Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Small Bird (Singing Her Song)

"Come into the Darkness," she enticed,
voice seductive and encouraging.
"It's nice in here,
and you'll find tons of friends."
I was thinking about it;
it was tempting to join those
who felt doomed,
as if we could be
no better than we are.

Then I saw a small yellow bird,
sitting on a branch,
singing the sweetest song,
as if there will always be
sunlight that doesn't burn,
and trees for sitting in.

And we owe her that.

"I think I'll stay out here," I said.

In the Light, we can see all that is wrong.
But also, so many hearts and hands
and voices,
striving for what is right,
dreaming of what Could Be.

And for the sake of
all the innocent creatures
and children in the world,
I join Small Yellow Bird
in her song of Hope.

For Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif at Poets United: Darkness Is.......

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Sunset at Radar Hill,
many years ago

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.

sharing this pantoum from 2018 with the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads. I'm away from home all week, kids, so will make the rounds as I am able.

Thursday, January 24, 2019


Along the Medicine Way I journeyed,
dipped my toes in a magical sea, 
laughed with the wind, danced in the rain,
and my soul was returned to me.

I bow to the sky, I run with the wind,
the raindrops cleanse my thirsting heart.
Water gives all creatures life,
is sacred from the very start.

The great bowl of the sky above,
the earth below, so brown and fair,
humble and mothering, offer gifts
to humans, all so unaware.

Wheeling seabirds, laughing waves,
are luminous under a midnight moon.
I chart my path where there is no path,
knowing I'll head homeward soon.

We are born in water. At the end,
to the dying, water is our last friend.
I lived in love with the ocean's roar.
My heart could not have asked for more.

One from last year, kids, as I wake each day so grateful to be here, the sea singing to me every day. Shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, good reading every Sunday morning.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

My Heart Falls On Its Knees

My heart falls on its knees
in its journeying:
it flies in my mind up north,
to the melting glaciers,
to the drowning bears,
the thawing tundra.
It comes back home
to where the salmon and whales 
are dying,
and the wolf families
have no where to hide
and raise their cubs.
It shudders with the trees
at the sound of the chainsaws
and the heartbreaking thump
as the great giants fall,
to make way for cars, for humans -
for us.
Will we miss being able to breathe
once they are gone?

What to do? What to do?
This family of humankind,
who desires so much to live -
can we put down our warring ways
and work together
to heal and save
this planet we all love?

The world is calling to us
as the sea levels rise,
as the forests burn,
as climate refugees make
their hard journeys away
from hopelessness
towards hope -
she calls us to
put our love into action,
feet on the ground,
votes in the booth,
demands to elected officials,
tree sprouts into soft, welcoming earth.

for if ever we all needed 
to pray and to act,
it is now.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Climate Change

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Beauty of This World

Dear Mary Oliver,

I read you to him
as he drove us up-Island.
He listened, he smiled.
He was a hello, and so soon a goodbye.
When I got home, I read some more,
pausing when you wrote, of your parents:
"May they sleep well. May they soften."
Life is a long list of letting go's.

You wrote:
"A lifetime isn't long enough
for the beauties of this world."
It's true:
all those years spent earning a living,
instead of joyously living a life.
"And I am thinking: maybe just
looking and listening 
is the real work."
I look, now.
I listen well.

I am a poet, reading a Master, and you tell me:
"....the poem....wants to open itself
like the little door of a temple."
You say: "It may be the rock in the field
is also a song" and I know this,
for I have heard it, singing songs
of centuries ago.
You say: "Maybe the world, without us,
is the real poem."

I was a woman of sixty, when I read:
"I am a woman of sixty, of no special courage",
and my last love had been and gone.
I and my black wolf were in love with the wild
and it - and we - were enough.

I read your book to the living,
and I read your book
to the dying woman in a coma,
to whom I wanted to give a gift.
I felt the energy in the room change,
as the gift was received,
and walked outside into a rainbow.
And all of it -
the dying woman, your words,
the sky, my heart -
was enough and more than enough.

You said:
"Remember me......I am the one who told you
that the grass is also alive,
and listening."

I close the book in gratitude
for the words that help me
better love this world.

A poem from one year ago, re-posted in honour of my favourite poet, Mary Oliver. The quotes are from her The Leaf and the Cloud, a slim, book-length poem that is truly amazing, so full of life and death and all of its beauties. I may share this with the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads on Tuesday. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

What She Taught Me

She taught me that
"the grass is also alive
and listening."
She taught me to see 
the beauty of the earth
even more clearly.
She gave me gifts of sky
and bird and song.
Her words helped me
better love this world,
and my "one wild 
and precious life."

for Magaly's prompt at Real Toads: to write keeping in mind Mary Oliver's words, that poetry "mustn't be fancy".

Friday, January 18, 2019


Wild Woman knows
what she knows.)

It is time, Wild Woman,
to bring forth all your gifts,
for the seasons now are quickening,
and swift.
Sing out your songs,
sing loud and strong and clear.
Write all your poems,
to say that you were here.

A Wild Woman creates her own way.
She runs with her inner wolves,
and she has a lot to say.
She speaks with an authentic voice,
avoiding angst or wrath.
She follows her intuition,
along the unmarked path.

Wild Woman knows what she knows,
and she'll share her wisdom well
before she goes.)

She steps into new territory - no fear.
She follows her heart, in trust,
honest and sweet and clear.
Her spirit has been
forever on the rise,
the long journey having made her
compassionate and wise.

She no longer harbors life,
brings new visions forth instead,
that she sees with eyes located
somewhere else besides her head.
She feverishly transcribes dictated words.
Her songs she then gives freely
to all the singing birds.

Follow these pawprints into the forest,
Sister mine.
They will lead you to a home
Grandfather Cedar makes so fine.
An owl with piercing yellow eyes,
a cat with Cheshire grin,
will be on the doorstep watching,
waiting to let you in.

There is a conjuring old woman
living there,
her spirit fixed between
the sky and earth.
She has lived apart from others
since her birth,
doesn't care at all what people think.
Listen well to every incantation,
for all of them
are linked.

Wild Woman has fallen bewitched
by the beauty of the earth.
Before the fire,
she is singing over the bones.
When she finishes her song,
(it won't take very long),
she will welcome you 
to the Sisterhood of Crones.

from 2013, Just Because. Smiles. To be shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Standing With the Wet'suwet'en Nation

This morning a large group of Tla o qui aht First Nations, environmental activists and citizens, I among them,  marched through the streets of Tofino chanting:

No access!
No consent!


Rise up! Take a Stand!
No pipelines on native land!

We marched to Anchor Park in support of the Wet'suwet'en people. On January 7, 2019, RCMP climbed the barricades at the Unist'ot'en healing centre and arrested fourteen peaceful women and elders, who were present on site to protect their traditional territories against a proposed fracking gas pipeline that would go right through their traditional unceded territories, without their consultation or consent. The healing centre is there to help their people heal from the effects of an imposed colonial culture.

Protests have sprung up across Canada in support. The government is acting against the rulings of the Supreme Court of Canada, which recognized in 1997 that the Wet'suwet'en people have not given up their rights and title to their territory. They are also ignoring the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

For the government, it is all about money, corporate and "economic interests." The elders warned us today : "Danger is coming. Everything that sustains life is at risk." It was pointed out that "No reconciliation is possible between First Nations and government under the colonial system."

They pointed to young children in the crowd, reminding us that the votes we cast and the actions we take now will impact these youngsters.

Fracking causes earthquakes, landslides, and pollutes the water, spreads out to poison the ocean, fish and whales. We need a new way of thinking. The colonial way is deadly to the earth and living beings,  and must give way to protection of, restoration and healing of the systems that support life.

Fracking should be banned. No pipelines should be built. Clean sources of energy are abundant; switching to them would create jobs.

The consequences of not changing our way of being on the earth will be devastating beyond what we can imagine. Kleco to First Nations, stewards of these lands from time immemorial, for protecting what is left against those who would destroy it all.

I got home to an email from a friend who is a visionary. She told me she dreamed a wolf was sitting beside her on a high vantage point. He howled. She asked him, "Friend, do you feel a change in the wind?"

On my way to join the march, I heard a long lonely howl. A dog, or.......?

I feel that change in the wind. For sure.


The soul's clarity,
the mind's confusion ~
our hearts, the bridge
from one to the other

In life, 
this is the paradox:
how long it takes
to learn
this simple truth.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


collage created by The Unknown Gnome

On the anniversary of his death - January 15, 2011

I feel it coming, this poem I will birth
on the eighth 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.

I wrote this for Pup a few years ago, updated the year, and offer it here again today in his honour. When I wrote it, I was living at my sister's and worried that Pup's spirit had remained behind in our trailer and yard across the street. And now I am at his favourite place in the world, the beach. I hope his spirit gallops joyously along with me on my beach walks, as he did for so many years when he was alive.

Sharing this at the Tuesday Platform at Toads

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Owl on the doorstep,
neat as a pin;
say the right word,
and she'll let you in.

Hollow is the heart
that has left love out;
but if it tries to fool you,
smack it on the snout.

Witches in the meadow
beckon us to follow;
wolves are a-wilding,
down in the hollow.

Bones so brittle,
bones that are hollow -
suck out the marrow -
try not to swallow.

Crooked witchy fingers,
hollow as a bone;
if she points one at you,
you have to take her home.

Some nonsense for Marian's prompt at Real Toads : Hollow

Friday, January 11, 2019

A Ms Magoo Kinda Heart

Maxine's creator is John Wagner

Wild Woman's disability is
she wishes she were cool,
but finds herself most often cast
as Ms Magoo, the happy fool.

Teetering at the cliff-side, 
others clutching at her cape,
"Look at all the pretty stars!"
she cries, eyes and mouth agape.

Down she goes! Vexatious rocks!
A branch has hung her by her socks.
She mimes she planned to slide the cliff :
I'm fine. It's really fun. As if.

There's a sign up ahead.
It's too bad she can't see.
The folks below are shocked to see
Wild Woman flying free.

A Ms Magoo kinda heart,
in a benign world ever funny,
Wild Woman cannot see the grey.
She keeps her blue skies sunny. 

Now she's out in the orchard
dancing - skip skip skip -
there's many a sorry stumble twixt
the high-step and the flip.

Follow fools into the meadow.
Let's all hoot at the owl,
dance with the chickens,
both fair-weather and fowl.

Smiling grimly 'top the steering wheel
and blinded by the light:
"Officer, I'm not impaired,
I just don't have much sight."
Wild Woman rarely drives at night,
because she knows she's blind.
Thank God the policeman
was Canadian, and kind.

Each little touch of pixie dust
gets followed by an "ouch!"
I think it's safer keeping
Wild Woman on the couch.

A funny poem from January 2018 to share with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United on Sunday. Come join us!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

This Poem is a Tired Grandmother

This poem is a grandmother
whose soul has grown weary.
This poem has seen too many
children dying.
This poem is thirsty
for a song of hope.

This poem is a heart that once held
hope as wide and blue as the sky
and as deep as the sea.
This poem once believed
we were better than we currently are.
This poem once dreamed
we would figure out how to live
on this beautiful planet,
with each other and all the other creatures,
in time.
This poem is losing hope.
This poem is a grandmother
whose soul has grown weary.

This poem is a grandmother
who turns on the news
to find children dying, everywhere:
Jakelin, Felipe, Talequah's calf,
Syrian children, starving children,
children shot in classrooms,
while adults cling to their guns
as an inalienable right.
(It is alien, all right.)
This grandma remembers a time
of childhood innocence and safety.
Where has it gone, and why?
This poem has seen too many
children dying.

This grandmother misses the time
when she could look up at the sky
and feel much was right with the world.
This grandmother misses leaders
who had the best interests of the country
at heart,
who had not sold their souls
to money and corporations,
men with clear eyes, and vision,
and an attitude of service,
who could speak in full sentences
and were not clearly deranged.
The dead-eyed and soulless are leading us
over the edge of the cliff, clutching money
to their hollow chests as they fall.
Children lecture us at the UN,
showing more wisdom and maturity
than their elders.
This grandmother needs inspiration,
needs to hear the voices
of women and grandmothers, rising.
She needs to see patriarchy fall.
She needs the transformation of consciousness
to happen soon,
while there is still an earth to save,
for "what we save, saves us".
This poem is desperately thirsty
for a song of hope.

This poem is waiting
for the grandmothers to rise
all over the world.

for my Thursday prompt at Real Toads: What We Save, Saves Us : to pen a poem of social commentary. There is so much needing to be saved. Including us. I'm looking forward to the Women's March on January 19. Hear us roar!

Right now, we have Standing Rock shaping up in northern B.C., where the Wet'sowet'en people are protecting their traditional lands and water from the inroads of the CoastalGasline fracking  pipeline, which would devastate the little territory they have left. RCMP responded by climbing their barricades and arresting peaceful protectors. As always, government backs corporate interests, against the First Peoples of this land.

I am using Hannah Gosselin's Boomerang Metaphor form, that she introduced at Toads in 2014. My next prompt at Toads will re-introduce this form, and I am hoping Hannah may even make an appearance. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


In northern B.C., yesterday, police climbed a barricade and arrested fourteen land and water protectors who oppose the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline, which will run right through the Wet'suwet'sen peoples' traditional territories, fracking and destroying the land, and putting the source of their limited fresh water, (which is also a fishery route), at risk. A gas pipeline exploded in northern B.C. just last October.

The hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline; they have jurisdiction over this unceded territory. The Band Council members gave permission for the company to proceed, but they have jurisdiction only over reserve land.

Our smiling Prime Minister says there is no relationship more important to government than that with First Nations. We are in the middle of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Not much reconciliation possible, from the look of it, with SWAT teams climbing barricades and arresting peaceful, unarmed protectors.

As always, "economic interests" are more important than peoples' and planetary survival.

The UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People states that indigenous people "will not be forcibly removed from their land." My blood runs cold when I watch this video.

Yesterday I was heartened to see protests happening across Canada in support of the protectors.

WHEN will we stop destroying the land? When will we listen to the wisdom-keepers, those who have lived sustainably on this land for thousands of years? My soul grows weary. I am thankful to each person who stands up to protect the natural world, which we are DESTROYING for the profit of corporations, who do not even pay their fair share of taxes, or clean up their own environmental disasters. Standing Rock has come to northern B.C. I stand with them. They are standing for all of us.


Each January first
I begin again,
starting over with a
shiny new year
laid out before me
like footprints in the snow,
leading to all that is beautiful:
shorebirds, sunsets, forest trails.

Every morning,
I begin again.
Arch one eyebrow,
open one eye:
still here.
I smile at the
wall of green trees
outside my window,
check out the sky,
legs sliding over
the side of the bed;
they hold me up.
It's all good!

Every time I pick up the phone,
I try to get it right,
to say what the one
on the other end of the phone
needs to hear.

Every time I hear that
whales are dying,
ecosystems are being destroyed,
the lungs of the planet
are being mowed down,
I resolve to do all I can
to stand for Mother Earth
and the billions of other beings
who share this earth with us.

Every time I begin
a new poem
I hope
this will be the one
I am happy with.
It rarely is.
And so, next day, 
next poem, next time,
I pick up my pen,
tap at the keys,
and I
begin again.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Starting Over. Photos are of my sister's farm in Port Alberni.

One thing those of us who have lived long know well is that life gives us many opportunities to begin again.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


Now it is Tuesday.
Yesterday's sun,
has changed
to rain.

On Monday I sat at the doctor's
with dizzy, bobbling head,
to complain.
He said I'm doing awesome
"for my age." Ha.
Then said it again.

The trees dance wildly
outside my window
in the arms of Brother Wind.
I know the waves are roaring
at the shore.
But it is Tuesday
and I have
my online chores.

A smile for the Tuesday Platform with HA at Toads.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

White Lions Are Wandering Through My Dreams

I dreamed a dream of lions from the stars,
white lions with lessons in their eyes of blue,
come to give us a message that is true:
all other lives  matter as much as ours.

They are so few; canned hunters gun them down
For thirty grand and a large piece of their souls.
To save the earth, it's time to play our roles.
White lions are calling. Can you hear the sound?

The shaman says our fate is linked with theirs.
White lions are few, and when the last one dies
he says the sun will fall out of the skies,
too late then for our planetary prayers.

Only a handful of small cubs remain.
Pray they survive, so all may live again.

The white lions of Timbavati live in a sanctuary in Africa, where they live wild and free but are protected by the Global White Lion Protection Trust, founded by Linda Tucker, who wrote of the white lions and their connection with man and with the stars in The Mystery of the White Lions, one of the most fascinating books I have ever read.

for Bjorn's prompt at dVerse: to write a sonnet.


Pure snowflakes fall upon a dust-gray street:
Love's beauty, scattered by a Baby's fingers.
The softened, hov'ring winter darkness lingers:
A gentle life, so sweet to me, so sweet!
Clear, poignant carols echo on the air,
Sung by the pale-lipped children of December.
With breathless joy, always will I remember
Their angel-sounds, so fair to hear, so fair.
The gifts pile high under the Christmas tree.
The gaiety grows greater every day.
Into my dreams, a starved child finds his way:
"A crust of bread for me, a crust for me."
The thought of him remains all season through -
So far away, so little I can do.

for Bjorn's prompt at dVerse: to post a sonnet, new or old. This one is very old. I wrote it in 1963 when I was fifteen. It seems the inequities of the world bothered me back then as much as they do now. I will also try to write a new sonnet.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

River Wild

Kennedy River
By Gayle Hayes

January's wild winds
topple trees,
torrential rains
flood banks,
raging river
roars through the canyon

May Womanpower
roar through
the halls of government,
mighty as a river,
wild as the wind,
and wise and true
as a talking tree.

For Sanaa's Get Listed at Real Toads. Loving the 100 women elected in the US, who are going to be speaking some truth to those old boys.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Dreamtime

Uluru -

connecting with the dreamtime
tapping into the deepest well
of our collective memories

with eyes closed, I call up
the Ancestor Beings,
here when this world
began, with its
mountains and rivers and trees,
its air and fire and water

when their work was
complete, they traveled back
into the earth and slept

sometimes their spirits 
stayed behind
in rocks or trees,
and these became sacred places

Today we're in the Dreaming -
in the Now-
the only time the aborigines

Feel the spirits
of the Ancestors,
as you chant to the beat
of the drum

Look quickly
across the campfire
and you might catch their shadows,
see their kind wisdom-eyes

Hear them say:

"Right now one 
of your eyes is sleeping,
but one of them is awake.

When you see with both eyes,
we will awaken from our dreaming
to join you,
and the world
will be made new"

It is time to open our sleeping eye. This poem, written in 2013, was inspired by Julian Lennon's amazing film Whaledreamers, about a gathering of aboriginal elders from all over the world, who met at the edge of the sea and sang the whales in, as they did in times of old. To be shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, fine reading with your coffee, every Sunday morning. Happy New Year to all.