Tuesday, March 31, 2015

To Dream a Wild Woman's Dream

At Chris's float, in Clayoquot Sound

I guess it's too late to live in a cabin
in the wilderness,
hauling water from the creek,
chopping my own firewood,
watching the snow swirl down
as the woodstove crackles 
and the candles sputter.
I guess it's too late to sing with the wolves
at midnight, or open the door
in the foggy morning,
cabin huddled
at the base of a mountain,
to a silence deeper
than any quiet  has ever been,
or walk a bushwhacked trail,
scalp prickling as you know 
there is a cougar hiding somewhere near,
its eyes upon you.

But it's not too late to visit my friends, who do,
to sit on their floathouse platform
and bask in the beauty of God's own pocket,
the trees, the water, the creatures who live there
life in macro- and microcosm, thriving,
because those who live near know
they live on hallowed ground,
thus are respectful.
And it's never too late
to dream a wild woman's dream.

I dont usually sign up for NaPoWriMo, as I usually write almost daily anyway. But this year, since my Muse has been flagging, I am going to make myself do it, in an attempt to get the thoughts flowing again. And this prompt from the NaPoWriMo site, resonated with me. You begin with "I guess it's too late to" and go on from there. The above is my dream life. I just missed out on it by ten seconds. But I came darn close.

The Call of the Wild

 a friend's cabin in Tofino

It has always called to her,
the wilderness:
towering trees, lashing wind and rain 
against a cabin wall,
rioting waves with white-plumed manes
galloping in to shore,
as the moods of the weather shift and turn
against a backdrop of ever-changing sky.

All her life, she has lived 
this parallel existence in her mind:
a rough-hewn cabin with no other 
man-made structure within a hundred miles.
The whole time she has driven along 
grey city streets,
lived side by side in little box houses,
in her soul  she has been a wilderness woman,
in love with the land.
All these years
in her heart,
it is a love song to the wild
she has been singing. 

for Gabriella's prompt at dVerse: the call

Monday, March 30, 2015


sunrise over Tofino inlet

Celestial sphere,
golden orb,
you peep your smiling crimson  face up
over the mountains
and turn the world
to flame.

The birds fall silent in awe as,
majestically, you rise,
gliding across the heavens,
spilling warmth and hope
for the start
of a new day.

You keep us looking up,
lift our spirits, raise our eyes 
again and again
with your empyrean sky-show.
And when, at eventide, 
in beauteous glow
you softly fade away,
you leave memories
of all that was good and golden
about today.

In my drafts file, first written for Susan's prompt, the sun, two weeks back. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Melancholy Voyage

The beginning of things is the most entrancing time,
the thrall of captivating newness, the heady unknown,
which flies us across the heavens, 
until we wake, a year later,
to the reality of being two people, 
who now have to make our way forward, in tandem.
I made this journey more than once, until I grew weary,
my heart  battered and blue from the passage,
cerulean desert, with thorns, and a ripple of bleeding.
We kindred souls on the voyage 
from hope to disillusion
may mock, but the melody of our souls is melancholy,
for all that we once dreamed, that did not come to be.

The ending of things is a revisiting,
a summing up, a coming to terms.
It is fraught with emotion, regret, acceptance
and, finally, surrender: it was what it was.
Once we were spring, and hopeful,
and now we are autumn, our leaves crinkled.
We are slowly becoming one with the earth,
resignation our address, as the great Wheel 
turns and churns us along.
We cartwheel across the landscape of memory -
hand - foot - arm - leg  landing us
in one shimmering scene after another
till we can take it no longer -  
the inexorably gradual fading of our lives
against the radiance of all that we once  hoped 
they might be.
And I wish it had all been so different, while I embrace
the grand design, the inevitability, the rightness
of all that it was.

My attempt at a guided poem, as outlined at Metaphors and Smiles.  I thought it might help jog some writing loose, and, as always, am surprised where it took me. I will link this to the Poetry Pantry this week, and look forward to seeing you all there!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Songs of All Creatures

The Elaho River
photo by Jon Merk

The earth sings in liquid notes:
roar of waterfall,
trickle of creek,
rush of river,
ebb and flow of the ocean tide.

Let it trickle through your fingers.
It is precious,
the basis of all life.

Thank the water.
Pray to the water.
It hears you.

The earth sings
in rushing wind,
in crackling fire,
in soft breezes,
in thunder, 
in crack of lightning,

in dawn's gentle rise
over the mountaintops
of the world.

Listen with your very being
to the message
coming to you
on the wind.

Listen for direction
in the way that
you must go,
for all the spirits know.

The earth sings
through its creatures:
cry of eagle,
chirp of junco,
caw of raven,
howl of wolf
in the wintery midnight,
roar of lion
on the hot savannah,
snow leopard
on its icy slope.

Listen to their songs and cries.
They speak their own language,
but if we listen
with our hearts,
they are trying to tell us
what we most need to know.

written in 2013 

March Rains


I enter slow the bitter bog.
I perch upon a fallen log,
survey the gloom and forest fog,
while tall trees drip and mosses sog.

I wrap my cape against the chill
and grumble, as we humans will,
resisting this late-winter chill.
I plod on, while resisting still.

Where is the spring, the sun, I ask.
Has winter not fulfilled its task?
My muse has donned its sleeping mask.
It needs some warmth in which to bask.

I turn homeward, with a will,
or else I would be walking still,
searching vainly, as one will,
for spring is only promised, still. 

The March rains  have kept our skies grey all month and my Muse has curled up like a gestating hog and refuses to send me even a glimmer of an idea. Sigh. So I decided some humor might jog a thought or two loose. March rains do not a-Muse me, LOL. But they sure beat snow, which my son and daughter-in-law still have, in Regina.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


google image

His every cell remembers
climbing trees
and running through the grass.

Fourteen years in chains,
and legs that no longer work.
But still, a loving spirit.


She has never known
anything but bars
under her feet.


The worst captivity of all:
a spirit too beaten down
to exit the open door.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Kaleidoscope of Beauty

The Farm, 2015
photo by Lori Kerr

turn the kaleidoscope of beauty
in memory
and what pops out?

on the ocean at midnight,
spume outlined in radiance,
under an upturned bowl of stars

a flock of swans on the river, 
huddled for warmth in the mist

the mountain's snowy peak 
turning rosy pink just before sunset

snow geese flying in formation 
across a winter sky

an owl, head turned towards me, 
looking deeply into my eyes as she flies past,
my mother's message from the other-world

hills rounded, looking  like a lumpy giant, 
lying along the shore
under a pomegranate moon

a hummingbird's lightness in my hand 
as I rescue it from the window ledge, 
then open my palms to feel 
its feathery release

a brand new puppy, wriggly, all-joy,
a heart-lift of hope,
a full measure of love

the endless, always-changing sky,
celestial sphere, that forever
enraptures my eye

the peace of an old growth forest,
full of wolves and hidden bears ~
unseen, and yet we feel 
their spirits there

a child's wide-eyed, 
open-hearted trust
when one has earned it,
as each trusted adult must

the heroism in human hearts 
that strive, through the worst of times, 
to seek and find the beauty
of being alive

for Mary's prompt at dVerse: true beauty

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Landscape of Memory

Snake River

The spiritual terrain of memory* 
is filtered with golden light.

Its landscape is a vast brown desert
halved by a river, with voices singing
in a boat out of sight around a bend.
They are coming to meet us
as we walk this unfamiliar passage
on our way towards the welcoming sky.
Beings appear on either side,
to accompany us and light the way.
They are kind, very kind, some in brown robes,
some in light-filled wrappings, incandescent.

I am dreaming, now.
Can you tell me, am I dreaming?

As we walk, moments from our lives
flash before us, and we re-live each one,
but quickly, as swiftly as thought,
each moment full of the emotions 
felt, not only by us, all our lives,
but the others around us as well.
This is what pains us, to see from all sides
what, until now, we saw only one way.
An overwhelming sensation, like a tap pouring
enough memories through us to drown us,
as we accept yet fight against the drowning.

We realize how much of the time 
we were living unconscious.
This hurts.
We realize how much time
we wasted complaining,
instead of being grateful.
This stings.
But the guides are gentle. They say,
"Even then, you were beloved,
even then, you were learning."

We have never
felt so loved.

The paddlers slow their chant, to give us time
to recover from the seeing of our lives -
what our being here meant, to us, and to others.
Then they arrive around the bend,
the spirit guides.
They are all kind and smiling,
and they beckon us closer.
It seems we have a choice.
We can step into the boat,
or we can shake our heads and return,
follow our footsteps 
back across the desert
to our left-behind lives.

Only, if we return,
we will be much more aware than before
of how every single word, smile,
moment and thought,
impacts the entire world around us.
Each of our words, then,
each of our moments,
will be blessed.

* "the spiritual terrain of memory" is a phrase borrowed from Alan Dienstag. It seems this led me to describing a near-death experience. My grandma actually told me this story of her friend's return from a coma, when she hovered between life and death, several decades ago. She found herself  crossing a desert landscape, hearing people singing in a boat around a bend. When it arrived, the woman was told she still had work to do, and she came back to life.

In my readings on NDE's, they say our life review lets us know how each experience impacted not only us, but the people around us. This is what must bring pain, as we see the effect our unthinking words and actions had on others. But they say it is not to punish us, it is for our soul's  learning.

Anyone interested in Alzheimer's, or whose family is impacted by the disease, will find Alan Dienstag's article (click on the link) very interesting. 

Love Water Day

This is my eco-warrior heroine, Ta'Kaiya Blaney of the Sliammon Band, a singer and environmental activist since she was ten. This girl is an inspiration. Today is love Water Day. We take it for granted in the northern hemisphere. But, even here, water is becoming finite, especially in the southern USA. 

"Aquifers provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. We are drawing down these hidden, mostly nonrenewable groundwater supplies at unsustainable rates in the western United States and in several dry regions globally, threatening our future."
Dennis Dimik, National Geographic

Take a moment today to reflect upon the living gift of water, to thank it, to promise to never waste it.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Last Train to Nepal

Morning fog rises above
the river valley.
Sun turns the sacred mountain
to golden fire.
We wake in the gaze of the gods:
mother goddess of the earth -
we rise humbly, that we
not provoke her ire..

With all my big and little sisters,
I chant, I bow, I pray.
Then, wrinkled, smiling Aama beckons:
it is time to toss and sift the grain
for the first meal
of the day.

The yak bells tinkle as the herdsmen
slowly move the beasts along.
All life is joining in
to sing this simple
morning song.


Prayer flags flutter everywhere,
carrying  modest human dreams 
to the heavens
which, in this place,
is much closer
than it seems..

The wisdom eye watches
with kindness,
over all.
I awaken as I'm catching
the last train 
to Nepal.

I am reading a wonderful book right now, The Violet Shyness of Their Eyes, by Barbara Scot, who spent six months living in Pokhara. Each night I am transported to a peaceful, simple world. It wafts through my dreams so beautifully that I resist awakening.

Thursday, March 19, 2015



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LOL.........for Susie's prompt at Real Toads: to write a Spoem - Spam Poetry. My Spam is so bad it isnt even spelled correctly, never mind having any subject lines that make any sense. So instead I selected some lines (slightly embellished in places) from the Spam emails themselves. Cool prompt, Susie.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sunny Day

by Sebastian, age 6

Gloomy grey day,
colorless, chilly,
indoor weather.
"Sunny day for you!"
the little one says,
handing me a bright orange sun.
And suddenly -
it is.


Wings for Wild Woman

Wild Woman carries the heart of a wolf
in her chest.
Its rhythm pulses in time with her wild sister,
who runs, wraith-like, through the forest, 
stopping under a midnight moon
only long enough to tip back her head and howl.

Her true being only comes alive
within sight and smell of the sea:
the hackles rise along her spine,
as she raises her nose to scent the wind,
determining her direction by the keening call
of the wild.

Wild Woman belongs to each of us, and to us all.
She lives in the space between heartbeats,
and in the thoughts between words.
Listen for her knowing voice
at your right ear, whispering:
"Come, this is the way."
Then follow, with perfect trust,
for no one knows better or truer
than the Wild Woman Watcher within.

Wild Woman moves through worlds seen and unseen,
emerging at daybreak to slake her thirst
at the River of Solitude.
At close of day, the forest rolls out
a soft mossy carpet for her bed.

In between, you may follow her
when she is Wilding, but not too close.
Be respectful of her space and of her growl.
And when she shape-shifts out of sight,
look down quickly.
You may just see the pawprints
she has left behind.

Wild Woman is the one we run from when we are young,
and run home to when we are old.
She is an ancient singing through our bones, a wise smile,
the knowing eyes of a Watcher in the Woods.

If you are quick enough, you might just spy the furry tip
of her tail peeking out from under her billowing robe,
and trailing behind like moondust.
Follow her, embrace her, for without Wild Woman,
our spirits shrivel up and begin to die.
With her, our vision expands, and we learn,
finally and unfathomably,
to fly.

- written in 2012 and found in my draft folder this morning. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Four Toads


She opened her mouth
and four toads popped out,
startled, yet relieved 
she had opted out of eating them,
or at least so they believed.

Hands to her mouth in consternation,
flustered, she intoned,
"I only intended to eat the legs,
but wanted them de-boned."

Well. I'm sorry. It has been a long day and this is all that's left of my brain. For Karin's prompt at Real Toads: to write about something edible. Four toads seemed appropriate.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What Aging Spectre....?

google image

But soft! What is that tapping:
tap, tap, tap?
It is her cane, her other arm outstretched.
How daft! her tilting step the very brink
of yon balcony skirts.
May she not lean too far.
What aging spectre dims the smirking sun?
I tremble with horror at what time has wrought.
Her neck, once swan-like, now has definition naught,
spilling like bedtime candle. Who didst thus plot?
'Tis Juliet! How can this be,
my lady-love grown so old?
Can such transformation be time's laughing truth?
Forsooth! and verily, 
verily and forsooth,
methinks yon Juliet,
once so passing fair, 
is now a beldam
grown too long in the tooth.

An obvious spoof on the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, re-posted from the archives just to give you a smile this day! The sign on the balcony just slays me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Phenomenal Man

In coffeehouse days, his songs thawed the ice
around my heart:
Gentle Jonathan, Silver and Gold,
guitar chords strumming in the ambient light,
as all our hearts took flight.
We thought we'd be forever young, back then,
when a few of us became forever friends.

Our souls both belonged to the wild,
so in my Tofino days, he'd come. 
We'd stalk wild beaches at sunset, 
cameras in hand,
seeking truth our souls could understand,
joyously beside the ocean's roar,
Beauty above, below, beside, before.
hearts so full one wanted nothing More.

Then he'd play an evening concert just for me:
all the songs I loved, opening my heart
and setting feelings free,
the music pushing me
to the point of pain,
then mending it again.

He told me once
"I'm embarrassed to be a man, 
because of the violence men have done 
to women since time began."
His heart is gentle; he honors the woman he loves.
"Sometimes I raise a glass
to all the men my wife has ever loved,
and then set free,
because they helped shape her 
into who she is
for me."

He writes, this gentle soul, 
composes and performs his lovely music,
he paints, he ponders the meaning of life,
looks deep into his soul.
His trip has been a spiritual journey
that he makes with gratitude and peace.
He is in love with rivers, and with mountains.
Within the river's song
he finds release.

He says "I love you" to the trees, 
to bushes,  rocks, and passing bees.
He tells me, smiling, that of love
there is no lack.
"After a few minutes of saying 'I love you',
to all I see,
I can feel everything in the world
loving me back."

He is one of the two men in my life
who won my trust, whose friendship remained
platonic, unwavering and strong.
Our coffeehouse days shine golden in memory:
music, and friendship,  laughter, love and song,
a place in this old world where we belonged.
We recognize the Members of our Tribe
and, when we find them, they become
our family, trusted, safe, life-long.

He made a journey these past weeks
through the fire. We almost lost him.
But he rallied, the surgeons did their skillful work.
He will return home to his cabin by the sea,
to his sunsets, his wood stove,
his wife and his cat.
And I am eternally grateful, for that,
for his presence on this earth
means all the world to me.
And I'm waiting for what he saw
when he was cosmic-traveling
to show up in a painting,
so we all can see.

Matthew, they asked me to write about 
a phenomenal man,
so I've been looking back down all the years
as best I can.
How does one say "thank you"
for friendship that has lasted half my life,
that weathered all my storms and tears,
my ups and downs, my loves, my fears?
You helped me grow, 
and when I had no clue which way to go,
you taught me all you know,
the best was how to just let living flow,
like the rivers that you love.
Our friendship I am so proud of.
You are a gentle man, and true.
This poem's for you.

for Mid Week Motif at Poets United: write about a phenomenal man.

I could have chosen Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. But Matthew has witnessed the last thirty-five years of my journey, and we compared notes  all the way, as we were traveling. For having had such a direct impact, he has been the phenomenal man in my life.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Windigo Wind


When your heart is heavy with the weight
of the world's suffering,
take it for a walk along the river.
Shed your pain as the willow 
sheds its leaves in the fall,
so they may nurture next year's growth.
Listen for the cry of the eagle, 
the mystical murmur of the owl.

There be spirits here.

Along these banks, you follow 
in the footsteps of shamans.
They whisper wisdom into ears 
primed for listening.
The rattle of their gourds, 
their guttural chants,
can be heard in the river's song.
The record of their journey is etched
on the canyon walls, green with weeping,
which hold ancient history
through the everness of time.

Do you hear Windigo Wind,
as it howls through the forest?
Can you hear coyote's mournful cry
above the water's roar?
The earth is calling us now,
urgently, through the voices
of her creatures,
who are in distress.

How we answer
will make all the difference.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Do You Want Me?

Sweetie Sweetie
Could any child be more vulnerable?
photo by Daniel Berehulak of the New York Times

When her mother, dying of Ebola, 
was loaded into the ambulance,
she climbed in too.
She tried to care for her mother
as she was dying.
Orphaned, no one even knew her name.
So they called her Sweetie Sweetie.

Sent to a group home, she waits,
watching the world with eyes
that commune with ghosts.

Workers from care agencies
walk through, from time to time,
assessing need.

Sweetie Sweetie's need is very simple:
a home.
"Do you want me?" she asks the people
as they pass.

*source: An Ebola Orphan's Plea: Do You Want Me?
by Daniel Berehulak of the New York Times

I seem to recall a news story about this little girl, walking away happily hand in hand with a young man who first cared for her, when her mother was dying. One small child's tragic situation hopefully resolved.


“Allah, Allah,”
comes the morning chant
from the Grand Mosque
and, in their huddled blankets,
stir the orphans of Addis Ababa.

The dispossessed of the earth
make their cooking fires
as the sun comes up
across the shanty rooftops.
Donkey hoofbeats clop
along the pathway.
Rooster cries pierce the air,
as children stir,
their hungry eyes remembering
those they love
who are no longer here.

What will this continent
of orphans eat today?
As we go about
our placid, well-fed weekday,
our second cups of coffee,
our comfortable knowledge
that we will eat later
this same day,
little Mintesinot,
prince of the street,
leaves the marked off
square of earth where he was lying,
where he has lain in blankets
the four years since he was born,
where his mother died
and his father now lies

With tears, he is moving
to a two room shack
where 60 other orphans
are being cared for
by a tired but indomitable
who keeps on keeping on
because someone has to
feed the children,
so she is trying.

Little Mintesinot,
young prince of the roadway,
has become the 13 millionth
AIDS orphan,
a number so large the mind shuts down,
unable to process what this means:
one small child 13 million times,
alone and hungry,
with no parents and no dreams.

“Allah, Allah,” the chant continues,
prayers rising on the wafting smoke
into the atmosphere.
Hopefully, they will
find their way
straight to
Allah’s ear.

I wrote this poem in 2010, inspired by Melissa Fay Greene's There Is No Me Without You. This book tells the tale of Haregewoin Teferra's heroic efforts to save children orphaned by AIDS. Inspiring us to do what or large things we can, in the corners where we are, to make this world a better place. 

posted (early) for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where there are always wonderful offerings on Sunday morning.