Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Stalking the Sunset

We walk the fine edge, 
between this world and the next,
trying to heal our pain, recover from our illnesses,
adjusting to the decline of the body 
that has transported us so far.
You have fought a long battle, old pal of mine.
I am sensing your grasp on life slowly slipping away.
Your eyes are on the eagle, flying free of his fetters.
You are communing with deer in your garden.
The orcas pass by, your mind engraving 
the vision and the joy.
Your heart is loving and mourning this beautiful earth
you are slowly leaving.
We are never ready to let go 
of the beauty we have loved so well.

For 35 years, you have always been there:
at the other end of the telephone,
through my joys and sorrows,
on the other side of my screen,
sharing all I was learning.
We have witnessed, encouraged and supported 
each other's journey,
collaborated on songs,
shared our love of the wild,
and music,
and sunsets.

You have been my friend, my mentor,
my guide, my guru.
You have shown me the way,
walking your pilgrim's path of the soul,
listening to your inner guides.

You can never really be gone from me.

On the other side, for you,
there will be a radiance:
your face shining as it did in coffeehouse days,
when candles flickered on you smiling in the glow,
singing Gentle Jonathan and Forever Young.

I will see you forever
strumming your guitar, singing your songs
of trees and rivers and eagles in flight.

On the other side: Manders, curled,
purring on your chest -
and no more tumors, shortness of breath,
fatigue and diminishing health.
Just an expansion of the soul
which has grown too large
for your chest to contain,
and needs more room in which to grow.

In memory, you will always be 
on stage at Brock and Friends,
or, later, stalking the sunset, 
camera in hand, at Chestermans Beach.
It is in sunsets I will forever see you,
old friend of mine.
Always remember, on the other side of sunset
comes the dawn.
That is where I'll find you,
once you're gone.

- for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif, Healing/Recovery, which included the words "healing into death"........

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tiger, Who Once Was King

You pad with heavy paws through my dreams,
you beauty, who once owned the forest
where now the great trees fall.
Once hunter, you have become prey,
thin and hungry, hunted
for your parts, you tread fearfully
where you once were king.
My heart weeps for you,
and for us all, for this world
we are creating, which has no regard
for your majestic beauty. 

My poem was inspired by the following,
written by one of Kerry's students at
Ladysmith High School in South Africa.

Tiger ~ Mohammed Jamil

The striped feline
splashes through the water
freeing himself of all his impurities.

As his orange and black fur
glistens in the sun,
it catches the eye of the Hunter
and the unseen bullet
comes down and slays

the majestic beast.

© Mohammed Jamil

Kerry's prompt at Real Toads recently was
to peruse the students' poems and write a
poem inspired by one of theirs.
Their poems can be found at the blog
somewhere I have never travelled.

I read their fine body of work, and it was
this tiger who spoke to me, in Mohammed's
very powerful poem.

The World Wildlife Federation states the world
has lost 97% of its tigers in just one century.
There are only 3200 in the world today,
who are endangered. A major threat is poaching
to fuel the trade in tiger parts.

Tigers have lost 93% of their habitat.
They are being displaced, like so many other wild
creatures worldwide, by human encroachment and
development, forest decimation and climate change.
(Rising sea levels threaten to wipe out entire forests.)

WWF has managed to protect some areas for tigers,
in hopes we will not wake up in another fifty years
to a world without tigers. But as development
continues apace, tigers are in peril. As are we all.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


As the window to Life gently closes,
I catch one last glimpse
of my friend, the sky.


The candle warms but briefly,
too soon,
it flickers out.


After a long dark night,
my soul rises
to greet the rosy dawn.


At this moment,
to you, a final gift of words:
live every moment well.


for Bodhirose's prompt at dverse: Japanese death poems, or Jisei

Mother Bee

Solitary mother bee, who strikes out on her own.
makes her nest so carefully,
sprinkles it tenderly with coloured blooms:
blue, purple, yellow, pink.
She carefully lays her precious egg
in its tender bed,
then flies away.

When born, her daughter will do the same-
beautify a blossomy nest,
then fly into the blue.

Imprinted in instinct and cellular memory,
is our inner drive to give and nurture life,
in whatever manner is modeled by
the matriarchs of our tribe.

My feet, since childhood, have been rooted in
family, the nurturing of children,
my own and others'.
My nest has stayed full of growing children, 
young adults, grandchildren, 
and now great-grandchildren,
and there has been laughter,
and much joy.

But my heart, through the years, 
has often contemplated the sky,
gazed beyond the distant horizon speculatively,
assessed the unknown landscape with longing.

Times, I felt the bones 
at the base of my wings
begin to lift,
my feathers begin to flutter,
just a little.

Omnia avosetta - the solitary mother bee constructs her beautiful intricate nest with varied hues of blooms and petals. She bites them from the flower, flies back to her nest, (a small indentation in the ground), and weaves the blooms, plasters them with mud, more petals, sets in provisions of water, and pollen, then places one precious egg carefully into the nest.  And then she flies away.

The egg later hatches, eats the food Mama Bee left, spins a cocoon arund herself, goes to sleep for  ten months, then awakens to weave her own beautifully coloured nest, in turn. Wow.

source: While Glaciers Slept, Being Human In a Time of Climate Change, by M. Jackson. A fantastic read.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Choices~Warning: Photos Distressing to Those Who Love the Earth and Its Creatures

photo taken by Kirsten Langenberger
in an effort to raise awareness about 
the effects of climate change

Multinationals make choices
Profit at the expense of planet.
Governments make choices:
appeasement of the multinationals,
to hold onto power;
or conservation, preservation
and good stewardship of resources,
with  a switch to abundant clean energy sources.

Climate change is the result of humanity's choices,
the press of needs of human beings
beyond what the planet can bear.
Climate renewal rests in the choices 
of governments and people.

The aware make choices every day:
to use less fossil fuel, to eat vegetarian,
to reduce, reuse, recycle,
to add our voices, and knowledge,
to the conversation, to demand 
governments respond strongly and quickly 
to a planet in crisis.

What choice will I make today?
What choice will we make, collectively,
as peoples of the earth 
we say we love so much?

Our only choice is not to deny
this crisis that feels too big,
to have the courage to declare
our love and care,
and work to reverse climate change
in whatever ways we can.

photo at Global Warnings with James Benchimoi

Starving polar bears have no choice:
They go on swimming when the iceberg melts,
until they can swim no more
and wash up, defeated and exhausted, on the shore.

The glaciers that are left
are dark and dreaming deep.
In melting, their message can be heard:
You must find a way to slow the melt,
if you love the earth. You gave your word.

These photos broke my heart, and I had to sit with them for a few days before I could speak for these exhausted, starving creatures. It is hard knowledge, that creatures are starving and dying because of us, because of human pressures on the planet that is the home of us all. 

Yesterday, driving down a street in our town, a black bear in search of food was wandering the neighborhood. I prayed he would vanish into the forest before the wildlife people came to shoot him. It was garbage day, and he was a hungry little bear, whose habitat is vanishing, in search of food. A bear is never safe in a town or city street. The talk is always of people being in danger. Yet we have created such colossal peril for all wild creatures, and somehow feel we are justified, that our "rights" are more important.

I am reading a wonderful book right now, While Glaciers Slept, Being Human in a Time of Climate Change, by M. Jackson, a young woman who makes expeditions to the Arctic with National Geographic, and who twins her considerable knowledge of climate change with her family journey through death, grief and loss. She writes beautifully, and says our response must be one of courage, and action, a message with which I completely concur.

For anyone who feels strongly that governments must address this issue with far more strength and speed than they have shown thus far, please write to your elected representatives and add your voice to the demand for stronger, faster, and more effective action. Each letter does have an impact. 

Here is some hope, to end on a positive note. 

It is always hopeful when the people rise. Check out,  an important voice in this discussion; they are doing great work to mobilize marches and demonstrations on climate change. And, if you are so moved, join people worldwide on November 29, for the Global Peoples Climate March, as we urge world leaders at the Paris Climate Change Conference to move much faster and more effectively in addressing this issue, which has now reached crisis point. 

Canada, under our present government, is woefully lacking in this discussion. Our Prime Minister thinks the Economy is all that matters. (No Jobs on a Dead Planet!) Hopefully this will soon change, and we will have new leaders. (We live in hope.) These movements always have to come from the ground up - leaders care more about staying in power than in making the tough decisions that are called for. Vote with your feet - and with your vote. Every voice, every vote, is crucially needed.

posted for Mary's prompt at Poets United's Midweek Motif: Choices

Saturday, September 19, 2015

To the Grandmothers Living In My Bones

To the Grandmothers living in my bones, 
I say: Suwaas?ick ?ah*
At two a.m., in the swirling mist,
when the veil between the worlds is thin,
the Old Ones have been visiting my dreams.
If I awaken too quickly, I sometimes see
a friendly female ghost smiling at me
before she fades away
in the shadowy corner of my room.

Ancestors, I feel your strength 
resting in my spine
that's bending towards the earth.
You are holding me up
during my timeworn trek,
as you did the elders on the Long March
along the Trail of Tears.

I feel you in the silence,
whispering entities alive with wisdom,
speaking truth I strain to overhear.
I hear the call of your drums
in my wildish heart,
when I am painting words 
on the blank canvas of my screen
to remember my foremothers,
who once were warriors,
who spoke with oracles and owls,
who danced, laughing crones,
barefoot and spirit-filled,
on the earth,
now ghosted in a dream,
of you, I am singing.

Bone of your bone,
from grandmother to grandmother,
in me you still live.
Through me, while I have breath,
your stories will still be told.

To these friendly spirits,
I pay my deep respect,
and say: naniiqsukleco**

*  means 'this is for you' in the Nuu chah nulth language. ** means Grandmother, Thank You.

posted for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fall Fair

photo of the Midway at the Fall Fair
by Lisa Duncan, Heart of Vancouver Island

I took my favorite poet to the fair.
There it was: the crowds, 
the greasy small bags of deep-fried doughnuts,
the noise of the hurdy-gurdy,
the ferris wheel, circling,
like the Clock of Time,
mesmerizing and relentless,
and a bit queasy-making
in its descent.

I observed from a bemused distance:
the people screaming in ecstatic fear 
on the Salt and Pepper,
the chubby toddlers in their strollers,
pushed by corpulent parents,
eating their way through the fair.

Sweet-eyed calves, soft rabbits,
and one old, tired, patient bull,
his horns honed and formidable,
stood about, confused at this strange
pasture, with its noise and smells.

The sky lowered itself down 
to meet the horizon. 
The edges of everything softened,
and there it was: that moment,
when I lifted off and saw 
the entirety of the fair's tawdry beauty,
softened and blurred, and full of light.

"Sometimes I need only to stand
wherever I am,
to be blessed." *

*Mary Oliver, Evidence: Poems

for Ella's cool prompt at Real Toads: to combine our local fair with our favorite poet, in some way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Song of the Lotus

In the silence of the heart
grows the tender white lotus blossom
that is your life.

Water it gently with your tears.
Bathe it in the sunlight of your hopes
and the soft moonlight of your dreams.

Listen! for the trees are sighing,
holding out their arms  as you approach,
hoping you will truly see them
at least one time
before you die,

will let them hold you gently
as you cry.

Behind your sleeping eyes
lies the Watcher In the Woods,
the one who nudges you this way and that,
who sighs wearily, when you do not 

heed her call,
this One who knows you best of all,

who has picked you up after every fall.

As we draw closer to the end of things,
our spirit slows, our voices gentle,
we are not nearly as certain as we once 

so vociferously were.
It is time for softness now,
and reflection,
for looking back and for remembering.

We need much silence now,
a silence of the heart
weary from making its own way.
We speak more softly, and less often,
the young won't listen anyway.
They have to find 

their own befuddled way,
their own steep price 
in pain to pay.

Our song now is a murmuring brook
trickling over some knotted roots;
we are content to meander whimsically
through this golden autumn-before-winter,
letting go like the last withered leaf
on the gnarled old maple,
twirling dreamily down
to the mossy bank,

where we sit for a spell,
lulled by the water's flow.
So soft, its voice, as soft 

as the somnolent song of our lives
the last notes sounding, 

holding death at bay,
before they gently, softly, finally
fade away. 

for Rosemary's wonderful prompt at Poets United's Midweek Motif, which posts tomorrow morning: Let Your Song Be Delicate, based on the poem by John Shaw Neilson.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Not Time Yet

This beautiful picture was created for me by
Thanks so much, Steve!

We were traveling together
when you took the turning
where the Disappeared go,
and are seen no more.
I could not follow. The way was barred.
Still, I continued walking,
carrying your soul with me
in a small wooden box,
hidden under my cape,
held close to my heart.

When I tire, and falter, 
am tempted to turn back,
I can hear you thumping inside your box.
You will not let me 
abandon the journey.

(Asleep, she found herself 
crossing a barren desert.
There was a river ahead,
and she could hear voices, singing,
coming around the bend.
They were coming to get her,
but then she came back into her body.
Not time, yet.)

Death is a river, turbulent, roaring
through time-worn rock-walled chasms
green with weeping.
It dashes our brains out on the rocks
so the eagles may feed,
then settles us, lighter and relieved 
of our earthly burden,
in rippled ponds along the shore,
where beaver and wolves
may find us.
I will meet you there
at twilight
on the last day.

At midnight, a ghostly specter
glides mistily along the shore.
She is beckoning,
but I pretend that I am blind.
She is calling.
I pantomime that I am deaf
and cannot hear.
Not time, yet.

These words are a pathway
between the time when you were here
and now.
They are as full of your absence
as my heart. 
I am still traveling.
You always did go before me on the path.
I am getting just a little closer.

Not time, yet. Not yet.

One from 2014 for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United - where there is always good reading on a Sunday morning.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

We Have Forgotten

We have forgotten
that the War to End All Wars
was supposed to end all war.

We have forgotten
that peace cannot be won
by hatred and killing,
but only by love and unity.

We have forgotten
that we are made of stardust,
and come from beauty and mystery.

We have forgotten 
that a blue true dream of sky
is all we need to be truly happy.

We have forgotten
that in our cellular and collective memory
is the mindfulness of peace:
a swirling glory of stars
on one of which, blue and green,
a race of humans evolved,
raising their eyes in wonder to the skies,
eating roots and berries,
living in harmony with the land
and each other,
beasts and humans
helping each other learn to live together.

We have forgotten
that, in our heart of hearts,
and in our dream of dreams,
this is
who we truly are.

for the wonderful prompt at dVerse: How We Forget. If you have not visited the site and watched this video of a poet, Loyce Gayo,  speaking her deepest truth, please dont miss it. It is ASTONISHING.

I Wake Slowly

I wake slowly into my old age,
into my room full of books and morning tea,
into my yard full of horses and dogs 
and trees and blue sky.
My door stays open to birdsong
and the cooling  breezes of autumn.
Dogs wander in and out, with loving eyes 
and lolling tongues.

I breathe in this morning 
of my inevitable evening,
grateful before nightfall for the many gifts
of being alive on the planet.
I relish fall as if it is my last,
aware that winter's icy blasts 
will surely follow,
that snow and ice will cover
the summer garden.

Outside, busy, hurried life swoops by.
Inside, the silence is thick and syrupy,
dripping into my psyche
like a single drop
into a pool that ripples outwards
towards the sea that is you,
on the other side of this screen.

I travel nowhere, yet visit the world
by tapping the magic keys of my kingdom.
Each day is a gift, whose slow pace I relish.
I only want more and more
of these long, slow,
sweetly meandering  days.
Boredom is never an issue.

Monday, September 7, 2015


That first step took me through lake country: apple blossoms on soft-scented summer evenings, bullrushes and weeping willow, lake-scent and whisperings engraved on my heart. It took a thousand miles to bring me home, to the forest floor, Grandfather Cedar draped with old man's beard, eagle and murrelet, sea and sky, a wonderment of beauty wherever my eyes fell, mist-mountain magic, joy in my heart singing, nature the lover of my life. I stood on the shore and turned in a circle: beauty, in every direction, etched forever in my mind. 

from first step to last
eyes wide with wonder
such a long journey

A haibun for Dverse's Haibun Monday

Sunday, September 6, 2015


image of Aylan Kurdi
by Naser Jafari on Twitter

Hope filled the boat that did not float
(their chance of safety so remote)
It spilled those fleeing bombs and pain
into the sea and back again

No soft and pillowed childhood bed
cradled his small and downy head
only the shore, where he lay dead
his lifetime short and briefly shed

No teddy bear, no gentle touch
his life so brief, he suffered much
When his small image came to light
he woke  us, finally, to his plight
by entering his eternal night

With his father's tears he is laid to rest
in a world full of the dispossessed
small wayfarer  rode the silver foam
had to leave this life to find a home

For those who follow, make the beds
with soft cloth for their downy heads
Let us set the table, draw them in
create a world that peace can win

Like everyone, the photo of that small three year old on the shore seared itself into my consciousness. I thought of Sebastian - any of our  children - lying there. The image seems to have finally woken the world to the plight of the Syrian refugees. More than half of the population is in urgent need of humanitarian relief, and more than fifty percent are children.

How, as a species, can humans possibly think that war "wins" anyone anything but suffering?

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Somass River, Port Alberni
photo by Jo at Majority of Two blog

clouds draping  misty mountains
steam rising in the meadow
horses' feet squish pleasantly 
in unaccustomed mud
from light rain heaven-sent
to parched earth
green shoots sprouting against relentless brown

mourning doves cooing
river rising up its banks
swans swooning in rippling eddies
morning sun peeking between  pervasive cloud,
and a patch of blue sky framed in gray
drawn back like a curtain
on the new day, rising

a tonal poem for Hedgewitch at Real Toads' Fireblossom Friday

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wild Woman Takes a Leap

There came a moment in time,
trekking the dutiful path
of Obligation and Responsibility,
when I felt my soul shriveling inside me,
felt like I existed only to work,
and bring brown paper bags of groceries
in the front door.

It had been too long.
I knew I had to choose: 
to follow my soul's calling
or learn to live without a dream.
And I knew I couldn't live 
without a dream.

I gathered my courage
and made a mighty, prodigious leap,
landing just right, at sunset,
beside the sea,
a whale diving and surfacing in the bay.

Since that one, terrified, 
but knowing-I-had-no-choice,
trusting-the-Universe moment,
I have never been the same.
I became the Wild Woman 
I was always meant to be.

- for my prompt at Poets United's Midweek Motif: watershed moments, a defining moment in time, after which one is never the same. That decision divided life before and life after. When I landed on that shore, I felt I had finally come home - to be the person I was meant to be. It was the best decision I ever made. Those were the most joyous years of my life. True, unequaled happiness. 

I only had ten  years there, in my heart's home, and have missed it every day since. But at least I had those ten spectacular years, when joy was my daily companion, in love with the beauty of the wild west coast.

I am working Wednesday, my friends, so will catch you at Midweek Motif as I am able to, in the evening at the latest. Wednesday! Hump Day! Yippee!