Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Night Whispers


The portal of the night
illuminated by moon
and silvery-etched clouds
promises cosmic mysteries
to the dreamer
who navigates by the stars.
The faint inky outline
of the mountains,
hunched together  
like sleeping giants,        
casts a shadow
across the land
where once
the Old Ones walked.

There are spirits
abroad in the land 
this night.
I can feel them
close, but just beyond
my sight.

Grandfather Cedar towers,
black against the starlit sky.
On the fencepost,
an owl's yellow eyes
are fixed on my passing
like a messenger
from the other world,
an oracle,
a harbinger,
a soothsayer,
a feathered prophet.

What are you
trying to tell me?
I ask.
What is it that I
need to know?

Looking up,
all is beauty,
all is peaceful,
all is silence,
all is promise.

I feel the spirits, near,
the eyes of the ancient ones
looking at me with unspoken request.
I see the world as it was in the Old Ways,
shift my vision to what we have become,
weep for  the displaced, 
the dispossessed,
fur beings and humans alike,
who wander this disintegrating planet
in an endless quest
for sustenance
and peace.
Nearby and all across this island
are razed, desecrated slopes
where the Standing People
once stood green and thick and proud.
My thoughts turn to
the creatures that fly and slither,
that swim in  the oceans 
and lakes and rivers,
waters that now are ailing;
and to the polluted air,
the melting icecaps,
the damaged ozone.
My heart sends an apology
to the air and mountains,
earth and sky,
we Two-Leggeds have
so afflicted.

Owl tells me:
place your hands upon
the trunk of Grandfather Cedar.
Sink your roots deep into the earth.
Sing your song of love
beneath Grandmother Moon,
and send it on the midnight wind
to the ancient ones,
who will carry it
to their sweat lodges
in prayerful ceremony.

Yes, there are spirits here,
inviting us to broaden our vision
from the seen
to the unseen,
to clasp hands with the ancestors
who have come to help us heal
Mother Earth's
deep wounds.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Out of the Dust of Yesterday's Poems

from google images

june, 1981

Does one ask a flower to grow?
I just let it be,
letting it unfold as it unfolds,
petal by petal,

I take care not to thwart the solitary splendor
of its blooming,
remembering a flower glows
just as brightly in an empty lot
as when my eyes turn upon it
to share the sudden sweetness
of its garden plot.

As petals catch the wind
and dance under the sun
so do you glow.
Your beauty casts a clear and steady light
that does not dim
and it shines more, the more I come to know.

We touch elusively, as fragile stems
holding up heavy blooms, nodding in the breeze.
The blooms are our two lives. From underneath
their precarious weight our hands emerge
like leaves.

Your solitude speaks to
the peaceful solitude in me
and deep within my quiet heart
I can feel something gentle
yearn to be set free.

posted for Open Link Monday over at Real Toads. I spent this weekend sorting through old papers, and came across this oldie from 1981, when my heart was young. It is when I look back at my earlier writing that I think, of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most. Hee hee.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Save the Frogs!

This poster is by talented 13-year old
Harshitha Mattapally, of India

One of the many ponds in our area-
much larger, of course, than the one in my poem,
which I picture in a corner of a freshly clearcut area,
zoned for condominiums

Mother Frog is singing her spring song,
as she lays her frogspawn
along the edges of the pond.
Deep in the bullrushes,
she sinks into a sleepy, contented torpor,
dreaming of all the little tadpoles
who will soon be waking
into their first spring.

But wait!
She is startled awake
as the ground shakes beneath her,
toppled off her lily-pad
into the water,
where she hops up quickly
to the top of a log
to see
a yellow bulldozer
heading her way,
its giant claw raised,
then tipping
a load of loose dirt -
 pond, mom and babies,
all gone
as it then backs away.

Hannah has set us a cool challenge over at Real Toads for her Transforming Fridays : to write about the endangered frog species for Save the Frogs day. Great prompt, Hannah. I learned a lot. If we are going to save these necessary creatures, we need to be informed.

At Save the Frogs I learned amphibians are the most endangered group of animals on the planet. No wonder, with habitat destruction, pesticides and pollution, global warming and climate change all contributing to their distress. Not to mention the appalling $40 million trade in frogs-legs. 

"For 250 million years, this hardy species outlived dinosaurs, ice ages, volcanic eruptions and asteroid crashes," says Save the Frogs director Kerry Kriger. "Yet in the last 50 years, we have driven one third of the species to the verge of extinction." 

A whole new dismal slant on why "it isn't easy being green."

Mother Wolf, On Waking

As I wake,
my whiskers twitch,
my nose catches the scent 
of morning,
of the earth stirring,
of creatures
in the bush.
My ravening stomach 
tells me
it is time to hunt
for breakfast.

What are these strange
dangling from my body,
which is so strangely upright
and lumbering?

My young are crowded
around the table,
looking at me,
needing so much.
I am tied to them,
caught in this world
by invisible snares,
of love, responsibility,
duty and protection,
so why
do I  long to flee
into the deep dark 
wild and western
never to be 

At Toads, for Fireblossom Friday, Shay invites us to write as if we are an animal trapped inside a human body. Since my lifetime has been all about responsibility and putting others' needs before my own, I definitely relate at times to Mother Wolf, just wanting to lope wild and free through places with No People :) Check out the other way-cool shares over at Toads. They are amazing. Great challenge, Shay.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sky Full of Rainbows

* photo info below

At Poetry Jam, Mary's prompt this week is: Carry On. I wrote this poem in 2010, but it feels appropriate for this prompt, so I hope you don't mind my posting it. Do check out Poetry Jam. There are some great offerings for this prompt.

That day, I was walking Pup down at the end of our road, 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.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


The voices of childhood
are often
sharp and critical,
accompanied by
disapproving looks
that say
You are not worthy.

In time,
these are 
often and inevitably 
replaced by the voices
of indifferent lovers,
that fade away,
leaving behind only
responsibility for
the voices of endless need,
clamoring for your time, 
your work,
your unremitting effort,
voices which often
dog your steps
for a lifetime.

Finally, you grow weary.
You need replenishment,
food for the spirit.

It is then that
you begin to listen to 
the clamorous voice
of your soul.

Heed its call.
Follow it wherever
it leads you - to city, 
or wilderness,
to the song of the sea,
or the dry desert places.
Heed its loud calling 
to whatever place it is
whose voice is
only peace.

Only then will
all those other voices
fall away,
the song of your place
in the world
running  through 
your arteries
your mind
your spirit
till all is healed
all is happiness
all is joy.

That wise wild woman
once you heed her,
will lead you home,
and you will never 
be lost 

At Poets United's Verse First, Kim has set us the prompt: Voices.
I thought of the series of voices that impacted my life, until I finally learned to listen to the only one that counted: the one within. Which is, young readers, the journey, the only real journey.

Do visit Verse First and check out the other offerings. Great prompt, Kim!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cougar Annie

[This poem is about Ada Annie-Rae Arthur, who came to Clayoquot Sound in the early 1900's, settling on rough land near Hesquiat Harbour, which she worked her entire life to tame and cultivate. She is one of the notable characters of the area, surviving four husbands, personally killing 72 cougar, and raising and home schooling eleven children, in the small shack seen above. Cougar Annie also operated a thriving seed mail order business, and ran a post office for those on neighboring islands. The garden is now maintained and held in trust as a heritage property. The hope is that it will become a retreat in the near future.]

The poem was inspired by a quotation by David Whyte:

"I pull the bow out into the wide sea,
paddle dripping towards darkness,
and enter again
the quiet."

June 2001

In the fading light,
I can just make out
the black shapes of the trees,
tall sentinels
that darkly watch me pass,
roots tangled thickly
down the ancient banks
right to the water's edge,
the shore held fast.
Dip and lift,
the only sound the water's lick,
paddle moving cleanly 

through the spreading flow,
the low call of a sleepy owl,
winglift of swooping heron
in mid-flight.
Earth falls away,
above all a starshine glow,
inverted bowl of sky at night
protects me as I go.


Around the point, I drift into Cow Bay
where the big grays are feeding
in a pod.
A whoosh, a whoosh, a whoosh,
a vast arched back,
a fluke
and then the mystical descent
their breath sounds like
the hidden voice
of God.

Dip of oar,
scattered droplets
silvered by the moon,
to the head
of Hesquiat Harbour
home so soon
to farm and garden
mine now, only mine
husbands and children
spilled like the sands of time,
homestead clawed
from tangled bush,
hardscrabble years
in which
I tamed this once wild patch
of ancient pine.


Now no one here but me,
no one to see:
the vibrant blooms
that spread out everywhere,
unexpected garden
from unyielding soil, 

an unexpected life
of endless toil,
I now reflect upon.
I planted flowers
and blooming bushes
all those years,
nourished with laughter,
watered well with tears,
they flourished longer
than leggy children,
grown and so swiftly gone.

Seventy years upon this place,
from young bride
to homesteader / hermit
no man stayed long beside.

At ninety
still a hard glint
in my eyes
my face bird-like, alert,
intent and listening,
hands cradling the rifle,
head cocked - hush!-
ears tuned for the sound
of cougar in the bush.

72 cougar I killed
over the years,
mice and chickens'
necks I snapped
without a thought.
Four husbands
lived beside me
then they died;
eleven children
into the world,
eleven gone.
What mattered most
this place, the life
that living in it

All gone now,
but this place meant
for no other.
The blooms turn
their sweet faces up
to meet me
like a lover.
The fog parts;

my canoe slips in between
the veil that hides
from this world
the unseen.
These ghostly shores
I shall forever roam.
I'm Cougar Annie and I'm
heading Home.

I was moved to post this from my archives after attending an event that honored Cougar Annie last evening. Katrina Kadoski sang and told Annie's colorful story in her wonderful one-woman show called Cougar Annie Tales. Katrina lived in Cougar Annie's cabin and garden as caretaker, for a time. She composed all of the songs and her presentation on the Cougar Annie homestead and truly she brought the fiery character to life through her performance. Many in the audience were descendants of Cougar Annie, who had traveled from Tofino for the occasion.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

An Aubade for Papa

photo by Stephanie Dawn
South Chestermans at sunrise

My love
left me at daybreak
on a Monday,
for the other world,
though wishing he could stay,
peaceful and calm,
flew out the open window,
into heaven,
as I watched 
the curtains sway.

My love left me in springtime,
but his spirit
is never far from me
at break of day.
When I awaken
in the early morning,
I sometimes catch 
a glimpse of him
melting away.

He vanishes
before my eyes
are fully open,
into the trees
in all their springtime bloom.
And every April, now,
I know I'll see him,
from the corner 
of my room.

My love left me in April,
in the morning.
Peacefully, his spirit
fluttered free.
and forever,
every springtime,
will he make his way
from Heaven  
back  to me.

I remember his eyes,
so blue and buoyant.
I remember his smile,
smiled just for me.
Forever and forever
and forever,
we two grew
such a loving

He promised
he'd return to watch 
me sleeping,
send an angel
to be there
as I  awake,
promised me
he'll still sit
in Papa's chair,
said all these things
to comfort
my heartache.
 I dont open my eyes
too quickly,
in the morning,
and I try to laugh and smile
to ease the pain,
for tomorrow and tomorrow 
and tomorrow,
I know that I will see my love

The funeral was very moving, kids. What a huge, wonderful, loving family this is. Such a legacy George and Bernice created for this world. His kids and grandkids told stories. There was much laughter, there were many tears. Sebastian was being "very good for Papa", though an hour and a half is a long time to sit still for a four year old. He did well.

This was a well loved man. The church was packed, and many had to stand outside and watch the service on tv in the parking lot. 

Wikipedia says an aubade is a morning love song, in strictest form sung  from an open door or window to a sleeping woman. This made me think of George, who died at dawn, now looking in on Bernice these first mornings of his absence.

Yesterday - his burial day - would have been his 66th birthday. Happy Birthday in Heaven, Papa!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Poem for Papa

google image

When the news is all bad,
when a good man dies,
when the world seems dark and sad,
that's the time we have to remember
there is more light
on this planet
than there is dark.

In the midst of 
destruction and death,
we watch the heroes rising up,
running in to help
with selfless resolve.

When I think of 9/11,
what I remember,
besides the towers falling,
forever falling in my mind,
are the smiling young women
dressed as angels,
who walked about the city streets
to remind us
that love still exists.

When the night is dark and cold,
that is when we most bless the morning,
with a brand new day for starting over.
We are grateful  our eyes are opening
on yet another dawn,
and as the sun creeps up 
over the mountains,
soon all the dark is gone.

If each of us holds our thimblefuls of light
high up against the falling of the night,
the glow will spread from near to far,
reminding us, in the midst of pain and fear,
part of our DNA comes from
a star.

Kids, it has been a rough week.  A friend died suddenly, of cancer, three weeks from diagnosis to death, and I have been looking after their little one for much of the week. I will take him to his Papa's funeral on Saturday, so his mom will be able to focus on the service. Very sudden, very sad, and this little one says, about it, "Papa's still  around, we just cant see him." Little ones live so close to the truth of existence.

Papa and his wife, my friend Bernice, have raised thirty foster children in their years together. This little fellow is the most recent one. He adored his Papa.

The events in Boston rocked us all. We are becoming battle-worn and weary, oh, so tired. So I welcomed Kim's challenge at Poets United's Verse First this morning: to write a poem on the theme - Wake Up and Love.

I am so tired that it is a challenge. I would rather write a poem called Go To Sleep and Forget Everything. But I will try, because Kim has the right idea. In the middle of all of these sad events, what one sees, always, is the kindness of strangers to each other. In times of trouble, we all remember that we are kin.

I know I am very behind in commenting. I will catch up at some point. Truly, I will. Just hanging in, right now.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Observer

the art of Katana Barnet from walkswithin.com

Within, lives the Observer,
who sees what is often,
consciously, unseen.

Deep in the crannies and crevices
of reverie and remembrance,
we know
more than our minds
know we know.

Through the
all-seeing eye
in our collective unconscious,
we look back through all of time
at an ancient
way of being.
We look ahead
into the vastness of forever
to all that is
Mystery and Possibility.

The voice within
reminds us:
Look through 
your Big Window
at the expansiveness
of the universe.
Unfurl your branches.
Raise them high.
Reach and grow.
Embrace each year,
each circle
on your trunk,
with gratitude
and wonder.

Bring forth your gifts.
Be the one
that you took this life
to be.

There is an old wise woman
who lives behind your Eye.
She knows the journey well.
Follow her.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Accessible Poetry

Running behind the herd as always, (a dangerous place for an aging creature!), I trip over Lolamouse's prompt at Toads, to write an "accessible poem" in the style of Billy Collins. My brain cells being fairly fried by now, I think much of my poetry is perhaps a little TOO accessible, sometimes, but I will try to Collins it up a notch for you, kind reader.

Wandering through the living room to let in 
half a dozen dogs,
I see a neatly beheaded small mouse - a shrew? - 
lying on the nearer dog bed.
The cat imperiously stalks past, likely
trying to send a message about
the calibre of her kibble.
How soon they forget being homeless,
and become demanding.

Why are they called shrews, I wonder. 
Or, alternatively, 
why are women called shrews when they complain?
Generally, we have a ton of good reasons to do so.
I pluck him from his decapitated end,
wrap him in paper toweling
and ponder:
garbage or compost?
Hmmm...........the Head Honcho
is not at home to ask.
Okay, garbage: swiftly done,
No One Will Ever Know -
other than you,
dear reader,
and you wont tell.

   ***   ***   ***

Oh, I LOVE accessible poetry. 
But if I start repeating myself, 
please do tell me. 
I'm old. 
It happens.

***   ***   ***

When You Love a Wild Thing II

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.

This is one from the archives, first posted December 31, 2011. Re-Posted today for Poets United Poetry PantryIt will also be linked to Real Toads Open Link Monday as well.

Am tired and behind, doing my best to catch up, kids! I have a four year old here this weekend so in between adventures and playdates, I will keep commenting, intermittently, till I have made the rounds. Will get there eventually. Thanks for your patience.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I Did Not Drown in Clayoquot Sound!

Chris and I decided to take our "people shots" before our boat ride up to the float, while our hair was relatively in place. 

It had been windy the day before, with considerable wave action and whitecaps in the harbour, which had made me  nervous about boating. But this morning, all was calm and the swells wouldnt return till early to mid afternoon. So all was well. However I made a very inelegant crash landing into the boat, falling rather than stepping in. Chris was horrified, and, after that,  the two of them raised and lowered me in and out as reverently as the flag of the British Empire!

My beloved Lone Cone, watching over the harbor.

The village, as we sped away.

Off-the-grid residents of the Sound
live in some extremely cute and funky dwellings.

Beauty unparalleled.

Spectacular scenery. Everywhere my eyes landed : Beauty! Joy! 
A feast for the senses!

At the float, Warren busied himself trying to locate the source of  a leak in the bilge,
while Chris tended to her beautiful greenhouse garden.

These two seemed to be trying extra hard to impress-
and they succeeded.

Can you see Mr Bee curled up for a nap inside this daffodil?
So adorable.

My sister calls this shot - "Beaver Creek Visits 
Clayoquot Sound".
Chris calls it "All she needs is a beer."
I call it "All I Need is a Nap!"
So peaceful there, I could have fallen asleep, 
listening to the birds, 
the bees, and the water softly lapping.

If you look closely, you'll see Warren hauling on the thick rope that fastens the floathouse to a strong branch on shore, to keep it - one hopes - in place during storms. This is a tricky procedure, as Chris had to paddle the boat in and out to deposit him on shore and pick him up after without crashing into the rocks.

Time for another beach walk, once we got home.
We visited the resident carver, whose carving shed
is located in the trees at the north end of Chesterman's, 
and had a peek at what he was working on.
That was pretty cool.
I missed the former carver, who died a few years back,
and who was a local treasure.

I felt Pup's presence on Chestermans more than I ever have in Port.
This is the beach we walked on twice daily, for years.
And I felt something else I never feel in Port - pure joy.

One last look, then home for a cider and supper. We were both too tired to return for the sunset 
- it was such a full, wonderful day - an adventure that filled my heart. My memory will return to revisit all of these wonderful sights until I can return there again. I told Chris, coming back to Tuff City in the boat, "I am so in love with Clayoquot Sound that I don't need anyone." It has been that way since 1989, when I first set foot in the land that is the home of my spirit.