Wednesday, August 30, 2017

This Poem

Joe Garcia and Heidi fleeing the flood
David J. Phillip, AP photo

This poem is an old woman's tears, 
watching news of floods, devastation,
humans and animals fleeing in terror.
This poem is Mother Nature crying her distress
with wildfires, floods, storms, torrential rain,
in the only voice she has.
When will we hear?
This poem is humankind coming to terms with 
how unconsciously 
we have lived.

Houston SPCA photo

This poem remembers being taught as a child
to respect our mothers.
This poem knows we have forgotten to respect
and care for the mother of us all,
on whom all lives depend.
This poem hears the cries of the natural world,
feels the fierceness of storms and floods,
the terror of people and animals fleeing for their lives.
This poem bears the weight of millions of animals 
drowning in floods, burning in wildfires,
or starving through lack of habitat.
This poem foresees millions of 
climate change refugees
on the move.

Young deer swimming for its life
AP photo

This poem is a heart full of sorrow 
from watching a planet in peril.
This poem is a mind grown weary 
from knowing what she knows.
This poem is a plea for 
the best and wisest in humanity to rise
across the globe,
to address our greatest threat -
the climate change we have caused -
while there is still a small window 
of time.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Waking at Two A.M.

"All i want to do is go to sleep,"
my heart said,
having been hurt beyond
how much one heart can bear.

But then, you came,
tapping on my window
at two a.m.,
and you woke me,
woke me,
from my long sleep.

For Rommy's prompt at Real Toads.

I took the seventh sentence on page thirteen of the book Peaceful Passages, a Hospice Nurse's Stories of Dying Well, by Janet Wehr, which was "All I want to do is go to sleep."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Mother Earth Speaks

My children,
my dear Earthlings,
I have given you so much:
everything you need and more -
enough for all beings, all creatures,
enough for trees and air and ocean
to survive and thrive.

I am hurting,
for you take too much,
you put nothing back,
and you are so many.

Fracking rips my innards apart,
the oilsands create dead zones
on my body,
the oil spilling into the rivers,
black death seeping in,
killing all in its path.
It grieves me to see 
threat to the living waters,
for water is life.
I weep for the forests coming down,
lungs of the planet, 
for you need air to breathe.
I  feel temperatures rising,
all creatures suffering,
and I worry for 
your children and grandchildren,
who are also mine.

I speak for my birds,
who have lost their song.
I speak for the wolves,
lions and elephants
who are dying out
as they try so hard to live.
I speak for the whales,
swimming in a warming toxic soup,
dodging your driftnets and propellers,
your garbage and plastic waste,
and i speak for the coral and plankton
which are already all but dead.

I speak for the salmon,
riddled with disease,
and for the polar bear,
swimming endless tired miles,
in search of diminishing
ice and food.

I speak for the forests
that are burning up,
 for the wildlife fleeing in terror.
I speak for the topsoil,
blowing away
on a hot desert wind,
and for pesticide gardens,
that poison the food
that feeds the people.

I speak for the animals
caged in too-small pens,
eating and growing,
and waiting to be eaten,
who know and live their unendurable fate.
I speak for the bawling calf
ripped from its mother and discarded,
so humans can have cream for their coffee.
I speak for dogs chained
for ten years outside in the heat and the cold,
their misery plain in their eyes.
I speak for the voiceless, the captive, 
 the tortured, the abused, 
who cannot speak for themselves
to express their misery,
at the mercy of merciless folks
who think animals have no feelings,
because they never dare to look into their eyes
and see the emotion, betrayed trust
and  despair
shining so plainly there.

My children,
your pain, your dis-ease, 
stems from disconnection 
from your Source,
which is life, nature, the universe, 
God, the All-That-Is,
and from your fellow earthlings.
Wake in the morning with a clean heart.
Step barefoot onto the ground.
Breathe in the precious gift of air from Sister Tree.
Give thanks for the water
as you make your morning tea.
Bless it.
Smile brotherhood to your neighbours.
Share. Give. Welcome. Spread joy.
Live in Hope and Trust,
in Gratitude and Wonder.

The lesson to be re-learned,
which the Old Ones always knew,
is:  You Are All One.
There is no Other,
only humans, animals, 
creatures that fly and swim,
trees, rivers, oceans, air,
each with its place
 in the grand scheme of things.

Help them. Help me.
And, in doing so,
help yourselves.
everything that exists
just wants
to live.

for  Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif, at Poets United: Nature: Her Words

I reworked part of an old poem for this prompt and gave it a new slant, putting the words into Mother Nature's mouth. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Uncomplicated Things

Some things are uncomplicated:
Air, that we breathe,
Rain, that makes things grow,
Love, that makes us feel happy and safe,
Food, to nurture us,
Wildlands, so other species  can also live.

The complications, the difficulties, the impossibilities,
Are because we  humans think we need
So much more than we actually do.

For micro poetry at Real Toads : Uncomplicated Things

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Bad news comes at us
like a falling sky.
We begin anew each morn;
each day we try.
Hope lifts our feathers,
for our spirits
were born to fly,
and, one by one,
these strangest of days
go by.

Today the sun came out;
the fog had lifted,
trees poking through the mist:
beauty golden, beauty gifted.
John Lennon and i were singing:
Let's Give Peace a Chance,
for music is joy and my feet
still can dance.

I watch the news with horror
and with tears.
The world is full
of pain and hate and fear.
But  when music from those
long-gone happy years
wafts through the gloom,
I still kick off my shoes
and dance a lick or two
across my empty room.

For Susie's prompt at Real Toads, to express dance through a poem. And shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. I am traveling today, kids, and have a youngster with me who wants a beach walk when we get home. But i will catch up with you later today and/or tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


A flood of rhetoric:
Alt-left, alt-right,
Endless discussion
About the morally indefensible;
How long until
We return to the land
Of Normal?
How long till we remember
Civil rational discourse,
Justice, integrity,


Floods and forest fires,
Displaced populations;
They say the cost of dealing
With climactic events
After they occur
Will topple the world economy.
When will they figure out
Resisting action on climate chage
On economic grounds
Will cost them more?


They say switching to clean energy would create millions of jobs. Fighting fires and mopping up floods costs billions. And we havent yet lost a coastline, whole cities, but that is coming. We are a species slow to learn, as we are seeing this week, with civil war and WWII issues resurfacing . The flood of words and argument makes my soul weary, watching history repeat itself on one hand, while failing to see the obvious on the other.

I have to believe this momentum will galvanise civilisation sufficiently to move us through to intelligent action. We live in hope.

For Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: floods

Ripples at High Tide

"Amidst the chaos, find your peace."
Turn off the talking heads, the horror,
the injustice, the insanity.

Find a green trail and follow it
down to the riverbank.
There are fish there,
swimming peacefully in verdant pools.
There is a heron,
contemplating his dinner,
intent and focused.
There are ripples spreading
outward from the centre,
the way hatred - or love -
spreads outward from its source
and gathers speed as it merges
with the tide.

There is an eclipse coming.
When the darkness lifts off,
may it take with it 300 years
- or three thousand? -
of social injustice.
May some light shine
into  the heart of darkness.
May the sickness burn off,
under the clarity
of a new sun.

In the sunrise of that
may we forge
a more lasting peace.

For the prompt at dverse: to take words from a song and write a poem. I chose the words in quotes, from a song by Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Singing Kites of Wat Opot

Photo from the book

Khleng ek - the singing kite -
flies the heavens
in gratitude for harvest.
It sings its prayers to the God of the Wind,
for dispersing the clouds and bringing the sun,
so the rice grew well.

Below, the orphans of Wat Opot
know joy,
watching Brother Kite carry
their dreams and prayers
to the heavens, 
where all their parents live.

In long gone days, the old kite masters
could fashion kites that sang in seven tones,
a glorious symphony
heard below, especially in darkness,
when the heat and clamor of the day was done.
The orphans' kites sing in three tones,
sometimes five,
a miracle of small hearts
that try to hold big dreams,
against the certain knowledge
of all that took their families

In 2014 I wrote this poem after reading In a Rocket Made of Ice, by Gail Gutradt, about the AIDS-impacted (and many HIV-positive) orphans of Wat Opot, in Cambodia. The orphanage, which now houses many orphans, and offers medical and supportive care to nearby villagers, as well as programs for the children, was begun by Wayne Matthysse, a former Marine corp medic in Vietnam. When he saw the need and responded, he had only fifty dollars in his pocket.

Now, he says he still has only fifty dollars in his pocket, but the work they are doing there, the lives they are helping, sustaining and, often times, honoring at their closing, is phenomenal.Gail has spent much time there among the children, and relays the children's stories so beautifully, that at each's chapter's closing, my heart felt a regretful ping. I grieved at the end of this journey among the children, upon closing the last page.

It is not the sadness of their plight, but the joy with which they live, that holds great lessons for the rest of us.

shared with the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wild Woman Knows What She Knows II

Wild Woman knows what she knows,
and her wisdom is hard-won,
but no one young will listen.
They'd rather live the web they've spun.


Wild Woman is finally free.
She can never again be tamed.
She is growing old disgracefully,
and refuses to be blamed.


Wild Woman is beguiled
by the beauty of the earth,
knows the things that feed the spirit
are the only things of worth.


Wild Woman knows what she knows.
With the universe, she flows,
and she'll share her wisdom well
before she goes.


The source of this poem was one I wrote in 2013, which can be found here.

Magaly at Real Toads has asked us to compose a poem from a line of one of our own poems, so I picked one that popped up today as a facebook memory. The line quoted is from the title: Wild Woman Knows What She Knows.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Voyager Heart

Baby Leo and Graham

Small puff-clouds
scoot across
the autumn sky
on the wings
of the morning.
I cross the road
to the rooster's
early cry.
From the sleepy forest
birds croak and caw,
the branches
stir and sigh.
The yard dogs bark
the new day in.
Horses whicker softly
over their apples and grain,
and the imperious marmalade cat
deigns a haughty nod
from his domain.

And I
am old enough
to be grateful for
such grace:
eyesight with which
to take this splendor in
the whole day long,
ears finely tuned
to hear
the planet's song,
legs that still carry me
though at a slower pace,
and that calm
voyager heart
that has
taken me
so far
while staying
in one place.

This poem is from 2010, when I was still living in my small trailer out Beaver Creek. I am sharing it in the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where there is always fine reading on a Sunday morning.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Ancestors Are Smiling

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his children
attended the opening ceremonies of
Tla o qui aht Days in Tofino.

The lead dancer holds up a feather
in each hand.
Behind her, the children follow,
one step, step-step-step, one step,
dipping and weaving
to the sound of the drum.

In a circle, the warriors sing
and pound their drums in a steady beat,
songs handed down
from grandfather to father to son,
songs of heritage,
songs of healing,
songs of pride in culture,
songs of coming home.

"The ancestors are smiling today,"
says the chief.
I can almost see them,
on the edge of the circle,
behind the veil between
this life and the sky world,
holding up their hands
in support of the dancers,
swaying to the beat of the drums.

for Isy's prompt at Real Toads: Writing Unseen, to write about something you can't see fully. The other day I attended  Tla o qui aht Days, a celebration of the rich culture of the Nuu chah nulth people, in whose territory we are privileged to live.

Prime Minister Trudeau was here in town on a family vacation. First Nations invited him to attend and he accepted.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tofino Summer

Fog rolling in to the harbour
in midafternoon

Wickaninnish Beach, overcast, with surfers

Always lots of driftwood

I saw bear scat on the trail
but there were so many people everywhere,
I'm sure the wildlife retreats during the day

On the path to South Beach

I stopped in at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre.
Kwisitis means "the other end of the beach".
This building, long ago, was the original
Wickaninnish Inn.

The carvings of the warriors
and the artwork are breathtaking

A scene from early times

A photo of the mudflats

Surfers were plentiful - they're
the clump of little dots on the left

Wickaninnish waves,
forever advancing and retreating
in my heart

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Art of Mending

Mending the Earth 


How to mend the heart
so grievously injured?
Infusions of love.


To help the oppressed,
we must extend our full hands
and give all we have.


How mend Mother Earth
ravaged by corporate greed?
With cupped hands, and our tears.


So much is broken
but it still can be mended:
Compassionate action.


How fight the darkness,
the tyrants, the injustice?
Pray. March. Act. Write. Vote.


for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Kintsugi: Art of Mending

Lord knows this poor world, its people and all of its creatures are in desperate need of healing, mending, turning a corner from darkness into the light.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Traveler Holds the Moon

Soul Cards by Deborah Koff-Chapin

Traveler wants to
hold life to her
like a huge
buttery yellow
She wants to
sip summer
out of a periwinkle blue cup
and listen to frogs
every evening
beside the pond
in a place
where winter
never comes.

Traveler wants
to roll downhill
with six tumbling
golden puppies,
to watch babies smile,
and old couples
hold hands.
She wants
to watch
the sun go down
beside the sea
for six thousand more
spectacular sunsets,
and wake to see
the sun peep
up over the hill
six thousand and one more
hopeful mornings.

The older she gets,
the farther she walks,
the more she wants
to hold close
all that is
and silently
slipping away.

This poem is from a Soul Card Journey I made in April 2011, with Elizabeth, during NaPoWriMo. Each morning we looked at the day's card and then I began tapping the keys, feeling like I was taking dictation. It was an amazing journey, as yet unequaled.

Shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where there is guaranteed to be good reading every Sunday morning.


Sun through smoke in Campbell River
photo by Brad Bourget

Wildfires burn;
 haze covers land,
 blanket of gloom.
Eerie sun,
apocalyptic sky,
a portent of doom.

Flames crackle,
wildlife flee,
humans displaced.
Everything burns,
a reckoning come
for the human race.

Mother Earth seeks relief
from unending heat,
but Sky has no tears.
 The land burns on,
the forests gone.
We're left
with our fears.

for  Flash 55 at Real Toads 

source Times Colonist, August 5, 2017: of 9 a.m. today, there were 122 wildfires burning in B.C. As of 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, there were 25 evacuation orders affecting approximately 7,127 individuals, plus 42 evacuation alerts impacting approximately 24,957 people.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Last Evening's Walk

Last night I wandered down to First Street dock 
to catch the sunset. 

I got there just in time. The sun was already
sliding behind the hills.

I love the misty shades of Catface 
in the evening.

Lone Cone, with Catface in the background

It is a busy harbour, between boats, planes,
kayaks, humans and water dwellers.

The far mountains turned
such a lovely blue.

As the sun disappeared,
humans slowly wandered off
to pursue their evening activities,
and I hobbled home, well content.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

In Search of Freedom

How I admire the beauty
 of this pink flower,
who blooms
despite the terror 
she has known.

It is a hard world
for girl children,
those pink bundles
who begin life 
so innocent and new.

Bloom on,
small blossoms.
Your journey
the world,
and "the stars 
are always with you*."

*The quote is from this young woman's speech. As Yeonmi Park traveled her harrowing journey from North Korea to freedom, she felt "only the stars were with us." She also said that in Korea there is a saying, "Women are weak, but mothers are strong." I do think women are extraordinarily strong, or we would not survive our lives, especially women in the Third World. I just discovered she has written a book, "In Order to Live", which I am looking forward to reading.