Monday, December 30, 2019

What We Save Saves Us

Save a tree -
she will help you breathe
until your last gasp.

Save the salmon
that feed the whales, the wolves, 
the bears, the eagles,
the forest.

Save the ozone,
which keeps us from 
frying to a crisp.

Save the habitat of
the wild creatures
who share this planetary home
with us.

Save the children,
they are the architects 
of the future.

Save the soul of North America
from the evils of capitalistic greed,
from racism, division and hatred.
Make it kind again.

Cast your vote for better times.
Use your voice, your platform, 
your energy, your life
to effect change.

With every life we save,
we save our own.

for PLAY IT AGAIN - the last prompt at Toads.  I chose one of my favourite prompts from Wordy Thursday with Wild Woman: what we save saves us. We dont have to look far for things to save these days.

Thursday, December 26, 2019


Small bird, 
you are protected now.
But once outside the egg,
you will find the world
is very big.
Do not worry.
You need not hold up the sky
with your wings.
Your world is this branch,
these leaves, these blossoms.
Your flight path has been set for you
by the ancestors, and is written
in the stars.

You will hear a lot of terrifying noise.
There may be explosions, flames and floods.
Remember this song I sing to you.
Carry it in your heart,
along with my wishes for a world
safe enough
in which to
set you free.

The mother zebra finch sings to her chick in its egg. Scientists have observed that this song, sung only to the egg, prepares the chick for life outside the egg. The chicks are born smaller, thus better able to withstand warming temperatures. It amazes me that creatures are smart enough to begin adapting to climate change while humans remain stubbornly oblivious.

for my last Wordy Wild Woman prompt Friday at Real  Toads: Staying Strong in a Time of Climate Crisis.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


The wild things have gathered in council,
a council for all beings,
to confer about the state of things on the land.

Ms Mountain Goat speaks first.
Those who tromp in heavy boots
through our forest
talk about their rights: human rights,
the right to own what can never be owned,
the rights of the multinationals
to rape and pillage and pay nothing back,
the right to work, the right to hold money
as their God,
as if they are the only ones who have rights.
What about non-human rights?

The animals all nod and murmur.
Mr Bear moves to the center of the circle.
What about our rights? he asks pleasantly,
dipping his paw into a honeypot, then licking.
I have a harder time each winter
finding a quiet spot to rest.
The Mrs has a terrible time
keeping the youngsters safe
Everywhere are the big machines,
the grappleyarders, destroying our habitat,
and the metal creatures on rubber feet
that kill so many - human and non-human alike -
on the highways.

Yes! non-human rights!
how do we make them hear us?
All of the animals are animated, and chattering.

This is when the Standing People,
the Talking Trees, who have been listening,
finally speak:
Our numbers are diminishing and,
along with us, our tree wisdom,
and the ecosystems which help all to live.
The oceans are filling with their garbage.
The air is filling with their polluted smoke.
The earth is warming from
their addiction to fossil fuel.
They do not realize - though it is clear to see -
that they will choke to death, or drown,
alongside the rest of us.

The critters exchange glances.
Tall Tree has spoken truth.

Who will take this message to their leaders?
asks Rabbit.

It will be a child, for only a child has eyes
clear enough to see, replies Tree.

Ha. Methinks Greta is the one they were speaking of. A poem from 2014, as this year winds to a close and we consider the plight of our non-human companions on this planet, who are suffering in all corners of the world because of our out-of-control appetites. I fear it wont be until more humans are suffering globally (as many millions already are) - until we in the First World begin to suffer from the climate crisis - before our kind will wake up to the absolute imperative of living with the natural world as we were intended to, in the ways that worked for thousands of years until this last devastating one or two hundred.

Hoping for opened eyes and minds among world leaders in 2020 - a faint hope, at this point. But until changes are legislated, humans and corporations will not comply. We need to insist the leaders replace the dollar signs in their eyes with the goal of planetary survival.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

White, for Remembering

I looked into the eye of an old brown horse
who had lived many seasons.
We shared a Knowing.
I whispered to her,
"It will be all right."
She and I both knew
Death was drawing near.

I looked into the eye of a bright-hearted foal,
born in his mother's  old age,
so my sister became his mother
for too brief a time.
Mare and foal are buried together in the pasture,
along with all the dogs we ever loved:
a Cemetery of Heartbreak
my sister and I cannot speak about.

I see white cloud-horses in the sky
and dream perhaps our loved beasts
are galloping in freedom

In winter, the ground is
covered in white.
White, for remembering
all we have lost.
White, to pretty up the dirt
that covers the bodies
of those we have loved so much.
White, the cold touch of loss
that breaks our ruby-red hearts
and stitches them back together with tears.

We miss our dear ones most in winter.
Our hearts feel the frost
of all we have lost;
we can hardly bear to remember
the astonishing richness
of all that - for a time -
was ours.

for Carrie at The Sunday Muse

Friday, December 20, 2019


We thought we would change the world,
we, the dreamers, the singers,
the all-you-need-is-love believers.
Then they shot all our heroes;
the world took a dark turning.
The Man had money as his only goal,
was always the deceiver.
We dreamers went undercover
and tended to our souls.

And now we are turning again,
dark forces ascendant,
but lighter spirits striving.
In its death-to-life throes,
the very earth is writhing,
trying to throw off all
that is making it so ill.
Time is short, my friends,
but we are dreaming, still.

I have spent my whole life dreaming
of the world that's meant to be:
social and climate justice, enough
for every you and every me.

I am weary from dreaming,
but my "Imagine Peace" banner
stays unfurled,
in case my belief is the final prayer
of hope, heaven-hurled,
that will topple us into a better tomorrow,
and a kinder, gentler world.

for Marian at Real Toads: Imagine

Always hoping that the collective transformation of consciousness will happen before the apocalypse - have had to adjust my dreams just a tad since 1970.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Old Crone, Singing


The old year hobbles to a close
like a wrinkled, wise old crone
with a pocketful of secrets.

When the new year dawns,
as fresh and pink as a young maiden,
the crone will hand her those secrets
and point a gnarled finger
down the Path of Tomorrow.

Her head is heavy with remembering,
her ears full of the cries of wild creatures,
singing songs of lost habitat,
and floods, and fire.

But wait! Through the forest comes a message
from a young dreamer who sees with eyes of truth:
"Change is coming,
whether you like it or not."
(Yes, whether by legislation or cataclysm,
Change will come.
And the young, brave-hearted, are rising.)

The old year passes wearily into the new,
which straightens its shoulders
in readiness to face
whatever comes.

Trees and waves and shore
eternally sing their songs of beauty,
of hope, of Tomorrow.
The Crone of 2019 feels her heart lift
in response. She takes up her drum
and begins to sing.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Year's End.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

No More Toads, No More Princes

Every time you opened your mouth,
a hairy toad popped out.
You tried to make them pretty
but a toad's a toad, without a doubt.

You could line up all the toads
between Port and Whiskey Creek,
and they wouldn't even cover
all the lies you made me eat.

You had all the rehearsed words,
said the same to all the girls,
were horrified when we compared,
after you gave us each a whirl.

You were the last nail in the coffin
when that Farce au Deux was done.
You made me appreciate
the peacefulness of being one.

For Marian, at Toads. The line about a mouth opening and stones falling out made me think of my Last Bad Dating Experience. In his case, toads seemed more appropriate. I will never kiss another. Lol.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Thirteen Ways to Celebrate Kerry

1. I saw the name Skylover, and clicked.
("She loves the sky like I do.")

2. I saw: Followers: 4 and clicked again. Now 5.
Soon to be legion.
Soon to be Head Toad in the pond of exuberant ribbets.
We joined in happy song.

3. I grew in awe at your gift.
I still feel awe.
You risk. You aspire. You leap.
But oh, how high you fly on the trapeze. No nets

4. We admire the trajectory
of your flight
from our lily pads.

5. You have stretched our wings,
helped us to take a spin or two
around the pond.

6. You picked us up when we fell off
our lilypads.

7. You dried us off and told us
to try again.

8. I thank you for all you have given.

9. I celebrate you for all that you are.

10. Your vision for Toads was unique in the blogosphere
and has been utterly fulfilled.

11. Your many fans applaud you,
clap, clap, clap.

12. I will keep on reading your poems,
admiring your flight, remembering
our time together.

13. Because of you
We flew. We flew. We flew.

for Magaly's prompt at Real Toads:  celebrating Kerry's poems. What a glorious idea! The line in red is Kerry's - we were to choose a line and insert it, as is, in our poem.


With all of the things you have learned
from your long journeying,
with all of your heartache
that taught you to love and to cry,
and with all of your dreaming
that helped you to live,
with that same loving heart and merry laugh
that has brought you to the ocean's shore,
come out at dusk and celebrate
the full cold moon
at the place where the tide
kisses the tombolo,
then runs away, laughing.

Yesterday morning's dawn
approached as pink and fresh
as a young maiden
singing the new day in.
Tonight shows itself
as a wise old woman with knowing smile,
tapping her cane and hobbling.
But she still remembers her dancing feet,
she remembers,
and, in her heart, she is still dancing
across the beloved landscape
with joy.

You grew your soul
all green with wilderness
and wild with wolf-breath,
in a forest of great and ancient tree beings
breathing peace.
You owe them your every breath, 
each one their gift to us.

The journey has been astonishing, magical;
it has brought you here,
to the edge of the sea.
And now you are looking at
those far, snow-capped mountains.
The echo of the heron's call
and wild wolfsong at midnight
will keep you here a while.

The tree trunks you hug
breathe their smiles at you; they whisper,
"we waited for you, friend,
for all these many years."

The sea sings your soul-song,
the only song you ever knew.
It sang you out of the desert
and over the mountain pass
to the wild shores of Clayoquot Sound.
It has carried you so far,
and it is singing, still.

Come out at dusk to meet me
on the shortest day, in the place where
the tide  kisses the tombolo,
then runs away, laughing.
Let earth and sky
inform your grateful heart
that, finally and forever,
you are Home.

I read this poem last night to a packed house at the botanical gardens, all lit up for Christmas. Tofino really loves poetry! Sharing it this weekend with the Pantry of Poetry and Prose at Poets United. Wishing you all full moons, happy Solstice and lovely holidays, whatever tradition you honour.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Forever Gone

That moment,
when I felt your snout on the edge of my bed -
the way you woke me every morning
of our lives together -
was the moment you went into the flames
and up into the sky,
into the spirit world -
forever gone.

You had stopped by,
in flight,
to say goodbye.

That moment loosed
a river of tears
- it does so now -
for all we had been together
and all I now had lost.

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motiff: A Moment

Monday, December 9, 2019


The ice is melting under my paws.
You have made my homeland a place of hunger and death.


The wildfires are burning the forests.
As we flee, we hear the cries of burning koalas.


Can we sit in prayerful silence
contemplating the destruction of our living world?


How many times can a heart break open?
In my dreams, wild wolves are seeking a safe place to hide.


Mama Bear and three cubs flee the policeman
but they cannot run fast enough to outrun his gun.


From the southern border, can you hear
the distressed cries of children calling  for their mothers?


Some depressing landai for Sanaa's prompt at Real Toads: the landay. 9 syllables in the first line, 13 in the second, this is a form usually sung by Afghan woman. They can include topics of grief, death, women's oppression - and sometimes are ribald, provoking women's laughter. I love how women find ways to release, if only temporarily,  the yoke of oppression through poetry, song and laughter. I chose North American topics, because oppression, of people and species and natural systems, is everywhere.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

meditation on blue

blue, the colour of hope:
blue skies, my whole life spent, head
tipped back, grinning at the sky.
blue velvet, the music of my youth,
soundtrack to all those broken dreams,
and my midnight blue velvet dress;
(wherever did I wear it?)
blue mood, eased by nature's beauty
and the love of a beautiful dog.
blue horizon, Tomorrow on the other side
Eternity in its scope.
blue, the colour of melancholy,
sadness for what is gone, and
gratitude for how much still remains.

I look at life with blue eyes,
a world of blue skies and sunny days.
Like the song, I walk on
the sunny side of the street,
a smile for all I meet.
I am in love with blue-green rivers
and the sea. Bluejays sing
my mornings in. In December,
I seek  blue shadows in the snow,
note dark winterblue in the sky,
colour in indigo  my memories of
all  I have let go.

for Rajani's Poetry Tuesday: Blue

Friday, December 6, 2019

Above the Wilding Shore

Pacifico ~ The Pacific Ocean
Kerry O'Connor

I flew above the wilding shore
though my lungs could breathe no more.
A ride upon a phantom wind;
my journey ends as it begins.

The keeper of the light appears.
He is as real as all my fears.
He grabs me, gasping, all a-flutter
and fries me up with lots of butter.

Pharos ~ The Lighthouse
Kerry O'Connor

LOL. Sorry, couldn't help myself. For Kerry  at Toads - 53, not 55, but I dont want to change the rhythm.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

With Spirit Sore

A lambent shine on the horizon lifts my eyes.
Stripped of  illusion, I walk the wilding shore.
With spirit sore, my eyes still scan the skies 
under which we humans should be so much more.

Stripped of  illusion, I walk the wilding shore.
With all we know, we should be worlds away
from the misery of today; be so much more
than the sorry state of hungry power in play.

With all we know, we should be worlds away
from indecision; call leaders to intervene
in the sorry state of greed and power in play.
Hope in tomorrow still gives our hearts their sheen.

From indecision, we call leaders to intervene.
With spirits sore, our eyes still scan the skies.
Hope in tomorrow still gives our hearts their sheen.
A lambent shine on the horizon lifts our eyes.

Words used: horizon, lambent, intervene, stripped, illusion, indecision.

I wrote this pantoum as an exercise, using Kerry's word list to describe the conflicted feelings I have walking this beautiful landscape, knowing the environmental devastation happening everywhere, also knowing a tsunami could come at any moment and wash this coastline away. And yet we have to hold onto hope somehow, against all the mounting evidence that we have been much too slow to awaken.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Blue Jays, at Dawn

The blue jays come to my deck at dawn.
 Each morning I draw back the sliding door, 
crumble the bread.
Every morning is the same
but the blue jays and I
are all imperceptibly changing,
one day of living closer
to our transformation,
one more day of gratitude
for our long, blessed unfolding
and all of its gifts.
One more day,
before, suddenly, 
we're gone.

What has changed me most
in my long life?
My friends,
who had the hard task of teaching me
that there was someone inside me
worthy of love.
They shone the sunshine of their smiles on me
and repeated, until I believed:
leave the heartbreak of yesterday behind.
The time for sorrow has ended. 
Come play with us
in the garden of delight.

They taught me:
"The moment of change is the only poem."*

*Adrienne Rich

Ah, my friends, the winds of change are blowing as my two dear friends, Susan and Sumana, soon take leave of Poets United, where we have played so happily these many years. Thank you is not words enough for all you have given, and all you have come to mean to me. Come join me in the garden of delight and we shall continue our poetic journeys, which unfold the pathway we are walking with every new poem.

for the Midweek  prompt: Changes

Sunday, December 1, 2019


One tired woman
sitting at the front of a bus

One small girl
sitting in front of Parliament

One man with a dream
One girl with a book
and a veil and a voice

Can spark a tidal wave
of change.

for the Pantry of Poetry and Prose at Poets United.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Heading Out

In this kitchen,
they didn't cook up
many dreams.
Bottomless rye and Cokes
but not many meals.

In this kitchen,
I closed off
my heart
from my father.

In this kitchen,
I practiced numbness
as a means of survival.

In this kitchen
my heart felt as cold
as the stove
and the unheated walls.

When my dad died
and we moved out,
I pointed my nose firmly
in the direction of hope
on the map of 
Heading Out.

for Carrie's Sunday Muse. I remember that four room hovel, where the only heat was from the oil stove, and where some of the worst scenes from my childhood played out.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Toad Songs

Have you heard the Toads 
in the Garden?
They are all sweetly singing.

In the garden, Toads,
singing sweetly - 
how we will miss them.

We will miss the Garden Toads;
their songs gladdened our hearts.

Our gladdened hearts will remember
our Pond years with gratitude.

We Toads sing our gratitude
to Kerry, our Head Toad.
Never has a Toad sung 
more sweetly
than she.

From our lily pads, we sing
Toad praises forever.
Thank you and thank you
for all the poems in this Garden.

Never has a froggy Pond
sounded so sweet.
The singing grows fainter;
eventide draws near.

Thank you and thank you
for every Toad song.

for Kim's prompt at Real Toads: to write a poem in the repeatitive style of Wendy Cope's "The Uncertainty of the Poet". A thank you to Kerry and all the Toads in the Imaginary Garden, for almost-ten years of writing prompts that grew our poems and stretched our hearts and souls.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


My generation once thought
we would change the world.
Hope, peace and love were in the air.
Then assassins shot our leaders
and our peace ambassadors.
The world turned dark.
We almost turned the tide;
we missed the mark.

Seventy years in search of peace,
seventy years loving trees 
and sky and sea,
as animals wild and tame
brought out the best in me.

What do I long for now,
as forests and koalas burn,
as polar bears die, just skin and bone,
without a solid place on which to stand?
That we will love our land,
fight for it, protect it,
heal it, help it thrive -
try to keep this ailing planet
- and all of us - 

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: what do you long for?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


I just read the book  To Speak for the Trees, My Life's Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest,  by Diana Beresford-Kroeger. Some facts I learned blew my mind, so I thought I'd share them with you.

Earlier I saw the film about her life and her travels to the forests of the world, titled Call of the Forest: the Forgotten Wisdom of Trees. She has studied trees , botany, and biochemistry all her life.

She was taught as a child by druids, who shared with her their ancient knowledge of the natural world, so it would not be lost. She has studied trees all her life, learning all she could about their intricate systems, so like ours, and all of the medicinal, physical, mental and spiritual properties that keep us and our planet alive. She lives on 160 acres of forest, including eight acres of gardens, everything organic and attractive as wildlife habitat.

Diana grew up in Ireland, which  had been clearcut, few trees surviving. "To the Druidic mind," she writes, "trees are sentient beings. .....this idea was shared by many of the ancient civilizations that lived in the vast virgin wildwoods of the past....There is a special word for this recognition of sentience, mothaitheacht. It was described as a feeling in the upper chest of some kind of energy or sound passing through you.....infrasound or "silent" sound. These are sounds pitched below the range of human hearing, which travel great distances by means of long, loping waves. They are produced by large animals, such as elephants, and by volcanoes. And these waves have been measured as they emanate from large trees."

Her studies included looking far back in earth's history, to a time when ferns grew on earth. She was seeking the link between ferns and the evergreens that followed.  "Earth's atmosphere at the time of change from ferns to evergreens had concentrations of carbon dioxide too high to sustain human life. ......Over the next 300 million years, the ferns, then cycads, then long-lost extinct evergreens and then gymnosperms and finally the flowering trees oxygenated our atmosphere. Green molecular machines continued to evolve, converting carbon into stalks, trunks, leaves, flowers and breathable air, each more powerful than the version that preceded it.

"Trees don't simply maintain the conditions necessary for human and most animal life on Earth;trees CREATED those conditions through the community of forests. Trees paved the way for the human family. The debt we owe them is too big to ever repay.

"....From there it was a short hop to  my first understanding of the potential impact of human actions on the environment......Trees were responsible for the most basic necessity of life, the air we breathe. Forests were being cut down across the globe at breathtaking rates - quite literally breathtaking. In destroying them, we were destroying our own life support system. Cutting  down trees was a suicidal act."

She then describes the interconnection between trees and rivers and the ocean, and the life support systems that are linked directly between trees and the health of the ocean. She describes how clearcutting of an area led to the collapse of its marine ecosystems, and closes the chapter with

"Cutting down trees, then, is not exclusively a suicidal act. It is homicidal as well."

The author's studies revealed "Plants contain the sucrose version of serotonin.......a neuro-generator. By proving that the tryptophantryptamine pathways existed in trees, I proved that trees have the neural ability to listen and think; they have all the component parts necessary to have a mind or consciousness. That's what I proved: that forests can think and perhaps even dream."

She is passionate about our need to plant trees and do everything in our power to counter climate change. Reassuringly, she states, "Every effort to aid and encourage the natural world is as valuable as every other. Whether we are the mighty or the meek, we must all act to stop climate change......If every person on Earth planted one tree per year for the next six years, we could stop climate change in its tracks.......Three hundred million years ago, trees took an environment with a toxic load of carbon and turned it into something that could sustain human life. They can do it again.

"The true goal of the global bioplan is for every person to create and protect the healthiest environment they can for themselves, their families, the birds, insects and wildlife. That bioplan then gets stitched to their neighbours', expanding outward exponentially. If we each start with something as small as an acorn and nurture it into an oak, a master tree that we have grown and protect and are a steward of, if we have that kind of thinking on a mass scale, then the planet is no longer in jeopardy from our greed. We've become the guardians of it. It's a dream of trying to get a better world for every living thing.

....."In short, embedded in the DNA of the tree is the ability to create the specific conditions necessary to give rise to a rainbow of species.........

She noted, through observation, that "Every time we located a truly spectular tree, the environment immediately around it was healthy and there was a feeling that everything in that zone of health was leaning in towards the tree..........They were the epicentres of life in the forest.......I call them "mother trees".

"Mother trees are dominant trees within any forest system. They are the trees that, when mature, serve up the twenty-two essental amino acids, the three essential fatty acids, the vegetable proteins and complex sugars....that feed the natural world. This menu protects the ability for all of nature to propagate, from the world of insects, to the pollinators, to birds, to the small and larger mammals.

"Mother trees can feed and protect other trees within the expanse of their canopy. They are the leaders of the community we call forests. And across the globe, forests represent life.

"Mother trees have an effect on the oceans as well." She describes how leaves fall, carry iron to the waterways, feeding the fish and mammals of the sea. "In addition, trees produce pollen in the spring...This is the cradle of the creation of our weather patterns. The human family thrives on a plentiful supply of rainwater - all from the bounty of mother trees......

"The genetic information of a mother tree is perhaps the most important living library there is."

She concludes optimistically, "We will save the forests and our planet. The trees are telling us how to do just that - all we have to do is listen and remember."

Monday, November 25, 2019


My Story by Karina llergo (used with permission)

Books gave me wings.
They planted seeds,
and dreams.
They showed me a roadmap 
out of trauma
towards survival.
they opened the door 
of the cage.
And then,
I flew.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Waterfall Tears

"After the Rain" by Cyril Rolando

Mother Earth is watching
as loggers shave all the trees
off her cheeks.

Her tears fall down her slopes
as waterfalls. Soon
mud will pick up speed, and bury
whatever lies below.

There is a woman on the bridge
between yesterday and tomorrow.
What does she see?
Crying koalas and starving polar bears,
flames and floods,
and hungry whales -

and Mother Earth watching,
waterfall tears running down
her denuded slopes.

for Carrie at The Sunday Muse

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Warning: Distressing to Animal Lovers: Shay and Toni: don't click

as the small koala cries,
as the burning others are declared
"functionally extinct"
in this world that
greed has made.

I feel the burning
in my soul.
I hear the creatures' cries
in my haunted dreams.

We are awakening
to this nightmare we have made,
but we are awakening too slowly
as the flames lick through
three continents,
as the icecaps melt,
polar bears find nowhere steady
to place their feet,
their corpses just skin and bone
where the starving creatures fall.

I want to leave you hopeful,
in the planetary peril.
But we are awakening
too slowly,
The koalas all
are burning.

I'm sorry for this dismal poem but the koala's suffering just does me in. I saw a news photo of a polar bear who had starved until it was literally skin and bone and died where it had crawled to. A horrible death. I can't bear how slowly governments and humans are responding to the crisis. Venice is underwater, three continents are burning. Climate crisis is not a discussion any more. It is here. And not enough is changing.  We are waking up too late.

for Susan at Midweek Motif: Awakening.    Sigh.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Picking a Peach in the Garden of Love

All her life, my grandma told us "I was the only farm girl, back then, who rode for pleasure."  ("Back then" was the last years of the 1800's and early 1900's, when horse and buggy was the usual transportation.)

One day, she galloped into town, stopping her horse with a flourish that raised dust, catching the eye of the town's most eligible bachelor, the handsome new bank manager, Wilford Marr.

"Who's that?" he asked.

"That's Florence Fitzsimmons," came the reply.

Soon he came calling. She was his "Floss" for the rest of his life.

"The town girls were all mad that he chose a farm girl," my grandma would always say, with satisfaction.

They raised five kids through the Depression, in a big old white house on Lorne Avenue, in Saskatoon. My grandma did the family laundry by hand in the bathtub, all the sheets and pinafores and dresses that created so much laundry back then. In the prairie winters, she hung the wash outside, where it froze solid. Then she brought it indoors and stood the pants and dresses up around the rooms to thaw and dry.

Jobs were scarce. My grandpa did accounting for whoever would hire him. Often, in those hungry years, he got paid in coal, or potatoes, occasionally a chicken - whatever a client could pay, he brought home to feed his family and keep them warm.

My grandma had a kind heart. Even when life was so harsh, when tramps came to her door, she found them something to eat. (And they came often; word got out.)

My mom recalled walking home through the brutal prairie cold, anticipating a pork chop for dinner. When she arrived, a tramp was sitting at the table polishing off her chop. She told the story with chagrin sixty years later, still missing the taste of that pork chop she never got to eat.

My grandparents passed their fiftieth, and then their sixtieth anniversaries before my grandpa died at ninety-three. Grandma lived on to be a few weeks short of a hundred years old.

"I picked a peach in the garden of love," she would muse. "Those town girls were so mad, but Wilf chose me."

Inspired by the photo at The Sunday Muse, and also 367 words for Rommy at the Pantry of Poetry and Prose  at Poets United.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Gulag Mornings

Kelowna Winter

I woke and left the house in the dark
those winter mornings,
when I attended Mass before school.
The only sound was my feet
crunching through the frozen snow,
and the hum of electricity
through the hydro lines above.

One morning, the only person awake
in the universe, I heard Sputnik
crossing the heavens.

It was freezing, my breath making clouds.
My blue coat was thin, a castoff
from one of my grandma's friends.
I wrapped a woollen scarf over my head
and around my neck and looked,
a classmate sneered, "like a refugee."
I felt like a refugee, from human kindness,
for everywhere I went,
I found no comfort there.

The church was softly lit, and warm,
a sanctuary; the smell of incense and 
the murmured Latin words a note of constancy
in a world where I had not yet
found my place.

After Mass, I'd cross the icy field
to school, where I laughed too loudly,
played the fool, to hide the pain
of feeling not enough midst my secure,
white-bread companions, whose lives,
I imagined, held no terrors, whose nights,
no secrets, whose hearts, no wonderings
about where they belonged
in this endless Gulag winter landscape
I was crossing,
all alone.

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: to write a winter poem. Just as in early childhood, it was always summer, in my teens, it was always winter. So cold, in Kelowna, in those years when kids walked everywhere, and were not coddled.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sharing the Love

Photography by Sarolta Ban
Her website: here

When music sounds in the forest,
the trees perk their ears,
relax their shoulders,
assume an attitude of
Deep Listening.
Small creatures creep out
from their hidey-holes,
bright-eyed and shining.

I was singing as I climbed the hill,
singing as I went down 
the other side.
They followed me
with their gentle hooves,
I moving quickly
so they wouldn't overtake me,
dirt crumbling ahead of me 
down the slope.
Still singing.

Of course creatures love music.
"Let the beauty we love
be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways
to kneel and kiss the ground"*
the wise sage said.

So now, when I remember to,
I sing along the forest trails,
trying to be a good creature,
along with all the others.
Sharing the love.

* quote by Rumi

Being a good creature is inspired by the book I am reading now titled How to Be a Good Creature, by  Sy Montgomery,  about the animals in her life. It is  a complete delight to read.

for Carrie at The Sunday Muse

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Starfire When We Pass

Step into the circle, sister mine,
and feel our bond
through all the years of time
that brought us through
times beautiful and dire,
to this moment when
we step into
blue fire.

I lived a love
that became mine alone.
He knew not how to
for his past atone,
returned the gift,
and went off on his own,
so I carried it
through all the years:
a poem.

In the circle,
we return where we belong,
where all the loves we lost
are worth the cost.
We are finite.
We are also infinite,
each one note
in the universal song.
Our lives create
sweet memories that will last.
As the veil lifts,
we step through the looking-glass.
We transform into starfire
when we pass.

Sharing this poem from 2018 with the fine folk at Poets  United, where you will find wonderful reading every Sunday morning. Come join us!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Tree of Me

When I was young, I was a bud
tossed by every storm.
I felt my not-enough-ness,
tried to be like all the rest,
who seemed
so magnificently blessed.

Our journeys, though,
we are forced to make
as ourselves,
which rubs off all the artifice,
washing it away with tears
through the questing years.

I grew myself a tree
through the centre part of me,
to keep me strong
when winds blew hard.
My arms needed to be strong,
to support four saplings
as they tossed and turned.
It saved me,
was the best thing
that I learned.

In old age,
my tree is weary.
There is nothing artificial
in my branches, bent and bare.
What's left is a battered trunk,
and the heart still beating warmly,

I took the idea of being as authentic as a tree from Susan's comment at Poets United, where she said she wished she was as authentic as a tree. (You are, my friend!)

for Susan's  Midweek Motif: Authenticity. 

Also sharing it with Rajani's  prompt: Old

Monday, November 4, 2019

Mother Wolf

“The loss of the wolf is like the loss of the mother. Somewhere she roams in memory, in darkness. Our bond with her is inexplicable, before the beginning of time. She is fierce love; she is sorrow." 

-from The Memory Palace, by Mira Bartók

"The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That's how much gratitude I can give.......Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.

-Francis Ward Weller


In the dark cave, she stirs, 
nose twitching,
the scent of wildness and 
a cold north wind
luring her outdoors.
Her small ones huddle within, 
shivering, hungry.

It is a dangerous world.
The mother walks warily, 
eyes alert, watchful.
She keeps to the shadows, 
startling at every sound.

Her hunt for food requires 
skirting the ominous territory 
where the Other lives,
the Two-Leggeds with their 
clamor and their guns,
their ridiculous fear and hatred.

She may not make it home 
to the cave where 
her young ones wait, 
mewling pitiably.


It is a perilous world 
for mothers of every species
and their young.
How to keep small ones alive and safe,
with danger on every side, 
and in the air we breathe?


Our Great Mother mourns 
as she burns and floods,
her storms fierce with sorrow,
striving to find balance,
repeating her seasonal refrains, 
midst the bombs, the fires
and the fracking,
the emissions, the warming, 
the melting, the rivers running
with oil, the streets calamitous
with cars and blood -
the future hanging by a thread.


How much sorrow can I hold?
As much as my love of her beauty,
her fierceness, her over-arching sky -
that much, and more,
I will love and grieve for her
and her wild creatures,
until the sandman shuts my eyes
on her heartbreaking, hopeful 
eternal beauty
for the last time.

for my prompt at Real Toads: the Wolf Mother

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Prose: A Big Black Dog

The big black dog was trained by the Nazis to lunge, growl, bark and snarl at the arrivals. He followed the  orders of the men in uniform; he was given his meals. It was all he knew, the life he was bred and trained for. 

One day he was walking the periphery of the camp alone, along the fence. He saw a young girl sitting by herself, in the sun.  She exuded a peaceful energy he had not encountered before, living among his pack of angry shouting soldiers. Curious, he moved closer. He sat, head tilted. Their eyes met. She smiled.

After that, at the same time every day, he made his walk along the fence and stopped to sit with her. Each day, she gave him a small piece of bread she had saved for him.

They shared silent companionship. He learned there was another way to be than the life he had been trained for.

Next lifetime, he sought and found her again. This time she was a Wild Woman with a peaceful heart on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. This time, it was all - and only - peace and love, joy along the sandy shore. 

196 words for the Pantry of Poetry and Prose at Poets United.