Saturday, December 30, 2017


I hold this truth to be self-evident,
that this earth was created 
as an interconnected
and interdependent system,
so what happens to one part, 
happens to us all.

I believe this earth was always
meant to be a garden, 
for all to share, 
with man as one part only,
careful steward, 
not lord and master
over all other beings.

I believe the animals and creatures 
of land, air and sea, 
understand this truth, 
with grief in their hearts
for Man’s lack of comprehension 
of this vision.

The polar bears, starving 
on their melting ice,
the lions, hunted to extinction 
in “canned hunting” compounds,
the whales and the salmon, 
succumbing to warming seas,
disease, pollution and plastic,
the elephants, slaughtered 
for their ivory tusks,
Mother Earth, herself, 
crying in her loudest voice
over the death of all her children,
know this is not how Planet Earth
was ever meant to be.

There is Enough for All,
if the rich and greedy would share;
there is Enough for All,
if corporations would care,
or if, somehow, they
simply were not there.

I hold this truth to be self-evident:
What happens to one of us,
happens to us all.
One day corporate greed itself
will fall. 

for Bjorn's prompt at Real Toads: to write a Manifesto. My voice will always speak for the wildlands and all of its creatures. 


Roll back those lowering, grey 2017 clouds,
my friends,
and make a joyful noise to welcome
the new year in.

Sweep out the old cobwebby, difficult, 
grumbling, astonished,
outraged, disbelieving months,
and set your home
and your heart
 to gladness.
It's a brand new year.

What is your brightest dream
for this new chapter
of your life?
Write it down, attach a photo.
Stick it on your fridge.
Then set about making it 
come true,
as only you can do.

Today, I witnessed 
a strange-looking crow
make a warble I have never heard
from a bird.
I wondered what new kind of crow
he was trying to be,
what song he was trying out,
and what its message might be.
Perhaps to stop repeating 
the old, familiar, 
dusty, droning songs
and try out one 
so new and unthinkable 
that it gives you massive fear 
and goose bumps.
Then you will know 
that is exactly the song
you are meant to sing.

Plunge in!
2018 is almost here.
There will be a New Moon.
They say we can set our goals 
for the year 
on this moon.
I shall be sure to look at it
up there in the quiet winter sky.
I shall picture waves 
advancing and retreating 
in response to its lunar call,
and set my intention:

Peace, in my heart,
in my quiet rooms,
in my words,
in my relationships,
in my world.

Sharing this wish for the new year with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where we are seeing the new year in with poetry! 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Flying Free

Wolf and Raven Ponder 
On What Lies Ahead
by the artist Marion Syme
of Tofino, B.C.

I made the desperate leap for More
when my soul was sorely bored,
working a job that was a chore,
just to carry bags of groceries
through the door.

I leaped over mountains to the sea,
and knew ten years of ecstasy,
this wild bird so thrilled
at finally
flying free.

Then the universe set me down
in a grey and dismal little town
where I was "happy enough"
with my folks and all my Stuff,
but never forgot
that Something More
that I had lived
so joyously

So, bent and broken,
and hobbling on one knee,
that careful life
I had once more
-and one last time-
to flee.
And now my heart swells with joy
at every cloud-besotted hill,
my eyes gratefully drink their fill,
and this wild bird,
 - limp-feathered, battered wing, -
is flying still.

for Marian's prompt at Real Toads: Aspire, to create a poem inspired by    song, that asks the question "Don't you want something more?" I have lived that song - both sides of it - twice now.

Monday, December 25, 2017


If the wet grey skies are getting you down,
and the rain is trickling under your coat, down 
the back of your neck,
if there is too much Christmas to buy
and not enough dollars,
if some of your loved ones are far away,
and too many Christmases have passed,
with too many faces no longer around the table,
if love never arrived, at least not in the form 
you had expected it,
take a little time to Occupy the Blues.

Go ahead.
Feel it all and, if you're strong enough,
widen your vision to encompass
all of the unwanted,  abandoned animals
who will spend Christmas in the SPCA,
or the creatures who live their whole lives 
in cages, waiting to cross our tables,
or the wild ones displaced from their habitats,
then picked off when they "encroach"
on "Man's" Territory.

Are you depressed enough yet?

Just watch the news.
I know. I don't do it often,
and each time I do I remember why.
The humans may be even worse off
than the animals in so many places.
And for certain, the environment
is in complete distress.

But I'm riding my Bus of Dreams
down the grey, rain-drenched streets
through the worst part of town -
where the disenfranchised
eke out their bare existence.
They remind me I have so much
to be grateful for.

I see them carrying their small packages home
with gladness in their hearts
to make a small Christmas with their loved ones.
We all dream the same dreams.
We all love to give.

When my heart aches for humanity,
for this suffering and unbalanced planet,
for the 99%, for the melting at the Poles,

I remember that even in its distress,
Mother Earth continues to love us,
to provide for us, to sustain us.

She wakes up every morning,
She presents us with 
her best sunrises and sunsets,
her bluest skies, her fluffiest clouds,
her necessary rain.

When I see her resilience,
I roll up my sleeves
and get ready to
begin again.

I decide to Re-Occupy Hope.

I wrote this some years ago, in Port Alberni. Dragged it out to share, since 'tis the season of giving  and I am thinking of the homeless, the impoverished, those who want to give, but have no money with which to do so. My eyes lift often to the mountaintops powdered with the first snow. The planet and its animals are so beautiful. May we humans get it together soon, to nurture and restore in response to all we have been given.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas in the Gardens

Darwin's Cafe in Tofino's Botanical Gardens 
is all lit up for Christmas.
With a December pass, the cost of one event, 
one can attend an evening's entertainment 
every night in December, 
and also wander the gardens to enjoy the lights.

Tonight the Tofino-Ucluelet Choir gave us two hours 
of rousing songs - some Christmas songs,
with interesting arrangements, but many others as well, 
and some solo performances by talented
members of the group. 
One of the best Christmas concerts I have ever been to.

This is Darwin's Cafe, where the magic happens.

This wooden heron, in the pond,
caught my eye.

A  bike in a tree.

Another view of the pond.

This lit up tunnel was fun to walk through.

This is a viewpoint looking over the inlet.
A good spot for watching the 
spring and fall bird migrations.

A wonderful event.
I am so glad I went,
tempting as it was to stay home
in my jammies.
I must get to more of these events.
I am always blissed out
when I do.
There is so much talent in this community.

Tomorrow, I am bussing down-Island
to my daughter's in Victoria
for a few days.

Happy holidays, friends!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Cali's Smile

Cali, on the left, Chloe on the right

Last Christmas, she was in her new home, with memories of the steel bars of the kill shelter still in her head. She was tentative, uncertain, lucky that the woman from Rosier Days Dog Rescue chose her among all the others to save from that terrifying place where her time had run out. Up the coast she came, from California, to Victoria, B.C., where a series of good people cared for her until my daughter found her. They call her "Cali" for California. Look at her smile now! She is grateful. She is happy. She knows she is home. She knows she is loved.

One small scared brown dog
rescued from the brink of death
Christmas memories

Run fast, Cali, and leave those 
bad memories far behind

My daughter Stephanie has rescued many wonderful dogs the past twenty years. Her dream is to have her own dog rescue one day. Cali's smile says she knows she has hit the jackpot, LOL.

for Karin's prompt at Real Toads: to take a letter of the alphabet (I chose C) and free write with pen and paper, then revise.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fire and Ice

The worst fire of all,
still troubling my heart, 
your big, vibrant, noisy body
going into the flames,
your spirit's confusion.
Guilt: my decision,
because I needed you with me
and there was no other way.

Ice cold and horrible,
the moment she handed you back to me,
reduced to ashes
in a small take-out box.

I carry you now
forever in my heart,
your thumping tail
causing smiles and tears,
joy and pain.

You always were a spirit
too big to kill.

for Kerry's  prompt at Real Toads:  Fire and Ice. Also to be shared with the Poetry Pantry at
Poets United,   where there is good reading every Sunday morning. When Pup died, almost eight years ago, Annell Livingston wrote a poem about him, titled "A Spirit Too Big To Kill". She got it right.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Remembering Fruit

We picked apples off
the trees of my childhood,
driving into the country
on Sunday afternoons
to see the springtime blossoms.

We chased each other
through the rows,
two small sisters
in Sunday dresses,
reaching up, with delight,
allowed to choose
one firm, fresh apple
from the tree.
Life was simpler then,
and kind.

Now condominiums sprout
where once the orchards bloomed.
One by one, 
the loved old houses 

In the small house
where I raised
my four children,
the back yard was all garden.
In summer, the table groaned
with watermelon, cantelope and honeydew,
grapes, and plums and apricots,
strawberries, luscious red,
juice dripping down our chins.

The house and garden is gone now,
replaced by a monster house,
my children's ghostly laughter
still echoing down the years.

We picked apples off
the trees of my childhood.
Now condominiums sprout
where once the orchards

for Sanaa's prompt at Real Toads:  Of Poems and Fruit

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


My granddog, Chloe,
who cant believe the cupcake
coming at her

The sun comes up every morning,
and the trees unfurl their arms 
and sway in celebration.
The miracle of those big green waves,
rolling in, rolling out,
is the definition of everness.
And we?
Our eyes open, amazed,
at the miracle of
another day of loving.
We look to the sky,
where the great birds are wheeling.
Our hearts swell
in gratitude, in hopefulness,
in reverence,
in one long moment
of “Thank You!”

Each morning,
a celebration.
Each evening,
and rest.

Chloe's sister, Cali, a rescue from
a kill shelter in California, who celebrates
her new life, with gratitude, every day.
As do I.

For Sumana's prompt: Celebration at Midweek Motif.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Emotional Lives of Animals: Upsetting to Animal Lovers

Grieving horse lays his head on the coffin of his
person, emitting cries of distress.

In Chernobyl, right after the meltdown, men with guns were sent into the abandoned villages to shoot all the animals. The horses were crying. They met the eyes of the shooters. One man reported that the message in the horses' eyes was clear: We want to live. He disconnected himself from his brain and emotions, and pulled the trigger.

Everything alive just wants to live.

I can't understand why, with so much evidence clearly present, there are still some unaware humans who think animals can't feel. They feel it all, just as we do: love, joy, devotion, sadness, loneliness, hunger, fear, pain, danger. Heartbreak. Betrayal. Grief. They love their humans, hoping only for their love and care to be returned. It breaks my heart how often their loyalty is returned with cruelty, indifference, even, far too often, abuse.

The whales in the warming seas, the lions in the canned hunting compounds, the wolves and bears stalked by helicopters and men with guns, the starving polar bears on the melting ice, they feel every bit of their fear and struggle to stay alive; they feel the pain of the bullets, as they relinquish their lives. The dogs shivering in the sub-zero cold as they are chained to fences in the biting wind and snow, it feels ridiculous to observe that they feel it and deserve shelter and protection.

The starving polar bear struggling to totter across the ice-free ground in its desperate search for food as he was dying, whose image broke our hearts this week, does not leave my mind. One day, we humans will be staggering across a barren landscape in search of food, ourselves, and then maybe we will understand exactly what we have done to this planet that struggles so hard to stay alive under the assault of human and corporate demands.

58% of the world's animals are gone. A fact too huge to absorb. What we are doing to them now, we are also doing to ourselves. 

We are cutting down the trees that give us the air we breathe. We are either a suicidal species, or one completely disconnected from nature. We do not understand our interdependance.

My heart breaks and breaks. Echoing in my mind, the simple fact: everything alive just wants to live. How is it we have gotten it so wrong?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Distressing to Animal Lovers: the Death March of a Starving Polar Bear

I bear witness
to your suffering.
I do not turn away,
though your dying
breaks my heart.

You are living
what humankind 
has wrought,
and we are not acting
fast enough
to make things right.

So I accompany you
on your slow death march.
I bear witness
to your suffering.
I do not turn away,
though your dying
breaks my heart.

The film crew said they filmed with tears rolling down their faces. There was nothing they could do to intervene. But they filmed in order to bear witness to the catastrophic effects of climate change on wild creatures. It is painful, uncomfortable. We wish we had not seen it. What we can do: 

*bear witness
*raise awareness
*reduce, re-use, recycle
*lower own own emissions
* contact our local, regional and 
national officials insisting  that laws 
need to be enacted NOW to 
address climate change.

It is the least we can do.


photographer Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Cheer

The stockings aren't hung.
It should be no surprise.
In today's economy,
Santa has to down-size.

The Walmart shoppers
have slowed to a trickle.
If you're not done by now,
you're in a real pickle.

Jeff slams in and out

to the front porch to smoke.
Jon groans: "Trying to sleep
in this house is a joke!"

In the living room, Steph and Gord,

tucked in their beds,
watch their dreams of a night's sleep
die in their heads.

Jeff's back! reaching for

the doorknob with glee.
Five dogs raise their heads:
"Oh, it's time to go pee!"

Walking dogs in the dark,

I fall in the ditch.
Sometimes this Christmas gig
can be a real b*tch!

Mother Hubbard arrives
to prepare the big feast.
How’ll she ever turn 
lentils and beans
to Roast Beast?

Old Dog thinks he’s died
and gone straight to Dog Hell,
and his owner suspects
she has gone there as well,

For sixteen humans 
are coming for dinner
and bringing eight dogs.
Someone’s a real winner!

I’m the old woman 
who lives in a shoe.
We’ll have to hang ‘em on pegs
or else go somewhere new.

Two hundred inches 
of rain falling down:
Here’s hoping Santa 
and his reindeer don’t drown.

I can make it 'til Christmas 
is over, I think,
especially if you pour me 
one more little drink ;)

LOL. This is a tongue-in-cheek look at coping with the holidays. 

It is based on an actual Christmas our family had some years back, when there were half as many dogs as people, and I still lived in my sweet little trailer in the country. It was the best Christmas ever!

I don't actually advocate alcohol as a coping mechanism. But one little glass to soften the edges can definitely help. Smiles.

Am sharing this with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United on Sunday. Do come and join us.

Me, Too

Noor Fadel with Jake Taylor,
who intervened in a Skytrain attack in Vancouver

He said,
"Go home to your country",
but this is my country.
He yelled, threatened me,
struck me,
tried to shove my head
in his crotch.
He tried to remove my hijab.
The other passengers
sat in silence.
No one helped
except one young man,
who stood between me 
and the attacker
and told him to leave.
My protector."

"What does it mean 
to be a Canadian?
It's not just by
how you look."

On December 6, on a Skytrain in Vancouver, B.C., an eighteen year old girl was threatened, struck and sexually assaulted by a 46 year old man, while a car full of passengers sat in silence. Only one young man came to stand between her and the assailant, after she was struck, telling him to "get the f off". Thankfully, Noor was able to take photos with her phone and the man was apprehended, arrested and charged. As appalling to me as the assault is the car full of people sitting in silence. "It is a dangerous world for a girl child in a world of men," says Alice Walker in The Color Purple. I am proud of the young man who intervened. Good for him.

for my prompt at Real Toads: Me, too, the Silence Breakers. So many stories. So much darkness. But thankfully, also a lot of light.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Message to a Young Warrior Woman

I know the journey
you are making, 
my young friend,
for I, too, have walked
pain's pathway.
Know this: the route
will make you strong.
As you grow, 
your warrior woman
will arise.
(She is waking now.)
Your inner fire 
has been dampened,
but not extinguished,
by those unable to see
who you are.
One day, little bird,
you will fly.

Right now you are at 
the end of the branch,
contemplating the sky,
wondering what soaring 
might feel like.

Gather the air 
under your wings, 
little bird,
and, when you feel ready, 
lift off,
trusting the sky
to carry you.

But always remember:
the longest journey that
we ever make
is the one between
our heads
and our hearts.

***   ***   ***

"Me, too," I wrote on facebook,
recalling a cold and painful past.
"Me, too," wrote both my daughters,
able to speak of it at last.
"Me, too,"  added my granddaughter,
girl of fire and storm.
"Me, too," is now a sisterhood,
a planet to transform.

***   ***   ***

A wise medicine man once said to me: "Your greatest pain is your strongest medicine". And he was right. For my prompt at Real Toads: to write about women, in response to the "Me, too" movement.

In the Land of Delusion, the Narcissist is King

The narcissus turn brown
and fall off their stalks
when he enters the room,
for he takes up all the air.
His pronouncements waft forth
with no reasoning, affecting nations.
He doesn't bother his head
with the fallout.

He would scrape the faces 
off monuments,
replacing them with his own.
There is no soul in his eyes,
only Self,
and delusion.

How much longer must 
a country bear
a demented emperor?

Where is the child
- or legislator,
or Congressman -
who will say:
He has no clothes?
no substance?
no heart?

Ha. Didnt have to look far for a narcissist, sadly. For Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Narcissus / Narcissism. Gah!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunsets of December

All summer I bemoaned not getting to sunsets because I went to bed earlier than the sun did. Now that it is conveniently setting at 4:30, I managed to get there last night, and this is the result........we are having a week of sun, so there will be one every night this week. I wont get to all of them, but definitely will see one or two. Yippee!