Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Inner Old One

Fall in Port Alberni

Birds cross the sky in covens,
this golden autumn-of-my-life.
My eyes follow their flight,
my soul quickening to the sound
of their honking admonition:
follow the predestined route!
Find your way home!

The Voice of My Tribe croons a chant
that murmurs on the breeze.
I feel the winds of change blowing through
the drafty chambers of my 
just-before-winter heart.

The Old Ones are telling me:
Time to open the door of the cage
and free the wild bird of your being,
the one you have been hushing
and placating with crumbs
for so long.
Free her with joy, and,
as her wide wings swoop and thrum 
across the shimmering sky,
traveling between the worlds
in the space-where-there-is-no-space,
along the-way-where-there-is-no-way,
heed the call of those wild birds.
They are giving voice to
the longings of your soul.
Lift up that expectant, waiting life 
with the urgency
of not-much-time,
and, if you're ever going to fly again
as, once, you flew,
do it soon,
do it completely.
Do it now.

One from September of 2014, my friends, as I am doing a seven day babysitting stint, at someone else's house, four kids, one autistic, one a six month old baby - I will have computer access only in the evenings, so please forgive me if my visits are spotty, and take me a while. I'll make up for it next week! 

p.s. Here it is another September, and I still have not made that flight over the mountains. Sigh. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why We Write image

"A poet doesn't write because she has a solution.
She writes because she has hope."
Hannah Gosselin

We pick up the pen to write the words 
we cannot speak aloud.
We write to loose the feelings 
too powerful to keep inside.
We write to say we care, in hopes our words 
move other hearts.

We write to spread light and love,
hoping those who need encouragement 
will tiptoe away from our words
with renewed hope, knowing they are not alone.

We write hoping that those who read our words
will know who we are.
We write so when we are gone, 
our children may one day say
"this is who she was", in case they didn't know.

We write the way birds sing:
the notes are within, and they want to come out,
gladsong at morning,
evensong at close of day.
We write to leave a trail that says:
to find me, come this way.

for my prompt at Midweek Motif: the joy of poetry. Why do we write?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Forever Gone

The White Wolf
by Julie L. Hoddinott

The white wolf came in the night
to talk about her babies,
huddled in their den without food.
She came to ask for human help,
which, somehow, we don't know how to give.

So many species gone forever,
so many voices, stilled,
who will no longer sing the sun up in the morning,
or bed down, safe and content, stomachs full,
with their offspring at night.
So many wild creatures being hunted and slaughtered,
driven out of their diminishing habitat,
flushed by wildfires into the open,
starving and desperate, with no where to hide.

The white wolf came to talk about these things,
in the spirit of sisterhood with all living beings.

"Wolves," she told me, "are selective 
in our hunting.
We hunt only for food, 
choose the old, the lame, the sick,
in order to preserve the herd.
In ten hunts, we catch and eat only once.
For we wolves think about tomorrow,
not only today."

I gave her a bowl of milk, in sisterhood,
ashamed of my species and our greed,
who do not think of all the other beings
who will share our tomorrows.

She lapped it up calmly, gave me a grateful paw,
looked into my eyes and returned 
to the diminishing forest
she still calls home, until it, too, is gone.

How many "forever gone"'s do we need
to realize we are decimating our own habitat,
as well as hers,
that the day will come when we 
will be the ones displaced,
searching for food for our children?
For no gardens can grow 
on a dead and burning planet.

How is it we can't see
their fate and ours is forever bound?

I watch her slip away into the forest,
wondering how many of her pups
will survive till they are grown.

Experts estimate the current rate of loss of species to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the normal rate of extinction (which would occur if humans were not around). Unlike extinction events in history,the scientists tell us, the current rate of extinction is one for which humans are completely responsible. Source: World Wildlife Federation

Friday, August 21, 2015


Traveler walks like a moving tree,
like a wind-whisper, singing,
like the breath of dawn.

Traveler is a part 
of the landscape;
she carries with her
a corner of the sky.

Traveler rises with the morning sun.
She is always walking towards
the next sunset.

There is the last star of morning
on her shoulder.
She wears the first star
of evening in her hair.

The moon is her mistress,
a songbird flies from branch
to branch beside her,
and a wolf-shadow
her every step.

One from 2011, re-posted for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where you will find many beautiful offerings every Sunday morning!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Whalesong and the Language of Elephants

google image

In the depths of the ocean, an otherworldly, 
mystical, lonely sound is heard,
a song older than time, echoing 
mournfully through miles of water
in distinctive patterns, that repeat, 
improvise, and evolve.

Each whale in the sea, it has been learned,
composes her own song,
which is constantly growing and changing,
an example of cultural evolution 
that far exceeds our own.
If only they could find a way to speak.
If only we could find a way to hear.

In the African savanna, or at your neighborhood zoo, 
if you sit in silence, and listen, 
you might feel a throbbing in the air:
the vibration of elephant communication,
a sound below the pitch of the human ear,
their infra sonic calls.

Like humans, these gentle beasts feel community, 
attachment, love, sorrow, grief, passion and play. 
If parted for mere hours, on return
there is a joyous cacophony of welcome:
elephant cries of joy, ear flapping, trunks twining, 
as if the benevolent being has returned 
from years away, though he may have last been seen 
earlier that morning.

Sometimes the entire herd becomes completely still. 
They are listening, 
a trait we humans would do well to emulate.
Being Silent, we open our whole being
to what is here, before and all around us.
Becoming completely present to the moment, 
we can hear trees sighing,
clouds moving, a single stone 
plunking into moving water.
If we listen hard enough, we might hear
the planet humming to us from its inner depths.
Mother Earth is continually speaking to us,
singing to us - singing us her song of love.
Waiting for us to love her back.

source: In the Presence of Elephants and Whales, with Katy Payne, at On Being with Krista Tippett. Katy Payne has spent her life decoding the language of whales and elephants in efforts to better understand the species, and assist in conservation.  Katy speaks of cultural evolution, demonstrated by the evolving songs of whales, and many other fascinating things. This is a wonderful interview, which set me dreaming about two species I love very much. I also am remembering here a news report many years ago, where scientists had heard a hum emanating from the depths of the earth.

First Day of School

First day of school, 1979:
Jon in his first leisure suit, 
looking manly and important in khaki,
Jeff in brown, 
and Lisa in a navy top and pants 
with bright bumblebee stripes.
I group them by the door for a photo:
First Day of School,
all innocent and smiling,
sent off unknowingly
to a jury of their peers.
Stephanie is sad she isn't big enough to go.
She looks sadly out the window 
as they troop down the sidewalk.

First day of school after school:
They slam in the back door,
fling down their packs, 
shed their shoes in a heap.
How was it? I ask brightly.
Jon flings off his suit jacket.
"I'm never doing that again! 
We looked like idiots, the only ones in suits."
Lisa : "The kids called me Bumblebee all day!"
(In fact, they called her Bumblebee all year!)

I never heard the end of it.
I'd been so proud, as a single mom of four, 
to manage new outfits, 
school supplies and backpacks.
I meant well. 
But that Bumblebee suit still comes up in conversation,
every now and then, 35 years later.

LOL. for Gabriella's prompt at dVerse: Back to School.  

A Zhuihitsu

google image

Dust off this tattered old soul, and let it swoop one more time around the ceiling, reaching for those elusive words that catch in the dim corners. What can I do with the lives around me, all falling into crisis, but ride the inner tide of peace, dig my roots down deep along the river's edge, the better to remain steady for them when they reach out from the rushing current, in passing, nearly drowned, to grab my branches. The setting sun forms refracted rays through the forest, and paints the river silver, as day's end turns golden everything not in shadow. Let me bring you soft white cotton to dry your tear-streaked cheeks. Let me assure you that this calamity, too, will pass, and you will, one day, laugh in the sunshine again.


 A Zhuihitsu (gesundheit!) is a type of prose poem from Japan. A zhuihitsu is rooted in Buddhist thought, containing the author's musings on the impermanence of the material world, and contains the feeling of randomness without being random. Am feeling a bit random myself these days, which is why I chose it to re-post  for The Tuesday Platform at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, where Marian's message today is "Maybe everything isnt hopeless bullshit." We live in hope, LOL.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Beauty Bound

Clayoquot Sound photo by David Hogan
Frank's Island in the foreground

I am bound by the beauty of this place,
indentured under changing ocean skies,
kindred to the trees lining the shore,
like maiden supplicants, worshiping before
the wild waves and the dancing whitecap froth,
and to the sandy shore I plight my troth.

I live apprenticed to the eagle's cry,
his swoops and circles rising ever high.
Majestic ruler of the sea and sky,
his soaring splendor captivates my eye,
held fast by beauty, struck with wonder, I.

Driftwood for my bed, the wild wind cries
among the lashing trees, the ocean tides,
calling me home to the shore that knows my name.
So many years, in joy, I walked inside
this beauty. Since, I've never been the same.

Drunk with the beauty, captive to the sea,
my heart is bound ~ only one place home to me.

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Beauty. The song "Bound By the Beauty" by Jane Siberry sprang to mind. It was popular the summer I first moved to Tofino and is inextricably woven into my memories of living there.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Life's Golden Beauty All I Know

I try to hold the flickering flame
fast faltering my eyes before,
to clasp it for some moments more,
its magic mine to keep and tame.
it flickers out, no one to blame.

I try to slow the speeding days,
delay them as they canter past.
I want them to forever last;
they rush towards sunset's golden haze,
extinguish in a fiery blaze.

One does not ask the question "Why?"
We live our lives, hoping the end
will answer like a loving friend.
Our choices, as the days go by,
have cast our fate. We live. We die.

Sunset too close, lit by its glow,
I want this life to never end,
as day by day my last ones spend,
bedazzled by its fiery show ~
life's golden beauty, all I know.

I borrowed the meter and rhyme scheme from Judith Wright's Woman to Man, as the rhythm appealed to me. This was an exercise in finding words to fit the rhyme scheme.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Crop Circles

Grass circles mark the mystic voyages
our vision has been too obscured to see.
The shaman's eyes are wise,
tuned to the skies,
privy to the ancient mystery:
star voyagers, whose tales
are not yet part of history.

We sleep-walk, we who think 
men rule the world.
In truth, nature wields her power 
with judiciousness and care
till, too provoked, full fury is 
unleashed upon us, unaware.
Soon, her wrath, appeased,
she has left her potent
warning message there.

I aimed somewhat for the voice of Judith Wright, introduced to us by Grace at Real Toads. Her poem BORA RING spoke to me, and inspired this poor echo.

This topic reminds me of a panel of inventors and scientists I sat in on some years back, people passionate about clean energy and knowledgeable about all of the inexplicable mystery of things seen and unseen. I remember one scientist explaining, when he traveled to a grass circle, one might have expected, had a heavy circular object landed in that field, to find broken and crushed grass stalks. He said, on examination, it looked like the grass had "lain down" (his words) in that circle, and he found no broken strands. Interesting.

I am also thinking of the typhoon in Taiwan and China, nature's fury unleashed once again, on this unsettled planet.


Canal Beach, Port Alberni

The soundless night
huddles under
its blanket
of darkening clouds
faintly rose etched
by fingers of fading sunset.
it pulls its mantle of repose
across the sleeping city

and a slice of moon
portal of mystery
recipient of dreams
sweet prompter of desire
inspirer of songs,
hangs over hills
bunched like a lumpy giant,
a slice of watermelon
swinging softly
in a pomegranate

- an oldie from 2000, posted for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where there is a lot of good reading every Sunday morning. I actually found a photo to suit the poem, rather than the other way around. When I wrote the poem, I lived near those rounded hills, that looked to me like a lumpy giant lying on his side........

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Receptacle for Rain

If I am a vase,
I am a chipped one,
thrown off a back porch, 
lying on my side, 
without apparent function,
in the tall weedy grass.

There is a bit of scum in the bottom
from my glory years,
when I was filled with extravagant blossoms.
I did not know that would not last.
Vases lose their sheen after a century
of  containing all they must contain,
of holding on until they must let go.
The blooms go on 
to do their living elsewhere.

But an ambling dog came along
and nosed me upright,
sniffed within and,
finding nothing edible, moved on.

Now I can see the sky.
I am receptacle for rain
and moonlight,
filled with fatigue,
and a great, lasting peace.

for  Artistic Interpretations with Margaret: Vases, over at Real Toads.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Victoria Quay, Port Alberni
Safe Harbour @kyle11smith

Migrants drown off of 
the coast of Libya,
desperately fleeing a desperate life.
Another shooting at a Toronto club.
Election speeches, 
attack ads and empty rhetoric.
The guide who helped kill Cecil the lion
dismisses charges as 'frivolous'.
Wildfires rage. Rivers dry up.
Wildlife grow thinner.
Same old same old.
Business as usual.

Picture one rose.
Lift your eyes to the perfect puffy clouds.
Avert your gaze from
the darkness that lurks
this single, shining moment.
Bask within its momentary glow.
Sweet release,
to ease the pain
of knowing what we know.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Saying the Names With Love

Clayoquot Sound
photo credit:

Say the names say the names
and listen .........
these names that forever
sing through my soul,
that came alive for me
in the forests and along the wild shores
of Clayoquot Sound.

Bedwell Sound and Lemmens Inlet
Fortune Channel and Sulphur Passage
those names ring through my heart
in kinship with those who put
their bodies on the line
- and still do -- No Pasaran!-
to protect this endangered ecosystem.

Drumbeats in the early morning
along the Kennedy River bridge
still tap tap tap in my heart
along with my passion
for the trees, for the wild shores,
for the curving slopes
of my wild spirit's home.

Hesquiaht, Ashousat,
Kakawis, Bay of Berries,
sound and resound in my heart,
like the marine radio
my heart was once attuned to,
fishermen repeating the beloved names
above the static, laughter and messages
and "Choo!" - the Tla-o-qui-aht goodbye.

Wickaninnish and Rosie Bay and Combers,
Ahous Bay, where the gray whales stop to feed....
riding out in a zodiac, the seaspray in my face,
the eagle's cry in my heart,
blue herons on the rocks,
little puffins bobbing on the waves -
every inch of land and sea and sky

Rain slickers and rubber boots,
the endless winter rain, and gusts of wind
that bent us over as we struggled
across the streets in winter gales
and the wild wild roar of the waves
crashing on the shore,
while the foghorn mooed at Lennards Light
and all the seabirds hid themselves
to ride out the storm.

Lone Cone standing tall,
and Catface Mountain,
peeping across at the
womanly slopes of Meares,
the sentinels and guardians of our village,
orcas breeching in the channel
to our joyous shouted "thank you!"
and, across the bay,
the twinkling lights of Opitsat,
little boats chugging back and forth
across the harbor,
heading for home at twilight.

Say the names of the wild Megin River,
carving itself through root-packed shores
of cedar and salal,
and watch the wild wolves pacing down to drink,
a black bear ambling along the shore
looking for wild salmon.

Hear the eagle's call,
hear the waterfall singing at Tofino Creek,
or point the bow of your kayak
up the Cypre River.
Paddle hard for Browning Passage,
beat the tide,
or turn off along Tofino inlet,
when the tide returns to cover the mudflats.
Pull into the cove at Windy Bay.

Say the names say the names
and my heart weeps with love
for the otherworldly beauty
and the kinship with the wild
that lived inside my soul
when I lived there,

at one with the wind and the tides.

My heart will say these names
for as long as I live
and, when I die,
say these names over me
and bury me on a windswept dune
beside the sea,
so it can forever sing me to sleep
in my heart's home.

Say the names say the names
cherish these wild and pristine places
Stand against the mining companies,
and those who would clearcut and strip
these beloved and necessary slopes.

Say the names, my friends,
before they all
are gone.

a remake of an earlier poem, in the style of Al Purdy's famous poem, "Say the Names," posted for my prompt at Mid-Week Motif at Poets United : Saying the Names of the places we love, the names that take us home.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


A poem by my talented son, Jeff Siddhartha Crazy Horse Marr, sometimes known as Squawking Crow


The older we grow, the nearer to heaven
We go: the stars of the sky yet within reach,
And the heart of the ocean and high mountain
Peaks have yielded their secrets in songs and speech.
We look on as youth dances upon the grass
In summer, where wild-flowers bloom for a day.
To the highest cliff-edge we wearily pass
Remembering childhood, how merrily we’d play!
How tired we became! and all looking back
Is a long road that leaves nowhere we have stayed.
Turning the last corner, this wide-wakeful track
Leaves us sober: all gains may still be unmade.
    Dancing hand in hand with our children on snow
    We approach the last doorway of light, and know.

By Jeffrey Merk

A Gift of a Poem

Oh my goodness. I so wish I had written this. But it takes one who is living it to write such words. It resonates so strongly and is one of the most beautiful anti-war and pro-unity poems I have ever read. I just had to share it. I had not come across this poet till now. But she is a wonder. Googling her, I found her at Fault Lines Poetry online, but am having trouble finding much information about her.

Love Letter from Baghdad
by Gail Barker

Call me Rabia. I was
named for the Sufi Saint.
Blood pumps through the four
chambers of my heart,
swift and scarlet with joy or slow
and bruised black with sorrow.
We are the same.

This morning, as I pin up wash
in my rubbled court yard,
the long fingers of the sun reach
over the desert and sting my sleepless
eyes like dust, like diesel fumes.
There’s an explosion.
Did you hear it?

My neighbor sinks to the ground
in the folds of her burka,
a dark flower, rocking and keening,
her bloodied grandchild in her arms.
The earth trembles with
the terrible sound of her grief.
We are the same.

I want to share sweet memories
with you, of date palm and pomegranate,
the hay fragrance of saffron, the song
of the nightingale. I invite you
to share yours with me.
We are the same.

Come sister, let’s raise our arms
and begin. We’ll spin
and dance like the Sufis.
It will take as many turns
as there are stars
to make this right.
We do not yet know the steps.

            - Gail Barker

If I were a river......

If I were a river, I would sing the sun up every morning. I would dance with delight over rock and chasm, plunge down in cascading waterfalls, then widen, spreading out between the swollen banks, slowing my pace towards noon to swirl placidly, catch my breath in quieter shallows,  I, lost in reverie.

If I were a river, I'd burble and babble and bubble in baby brooks, poke stubby fingers into soft mudbanks, investigating all the secret hollows. I'd sing lustily in mid-afternoon, picking up speed, leaping over boulder and chasm, my voice like the roar of huge engines, like a plane flying low. Later, towards evening, I'd smooth and soften, silky and rippling, inviting toes to dabble.

If I were a river, I'd reflect the moon's midnight smile. Stars would wink at me and I'd wink back, the night our shared secret, while all the humans slept and missed the magic.

If I were a river, I'd begin in the mountains, tumbling down its sides, trickle to torrent, leaping crevasses, gathering force then hurtling over ledges, plunging downwards in waterfalls that merge at the riverbed and, with one intent, swirl slowly, spreading wide, wider, little tributaries venturing off and back, rejoining the common flow, the great push surging to the sea.

When I got there, with a joyous rush I'd know that I was at both the end and the beginning of my journey. Gratefully, I'd sink myself deep into the sand, just waiting for the tide to swoop in and carry me off home.

Old Patterns

To see behind this mask I wear
you'd have to listen, really care
to hear the heartache that I bear
and of the reasons take your share
of how we got to here from there.

your mask, it smiles, but hearts grow cold
when traveling patterns  grown this old.
Must we repeat the ancient rhyme?
can we not  do it well  this time?

you cannot meet me where I am
it would require too far a leap
a learning curve too stark and steep
to your familiar branch you creep.
we both put on these masks we wear
and hold the thoughts we cannot share.

Running Free in the Forests of Heaven

Running free in the forests of Heaven
is how I see you,
tail and ears up
and that old wild gleam
in your eye.
I never tamed you.
I never wanted to.
We both loved the wild,
and I honored it in you.

Those big puppy paws,
I hope they're lolloping along
miles of sandy beaches,
dipping in and out
of the waves,
the way you always did,
impervious to my calls
as you always were,
until you were done,
and then back you'd come,
galloping along
to me.
You'd pick up a piece 
of driftwood
as we left,
and carry it to the car,
for remembering.

Now I am the one
who is remembering.
And one day,
when it's time,
old wilderness pal of mine,
may you come lolloping
back to me
to guide me safely home.

There are only three things
I need to see in Heaven -
the first is you,
and old growth forests,
and the sea,
so we can walk those trails,
hike endless sandy beaches,
and watch the sunset, once more,
you and me.

written in 2011 and posted for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United