Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When Animals Talk

When animals talk
they speak with their eyes and their hearts,
their bodies and their tails.
"I love you."
"Thank you for choosing me,
and for bringing me
to the river, the lake, the ocean,the forest."
"Please remove my leash,
and trust me.
Don't you know
I'd never run away from you?"

"Why don't you hear me?
I am pawing at your chest,
not to annoy you,
but to tell you something bad
is growing inside you.
It's why I look so sad sometimes.
And yet you cannot hear me."

And now Pig is speaking: 
"Why is my life spent only in this cage 
barely bigger than my body?
Though I have never known it,
within my genetic memory,
there are fields of clover
to roll in,
a blue sky, sunshine
and No Roof."

google image

"In my memory," speaks up Giraffe,
"lies an African velde,
succulent tall delicious branches,
and something known as Freedom.
But here I am, enclosed,
my baby behind a barrier,
as if Two-Leggeds can rear her
better than I."

"In all of our dreams,"
(they chorus together)
"there are wide open spaces
and we run freely and joyously
beneath the sky.
It lies within our hearts by day,
we dream of it by night."

posted late for Helen's cool invitation at Real Toads to Talk to the Animals. 
Which I do a lot of, in my world!

Deep Peace

Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motif is CELEBRATE, with a view towards celebrating the arrival of spring, May Day or Walpurgis Night. May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and, as my roots are Irish, I decided to head in that direction.......also in my head is that most beautiful Celtic poem Deep peace by Celtic visionary Fiona MacLeod. I'll give the old noggin a whirl, stop it the third time 'round, and we'll see where I wind up.

Bedeck the lowing cattle
with yellow flowers,
and trot them round the meadow,
then send them  out
to the far summer pastures,
as this soft azure evening
is falling.
All the menfolk are gathering 
in the common,
to light the communal fire.
Let us gather round the flames,
faces flickering in its light,
and ask Fire for protection.

Deep peace, deep peace
is all we are asking.
Deep peace of the spring night,
filled with starshine,
and of tomorrow's golden morn, 
fresh and new-rising.

I shall take my torch 
and light it from the coals, 
carry it safely home
to light my own hearth fire,
snuffed out by the last cold winter wind.

But first,we women-of-the-straggly-hair 
must hoist our skirts up high
and take long-legged leaps
across the flames.
Set your intention. 
If you make it across
the fire without being burned,
you are already blessed.

Deep peace of the first of May to you.
Deep peace of the bee-buzz in the roses.
Deep peace of the skybird's joyous call.
Deep peace. 
In your heart of hearts,
may it be always newly spring.

When I lived in Tofino, at one of our staff trainings at the treatment centre, we were told about the Celtic tradition of putting out the winter fires in all of the houses, and gathering on the common - where each family took home hot coals from the communal fire, to warm their own hearth fires - something we were trying to do in the Centre - send the families home with some living coals to warm their own homes. Sigh. I miss that place.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Old Raven

Artist Les Herman

Raven is sitting on top
of my monitor,
looking at me with grave prescience.

What can you tell me,
of my dreams,
Old Raven?

Raven busily rustles her wings,
puts on her pointy glasses,
points with a feathered wing:
Listen up!

with your gobble-cry,
you summon me to 
shake off this torpid darkness.
With your pointy wing,
you indicate Up and Out,
a change in my Being,
whether I stand in place
or pack my bags.

Raven thumbs through 
a Book of Possibles,
none of which have any connection
to my current reality.
Thumb, thumb, thumb,
an upward look at me,
assessing my readiness
for each eventuality.
She stops at a given page.
This is the one -
the answer that I need 
and fear to hear.

I light sweetgrass 
in the abalone shell.
I waft the smoke skywards, 
and to all the Four Directions.
Our eyes meet.
She awaits my question.


on the smoke of my lit prayers,
hear my plea:
lift me over the mountains
to walk once more 
beside the sea.

Raven looks down,
beak pursed.
I do not hear her answer,
so I know it is
not time.

Perhaps it is time
to find
another question?

This was sparked by Elizabeth Crawford's wonderful poem Dialogue With My Dragon. A Raven visited me this morning and I knew she had something to say, I had something to ask. Thus this poem. But still no answers. One is on the way though. I am certain of it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

No Dragons

When you set your compass
to your own True North,
you are on your journey
of the soul.

That way,
there be no

for Elizabeth's prompt, using only three words from her word list: dragons, compass and soul - these three words spoke to me.

"Mommy's Crazy"

This image, from the internet, I borrowed from Hedgewitch's post today. We are writing to Margaret's prompt at Real Toads: to write in the first person about asylums. I was most struck by this list of Reasons for Admissions to an insane asylum. I remember my  despair in an unhappy marriage when I was young, and how my ex could provoke me into hysteria. I realized that, not too many years previously, I could have been admitted to an asylum for even one of those episodes, under "Imaginary Female Trouble, Hysteria or Domestic Trouble". Wow. 

Outside, rain running endlessly
down the windows.
Me, looking out, tears running
endlessly down my face.
He glares, shakes his head in frustration.
His red face, his ranting,
my faults, my lacks,
his needs, not being met.

Words, words, words assaulting,
driving me up the stairs,
into the bathroom,
behind a locked door.
Desperation mounting to hysteria:
I cannot take it
any more.
I smash a jar. I rend the towels.
A cry of despair through lips
I've held too tight
breaks free.

Outside in the hall,
to my little children,
their father says smugly
"Mommy's crazy."

The good news is, when I came out of the bathroom, I went downstairs and began making arrangements to take the children and leave. Life got very much better after that! I escaped just short of the asylum doors.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Holes in the Floor of Heaven

Stars are holes in the floor of Heaven
through which its light shines through.

She dreamed, she wrote the song.
Then, in a bookstore, a book fell open
at her feet, and she read:

Stars are holes in the floor of Heaven
through which its light shines through.

The name of an African shaman, 
Credo Mutwa, was on the page,
and she knew this was a message.

In Africa, she met him, sang him her song,
told him of her dream of an old wise woman
whom he recognized as his mother.

She traveled deep into the heart of the Sangoma,
riding on a wave of connecting synchronicities
to complete the journey of transformation
begun by a falling book, its open page.

Some years back I wrote a prose piece about this story in Into the Heart of the Sangoma..a truly breathtaking true story. The Sangoma is a journey of transformation. 

Ella's prompt at Real Toads is to take books at random and select any phrase or word that jumps out at us, and write about it. 

I thought of this story - a Vancouver singer, Ann Mortifee, was in a bookstore when a book fell off the shelf in front of her, as I described in my poem. This led her on a fantastical journey, from one apparent synchronicity and impossible connection to another. If you like such stories, check out my Sangoma link. This story really took my breath away. There are mysteries we cannot fathom.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Proof of Heaven

When a scientist dies, and visits Heaven,
he wipes the slate of all he knew.
From facts and proofs he now must stretch
his brain to hold a bigger view.

When he returns his soul has changed,
all his theories rearranged, incorporating the divine.
He knows now how the whole world shines.

He returns with a brand new path to trod,
after he dies and visits God.

I have written before  about Dr Eben Alexander's book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, before. He was a scientifically trained doctor who formerly believed in nothing that could not be scientifically proved. He believed near death experiences were impossible. 

During the seven days his body lay in coma, the doctor was accompanied by an angelic being, who guided him into the deepest realms of supra-physical existence. He met and spoke with the Divine Source of the universe itself, and returned to his body forever changed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Little Cup of Grace

In the teapot of life,
I am old grounds,
most of my flavor spent,
almost ready to be 
scuttled into the compost
to nurture new growth.

But while I am still here,
Great Teapot,
tip your spout one more time.
Fill just one more vessel for me
with a little cup of grace.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Earthlings II

Upon your lap, my Mother Earth, 
I listen to the river's song,
of renewal and rebirth,
that calls me home where I belong.

Like a tree, my roots go down,
deeply where there is no sound,
only earthworms burrowing,
through hallowed ground.
Like a tree, when harsh winds blow,
 that assault me, then grow still,
the  fickle weather helps me grow,
changing me, as weather will.

Like a tree, my center lies
  where human folly is forsaken.
Your heartbeat says:
Endure. Just wait,
These earthlings one day
will awaken.

Silent Movies

Childhood was a silent movie:
"Children should be seen and not heard."
"Go to your room and dont come out 
till you have a smile on your face."
Silent movie: the bedroom, 
children shaking with fear in their beds,
at the bumps and crashes and shrieks 
in the Big Peoples' Room,
the sound track of childhood.

A silent movie: following my mother out
behind my father's coffin.
"We have a long row to hoe."
Then the movie became really silent:
her locked in her loneliness,
me mute with so much pain inside,
and no way to figure it out,
no one to talk to.

Pain is anger turned inwards.
It took decades to work it all out,
let it all go.
Just in time for my children's anger
to begin to surface,
making me long for
the days of
silent movies.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I'm collecting wolves and memories,
as I walk this earth-walk......
forest trails and long sandy beaches,
the sound of the waves
forever advancing and retreating
on the shores of my heart.

Inland, I once collected seagulls,
and longed to fly
over the mountains
to the shore.

Once there, I gave away the ceramic birds.
Walking in awe, in outtakes 
from Jonathan Livingston Seagull,
along the shore,
 I needed them no more.

I began this beach odyssey in 1972,
when I watched Jonathan fly
and understood
I belonged heart and soul
to the sea.

My life has been a series
of beginnings,
starting over with nothing,
collecting a nest around me,
then flitting to the next place,
the next refuge,
the next home.

I perch on the edge, now, waiting
for the call that will spring me
across the mountaintops
and back home to the sea.
I will take only the barest necessities
with me:
wolves and elephants and books,
and enough gratitude and joy
to keep me

for Ella's prompt at Real Toads: Collections I live in one big sunny room, its walls covered with wolves and elephants, its shelves awash with books, Tibetan singing bowls, windows decked in prisms and prayer flags. Everywhere my eyes fall, I see something I love, something that says "one who loves nature lives here". 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Days That are Holy

for Susan's prompt at Mid-Week Motif : 
holy days, and what makes them holy.

Easter Sunday, 1960

My little sister has long blonde ringlets,
a pale yellow dress with crinolines,
and a pinafore.
New shoes, hers patent leather,
mine my first Princess heels.
I have a tan fuzzy sailor hat with a wide round brim,
under which my blue eyes ask:
am I good enough?
I wear immaculate white gloves, to the wrist,
my first lipstick,
and a permanent, which transforms my hair
from straight and lanky
to something bouncier,
with curls.
I feel reborn, and hopeful;
it is a time of transformation.

We gather out front to see and be seen,
then we file through the heavy doors 
into the vestry,
dip fingertips
into the holy water font,
genuflect respectfully
towards the tabernacle,
and climb the creaking stairs to the choir loft.

The sun is shining through the stained glass
and it feels like
Resurrection morning.
All my life, it has been cloudy on Good Friday
and sunny on Easter morning.

The priest and altar boys file out,
incense in the censer 
swinging on chains,
and all is hushed reverence,
rustling, pages turning,
muffled coughs.
The Apostles Creed rings out,
and all are on bended knee
as the Agnus Dei sounds.

And then, from the choir loft,
our hearts swelling,
voices blending and soaring,
bass, alto, soprano,
the Hallelujah Chorus rings out,
above the bowed heads of the faithful,
hearts rise,
angels bend near to hear
the joy of Easter
in all hearts.

That Easter, we were housed in the small old Church like the one in the picture above. A bigger, newer church was built soon after. But I preferred the old one, which felt holy with all of the years of prayers, of praise and supplication,  that had been uttered there.

Blessings to all who celebrate, whatever your beliefs, the great wonder of this time of renewal.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


(check out the second little guy under the feeder)

Hummingbirds at the feeder,
horses in the field,
spring blossoms
scenting the air 
as twilight falls......
stepping out my door,
I am bathed
in blessings.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Diversions on the Path

Diversions, distractions, on the path?
Traveler, diversions are the path. 
We take the offshoot, circle back, resume the trek again.
The journey loops and backtracks to make necessary gain.

Traveler diversions are the path.
There is no way made straight from here to there.
The journey loops and backtracks to make necessary gain.
You have to circle to get anywhere.

There is no way made straight from here to there.
Seek here, seek there, for it is all The Way.
You have to circle to get anywhere.
And when you weary, Traveler, stop and pray.

Seek here, seek there, for it is all The Way.
We take the offshoot, circle back, resume the trek again.
And if you weary, Traveler, stop and pray,
when you encounter those diversions on the path.

Susan at Poets United's Mid-Week Motif, asks us to ponder distractions, or stops along the way. my path has been would think there must be some material back there somewhere......I decided to try a pantoum, just to make it more interesting.



April is.....
horses in the bare winter paddock,
looking longingly over the fence,
willing the grass to grow.

for Words Count with Mama Zen, over at Real Toads

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

(Buried) Treasure

I carry my heart
in solidarity 
with a small sister in Afghanistan,
in Nepal, in Brazil,
in Haiti, in Africa,
who wants to go to school,
but who may not,
since she is not a boy,
who must cover herSelf and serve,
yet in whose heart
a dream of More still burns.

Each small girl, 
surviving in servitude,
each girl devalued,
set aside, married young
to serve her youth away....
each girl, a treasure,
so often unclaimed,
one day,
on her journey,
will discover her true worth
lies not in how she is seen,
or in the life she is forced to endure,
but in the qualities that
lie within her heart and mind:
courage, fortitude, strength,
her soul a temple
of inner light.

Wayfarer, watch closely,  for,
before your eyes,
one day, 
against all odds,
 this girl will

"A girl is not defined by what her society sees.
A girl is defined by what she sees inside herself".
from the documentary Girl Rising

Kids, I watched Girl Rising yesterday and it is a wonderful documentary, by Richard Robbins, poetically showing the lives of girls in developing countries, so many millions of whom long, but cannot afford, to go to school. They live lives of servitude and of not being valued. But those girls to whom a miracle happens, who get a helping hand, oh how they rise when they are offered a way out and grasp that moment. A fantastic film which would certainly make our privileged kids sit up and take notice of just how lucky they are.

posted for Mary's prompt at dVerse: Treasures. I do have a lot of personal treasures. But having seen this film, it made me think of the buried treasure that lies in the hearts of millions of girls all over the world.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Old Letters

My grandmother's letters
followed me everywhere.
They were her eyes, her conscience,
keeping me on the right path.
Sometimes, they burned.
Mostly, they said, "I understand."

They were typewritten, 
stream of consciousness,
all one sentence, 
full of whatever was happening,
which continued 
to the bottom of the page
and closed, mid-thought,
with her scribbled "Grandma"
crowded on an angle
into the right hand corner.

And I would give anything
to hold just one of them
once more
in my hand.

posted for Fireblossom Friday's prompt at Real Toads : to write about a letter.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Fool for Beauty

Sproat Lake in February

I am a fool for the night sky,
giant cedars black and tall 
against the backdrop
of stars and clouds and moon.
I am a fool for the croaking of the frogs
lifting from the pond like a song of survival,
at twilight,
as every spring, I fall in love again.

I am a fool for birdsong at morning,
and the miracle that is
the hummingbirds
returning to the feeder.
Am I repeating myself? 
Have you heard all this before? 
I can't help it, for I am a cloud dreamer,
and every wispy breath of mist 
against the mountain 
stops me in my tracks, while I drink my fill.

I am a fool for believing
that the beauty of the earth
means it will endure,
no matter how humans
devastate its balance,
a fool for hoping that somehow, 
at the eleventh minute 
of the eleventh hour,
we will all wake up in time.

I am a fool for thrilling at babies' smiles
and trusting there will be a world safe enough
for them to grow up in,
because their innocence deserves it
and I need that hope.

I am a fool for 
every pair of trusting doggy eyes

I gaze into,
because dogs are all about the Love,
and I am a fool for love.

I am a fool for putting these words
into lines, and thinking it makes a difference,
and a fool for coming back later
and smiling at the responses
which tell me that, sometimes, it does.

I am a fool for this
can't-get-enough, not-long-enough life
in this beautiful, tumultuous, breathtaking world,
where there are not words enough,
not time enough,
to list its wonders.

for Susan's Mid-Week Motif at Poets United: to write about what one is a fool for. 
I am a fool for just about everything! Be sure to check out the links at Poets United - there will be some wonderful responses, as always!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


My friend Andrew's dog, Kasha

If you want to learn about love,
adopt a dog,
especially a rescue dog,
who will be astonished and grateful
at the transformation of his life
from hardship to safety.

Look into those warm, accepting, trusting eyes,
that love you unconditionally,
even when you feel most unlovable,
that know you will care for him
even when you feel too discouraged
to  care for yourself,
that think you are perfect
just the way you are,
when everyone given the gift of speech
assures you
you are lacking 
in every possible direction,
and that your entire life
has been a big goof-up.

When you are sitting,
head in hands, heartsick,
see how he comes over to you,
doesn't push or clamor for attention,
doesn't insist you get over yourself,
doesn't discredit your feelings,
replacing them with his feelings,
just - accepts, and, 
by simply sitting beside you,
resting his big heavy head on your knee,
offering his compassionate and understanding sigh,
says what you wish human beings 
knew how to say more easily:
"It will be all right. I'm here."

Dogs are Love Buddhas.
They come to show us
how Love is 
supposed to be

posted for the prompt at dVerse Poets Pub: to write about an animal. Be sure to check out the links, there will be some great responses. There always are, at dVerse. And Happy Poetry Month, fellow poets!!