit the Road, Jack"
at the top of our lungs,
and realized:
We are People too,
this is not fair.
(He said,
kicking over 
the stack of Ms. magazines 
"We were all right 
till you started thinking 
you were a Person.")

Those were the years
the words of Desiderata,
"You are a child of the universe. have a right to be here"
made me cry,
because I had never
realized that truth

Those were the years
when the women raged
and the men grew silent,
when the status quo buckled,
and the 50's were
 Most Definitely Over.

We felt the "click"
of the Problem That Had No Name,
when The Feminine Mystique
hit our parched throats
like a cool drink in the desert,
like a map made in Braille
for the unsighted.

Those were the years
when the hobbled
burst free and flew,
exhilarating swoops
through a new landscape
  of women,
Ms. magazine
liberated me
from my prison,
and I was never
the same again.

Those were the days.
Hear me roar.

Last night I caught Oprah's interview with Gloria Steinem, still so beautiful. It so took me back to the 70's, those years of flinging off the shackles.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Your Gift to the World

photo by the very talented Susie Clevenger

At Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Susie Clevenger's wonderful photos are offered to inspire our Muse......this one will go very nicely with my morning thoughts today. Please check out the site, as many very gifted poets will be writing to this prompt. 

Do you have a secret dream,
a talent, a passion, and
a voice within that longs to follow it?
Do you harbor a gift,
but think everyone else's needs
are more important than yours,
so you set it aside,
day after day
until there is Time,
but there never is?

There comes a day
when our fear of unworthiness
to follow our passion
is exceeded 
by the pain
of not doing so.

When that day comes:
give yourself permission
to dive in,

Lift Off

and Experience
the Joy
of giving that gift
to the world.

There is a well known quote I am  remembering:  I believe Jesus said it, and the Gospel of Thomas recorded it: "If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." At the end of our life, we wont regret not doing more chores or not being busy enough - we would regret all the poems we should have written and didnt, or all the paintings we should have painted. They will be our legacy. 

I thank all of you for stopping by to read my words and leave comments. I was writing in utter isolation before I found this wonderful online community, and my poems had slowed to a trickle. You applied the water of your words and gave new wings to my pen. I am so very grateful.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Woe Is I

Woe is I, when I take a few photos and notice 
my dog is better looking than I am.
But that's okay. When I was her age, 
I was, too! Hee hee.

Good Morning, Starshine in the Phillipines

Kids, this morning this song was in my head and when I looked on youtube, there was this one by the original London cast of Hair singing to the film clip of the Phillipines, where Jon's wife,  my wonderful daughter, Zenny,  is from.  Zenny, this one's for you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Neck Socks

[google image]

Wild Woman
has Thyroid Neck,
everything sort of
melting down,
like a fat candle
set out too long
in the sun.

Like the Spanx lady,
she figures she could
make a million
if she invented
Neck Socks.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If You Are Reading This Poem

Adrienne Rich wrote the first poem with a similar first line, (I Know You Are Reading This Poem), which can be found here. And over at Real Toads Ruth, of Turtle Memoir, recently blew us away with her tribute to Adrienne, a poem patterned after Ms. Rich's poem. Both poems really spoke to me. (Do check them out, they are both astounding works of art). But the title took me somewhere else. I imagined my kids reading my poems after I am gone, and wanted to see what I could produce in another direction, with the borrowing of this title.

If you are reading this poem,
some distant day 
in the years ahead,
then I am gone,
passed into the corridors of time
and memory,
my voice and cackle silenced,
but still to be found
through all these words
I've left behind.

Will you read them?
Will you finally begin
to understand
this wayfarer,
plodding pilgrim,
who slogged through swamps
but also soared, at times,
through the bluest of skies,
always looking up
to count the clouds,
to nod my kinship to trees
with their dancing branches,
a pilgrim whose feet
stayed on the ground
but whose heart so often
tried to fly free
of its moorings.

Take this book.
Go sit beside the riverbank
and turn each page,
where I have recorded
the moments of joy
and heartbreak,
of love for this suffering planet
and its confused humanity.
Listen to the song of the river
that companioned me 
through my last years,
whose voice was surrogate 
for my beloved too-far-from-me sea,
my heart always keening
for the cry of the gull,
the smell of  sea-salt and fog,
the sight of that long sandy beach
stretching ahead of me to Forever.

You may notice
the twinned themes
of gratitude and grief,
reflect upon the rocky road
and all the losses-
so many starting overs
with scarcity of resources,
but no shortage 
of indomitable will.

In later years
my shoulders became 
less able to bear the weight
of all that had been lost
at such great cost.
Grief finally caught me 
by the throat and
made me pay 
for all the times
I stayed too strong
to grieve and, finally,
I shed a century 
of accumulated tears
that could no longer
be denied.
I grieved it all:
my childhood,
my youth that fell into brutal hands,
my store by the sea, my livelihood,
my trust, all gone, and years more
to recover.
Once more starting over from scratch,
as I would several times again.

Mid-life, one glorious leap
to the wild west coast
and ten ecstatic years of joy
in the fulfillment of my dream.

Know that those ten years are golden
in my memory and that,
in those years,
I experienced all that life could be.

I grieved my leaving of the sea,
the decade of making do with so much less
and, finally, and hardest of all,
my wolf-dog.
With his passing, 
the last link to 
those glorious times
was gone,
along with the one creature 
on this earth
who had loved me

One year of tears, and more,
filling my rowboat 
to the point of capsizing,
faster than I could bail,
as old griefs hopped aboard
the new and finally 
found release.

Yes, there have been many losses,
and many making do's.
But always, too, 
there has been
for all that is,
for all that there has been.
Remember, if you will,
that I had a valiant heart,
an insistence on hope.
Quote my oft-repeated refrain that,
as long as there were blue skies
and God's green earth,
I had everything I most needed
and considered myself
wealthy beyond compare.

Remember my unceasing gratitude
for life's beauty,
for eyes with which to see it,
for feet to walk me across the forest floor
and for my great love, the song of the sea,
which showed my soul a vastness of vision
it never could have encompassed
on its own.

If you are reading this poem,
you may wish that we had talked more
about the real stuff,
didn't leave so much unsaid.
But never worry.
In the heart and in one's spirit,
as we increase in wisdom,
one knows what is intended,
one understands everything
and lets go of the small wounds 
and disappointments
and the big,
under the over-arching canopy 
of comprehending
that every soul mine touched
while I was here
was meant to find me.
Each child who came to 
life through me
was meant to be my child
and, through each one of you, 
I grew in different ways
that were possible only through
having been your mom.

Some souls have 
a more difficult passage;
such has been ours
on this planet.
But in one lifetime,
I feel like 
I have lived
at least ten lives,
each life one decade long.
In each, I grew and changed
and, always, I was moving forward.

Finally, if you are reading this poem,
know "there is peace
that surpasses understanding". 
Towards the end, one forgets
all the pain,
and remembers mostly the good:
the laughter, the sunsets,
the glorious adventure,
the pilgrimage,
the growth and the glory.
One remembers the love
and those one has loved
and forgets all the might-have-beens,
in the compassion of understanding
that nothing could possibly 
have happened
any differently,
given my beginnings,
and there came a time
when I would not have had it
any other way.

If you are reading this poem,
put this book down now,
and do me one final favor:
Look around you. Just look.
What do you see?
Are you sitting by the shore at sunset?
Are you on a forest trail, leaning against 
the comforting trunk of an ancient cedar?
Are you by the river,
listening to the roar of the rapids,
waiting for the salmon to arrive?
Turn your eyes around you 
in a complete circle.
Love all that you see.

Look at it all
with brand new eyes.
Look at it, for me.