Thursday, June 21, 2018

Happy Solstice

He came walking across the sand
carrying a paper torch
in the early dawn,
sleepy little boy
with his smiling mom,
who is no longer
in this world.
We walked a labyrinth
drawn in sand,
between opposing tides.
As the waves met,
covering our feet,
we outraced
the sea.

It was Solstice,
and the world and I
were young.
Life was unfolding
on a golden beach,
and every beautiful,
longed-for thing
was there,
within my reach.

And now 
I am back at the shore,
no longer young.
And at last my longings
and my home
are one.

Happy Solstice!

*for Gael and Clay

An Unhappy Refrain

The news is an unhappy refrain,
the background of my days.
Babies scream in terror,
in the corners of my mind,
and there is no rescue,
no comfort being given.
Bad men with dead eyes
explain and blame,
the biggest con
we have ever witnessed.

Horrified, we watch
a country unraveling.
Humpty Dumpty is shattering
over a Wall.
How long will it take
to undo the damage done?

But, Dear Anne, stay hopeful,
and dream your dreams.
Before you are grown,
we will put this world
back together again,
having learned
just how much illness
and injustice
we need to heal.

We will resist, we will demand,
we will march and WE WILL VOTE!!!!!!
and we will undo the damage done.
We will reclaim
the country we know
still resides
under the abomination
of this present moment.

Marian's talented daughter, Anne, has given us the prompt: An Unhappy Refrain, which could not be more apt, in this particular week. Hatsune Miku invites us to tell her how we feel.  As we listen with horror to the uncomforted cries of terrified children, we wonder who is able to carry out these heartless, soul-less orders. I cant think of anything else. But Anne, rest easy. This will end and the world will return to the one we knew before a year ago. It wasnt always the greatest, but it sure was better than this.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Disconnected Heart

Only a disconnected heart
that has forgotten its purpose,
that same heart that must have,
once, fallen in love,
 experienced the wonder
of its child being born,
could go to work
in a place where it is forbidden
to hold or comfort 
traumatized children
who are crying for their parents.

Ripping a baby
out of her mother's arms
as she screams in terror,
"I'm just following orders,"
flies in the face
of all humanity,
convincing me that wolves
live more ethically
than some humans,
and we have lost our way.

I have had trouble putting words to the situation at the southern border. I never thought I would see such things in North America. Clearly, he thought this situation would force Democrats to let him build the wall he is so obsessed with. I think he miscalculated. There are a lot of CONNECTED and outraged hearts on this continent right now.

I really am at a loss for words, but am attempting to respond to Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Humans.

I read recently that wild animals come out at night now in order to avoid humans. They are wise.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

This Poem is a Broken Heart

This poem is a father, sitting in the sun and laughing.
This poem is a sunny summer's day,
the day before his world collapses.
This poem is a boat sinking,
along with  his brightest hopes.

This poem is a father, sitting in the sun,
laughing, on a day when all is well,
when life is as it should be.

This poem is a sunny summer's day,
just one day later,
the sound of helicopter blades whirring,
and many boats searching the shorelines
from dawn till dark.

This poem is cries for help in the night,
a boat sinking, one man plucked from the water,
one swimming to shore, three young men missing.
This poem is the village
collectively holding its breath,
waiting for word,
keeping hope alive.

This poem is the family,
grouped on the dock,
waiting for their young men
to come home.

This poem is 24 hours later,
still searching, still waiting,
the helicopters making fewer passes.
This poem is a father's aching heart,
praying for his sons' safe return.

At two in the morning on Friday, a small boat went down off Tofino with five young men on board. People on land heard cries for help and the Coast Guard was sent out. They plucked one man from the water. Another swam to shore. Three men are still missing. They searched with helicopters and many boats all day yesterday along all the shores, and a scaled back search is going on today. This father's two sons are among the missing. I dont yet know who the third man is, but in this close-knit community, this is heartbreak all around. It is beyond imagining, what this family is going through. In just an instant, everything can change. Appreciate the ordinary days, my friends. Life can change in an instant.

I adapted Hannah Gosselin's Boomerang Metaphor Form for this poem.

shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. Come join us on Sunday. And for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads - fathers and sons.

My Heart, a Tiger's Nest

My heart yearns toward a monk's cell
perched on the edge of a mountain cliff,
halfway between here and heaven.

Yet here I am, in a grey little town
in the valley,
trying to fashion my unwieldy life
into something
that does not give offence.

My challenge, the cliff-walk
of understanding the distance
between where you are
and where I long to be.

My practice, the lighting of incense
and, sometimes, hearts,
with the weaving of words.

My sorrow, the mantra of my soul:
how to tame
the tiger's nest of
keening for all that was,
all that may never be again,
so it may bed down
in peace.

A poem from 2015, thatI will share with the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


The Saffron Road - A Journey with Buddha's Daughters by Christine Toomey from Christine Toomey on Vimeo.

What is the magic
that picks me up by the scruff of the neck
when I open the pages of a book?

Meet me in Kathmandu.
I will arrive leading an elephant
I have liberated from her chains.
Twenty-six years, she lay on the pavement,
without hope.
Her eyes now gleam:
with relief, with awakening trust, with
-amazingly – kindness.
Although I am human,
like the beings who chained her,
she is willing to believe that
I mean her no harm.
Elephants forgive.

On a rooftop, above a monastery,
at three a.m.,
nuns are practicing kung fu.
Even the birds are not awake.
It is four hours until morning tea.
Below, monks’ rumbling mantras
grumble sonorously.
All is peaceful, conscious, awakened.

I have arrived along the Saffron Road
in the pages of a book,
where I live with delight

as the slow hours pass.

At the monastery,
the youngest nun is six years old.
Her parents brought her to the nuns
to gain good karma,
and also because
there is no money to feed
so many children.

She is nervous, watching the other nuns
to see what she is supposed to be doing.
In her bed at night,
I wonder if she remembers home,
cries silent tears,
feels unmoored,

I turn the page,
and now, so soon, it will be eventide
in the purple mountains,
smoke rising from the chimneys
and the cooking fires,
as amber light falls on stone walls,
and pilgrims make their weary way

I must make my own way home.

Meet me in Kathmandu.
We will speak of the magic
of books that lift us up and away,
taking us on magic carpets
to the land of our dreams.

Today the power was out from the minute I got out of bed until almost suppertime. I recognized my dependence on technology. I began reading The Saffron Road, A Journey With Buddha’s Daughters, by Christine Toomey, who travelled the globe  to tell the stories of Buddhist nuns. The book took me right into its pages.

For Karin’s prompt at Real Toads: to use the phrase “What is the –" as a starting point for our poem. I dont know how to make the film go on top of the doggy faces. But it is a beautiful glimpse of a mysterious way of life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Contemplating the Prompt of the Day

Wild Woman contemplates
the prompt of the day: lust

defined as
a passionate desire for ________

She cogitates.
Kindness to animals?
More years on the planet?
A dog?
All of the above.

Carnality has never been
her strong suit.

She shrugs,
remembers a blackbird heart
she truly loved and swiftly lost,
proclaims her kinship with the wild,
her unwavering companionship
of wave and shore.
Too late for lust,
she does not wish for

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Lust

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Recipe Has Always Included Sorrow

What I Know For Sure:

that even the worst times were necessary
to teach me the lessons 
my soul needed to learn

that it doesn't matter 
how much or little you gather,
in life, only what you give

that each cell, particle, tree, rock, 
each being, in the world
is connected to every other, and to me

that even in times 
when we feel most alone,
we are being guided and helped

that, in order to be truly  
happy and at peace,
we must follow our hearts, 
even when it scares us ~
especially if it scares us!

My Memory Bowl, this lifetime,
got filled to the brim
with laughter, with song,
with wonder, with broken hearts,
with lessons learned, and taught,
with miracles and serendipities,
with golden friends,
with broken trust which taught me
to trust myself,
with a dream in my heart
that forced me to take risks,
with a search for love
that taught me to love all people,
with a journey made
and the price I was glad to pay.

I sift through the bowl
like a goblet of grapes, plucking one
and then another:
those long-gone people,
from a gentler time, which was,
in fact, the harshest of times,
reviewing my heart’s perilous
yet joyous passage
from yesterday
into tomorrow.

The recipe, my friends,
has always included

Never Fully Gone

Collage created for me by my friend,

I feel it coming, this poem I will birth
on the seventh year of your passing
from this earth.
So close to tears, I realized, of course, it is you.
Just how much and how long I would miss you,
back then I never knew.
Like a burrowing owl, you have lodged in my heart,
like a prickle-burr that hurts, from which 
I do not want to part.
You live there, night and day, in a corner labeled Grief.
From the missing and your-being-gone
there is no relief.

Ghost voices whispering on the wind,
and wolf howls in my dreams,
you look right into my sad heart;
your wolf-eyes gleam.

The barn owl says to light the lamp
on the windowsill for you.
But how can you find me in this place
that was never home to you?

I'm homeless in the universe, alone, without you
and I fear you're out there somewhere,
feeling homeless too.
Lead me back, wolf-spirit,
to the land we loved together.
I will walk there again
as we did in any weather.

When I can hear the rhythm of
the turning of the tides,
my spirit may still find a home
once more, where peace abides.
Maybe your ghost shadow
will accompany the hours
as I walk forever beaches that,
for a time, were ours.

*** *** ***

I went to bed and slept, and then they came:
four beautiful, snowy white wolves
who already knew my name.
The first one came close,
oh! the beauty of her face!
pushed a friendly nose towards me,
as I stood still, accepting,
but respectful of her space.
We were at the beach, the wolves and I.
A visitation from the spirit-world
of the not-alive,
and from deep in my spirit,
which needs both wolves and ocean waves
to thrive,
because it has never been enough
simply to survive.
The barn owl called sleepily
in the early light to wake me.
Four white wolves live within me now,
never to forsake me.

***   ***   ***

And you?
big, black, laughing, hilarious
creature of the dawn?
You live in my heart
forever, now.
You are never
fully gone.

This is not the anniversary of Pup's death on January 15, 2011. But somehow I feel like posting this poem of remembering.  When I first wrote it, I was still living at the farm, where Pup had never lived. I worried that his spirit had remained in our former yard, across the street, as I could not feel his presence. I hope he has followed me back to the beach that he loved so much, that his spirit rejoices once again in the song of the waves.

Shared with Real Toads in the Tuesday Platform

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Greenly Greens

When you enter the forest,
walk with an open heart,
with good intention.
Greet the tree beings,
and all who live there.

The forest knows
you are coming.

At the trailhead,
it sends messages about you
through its root system.
If we walk unthinkingly,
with heavy boots,
the ferns and bushes 

So tread softly,
with kindness.
Let your good heart
bathe in green energy.
Breathe in peace.
Breathe out gratitude.

Thank all that is alive
in the greenest of greens,
from gigantic cedar
to lowly slug.

you are walking
in their territory.

I was taught this by a young Nuu chah nulth woman, Gisele Martin, who gives workshops about the history and protocals of the first people to live on this land, who were and are its guardians for thousands of years.

I am fortunate to have this forest a short walk from my apartment. There is a long interconnected system of trails, so that many can enjoy the peace of the forest. Shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. Do come and join us.

Thursday, June 7, 2018


not like a pounding rain
beating clamorously against
the side of the cabin.....

but like enu*:
a soothing morning mist,
is my heart,
gentled by storm
into stillness.

not like a wild horse
on the prairie,
feet galloping, heart pounding,
kicking up clods of dirt
as her mane
catches the wind.....

but like an old mare
in the pasture,
eating grass and daisies,
tail lazily switching flies,
is my heart,
tired from all the clamour,
seeking only peace.

not like a pack of wolves,
their howls keening
into the midnight hours,
wild and sorrowing......

but like the lone wolf,
silently leaving the pack
to find the pathway
to her solitary death,
is my heart,
reclusive and at peace,
following the gentle
downhill slope
of the months and years
I have left.

*enu: the Japanese word for a misty rain

for Bjorn's prompt at dVerse: Via Negative, using the negative in poetry to make a statement stronger. And for Toni's prompt at Real Toads: 50 Shades of Rain.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Wolves at Long Beach - note how skinny
Parks Canada photo

Their forest is shrinking. They emerge, tentative, ghostly, in morning mist, seeking food, seeking shelter, seeking safe places that are no more. And they are chased, by men with guns, by helicopters with whirring blades, whole families fleeing in terror, falling, one by one, to lie bleeding in the snow.

Run, brother wolf, sister wolf.
Run like the wind.
Sing your wild song,
of forest den and your young.
Sing your plea
that your cubs will live.
Sing your elegy
for all we have lost,
all we are losing.
Sing our shared heartbreak
under the midnight moon.
My heart runs with you
as you flee for your life.
Run fast.
Run far.

May you find a place
untouched by man,
to live and dream
your wolfish dreams.
May you survive,
for in this sorrowing world
I need wild wolves

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Running. The plight of animals, both domestic and wild, in today's world, keeps on breaking my tired old wolf-woman heart. 

Here on the Coast, wildlife officers try to avoid killing wolves. No helicopter shootings here - but in other places in B.C. and Alberta, it happens. And three cougar , a mother and two yearlings, were killed last week on the Lower Mainland. Loss of habitat drives them into developed areas in search of food - pretty much a death sentence for wildlife these days. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Summer Wind

1950's Kelowna
photo by Don Collier

lake-scent and willow whispers
on the summer breeze,
young girl dreaming 
under apple blossoms,
lost in reverie

hot summer nights
in the city,
twinkling lights
and darkling hills,
I sealed my fate
with a promise,
made for good or ill

young mother pushing
baby buggies
through summer afternoons,
at the lake with leggy children
who grew and flew 
too soon

I blew home on the Westerly,
set up house
beside the sea,
felt El Nino's warming sigh,
so welcoming
to me

now I'm remembering
all my summers
while this old planet 
I hear the song 
of all my yesterdays
upon the
summer wind.

for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where you will find good reading on a Sunday morning. Do come join us. Are you all finding it as inconvenient as I am, not having comments come to your email inbox? It makes it VERY hard to keep up and return visits. I used to respond to comments via email when possible. If I have missed you, I apologize. I checked with Blogger Forum. They are aware of the problem and say they will fix it and it will be working again soon. THAT is a relief!

Thursday, May 31, 2018


Stamp Falls, Port Alberni, B.C.

All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying 
to get back to where it was. - Toni Morrison

Like the river, 
I was always headed
to the sea,
my heart lulled only 
by the gentle lap
of waves upon the sand.

It took me ten years,
and then twenty more,
to reach its shores.

I travelled
by cellular memory
and inner compass.
Like a single drop of water,
the ocean filled
my DNA.

A homing pigeon
flew me over the mountain.
An orange ball of fire
setting behind the hills
welcomed me in.

One step upon the sand,
and the questing, seeking
voice in me was stilled,
and I was home.

for Sanaa's prompt at Real Toads: Water

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Truth: Warning: Distressing to animal lovers

Bear cub found clinging to dead mother bear
near Tofino
CBC News story / Jennifer Steven photo

Mother bear dead, lying on the shore,
whimpering cub still clinging to her teat,
growing weaker; he cannot comprehend
that the source of all nourishment,
comfort and protection is gone.

I grieve; I grieve
for all the wild ones
suffering at our hands
as we encroach upon the land

A family of wolves is
running for their lives;
the whirr of helicopter blades above
chasing them across the prairie.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
And seven members of a family
that loved their lives
lie bleeding where they fall.

Do the men with guns have hearts?
How do they wrap this in their minds,
when everything alive
just wants to live?

The black cliffs above
have stood for a million years,
the dark green trees
rooted, silent sentinels,
saved from the saw
only by the steepness 
of their slopes,
as, below,  all the old growth 

The Old Ones say there was a time
when the salmon were so plentiful
The People could walk upon their backs,
and the prairie grasses were dotted
with buffalo as far as the eye could see.

Now the buffalo are gone,
and the salmon are dying:
riddled with disease, lesions, tumours,
full of contaminants, and radiation.
Whales wash up on shore
with stomachs full of plastic
from the ocean we have turned
into a garbage dump.

I do not have years long enough
for all this grieving.

In an eyeblink in the annals of time,
we took healthy abundance,
the interdependence of all living things,
and turned it into misery.

Now all the wild things
have questions in their eyes
and sorrow in their cries,
like the teardrops in my heart.

We took abundance
and turned it into misery
through greed and love of money.
A truth so hard to bear.

I grow old, I grow old,
and all my hopes
are slowly growing cold.

John Forde with cub / Jennifer Steven photo

A local man found  a dead mother bear, her cub still clinging to her teat, a few days ago on a small beach on one of the uninhabited islands. He took the cub to a wildlife rehabilitation centre and it will be released back into the wild once it is big enough to survive, in eighteen months. The caregivers distance themselves from the bear, to ensure it can be released into the wild when it is time.

Poor little bear. He didnt have much time left when he was found so I am thankful to our local hero, John Forde, for rescuing the little guy.

I read that humans evolved around 200,000 years ago, and “civilization”, as we know it, about 6000 years ago. The Industrial Revolution, where we took a departure from stewarding resources to ravaging them for profit, began in the 1800’s. In just two hundred years, a mere eye-blink, we have created this mess, through greed and love of money, on a planet that thrived for millions of years.

As we have all the information, and proof we have over-burdened this planet before our eyes, it boggles the mind to see corporations and legislators still putting profit before planetary survival.

One wants to think we will turn things around in time. But we are already so overdue, and things appear to be getting worse, at least in North America. The earth takes ten million years to recover from a mass extinction. Maybe next time around, humankind will get it right?

A depressing post. But, sadly, true. For Susan’sprompt at Midweek Motif: Truth

Source of facts here

News story about the baby bear cub here

When I Heard An Ant Singing

In the forest, I sit still so long
that everything forgets that I am there.
I hear
rustling : small creatures dart
among the leaves;
chewing: some lucky critter
found something to eat.

An elusive, wary deer
slowly steps among the trees;
the river is calling to bear
and eagle: salmon
for their supper.

I'm told that ants "sing"
by rubbing their
back legs
over their abdomen.
I listen hard
at the base of a tree:
almost, I think I hear
its tiny voice.
I see them, now,
in this new light:
living their industrious lives
with moments of song,
until a careless footstep
snuffs them out.

The world is slowly dying:
choking in pollution,
strangling in radioactive waste,
heating  and burning up
at alarming rates,
and yet Mother Nature
and all her creatures
go about their day
still trying to live,
doing what they have done
for millennia,
before we came.

Do they know, as we do,
(I think they do)
about the slow extinction
of species and soundscapes
as we humans encroach upon
the natural world
with our voracious appetites?

When I heard
the ant singing,
my heart broke in two
at his trust, his belief,
his too-short future,
his plight,
the same as ours.

for the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bugs, Butterflies and a Cup of Tea

When i was three, I fell in a red anthill.
I still remember screaming,
the feeling of the ants crawling all over me,
and how long it took my mom to get them off.
I was afraid of bugs for years
after that.

In my thirties I became enamored with butterflies,
the bursting out of a cocoon and flying free
roughly equating the journey i had made.

The story goes a fly
fell into a young practitioner's tea
at the monastery.
He told the monk,
who hastened away with cup and fly
in consternation.
The young man assumed
the monk was embarrassed
and would return with fresh tea
and apologies.

When the monk came back, he  whispered
reassuringly: "the fly will be all right",
in that moment causing a cosmic shift
in the young man's Western mind.

For Kim's prompt at Real Toads: bugs.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

When You Love a Wild Thing III

When you love a wild thing,
you can never  again
to being tame.
He'll take you farther
than you'd ever go alone,
after which you'll never
be the same.

He was a wild thing,
and he shared
my wild and wilderness-y 
We gamboled endless 
sandy beaches,
never apart
through the happiest
and wildest
of our years,
and, when we had to leave,
we mourned together
our lost home
with inner tears,
the way all the wild 
and displaced creatures 

He was a wild one,
and in all my life,
he was my dearest friend.
He was himself,
black wolf who loved me,
to the end.
He made me laugh
as untamed wild things
always will,
living all his life
with a spirit
too big
to kill.

He loved me more
than anyone I ever knew,
so it was harder than I dreamed
when our years together
were through.
And, when he went away,
though he tried so hard to stay,
most of my heart
went with him,
for pain is the price
love pays.

Forever now, I'll listen
for his song.
I will miss him
every day
all my life long.
From the moment
his heart stopped beating,
from the hour
we had to part,
I've been
a weary wolf woman
with wolf howls
in my heart.

for my prompt at Real Toads: Must Love Dogs. I have written a book full of poems about this wonderful wolf-dog. He shared my happiest years, and seven years after his death, I still miss him every day. The phrase "a spirit too big to kill" comes from my friend Annell, who wrote it soon after he died. I am so grateful for our fourteen years together.

I am sharing this in the Poetry Pantry with the good folks at Poets United this weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Grandfather Tree

Grandfather Tree,
through the centuries
you have weathered storms,
arms out, the girth of your trunk,
your tenacious roots,
holding you steady
against the winter winds.

On your crown, you sport
four spires.
It would take six people,
holding hands,
to circle your massive trunk.

I place my hand upon you,
and listen.
Your message is: Endurance.
Ancient cultures
once thrived
 near where you stand.
You watched them live,
then die.

Their descendants saved you
from the saw.
May you watch 
new generations grow.
May your inner core
hold steady.
May small birds 
bless you with song.
May the sweetness
please your ears.

I bow
to your rich history,
your gift of air,
the protection of your 
welcoming branches.
My eyes take you in
like a blessing.
You are my only

I hear your heartbeat.
You speak
the language of the Old Ones,
talking Tree story,
speaking Truth.
May we listen well.

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: to write a tribute poem.

Sunset at the Tofino Harbour

Heading back from seeing the whales.

It wasn't the most colourful of sunsets, down at the First Street dock. But it was so nice hanging out waiting for the sun to set. I saw a huge sea lion splashing about near the dock, and ran into an old friend I havent seen for close to twenty years, learning his granddaughter, a baby when we last spoke, is now a young mom. How time flies.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Walk in the Forest

Tonquin Beach

A bench to honour a friend
in the spirit world

Menina's pond

An example of culturally modified trees.
The Nuu chah nulth use the bark
in their cedar weaving and basket work.

"Listen carefully with your whole being 
to the ones who are now quietly speaking....
observe the plants, animals, forest, 
ocean, sky and heavens - 
that reality which is the source of life."

There is a system of interconnecting trails winding
through the forest and down to the beach. 
The village of Tofino and 
the Nuu chah nulth people
joined together to expand the trail system.

It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon walk, 
with views of water and forest. 
I thought I would share it with you. 
This forest is all second growth. 
In the 1930's, local history has it,  
a man had a 500 acre allotment in this area, 
and he clearcut the whole thing. 
Thankfully, it has grown back,
and there are some big trees 
among the younger ones.