Saturday, September 29, 2012

7 Billion Amazing Stories in This World

image from google

At dVerse Poets Pub, Brian told us about a book he loves titled 6 Billion Others, a book of peoples' faces, with a few lines about their amazing stories. Now there is an updated version titled 7 Billion Others. Brian says "I love people". I love people too, and this is a topic that has always fascinated me: how every single person has the most amazing story. If we tried to write peoples'  stories as fiction, editors would scoff and say they weren't believable. Because real life is often - even usually -  more astounding than anything a fiction writer could think up. I know my life certainly has been!

He asked us to tell the story of someone we have seen or observed....I thought of this elderly couple, now dead, whose house I used to clean in their final months. When she told me this story, it knocked me OUT!

She sat in her chair by the window all day.
Her husband lay in his bed.
The house smelled of decay, 
dryness, dust, and mothballs.
It smelled of the years
they had lived in that house,
where life had once been so lively,
but where silence now 
oppressively ruled
the empty hours.

The drapes stayed closed
all day.
She listened to the ticking
of the clock,
that moved her through the hours
left to her: breakfast,
lunch, dinner, bedtime.
Day after day,
no one ever came.

But one day, out of the blue,
when she was remembering,
she told her cleaning woman
a little bit about wartime in Italy.

"We had nothing to eat.
The boys were teenagers, 
thin and famished.
I would work all day,
hard work,
in exchange for
two slices of bread.
And, if we had two slices of bread,
we cut small squares for each of us, 
and left most of it for the boys.
They were always hungry.

My sister's husband
had been captured by the enemy.
He had disappeared 
and she didn't know
if he was alive or dead.

While he was gone,
she had a daughter
he did not know about,
for he was disappeared
before she knew
a child was coming.

One day the phone rang
and it was finally him,
calling from the prison camp,
where he had just been liberated.
She heard his voice on the phone
and her first words, 
in a flood of tears, were:
'Vincenzio, you have a daughter!
She is five years old! We have a daughter!'
She had waited five long years 
to be able to tell him
that he had a child.

When the war ended,
we all moved to Canada.
We had had enough of pain, 
of terror, of bombs, of hunger.

Here, we found peace.
We made a life.
We raised our children.

But I will never forget
that phone call, 
after five long years,
and my sister saying,
we have a daughter!'"

A Little Magic For You

Kids, the prompt at Real Toads Fireblossom Friday yesterday was Magic. The best magic I have ever seen was a great big old Love-In the night the Peace Camp closed down after the blockades  in '93, Dana Lyons singing Magic, hippies dancing in a clearcut under a big full old Grandmother Moon.

"Listen to the sound of people singing, 
telling what they know, 
telling of a time when 
creatures shared the earth."

Later that fall, I was driving past Kennedy Lake, listening to this song on cd, and singing along, when my eyes fell on all the chearcuts creeping across the mountains on the other side of the lake. The grief was piercing, and I started to sob.............this is a song of hope, and it breaks my heart to listen to it, given how far we HAVEN'T come since '93, but there's more than a little magic in it. Enjoy!

Friday, September 28, 2012

A dVerse Cento

My beloved South Chesterman's Beach

This week, I find Sam Peralta's prompt at dVerse Poets Pub very intriguing: to compose a Cento, which is described as taking lines from other peoples' poems and creating a new poem with their lines, in effect creating a new poem. Sam wrote a wonderful Cento based on lines from the Diary of Ann Frank.

I decided to try this using lines I stumbled upon from some of the poets who post at dVerse, to make it more fun and also because the very talented folk who gather there knock my socks off with their writing, on a daily basis. I had so much fun I could have gone on and on, but had mercy, and the poem did seem to stop. Enjoy. Below, I list the names of the poets in the order their lines were included.

Do stop by dVerse and read offerings from many fine poets.

What is it that you see with your eyes closed?

Try to sleep like you're sleeping, 
              instead of like you're drowning.
Don't give up on these outrageous dreams 
        of belonging somewhere as unique as you are.
I will be the difficult path and I will be 
              the reason the path is difficult.

Looking up at the naked branches, I try not to worry
            about how many leaves I have remaining.
And your tears come like the muse,
            unexpected but greatly appreciated.

In a pregnant moment of silence, stars fade,
           as our sun sends its first rays 
               across the mountains.
Autumnal blessings held in a deep blue moment
               awaken to joy.

Sam Peralta
Shawnacy Kiker
Amy Barlow Liberatore
Shawnacy Kiker
Buddah Moskowitz

Brian Miller
Laura Hegfield

The Beauforts

[image from - there are many more patches on these slopes since this photo was taken. More patches than trees, now. The big green center patch is gone. And the trucks keep hauling them away. Every hour, wherever you go in town, one passes a logging truck, stacked with trees, heading out. Beautiful B.C., hitting the road.]

The Beaufort Range 
is dotted with clearcuts.
They are spreading 
like a cancer
across the slipping slopes.
If you go near at night
when the moon is full,
you can hear the trees
moaning in distress.
They are grieving 
for their slain sisters.
They are fearful for
their own tomorrows.
If you go near at night
when the moon is full,
you can hear 
the wolves' keening howl
for their lost homeland.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bodhisattva Warriors

image from

Bodhisattva Warriors
come in all 
shapes and sizes.

You will
recognize them
by their peaceful
and their ready smile.

They are kind.
One may offer you
a seat on the bus,
when it is packed
and you are tired.

They are gentle.
In the midst of discord,
shouting, crisis
and panic,
watch for the one 
who is still,
who observes,
then tries to help
if he can.

You can tell a bodhisattva
by the way they see
the good in human nature.
They are peaceful warriors,
who spread compassion,
rather than further conflict.

They will give
the little they have
to those who need it more,
and be grateful
for the giving.

Bodhisattvas believe that,
with kindness and love,
the crooked way can be made straight,
and the rough road 
made smooth*.

The best thing about
a bodhisattva
is he doesn't know he is
a bodhisattva.
He is humble,
kind and serene, and,
when his out-stretched hand
is dealt a blow,
he forgives
and quietly
moves on.

This planet is peopled
with undiscovered bodhisattvas.
Their prayers keep us
floating through space,
balance the toppling poles,
and bridge the distance
between heaven and earth. 

Their most sacred challenge
is to hold compassion
for the world's aggressors
as much as for their victims,
in equal measure.

Their message is
to turn from violence to virtue
before the 
Kingdom of Shambhala
* from Ecclesiastes

[Many great Buddhist masters have prophesied that centuries from now, when the forces of aggression amass on earth and no reason can turn them back, the kingdom of Shambhala will open its gates and its enlightened warriors will come forth into battle. Whoever they encounter will be given a choice -- turn from non virtue to virtue or, by direct, wrathful intervention, be liberated into a pure land beyond suffering. from]

It feels to me that that time might be closer than they think. The news today is full of talk about Iran and nuclear weapons and the various powers are jockeying for position. Beyond reason.

Yet we must continue to hope, and to lend our energies to the positive side of the scale. Heaven knows they have enough, already, on the negative side. 

I am linking this over at Soul Dipper, where contributors Occupy Blogosphere every Thursday, with a focus on peace and positivity. Yay! Peace, kids! It's better than what we have right now!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oolong Tea

Ella's prompt at Poets United's Wonder???? Wednesday is this intriguing teacup, which Ella gives the history of over at Poets United. Photo of the teacup by Ella's Edge

I find this ghostly woman at the bottom of the teacup mesmerizing. She takes me back to all I have read about Japan, the days of the courtesans and geishas, war time romances, sometimes forbidden ones. I shall invent one here about the lady in the cup, between an occupying American soldier and a young Japanese beauty. 

He was tall and ruddy-cheeked, 
noisy and full of laughter,
startling the reserved 
and dignified household
who were providing him with
temporary lodging.

She was small and delicate,
almond eyes mysterious
and downcast,
shy smile hidden behind
a fluttering fan.

When his bold eyes fell on her,
she blushed,
her hands trembling
as she knelt
to serve the tea
in tiny cups,
beautiful in her
cobalt blue kimono
with white long legged birds.

Later, he could hear her
with her sisters, 
all of them giggling
along the hallway
like a flock of cooing doves.

He could not keep his eyes away,
though she frowned, turned away,
tried to discourage his glance.
It was, of course,
There would never be 
more than those glances,
those responsive,
uneasy flutterings 
of her heart.

Duty to family
was everything,
no young girl's heart 
strong enough to withstand,
in the face of centuries
of tradition.

He gave her, secretly,
a monogrammed lawn handkerchief
for remembering.
And when he left her father's house,
he pocketed
one fragile ceremonial teacup
engraved with her face.

For the rest of his life,
he would see her looking 
back at him
from the bottom of 
his morning cup
of oolong tea.

Kids, my computer goes into the shop today. I will somehow get around to your sites tonight to read and comment, even if I have to commandeer my sister's computer!!!!!

Dress Me in a Humble Heart

He has
no need of fashion.

He wears
his own

Ella's prompt at Real Toads is: fashion, or offshoots thereof. This humble little fellow sits on my desk......he is covered, at the moment, by ash from the incense I so love (Nag Champa, the best!) and his friend the Dalai Lama is in place of honor beside him. Pup peeks over his shoulder.

As for me, I have never cared about fashion. But one might say I have a certain "style" : comfort is the watchword, odd things found in thrift stores, anything not the norm. My "style", such as it is, came into its own on the West Coast where we all dressed wonderfully weird. It came along with me back into a town setting. As long as things are soft, comfortable, and have wolves or birds on them, I'll wear them!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Message in a Dream

In a dream appeared a woman,
insistent, with her message:

"My three children, I never see.
My ex used his influence
and took them from me.
Think of your son.
Think of your daughter,
your grandchild, 
how precious they are.

It isn't fair.
     It isn't fair.
        It isn't fair."

I watched white haired women dancing,
graceful and serene.
Emotional safety, acceptance 
and support
were everywhere.

Two of them came to her,
enfolding this sad woman
in  a hug.
"You are not alone,"
they told her,
and a small corner
of her aching heart
was filled.

* image from google

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Unexpected Gift

When you were little,
sunny-natured little blue-eyed boy,
heart brimming with kindness
and sweetness,
so full of laughter,
you looked at me in your innocence
with eyes that looked within,
recognizing me, soul to soul,
as if you remembered me 
from lifetimes past,
and you had found me 

I never could have foreseen
schizophrenia at seventeen,
a diagnosis that devastated my heart,
and set you on a decade 
of intense suffering.

It set us both
on a journey,
one that we talked 
our way through,
each on one end of the phone,
trying to untangle
your labyrinth.

The most unexpected thing--
that it  also brought us gifts:
of communication, acceptance
and unconditional love,
that we might not have found
so completely,
along any other pathway.

manicdaily, hosting  at dVerse today, set our prompt as the Unexpected today. I could have written a thousand different poems as almost every DAY something unexpected happens on the road I am traveling:) But here is one, a gift that came disguised, at first, as suffering.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Turf Wars

Mary's Mixed Bag over at Real Toads asked us to write about fences. The responses are amazing, and I hesitated to post mine, which is not really poetry. I thought about the fences I have read about: concentration camps, refugee camps, internment camps for displaced Japanese during WWII, the Rabbit Proof Fence in Australia, along which two aboriginal girls trekked to return to their homeland when they had been taken away to residential school, the fences that interrupt the reindeer migrations up north, where so many animals die of thirst, fenced off from water on the other side, fences in the Kalahari that impact its many directions I could have gone.

But the fences I am thinking about most these days, are of my two neighbors across the street. It has become a Comedy of Errors, day by day and week by week. It is now escalating, and I hope they don't come to blows! I'll post it anyway, for your amusement, as an observation of human nature.

Neighbor One's driveway
was littered with old collapsing vehicles,
the skeleton of an ancient RV,
and other detritus.
The neighbors shook their heads.

Until Neighbor Two moved in
with truckloads of furniture, lumber, 
all manner of Stuff,
which spilled out onto the driveway
looking like the trailer had vomited
its contents.

The neighbors were aghast.

Suddenly Neighbor One's place
looked a whole lot better.

Neighbor Two began making piles of lumber
all over the yard. 
He began and left unfinished 
several roofed structures,
with an eventual plan of moving stuff 
from Here to There.
In his Plan, there seemed to be no plan
to move anything to the Dump.

Old broken bureaus, 
piles of discarded lumber,
two claw-footed bathtubs,
old glass windows
and two canvas storage units
clogged the driveway.
He parked his several vehicles: truck,
big trailer, smaller trailer units,
and an old wrecked RV
with a leaking roof
along the strip of grass beside the road. 

Traffic just barely managed to edge past,
drivers gritting their teeth.

His Stuff inevitably started edging towards
Neighbor One's roadside grass.

Neighbor One fenced it off 
with two by fours and bricks,
to limit  access.

Neighbor Two cleared enough space 
in his driveway
to park one of his vehicles.
The neighborhood took heart.

But then the Stuff started creeping
beyond the boundaries
once again.

A large white moving van
next appeared in front of Neighbor One's,
bucked right up against the property-line.

Neighbor Three was Hopeful.
Maybe he was going to finally 
take stuff to the dump?

But, no.
Neighbor One had parked it there 
to stop Neighbor Two
from edging onto
his strip of grass.

Now Neighbor Two felt encroached upon.
He muttered to neighbors,
who didn't know what to say,
given the amount of mess 
in his own yard.
He confronted Neighbor One
with his complaints.
Not a good idea.

Now Neighbor One is
seriously pissed off,
after putting up with a driveway full of 
regurgitated lumber and broken down furniture,
not to mention
 having a view of
a large canvas canopy
from his living room window
for an entire year.

Neighbor Two is pissed off too.
Now he is talking about
building a high fence
from the front 
of the big white truck,
all the way along his property
so he "doesnt have to look at them".

Neighbor Three is happy
her view is
out the back of the house,
so she doesn't have to look at
either of them.

Wolves simply pee along
the boundaries of their territory.
It's ever so much easier.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Half the Sky

Even when their voices are silenced,
their lives oppressed,
their bodies beaten,
still, women's spirits
hold up
half the sky*.

Kenia's challenge at Real Toads today is to take inspiration from the landai - short collective oral poetry shared and passed on from woman to woman in the oppressive-to-women culture of Afghanistan. As girls and women are prohibited from schooling, it is inspiring that this tradition of oral poetry continues. Women can be oppressed, yet our spirits are strong - they will always rise. Check out Real Toads for further information and links about women and poetry in Afghanistan. 

(*Taken from a Chinese proverb: Women hold up half the sky.)

A Sad Day for Dr Seuss

Big dogs and little dogs,
happy dogs and sad,
dogs on the furniture,
dogs being bad.

When I look
from Here to There,
I see dog hair

I think I just might
wind up thinner -
they ate the roast
I planned for dinner.

I'd maybe eat 
brown eggs and Spam,
if I was even
crazier than I am.

We dont have
a cat in the hat,
just one who brings
dead bunnies in
and lays them
on the mat.

Rhyming like Seuss
can be a cinch
but that old grinch
wont give an inch.

Wacky Wednesdays
backwards go,
so I typed this po-umm
with my toe!

Backward from 
my comfy bed,
I sat on the toilet
on my head.

Yuck! that experience
was not pleasant.
Now I need 
to find a pheasant

not for use
at dinnertime,
but just because 
I need to rhyme.

Back to dogs
and it's
Go, Dogs, Go!
The only Seuss poem
I really know.

It's a sad sad day
for Dr Seuss.
And now I need
to find a moose.

Ella's challenge this Wonder???? Wacky Wednesday at Poets United, is to write something Dr Seuss-like or, alternatively, to use the Wacky Wednesday idea of everything being backwards. Never one to hesitate at being lame, I managed to cough up this little - umm - pome. Hee hee. I could have gone on and on but, mercifully, didn't. Apparently I like to rhyme at the Dr Seuss level. Maybe I've found my genre!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


* photo info below

One from the archives this morning, kids. I'm at my desk but a little under the weather, so I plucked this one to offer you. I was walking Pup down at the end of our road that day, thinking about the stressful time I was going through, when I looked up to see several rainbows arcing across the sky. It was glorious. These lines began coming as I gazed in wonder.......

When you are hanging onto
the very last edge
of the edge
of the skinniest branch,
and you feel your grasp slipping,
look up!
There's a sky full of rainbows,
row upon row of them,
shining up there,
to tell you that
   all will be well
        all will be well
            all will be exceedingly well.
God's in His heaven
in the so clear air,
and all will be
exceedingly well.

When the grayest of rain clouds
has just dumped its deluge
upon you,
and you are mopping your eyes
and wringing out your hair,
look quickly!
You just might glimpse
the shine of angel wings
hovering there,
at the very edge of
your peripheral vision,
to encourage you and I
that, on the other side
of this trauma
or sadness or challenge,
the radiant dawn
of a brand new day
lies somewhere
just waiting
to break across your
morning sky.

When you have reached
the very limit
of what you feel you can
or should
when the stress has
weighed you down so far,
you're not sure exactly
how you will
pull through,
go out to where the water
the mountain.
See the waterfall
tumble down its slopes
for you.
Watch the eagle
lift out of the mist
into the shrouded skies.
Take a deep breath
and believe,
just like the eagle,
your spirit, too,
your spirit once more
will rise.

* This photo is of the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador,
and was posted at Our Beautiful World and Universe
which you can also find on Facebook. They have the most
amazing photos.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Firsts for the Senile

image on google by

The prompt at dVerse is The First Time. Well, okay then. By now I have had about a Kazillion "firsts", but there is a recent first which proves, if you live long enough, you'll know (and forget about) almost everything!

The first time
Wild Woman
was pretty sure
she was senile,
she was trying to
put her jacket on
upside down.

Then she noticed
she was doing 
a lot of cackling
when nobody else
was laughing.

No matter.

She has gone beyond
the forgetting-what-
and is well into the
pantomiming the names
of forgotten films phase.
Also the phase where she
boils the kettle,
readies the mug,
then wanders with it, empty,
into the living room.

A recent and rather dangerous
exploration of her purse,
which drew blood,
also amused the onlookers
as she tried to get her money
and evade the Evil Nail Scissors
she had been looking for all day.
Hand in, and withdrawn quickly:
Sister: "What are you doing????"
"Scissors. I found them.
And I need my money,
but I'm scared to go in there!"

The worst was 
the unseemly display,
(for a crone),
of shrieking and cackling
when she tried to ride a bike.
It isn't true - you do forget how.
You have to remember 
the steering.
Apparently that makes
a difference.

The Up-side?
You no longer have the vision
to notice your chin hairs.
(Vast relief, unless you look 
in the mirror in sunlight
and see a small forest 
growing there.
Send that image far far back 
into the recesses of Time.
Pretend it Never Happened!
It's just kinder that way.)

The Down-side?
Not so much in the 
Teeth Department.

The best thing about being
of advanced age is
that everything seems 
utterly hilarious.
One gets away with a lot.
People help you
when they see you 
trying to use a cellphone,
staring at it like it's
a Beam Me Up device,
totally clueless about
which button to press.
They'll volunteer to press them for you,
the more quickly to eject you
from their premises.
They'll even call you a cab!
With some decided alacrity.
You never got dispatched
so quickly

Wild frizzy hair
and odd clothing
complete the picture
and add to the general merriment.

The first time I ever wrote about
the first time I knew I was senile
is........right now!

disclaimer: this is done very tongue in cheek, with no disrespect intended to others of my age who  feel young and extremely agile, mentally and physically. I actually do, too, (well, not extremely, but still), but I get a lot of mileage out of accentuating the negatives for the sake of humor, and just cant resist!!!!!