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.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Seeing With Eyes of Hope, Listening as the Forest Speaks

Gisele Martin
Tofino Ambassador Program
photo by Tofino Mayor, Josie Osborne

She wears rose-coloured glasses,
sees with eyes of hope,
teaches we who want to learn
about the Old Ways,
the true ways.

"In those days, people and plants
and trees and animals
could speak to each other,"
she explains.
"We have forgotten how."

But, I know,
we can learn again.
We must.

She is passionate about
learning her tribal language,
keeping the ancient words alive.
She speaks them to us;
we repeat them:
Naciqs for Tofino ~
the spot where guardians
once kept watch 
over all the waters;
T'ashii, the path
on land and water;
my favourite, which means
"Everything is one."

The Tla-o-qui-aht have lived here,
with the land and the water,
for thousands of years.
"We are careful,
when we harvest bark or plants,
taking some, but leaving much more,
so there will be harvest
for future generations.

"The salmon feed the forest,"
she explains,
bear and wolf scat
bringing nitrogen to the trees
to keep the woods alive.

Long have her people
respected the territory
of whale and wolf and bear,
eagle and even
the lowly slug.
"If we enter the forest
and find a wolf den,
we leave immediately.
We honour their territory."

The Nuu-chah-nulth Ha-Houlthee 
- territory -
is ruled by their nation.
No treaties were signed
in the days when Europeans came
and took what they wished.
We non-natives
are living 
on unceded land.
May we be mindful
of this.

May we tread softly,
respectfully, here.
May we remember that,
to the First Nations,
the wolves, the bears,
the ancient forests, the whales,
we are merely 
guests here.

T'ashii Cultural Canoe Tours

for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads: to write about a heroine. I recently have been taking workshops and guided walks with Gisele Martin, a wonderful young local woman who is passionate about keeping her ancient language alive, and who offers teaching sessions as part of the local Ambassador program. I could listen to her all day as she tells her stories, speaks of the history of her people, and talks about living respectfully with the land, a subject so dear to my heart. Any mispelled words are completely my fault. Smiles.

Also shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Upon the Shores of My Heart

Clayoquot Sound
called me forth
out of the desert,
brown and bare,
into the pulsing, alive,
thrumming heartbeat
of Mother Earth herself.

She lay before me
sandy shores, the ocean's roar,
mountains wreathed in fog
and mist,
her ancient trees,
the eagle's cry.

Activists, dancing and singing
on the road,
protecting wilderness,
beckoned to me
and my heart knew
I was home.

She sang to me
in whalesong,
in  sand  and surf,
in the timpani
of raindrops on salal.

She captured my heart

And now I'm heading home,
through the misty mountains.
I round the bend in the road
and there she is:
her endless waves,
rolling forever and forever
onto her welcoming shores.

I have, for half my life,
lived in thrall
to the lulling song of the sea,
her waves rolling in,
slate-grey and
frothed with foam,
forever advancing
and retreating
upon the shores
of my heart.

Sharing this with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where you will find good reading on Sunday mornings.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Tired Lady of the Marketplace

A Corner of the Market
Edward Emerson Simmons

He found her in the marketplace,
stopping to quickly sketch
her tiredness.
Moved by her plight,
he bought an apple,
brushing her hand with his
as he handed her a copper,
hoping for a smile,
though it seemed her face 
had forgotten how.

Gathering Wood
Edward Emerson Simmons

The next time,
she was gathering wood.
There were no hopeful dreams
in her eyes,
just the reality
of working long days 
for room and board,
searching for twigs
to warm 
her master's hearth.

This time he asked her 
if he might sketch her,
for pay,
the better to capture 
the details of her dark eyes,
the longer,
if truth be told,
to gaze openly
at her beauty
with his artist's 
appreciative eye.

He felt himself
wishing he could
spirit her away,
show her comfort and ease.
But it was impossible
for he was gentry,
and she a mere servant.
He watched her from afar,
pouring his emotion
into his paintings,
in which her poverty,
her fatigue,
her struggles,
were all laid bare.

by Edward Emerson Simmons

How random life is,
the accident of birth
a bed of roses
or of thorns.

A series of paintings,
and then she disappeared,
leaving him to wonder,
pensive by the fire,
puffing on his pipe,
drinking his brandy,
what had become
of the tired young lady
of the marketplace.

for Shay at Fireblossom Friday: a poem inspired by the paintings of Shay's uncle, Edward Emerson Simmons.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


for the singing waves,
backing and forthing
on the shores of my heart,
I give thanks,
for the green wall of cedar
outside my open window,
and the blue sky, cloud-dotted, above,
for the small hummer at the feeder,
nibbling on my soul each time she drinks,
for contentment so blessed in old age,
I give thanks.

for the miracle of a dream
come true, not once, but twice,
for finding myself on the edge of the sea
once more, with the song of the waves
playing through me,
soul music,
and for the smiling villagers,
full of art and poetry,
for the loved dogs
laughing along the shore,
for sunlight on the green forever sea,
and for blooms opening
under the morning sun,
as my eyes open upon wonder,
morning after morning,
I give thanks,
I give thanks,
I give thanks.

for Susan's wonderful prompt at Midweek Motif: Happiness. The poem examples given were inspiring.  I have so many chest-expanding moments of happiness and gratitude, living in this beautiful place, where I belong. Do join us, in this feast of happiness!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


When dusk slides into evensong and shadow,
and songbirds trill in flower-scented bower,
crickets sing sweet night-songs in the meadow,
peace and gratitude abide, this gentle hour.

When songbirds trill in flower-scented bower,
the skybirds find their nests. The stars wink on.
Peace and gratitude abide, this gentle hour,
the world adrift until the morrow's dawn.

The skybirds find their nests. The stars wink on.
The garden fills with fairy folk and firefly.
The world's adrift until the morrow's dawn.
We light candles to do our dreaming by.

The garden fills with fairy folk and firefly.
Crickets sing  sweet night-songs in the meadow.
We light candles to do our dreaming by,
when dusk slides into evensong and shadow.

A pantoum for the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads, hosted today by Pat.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Tofino Skies

On the way to South Beach

The wild waves
of Wickaninnish

To Chestermans
for the sunset

A visitor

Sunset at Chestermans

Yesterday being Mother's Day, I decided to do only what I felt like. I drove to Wickaninnish in the morning, came home to enjoy sitting on the deck in the sun in the afternoon, and went to Chestermans last night for the sunset. It was fun watching the surfers riding the waves as the sun went down. I was sitting near a beach fire, so I got to enjoy that wonderful smell, if not the marshmallows. No dogs came near, sadly, but a crow came and kept me company for a while. 

I hope mothers everywhere had as wonderful a day.