Sunday, April 29, 2018

Flying Away

The dove had lost its mate.
Alone in her cage,
she contemplated Waiting.

We sat below her,
staring straight ahead,
as I told him
I was leaving.

Then, he reached over,
opened the cage door,
and the dove flew
out and away.

What he didn't know:
the dove (my heart)
would keep circling,
back to him,
through all the years.
I did not want to fly 
on that
or any other day.
He just couldn't say the words
to make me stay.

for Fireblossom Friday (yay!) at Real Toads : to write about a time just before an ending. Fireblossom Friday is always my favourite.

Friday, April 27, 2018


Looking at the sky, we long to learn
the language of clouds, of mountaintops.
Mother Sky, teach me
how to sing like small bird, like raven,
like Owl.
Quiet my heart, so I may listen
to the breath of Grandfather Cedar,
and learn to speak tree,
to speak river,
to speak wind.

Transform my soul
to make me worthy of
learning to sing
in whalesong.
Lead me along the shore,
to count the waves,
my heart singing 
joyously and forever
the song of Ocean.

One from 2015 that you may have seen before. Shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where you will find fine reading every Sunday morning.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Going to Grandma's

1950's Kelowna
photo by Don Collier 

In childhood,
at school's end,
I was put on a train, alone,
in Vancouver,
to make the trip to Grandma's house
in Kelowna
for the summer.

In those days
the porters wore white gloves.
My mother would give one
five dollars and ask him
to keep an eye on me.
He did.
They were always kind.

I loved the little cot
rolled out at bedtime,
and going to sleep
to the comforting
loved watching the small
dusty towns roll past
the window.

At the other end,
was my thin Grandpa,
robust Grandma,
and a whole slow, sleepy,
reassuring summer,
lake-scent and bullrushes,
wet bathing suits on the line,
the canvas hammock
under the weeping willow,
beside the small garden
full of sweet peas and pinks,
where I dreamed away
the long, slow hours.

In childhood,
it was always summer.

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Summer

Monday, April 23, 2018

No Easy Path

I climb the chipped steps,
past the drab grey walls,
smell the institutional smell,
turn left at the psych ward.

The nurses size me up;
I am found wanting,
a mother whose child has
broken down.

I wait in the social lounge
where people with agonized eyes
walk through their
tortured inner landscapes,
fragile and haunted as trembling ghosts,
the floor turned unsteady under their feet.
It feels like the abandoned ones live here,
that the rain never stops
sliding down the windows
above the busy city streets,
where the rest of the world
lives on.

Where will my son's bright spirit
ever find a place to land,
in halls so bleak and bare,
the hours measured out by naps
and pills in little paper cups?

He approaches, tousle-headed,
the same blue eyes.
We hug,
the same big smile.
I am relieved.
This is still my son.

I am about to make a long journey
with this blue-eyed lad.
We begin a conversation
that will last the years.

By the time I descend
the grey chipped steps, emerging into
the parallel reality called Normal Life,
I have learned that,
in a nanosecond, any one of us
can topple over into that land of
rain-speckled windows
and no more hope.

My son, brilliant, gifted,
a mystic, a dreamer,
a composer, a lover of life,
had walked the fine line
between daybreak and hellfire
and had fallen.

Schizophrenia had claimed
my bright-hearted boy
for its own at seventeen.

He had moved into another life,
as lonely as a coyote
howling at the moon.
I hold on tight, for all the years to come,
tethering him to earth
with the force of my will.
I will never let go.

We find the gifts
that accompany the pain.
We learn things we would
never have learned any other way.
But the price is high.
Slowly, as the decades turn,
the boy grows to a man
in institutional walls.
Hope fades to resignation.
The golden spark grows dim.
My boy became a man;
no easy path for him.

for Kerry's prompt at Real Toads: The Mind. I am adding one of Jeff's songs. He has composed many beautiful ones, and written some amazing poems, but this one speaks to me in response to the above poem.

I Fly Through a River of Dreams
by Jeffrey Siddhartha Crazy Horse Marr

I was a child but I have grown
Your quiet house is all I've known
The crooked peach-tree in the yard
The killing rain we took too hard

And now I must cry
And embrace you
And wave good-bye...

I Fly Through a River of Dreams
Where love is like a summer breeze
I Fly Through a River of Dreams
That carries me toward the Sea

I see you on the bright-green bank
You are the one that I must thank
I see your face and sky-blue dress
Come, let us touch our last caress

And now I must cry
And embrace you
And wave good-bye...

We'll meet again just you and I
Beneath a peach-tree in the yard
The two of us will never die
And rain becomes a little sigh

And now I must cry
And embrace you
And say good-bye...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Ghost Dog

Walking across the street
to my neighbour's house
to visit a white wolf
with whom I share a bond,
I saw a brindle brown dog
running across her yard,
looking at me and laughing.

I broke the cookie
I was bringing to the wolf
in half, to share.
When I got inside the yard
I asked
where is the brown dog?

She looked at me confused.
There is no brown dog.

But I just saw one run across your yard.

On reflection, it didn't emerge from the yard
on the other side. It was just gone.

I saw a ghost dog
from the spirit world.
I think perhaps
I heard the dog howl my name.

for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads: to write of a totem animal or mythical creature. I am just back from a week away and am exhausted. But these are the words that came. I am still thinking of that brown dog, wondering what he came to say. The closing line echoes the book title, I Heard the Owl Call My Name. First Nations legend has it that if you hear the owl call your name, you will soon die. I am hoping I will be around for a while, but at my age, anything will be "soon". Lol.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Saying the Names With Love

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, Ahousat,
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 grey 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 Opitsaht,
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 canoe
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

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.

For my prompt at Real Toads: Saying the Names With Love, to write a poem after the style of Al Purdy, naming the places in one's heart. Which, for me, needless to say, is Clayoquot Sound. I wrote the original of this poem in years when I lived away from my heart's home, with all the pain of remembering the glory of my life here in those years. I was pretty sure i wouldn't be able to write another to equal it, so i refurbished it.

Also sharing with the good folks at Poets United, in the Poetry Pantry. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Till We Are Gone

 You may wander
under the canopy
in springtime
in   tulip-decked galoshes.
But step lightly.
Don't crush
the tiny fairy mosses.

One step,
then another.
The forest breathes
its leafy sigh.

It waits
till we are gone
to sing songs
not  meant for
you and I.

For Sanaa's prompt at Real Toads : Get Listed in under 100 words. I used 46.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Faint scent of flowering plum
and fresh-cut grass;
the puppy savours a small daisy
with aplomb.
I hear a raven's gobble-cry.
Puppy cocks her head,
looks up,
watches the bird in flight
in amazement.

A moment of wonder,
seen through a baby's eyes:
the world, brand-new.

This is for Paul's prompt at Real Toads: write here, right now. Right now, it is all Puppy. Lol. Her name is Zoey and she is as smart as she is beautiful. I get to be nanny all week. Yay!

The Mother of Invention

The Mother of Invention
is wringing her hands.
"What to do? What to do?"

Man has the knowledge.
He knows all the facts.
He has invented a kazillion
ways to harness clean energy
and save the earth.

But the blind greed of corporations
And the rulers corporations
have bought and paid for
know only the   Myth  of More.
So capitalism keeps lumbering on
to the brink of extinction,
to the day when
there is
No more.

No jobs on a dead planet.
We can't eat money.

Sigh. This subject makes me weary. Yet we soldier on. Voices crying in the wilderness, lol. I am at the farm this week being nanny to my sister's new puppy. I am hampered by having only my tablet with me. Posting this in response to Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif : Invention.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

You Are........

You are
the blackbird of my heart,
I carried with me
when i walked away,
because you could not
say the words
to make me stay.

You perch within,
as always caught
between the earth
and sky.

You thought I sought
to hold you.
I sigh. I sigh.
Brother Dreamer,
I always wanted you
to fly.

For Marian's prompt at Real Toads: Eres tu (you are), and sharing it with the fine folk at Poets United, where there is good reading every Sunday morning.

I am working on my tablet, not good at linking.

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Humboldt Broncos  last team photo

Sixteen lives cut short
An entire country united
with a collective
broken heart

all across Canada,
we are
Humboldt strong

On  Friday evening, the bus holding the Humboldt hockey team , their coach and support people, on their way to a hockey game, was hit by a semi, with distastrous results. Sixteen have died, thirteen remain seriously injured. The country has come together to support the many who are impacted by this heartbreaking event.

Over $9 million has been donated to support the victims and families affected.

Today people are leaving hockey sticks on their front porches, or wearing the team jersey to school or work, in a show of solidarity and support. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Finding Home

In long-ago rooms, reeking cigarettes and stale booze,
a small child held onto a vision of peace:
a cottage with sunny rooms and picket-fence,
where freedom dwelled.

Three times, in those long-ago years,
midst all of the moves through temporary rooms,
she made a home, wrapped it around her heart.

They glow, now, in memory, those places
where she created  sanctuary, and peace,
spoke with nature spirits,
and lived the soul-deep joy of finding home.

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Vision

and Kerry's prompt at Real Toads: to write a poem about "Long-Ago Rooms" in twelve lines or less.

In the midst of moving 33 times in my nomadic life, three times, the homes were mine. They glow like lamps, in memory.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


The trees, draped in mist-shawls,
are waiting.
Bear, curled into the root
of Grandfather Cedar,
dreams of fish and berry.
Wolf, fleet and shimmering,
pads the forest floor, shape-shifter,
traveler from the time of the ancients,
who knew how to live with the wild.

On the jagged branch of a crag,
Owl surveys  her domain through yellow eyes:
messenger from the otherworld,
oracle, harbinger, soothsayer,
feathered prophet.
She waves her feathery wing.

Eagle, raven, wolf stop still
and listen.
The spirits of the ancient ones
draw near.

Owl speaks once, and then falls silent.

The animals look at each other
with sad, knowing eyes.
They have been given a message
about the Two-Leggeds that pains them.

There will be death, destruction.
Their fates are intertwined.
One day all the shining souls
of  forest and city
will rise, a misty vapor
along the singing river,
and the world will
begin again.

Am sharing this with the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Waiting, On Borrowed Time?

Wonderful photo by West Coast Protector

Wolf cubs and foxes
are waiting in their dens.
In the ocean, whales, dolphins,
plankton, coral, endangered salmon
are waiting, too.
Deep in the heart of the planet,
Mother Earth is waiting
midst the fracking,
as, above-ground, are the spirit bears,
and the few remaining
thousand-year-old trees.

The living water in lakes and rivers,
the tumbling waterfall,
the waves thrumming upon
the patient, waiting shore,
are singing their song of everness,
to a world with survival questions
only we can answer.

The eagle, sharp of eye
on the topmost scrag,
the dog chained in the back yard
for ten lonely years,
the people of Syria, of Palestine,
of the Lower East Side,
the young with their hopes and fears,
their dreams, their questions
about the future,
and the survivability of the present,
are waiting, in a world on pause,
on the cusp of
necessary transformation.

I take my place in line,
join the queue,
take my number, cast my ballot
for Mother Earth
and all her creatures.

[What are the creatures and ecosystems waiting for? For humankind  to get it right, and do the work of social justice and environmental restoration, of healing, of legislating reduction of our insatiable demands.]

for Isy's Out of Standard at Real Toads: to write a poem of waiting without saying what we are waiting for.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Willow Weep

Weeping willows line the lake
like a row of harpists with broken hearts,
whose music has fallen silent.
In dream, I sometimes walk their path
on summer mornings,
the way I used to do, those days,

when I woke with love beside me,
and the promise of forever in my heart.

for Sanaa's prompt at Real Toads: to write a L'Arora

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Big Black Wolf as Beautician

She had given up the pink make-up by the time they met, behind which she had tried to hide her not-enoughness from the world. His wolfish, appraising eye and big-toothed smile, his unconditional love, filled up the empty places in her heart. They settled happily into life together, wild wolf, wild woman, galloping up and down the shore, and along the trails in the forest, him looking back over his shoulder, to make sure she was following. She learned no masks are possible, (or needed), when you love the wild. 

He taught her well. In older years, when one might soften the mask of aging with artifice, she cared not one whit, facing the world clear-eyed and honest, enough just as she was.

Wild hair, wild spirit,
she answered love's call ~
from mask to authenticity
is not so far to fall.

for Kerry's photo prompt at Real Toads: I chose the woman with the mask. This is an unconventional haibun. Because I am old, and I can break rules. LOL. A black wolf told me so.

I will also share this with the friendly folk at Poets United, where you will find good reading on a Sunday morning.

Friday, April 6, 2018


Dear sister of my heart,
when we learned nu shu,
in the time of foot-binding,
we vowed to be laotong forever,
and so I write to tell you
that my smallest son has died,
and the heart has gone out
of my husband.

I am writing you in the time of
the Chrysanthemum Moon.
As the daylight shortens,
the chill of the evening
mirrors my heart,
with no small child
to tuck into bed.

Write back to me,
before the first snows
of winter.
Speak to me
all that is in your heart,
that I may be able
to go on living.

"We tell each other stories in order TO LIVE.” Joan Didion

Nu shu is the secret language women in the Hunan province of China developed, in feudal times, in order to communicate with each other - a written language no men could read.

*laotong - a relationship of sworn sisters,  providing lifelong support to women, whose lives were circumscribed, in those times, within their traditional roles. 

*The Chrysanthemum Moon is seen in the month of September.

For my prompt at Real Toads: to write in the voice of a woman in feudal China, who communicated in the secret language of Nu shu. Or to speak in the voice of any creature.

Thursday, April 5, 2018


She blew in on the Northerly,
and perched like a raven
in the corner of his heart.
With his blackbird soul,
his arms curled up across his chest
for protection,
he tried to shoo her off.
But the way she stayed
spoke to him,
and he dared to try again.

There were storms.
There are always storms.
But then the weather would clear.
The sunny days would lull them
For a time.

He was dark, craggy, beautiful
as an old mountain,
feet in the clay, head in the clouds,
his heart a wide expanse of yearning
for happiness elusive,
though it was right there 
in his grasp.

She was tentative as 
an early morning mist,
all hope and promise, yet fearful
of the fragile nature of vapour,
and its tendency to slip away.

There was heartbreak.
There is always heartbreak,
two souls too frightened to trust
what they had found.
She flew out
on the Westerly,
headed for the sea.

In old age,
she remembers his face,
so dark and beautiful above her,
the blue sky over his shoulder
on the rooftop
on summer afternoons.

The weather of love
is so changeable.
It requires more faith
than  injured hearts can give.

for Paul's prompt at Real Toads: the weather

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Words Like Teacups

From the beginning,
I have been a wanderer
through forest, river valley and  shore,
and through the lines of poems
that claimed me as their own.

There are quiet, grey days
when I put words down like teacups,
after the tea has cooled.

Sometimes the words are songlines,
singing the world alive,
leading me home
to the wild.

From time to time the words fall silent,
perched like sparrows on a high-wire,
poised to fly away,
perhaps forever.

Then there are the days
when Wild Woman stirs in her dusty lair,
uttering bone truths
that startle me awake.
I write them down,
from the poem

and for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads: Transformation : what is it about poetry that opens a bag of winds?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hidden Bodies

When I was young,
I buried the memories 
in deep trenches,
the better to not think 
about them.

Now I am old,
and, like rotting corpses
along the riverbank,
they keep popping up
at inconvenient moments,
when the Memory Police
are strolling by,
quick to point out
the error of my ways.

I have moved 33 times,
like a vagabond.
My roof stayed true: 
blue bowl of sky,
the old growth forest,
my greenly walls.
The ocean breeze
sings my homecoming song,
counterpoint provided by

My roots have always been 
lightly planted,
to uncomplicate
the leaping forward.
In such loose soil,
it's no surprise
the occasional 
severed  appendage
may appear.

for Rommy's prompt at Real Toads  on the third day of April: to write something inspired by "No Roots", sung by Alice Merton.

Monday, April 2, 2018

On the Second Day........

On the second day of the fourth month,
she searched the rafters
for a golden thought,

Amber light warmed the room,
as comforting as toast
on an English teatable.

The marmalade cat struck one
and the cuckoo clock tumbled
off the mantle.

It was that kind of day.

On the second day of the fourth month,
she searched the rafters
for a golden thought,

These words tumbled into my head, and mine is not to question why, is Day Two of NaPoWriMo, and Karin at Real Toads has asked us to contemplate "Second", in any of its forms.

Sunday, April 1, 2018


I fell in love with words
at age eight,
scribing with care the word "paw,"
which was suddenly beloved.

The first poem came through
at age fourteen,
as I sat, bemused,
at my school desk,
the lines appearing
before me on the page,
coming from I knew not where.

And now, so suddenly,
I am old.
It is the first of April,
the first day of NaPoWriMo,
and I am still
stringing words along.

They are more tired now,
as am I.
But I am grateful
they keep coming.

for Marian's prompt at Real Toads on this first day of NaPoWriMo: One, or being first.