Friday, February 28, 2014

To the Forest, Dark and Deep

Owl in a Port Alberni back yard

I thought I'd put my heart into a poem,
and take it to the forest, dark and deep,
find the mossy path, the broken limb,
a perch from which to read the trees to sleep.

So sonorous, all words verdant and green,
so soft the moss, the pages all between.
I turn them, leaf and fern, salal and flower,
sweet and protected, in my leafy bower.

The dark will tiptoe in on doe-like feet,
will settle tenderly upon the boughs,
and I softly away, and smiling sweet,
the forest safe and dreaming deep, for now.

Oh forest dear, my sanctuary blessed,
it is to you I come, when I seek rest.

I was sitting here, blank-headed as always, when the thought arrived to attempt a sonnet. How distinctly odd.

for Fireblossom Friday

Ack! I had already taxed my brain by writing a poem that rhymed, before I saw Shay's prompt at Real Toads: Fireblossom Friday : write a rhyming poem with one of two rhyme schemes.  I chose  abab, bcc The illustration that sparked the poem is by W.T. Benda.

Life to life, in goodly guise,
love to lover plights her troth.
A true love cannot, too, be wise.
Love or ease - one can't have both.

Remember, when you make your oath,
you give serenity away,
to burn with angst both night and day.

(Yes, I'm old and jaded. Hee hee. I would have liked one more line, to add a note of hope, but rules are rules.) 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Watch This and It Will Change Your Life

Make it Possible from Animals Australia on Vimeo.

Kids, our friend Rosemary, the Passionate Crone, posted this today on facebook. If you watch it, it will be impossible to be unmoved or unchanged. It hit my heart, which already, as you know, suffers for the animals. I have kids and grandkids who are raw vegans because of the cruel treatment of animals in what are euphemistically called "factory farms". The fact this is allowed is mind-boggling. The fact that we ingest this trauma on our dinner plates makes me think no good can come of it. 

At the very least, those of us who care need to lobby for humane lives for animals raised for food. And we need to use our purchasing dollars to buy only food that has been humanely produced and raised and to simply refuse to eat anything that comes from a factory farm. We have choices. We can buy our eggs from local farmers, our chickens too, if we eat meat. The only thing that will change agro-business is the bottom line. If there are no profits from warehousing cages of animals, maybe they will stop. At least, we wont be participating in this gruesome business any longer.

Watch this film, if you can bear to.  It hits the heart and once you know, you cant un-know. Then it becomes about choice.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In Love With the Sky

I never wanted to climb 
that ladder to Success:
the stepping-stone path up the levels
that bring big bucks,
great clothes, 
monster house,
new car every three years,
a decorated home, and an RV.

I was always more in love with the sky,
comfy in my thrift store clothes,
grateful for simple pleasures,
happy with my down-scaled 
trailer park life.

I took one look 
at that fork in the path,
saw the lives of those 
in pursuit of More
- More of Everything - 
bigger, better, newer, 
faster,snazzier, -
shook my head
and took the poet's path.
And that, as another poet said,
has made
all the difference.

Posted for Susan's Mid Week Motif at Poets United: Success

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Traveler Series

John Mayba for the AV Times

A Port Alberni creek during the recent cold snap.

HeatherThomson, AV Times

Our local flock of swans, along the Somass River.

Kids, some of you have asked about my Traveler series of poems. The series began with a journey I took with my sister poet Elizabeth Crawford, of Soul's Music,  in April 2011. From time to time Traveler poems still pop up at critical moments. (Elizabeth's poems from the Soul Card Journey can be found at the link above.)

I finally have managed to put the series together on a page of their own on my site. If you wish, you can find  The Traveler Series here, or by clicking the link on the side bar to the right.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Life Without Limits

When this man says
"there is no boundary" -
no limit in 
or in living -
when his rich life of the mind
discovers the outermost reaches 
of the universe,
while he is entrapped
inside his body,
you have to tell yourself:
there are truly
no limits -
to any horizon,
to any dream,
to any goal,
at all.

I just watched Stephen Hawking's dvd about his life, and am in awe. 
Just no excuse for not following our dreams, for making every moment count.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Play It Again, Toads!


The lab tech and the pretty Filipino nurse fell in love.
The other Filipino nurses all loved Roger.
"He is our brother," they said.
They married soon and, some months later,
Gloria gave birth to their baby boy.

They had time to exchange a thrilled, ecstatic kiss,
and to name their baby boy Brian,
before Gloria suddenly hemorrhaged, and died.

Roger walked around for weeks,
white and stunned as the walking dead,
clutching his baby, kissing his cheeks
till they spotted with rashes,
from being kissed too much.
The only thing he knew was,
he could not  put the baby down,
could not unwrap his arms from him,
for he was all he had left of Gloria,
the gift she had left behind, departing.

The Curley family fostered the baby for seven months,
while Roger confronted his grief, his altered life,
his banished dreams.
But then they said that
they and the baby were 
getting too attached 
and it was better for him to be with his father.

Suddenly, a wedding was announced.
The baby needed a mother.
There was another Filipino nurse -
pretty, warm, loving,

-so like Gloria - 
who loved Roger;
and one other - reserved, more plain, quieter,
a more pragmatic choice.
I think Roger felt it would be a betrayal of Gloria 
to choose the warm pretty one -
the one he maybe could come to love.

So he chose the quiet one,
so he could keep his son.

Of course, it didn't work.

I passed their house, one afternoon,
Roger standing in the window,
clutching baby Brian, sad eyes looking out
at a dismal landscape: no hope, no dreams, no joy.
She wrote me, the following year,
that she had had a son,
and that the family was two camps:
Roger and Brian,
and she and her son.
That her heart was broken.

Sometimes love goes happily.
Sometimes it hurts way too much.

I wonder how it all turned out,
if they stayed together,
or if there continued to be two camps 
of parents and sons -
those two innocents, born into a world of hurt
and misplaced hearts.

Sometimes, love hurts.

Posted for Margaret's Play It Again prompt, where we are asked to choose a prompt out of three selected from the Toads' archives. Cool! I chose Shay's "Lights, Camera, Love!", where we are to write a love story. Sadly, this is a true one.

It happened in 1967, in Alert Bay, BC, a teeny two by five mile island, off north eastern Vancouver Island, where I lived when I was first married. The death occurred one week before I gave birth to my first child - he almost died, too, and I had a traumatic experience in the tiny hospital there. I remember the Filipino nurses, at Gloria's funeral, wailing and stumbling with grief, and how one touched my belly and assured me, "This wont happen to you". I remember the doctor saying to me, as I lay on the birthing table, "It was so sad, watching her die. There was nothing I could do." Dr. Pickup. I just remembered his name.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Playing Chicken with One Heart

google image

The music of love
was mixed,
as were your messages,
and so were the old tapes
in my head,
which kept me too fearful
to make the leap off the ledge

I needed guarantees,
safety equipment
that could not be given,
to the security of my nest,
with all its known dimensions,
where the tapes began to croon
the Safe Chicken blues.

When Death Comes II

When Death comes,
Absence is such
a huge new Presence
that it is hard to bear.
It takes time
to become accustomed to it,
to live with it as we go on,
that gaping absence
always  beside us,
their favourite chair
always empty,
the rooms too eerily silent.

Knowing we loved them well,
to the last moment of their lives 
and beyond,
that we will never stop loving them,
we hope their love is never far from us.
We look for signs and messages,
for that much love, 
once begun,
never really ends.

Written for a friend who has just lost her husband and best friend far too young.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


photo by Bill Eppridge

At Poets United's Mid-Week Motif, Susan has set us the challenge to write an ode to a leader, or to leadership. of my favourite, most humble and loving leaders, Back in the Day, was Bobby Kennedy, a man of the people. Then there wasnt another until Barak Obama. When Obama came along, my heart rekindled with hope once again. It had been a long long time.

You never wanted to be a leader,
but you followed your brother,
as you always had.
You believed from whom much is given,
much is expected,
and you wanted to serve.

When you ran for President,
you didnt speak loftily from podiums.
You were down among the people,
the laborers, the marginalized,
the impoverished, the disenfranchised.
With your honest eyes, your boyish smile,
your compassion and your love,
you reached out and won all hearts.

You gave us hope, again.
And when they shot you, Bobby,
I stopped believing,
for a long, lonely time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Setting Wounda Free

Wounda's Journey from the Jane Goodall Institute on Vimeo.

This is so touching - Jane Goodall took part in setting this chimp, Wounda - who had come close to dying in captivity - free on an island paradise, where other chimps are already living. Jane says for her 80th birthday next year, the best gift she could receive is if funds are raised to free the 60 other chimps waiting to be set free as well. When Wounda hugs Jane, to thank her for her freedom, I wept. Tissue alert! So moving.

This would be a good cause to contribute to, if anyone has some extra dollars to spare - contact the Jane Goodall Institute or . 

Portal of Transformation

Doorway to Beyond

A portal of transformation in the cosmos
is ajar.
The deep Feminine is inviting us
to step out
farther than we have ever been,
and, at the same time, to listen, listen......
Listen to the Voice Within,
to our celestial guides,
and to the pleas of all other species,
all over the planet.

All are making 
their cries and lamentations
at what is happening
to our individual and collective worlds,
as we struggle towards
our evolutionary re-birth
as a community
of souls.

Monday, February 17, 2014

How Wolves Change Rivers

This is a visually beautiful and fascinating description, narrated by George Monbiot, of the trophic cascade effect caused by the re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park - how the wolves changed the rivers and  landscape of the area by their presence.   Really cool.

In Love with the West Wind

The beautiful Tofino harbour

Kids, I fell in love in Tofino. And look who I fell in love with (she also fell in love with me). Excuse the wood chips on my socks!

Her name is Soupy, and she totally "got" my vibe. She attached herself to my front, under my chin, laid her little head on me and our conversation went something like this:


Hello. Hello.

Pretty birdy.

I said to Chris, "Finally, I have met someone on my conversational level." Cackling.

My friend, Christine Lowther,  noted West Coast poet,
environmental and animal activist,
and lover of the earth. With Soupy.

Where to start? Four GLORIOUS beach walks. Waves. Varying weather. Including a wonderful storm Saturday night. Add to that chocolate, yummy vegetarian food, a great friend, a bird and a dog - what more is there? Take a peek:

Sophie, with the toy I brought her

She kind of liked me, too.

Tuff City girl, and friend

Beach walks were heavenly. The waves were wonderful, and we enjoyed sunshine, sunset, grayness, light rain - an array of much gentler weather than is usual here in winter. 

Behind those trees is the world class destination resort, the Wickaninnish Inn, which brooked enormous local opposition when it was first proposed, but which seems to have fitted itself into the landscape  as unobtrusively as possible. We've gotten used to it.

How I have missed sunsets at Chestermans. Years of missing!

Next day was beach gray, and lovely, with
wave action that delighted the surfers.

This is a wonderful place for young people....and dogs.......

..........and birds! This man strolled the shore with a band of crows  and a couple of large ravens hopping alongside him very sedately. Every twenty yards or so, he would stop, they would sit,  watching him expectantly, and he would share with them the contents of his pockets. Friend of crows and ravens! I decided I will be another one,once I am back there.

Happy dogs are everywhere.
This was Pup's favourite beach. 
Sophie is lucky, as she lives at Chestermans.

You can see Lone Cone in the background.

I was delighted by the waves,and could not get enough of them.
At the house, I could still hear them,
and slept better than I have in years.

"Downtown" Tofino - overlooking the harbour

Upstairs in this building is a wonderful art gallery  full of West Coast art.

Downstairs is the Whale Center, my first job - selling tickets to whale tours - 
when I first moved to Tuff City.

The Village Green, center of festivities for such events  as the Whale Festival in March,
and farmers' and artists' markets in summer.

This is the heart of the village center - the eclectic shops, galleries, post office and bank
are all within a four-block radius. I love that about it. Village life is just my size - so friendly. The energy of this place is amazing. It is a power place. The ley lines intersect in a way which draws certain of us to her: artists, environmentalists, writers, poets, seekers and dreamers. I am among my people there.

A gust of wind
wraps around me
like a hug,
sings joyously in the tops of the trees,
It's like the place itself
has missed me.
I'm so in love
with the westerly.

Take a left at Brown Rice Corner.
Hang my heart
on the topmost tree.
A deep sense of homecoming
fills my heart:
I'll be back -
make a place for me.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Winter Beach taken by Chris Lowther
Chestermans Beach, with Lone Cone in the background

When you are in love with place,
the winds blow love your way.
Every day
begins and ends
with pure contentment.
The white, soft sand
blesses the bottoms of your boots,
and the dune grass burns golden
in the amber light just before dark,
when the sun goes down
behind the sea.

Your heart takes flight
on every eagle's wing,
when you are
in love with place,
and it knows
your name.

By now, even newcomers to this site must know of my love affair with Tofino on the wild West Coast of Vancouver Island. This morning I head up there for a few days of beach walking, and hanging with my friend Christine Lowther (poet extraordinaire and fellow cackler) There will be cackling for sure. And there will be a meeting of the Clayoquot Writers Group, of which I was a founding member Back in the Day, and I am apparently to be the guest of honor. Yippee.

So I will be offline for the weekend, but will be back, all rapturous, on Monday afternoon. The hardest part will be getting on the bus and leaving it all behind to come back here. Hopefully not for too long. I am still waiting for that move to happen, and am getting more than a titch impatient with all the Waiting.

Attention Universe: It is TIME!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Wickaninnish Beach

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
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.

I suspect many of us are feeling the duration of this long winter, right about now. I am reminded this morning of the poem above, which I wrote a handful of years back. One day I was walking Mr Dog in the fields at the end of the road, my thoughts distracted by some worries I was processing, when I suddenly remembered to look up - and saw not one, or two, but a whole handful of rainbows, all across the sky. Rainbows are always my sign that "all will be well" so I took them as a hopeful sign and, in fact, things did get much better pretty soon.

So I thought I would share them with you, to remind you, in the grayness and chill of late winter, that spring is readying itself under the ground and soon everything will look very much brighter. Take heart, fellow pilgrims!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Strange Angels

Strange angels have visited my life
and wandered through my byways.
I see them from
the corners of my eyes
as they flit up the staircase,
gray and golden.

Who will come,
when the naked moon
rises up over the mountain,
and the wolves howl,
forlorn, in the hidden valleys?

Strange angels,
to show me the way.

At Real Toads Marian set us a prompt to write something inspired by Laurie Anderson, whom I have always loved, especially her song Strange Angels.  I was struck by her image of the sun coming up "like a big bald head", which is where the naked moon comes from. The rest is just about my resident ghosts, who flutter near, sometimes.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

No Turning Back

On the path of transformation
there is no turning back:
autumn turns to winter,
middle-aged to old,
every step and every moment
moving us forward.

We carry nostalgia
for the times that are no more,
resistance to the speed
rushing us through
our shortening days.

The secret is to let go 
like the last leaf
on the fat old oak
and drift dreamily through 
the present moment,

Knowing that above all, 
around all, 
beyond all,
all is as it is meant to be.
We wander through our days
wrapped all in beauty.

The moon will be waxing 
half-full tonight.
Listen for Wild Woman's howl.

One from the archives, kids, as my brain is vegetative at the moment. No turning back from that fact either! Cackle!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It's All Love, Charlie Brown

creator Charles M. Schulz

I sought love, in all its guises,
recoiled in pain, heart frozen, bleak.
Then "just give love" my friend advised me;
"Learn to give instead of seek."

So "I love you" to the river,
and "I love you" to the trees.
"I love you" to the furry creatures
walking at my knees.

"I love you" to the dawn,
and to the night when day has gone.
My heart grew full with all this loving,
I have built my life upon.

posted for Susan's way cool prompt at Poets United's Mid Week Motif: Love

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tribute to an Everyday Hero

Written for Gabriella's prompt at Poetry Jam: to write a tribute poem to someone we admire. I didn't have to look far!

He's a laid back kinda guy,
humble, quick to encourage others,
while seeing the best
in everyone else.

Loves his wife, adores his kids,
is a good dad,
makes them laugh,
really listens to them,
and teaches them
what they need to know.

He cares about his students,
cries with them,
- " I feel you, man" -
drives them to the hospital,
is there in their most desperate hours.
They still remember, and are grateful,
when they meet by chance
somewhere out in the world,
years later.
"How's it goin', man?"
he'll ask.
"Good? Great!
How's the baby?"

He never thinks he's doing enough,
yet he does more
than any six other people. 
When it comes to caring,
no one can beat him:
from the homeless man he 
exchanges smiles with every morning,
to the lady on the park bench feeding the pigeons,
he knows everyone on his beat.
He sees their humanity 
- our shared humanity -
and when he tells us their stories,
he makes us see it, too.

His stories make us smile,
or cry,
makes our hearts ache,
or soar,
but we always come away
feeling good -
feeling kinder.
He reminds us of those struggling humans
we need to keep on our radar,
so they don't fall through the cracks.

He's a good man,
this Brian of Waystation One,
one of the best,
with a heart bigger 
than all of Virginia,
an everyday hero,
who keeps doing what he's doing
to try to make a difference
in this world.
So I wrote this poem
to tell him "Thanks!"
and that - I noticed.