Saturday, June 29, 2019


photo: Sergiy Gaschak

Thirty years after
the humans left this place,
thriving wildlife have reclaimed
the site as sanctuary,
a green and verdant forest
covering the land,
now one of the rare places
on the planet
where wild creatures
live undisturbed.

How sad,
that it takes a nuclear event
to provide safe haven
for wild creatures,
that it takes our absence
to make their lives
more possible.

After cataclysm,
after the ocean
covers coastal shores,
after flood, wildfire,
drought and famine,
after climate refugees
have walked a thousand miles
and fallen
off the edge of the world,

it gives me comfort
to imagine
- slowly, in barely perceptible 
increments of time -
greenness unfolding
across the land once more,
wolf and bear and deer
creeping back,
finding no trace of us,
making their way,
hesitant yet unhindered,
as in the earliest days 
of our collective memory -
the garden unfolding
all its beauty
under friendly 
benign skies
once more.

credit: Valeriy Yurko

for Bjorn's prompt at Real Toads: to imagine the world after a nuclear event. My thoughts went to Chernobyl. I remember I was afraid, back then, that a nuclear explosion would trigger other reactors in a chain reaction. Instead, it is rather unsettling to know that, thirty years later, because humans left the area, it is now thriving as a wildlife sanctuary, one place on the planet where wild creatures get to live undisturbed.

An article at Blue Dot Magazine states, "Humans, it seems, are worse than a nuclear disaster. A long-term study of animal populations around Chernobyl has found wildlife to be flourishing in the absence of human activity. A team of scientists surveyed the human exclusion zone surrounding the site, observing large animals like deer and elk to be in abundance despite lingering radiation."

Friday, June 28, 2019


Pup ~ March, 1997 to January 15, 2011

"There is no pain so great 
as memory of joy in present grief."

Because men had abused my trust,
you came to me this lifetime
in a wolf-dog’s body,
but your eyes spoke to me
with human sensibility,
and you could read my mind.

Fate brought us together,
solitary wolf-woman and small wolf puppy,
lost on the mountainside.
I rescued you;
you rescued me.
Our bond went deep,
as wolf-bonds do.
We shared the wild.

I never knew how large
a presence
your absence would be,
or that it would continue
to the end of my life.

In the spirit world,
I know that you are conscious
how I grieve.
I can see the sadness in your eyes,
those eyes that never left me
in this life.

But you always went ahead of me
on the trail.
Now I am following
your padding footsteps,
listening for your call.

When next we meet,
there will be joy:
I can see you,
tail up, ears cocked,
with that old, wild gleam
in your eyes.
I have known those eyes before
for, lifetime after lifetime,
you have found me.

We made a whole, we two,
an unlikely but perfect partnership,
salted by sea-spray and forest trails,
peppered with loud barks and cackles…
Oh, we were wild!

And I never knew how deep
a grief could be
till you were no longer
walking, here,
with me.

from 2017, for the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


I walked with my grandmother, 
looking up,
through all the years of my childhood.
Once, walking in the cemetery,
she asked wistfully
“Isn’t it peaceful here?”
and I was outraged at the thought
of her ever leaving me.

When she was old, she would walk 
down the street
from the nursing home she hated

-      her cane tap, tap, tapping –

to visit me in my house full of children.
She would sit under the grape arbor;
we'd chat as I weeded the garden.
Later I would walk her back
to the “home” that wasn’t her home

-         her cane tap, tap, tapping –

 a single tear
rolling down her cheek.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

How the Land Transformed My Life

I lived in a grey little town:
grey skies, grey vistas, grey prospects.
My dreams died down,
became a lament, a longing.

Then in a last gasp of nor-or-never,
I leaped the mountain pass.
Surrounded by ocean, forest, cosmic energy,
artists, aliveness, adventure,
I was reborn at 71.

A place can do this to you,
when it is the place
where your soul is at home.


For millennia, the Nuu-chah-nulth people
lived here as caretakers of land and sea.
They had regulations, strict protocols,
responsibilities, for how they cared for the land.
It cared for them in return.
In their culture, each life is as important
as every other, from plant to lowly slug
to upright bipeds.
"Everything Is One; All Is Connected
in the web of life," they teach us,
watching in horror as we desecrate
and plunder the land and waters
we depend on for life.

The elder's face has deep lines,
born of deeper pain.
He says "The land has enough
for our need,
but not our greed."

If only those who make decisions
could hear, and understand.

Sadly, they dont. In the midst of environmental breakdown, Trudeau is still ramming through a pipeline. Fracking is destroying everything; it continues. We need the trees to breathe; there is barely any old growth left.

"Human behavior transforms the environment", says Scott Yabiku (ASU) but the landscape also transforms us. It transformed my life, when I changed locations.  The environment informed the lives of the Nuu-chah-nulth people, who lived here for ten thousand years. They had strict protocols and regulations in the way they cared for the land. Now they watch in horror as wild salmon become diseased and infected by fish farms - the salmon that is the lifeblood of this area, the forest, and their culture. Our whales are starving and dying, their stomachs full of plastic. OUR plastic. Bears, displaced of habitat, wander into towns in search of food, and are killed.

The Arctic is melting. Everything is accelerating. The effects will be felt in the lower provinces sooner than expected. Humans have transformed the environment in one hundred short years of wilful greed and plunder. But nature will regain the upper hand. Perhaps after cataclysm, humans will learn another way to live with the land - those who survive.

for Kerry's prompt at Real Toads: Human-Landscape Interactions

A Wonderful Adventure

Heading Out

Tofino is very good to its seniors. We live in a village that is incredibly rich culturally, full of artists, writers, carvers, sculptors, and poets; the villagers support and appreciate the arts to a degree I have not experienced anywhere else. Not to mention the spectacular scenery, which inspires us all. Yesterday some of us seniors boarded the Browning Passage vessel and headed out to Freedom Cove, an off-grid floating paradise where, for 25 years, artists Catherine and Wayne Adams have lived, created art, and developed a floating paradise of gardens.

Before we left, this little fellow, a river otter, galloped along the float to wish us bon voyage. Some porpoises appeared along the route, also,  but they dove under before I could capture more than the ripples they left behind.


Wayne welcoming us

Catherine and two of the three dogs

Whale ribs 

Burrowbird, inspired by a bird of 
Wayne's homeland, Norway

The floating island runs on solar energy. All materials are salvaged or recycled. Wayne says the floathome came first, then Catherine asked for "Just a small salad garden, honey"!
Things grew, as we can see.

Even apples!

This burl is 600 years old. I love their fire pit.

Wayne has a Man Cave

The stunning art studio

and beautiful art.

One year, 40 eagles arrived to feed on the herring,
and left behind these feathers, 
which became the first mask they made.

There is even a floating "beach", with sand.
Browning Passage boat in background.

Sister Margaret, on the left, is soon turning 100
wonderful years old. She is a trooper
and inspires us all.
Sister Anita is on the right.

Catherine and Wayne's message to the world is
They are, and hope others will see
it is possible, and will live their dreams too.

On leaving, we each were invited to choose a candle.
Mine was this wolf. This was the icing on the cake,
                                            and made me so happy.

Altogether, an amazing day.
I came home replete.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

My Garden of Greens and Children

Weeds, weeds, everywhere
in Kelowna's thriving soil.
Hot sun, smiling boy.

From small seeds and hopes,
we grew more than we knew then.
We grew tomorrow.

Smiles in summer sun;
not knowing the tears to come:
it's better that way.

When I planted seeds,
I grew children as well as
the food that filled them.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Gardens.  I had a huge garden when my kids were growing like weeds, in an effort to keep their hungry tummies full. I loved growing things: gardens and children both. Those were happy years.

Puppy Love

I built a bridge from my head to my heart,
crossed it heartache by heartache.
I built a bridge and, step by step,
it opened my heart wider.

I built a bridge from my head to my heart,
let down my defenses, invited love in.
I built a bridge, and started across,
and on the other side was you.

Last week's Midweek Motif was Bridge. This popped into my head a week late. I read somewhere that the longest and hardest journey, in this pain-filled world, is the one between our heads and our hearts.  On the other side, though, I fell in love with the whole world, companioned by a wild wolf puppy.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


My inner wolf stirs under the Pink Moon,
howling the possibility of a world of connection,
with the land, and with each other,
a world of social justice for all,
humans and ecosystems alike.

Wolf is Presence,
life on its keenest edge, honed.
She is transcendence; to her
death is part of the cycle of life :
renewal and sustenance.
Our eyes, now, are opened;
we see with a fearsome clarity
what is meant for us here: cooperation,
connection, interdependence, balance.
They can shoot Mother Wolf from helicopters,
but she is wily. She will find a way to hide,
to survive, to outlive our ignorance,
until we finally realize the truth.
We need her here.
She is our wildish nature, our love of the land.
She is our deepest heart.

We grandmothers are the wisdom-keepers.
It is time, now, to speak what we know,
the deep wolfish knowing
that humankind has lost its way.
Time to remember the ancient pathways,
and follow them to the Source,
time to remember that from
the tiniest bit of stardust in the galaxy
to the smallest sprout upon the forest floor,
all, all, is part of the great wheel of life.
All has its purpose here.

Visit the closest tree you see.
Place your hand on its trunk.
Do you feel it?
Endurance, Stoicism, Deep Being.
It breathes out. We breathe in.
We are the same.

Each breath of peaceful energy you exhale
stirs the molecules, adds its weight,
helps to right this tilting planet.
If a few billion of us breathe peace
at exactly the same moment,
will not balance, and hope, finally arrive?

One from the spring of 2015, revisited, because we need peaceful energy and connection to the wild more than ever before.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Poem by an Exquisite Corpse

Bald eyes behold magnificent things.
Flabby groups arise, unsightly people.
Elegant hand feels skinny student.
Glamorous job makes quaint story.

Some silliness for Magaly's wordplay prompt at Real Toads.  I didnt use the online scrambler, just picked the words myself. I rather like the bald eyes. Lol.

Thursday, June 13, 2019


When my heart has no words
when there is too much to pray for
and not enough hope
in the world
to right all the wrongs

When California is burning
as the climate naysayers say nay
I walk my speechless heart
into the forest
to try to find my way

Each tree
a living prayer
offering balm and breath
to the soul-weary
Each birdcall a note of hope
in the planetary song
humankind has
gotten wrong

When my heart has
only tears,
and there is too much to pray for
and not enough hope
to find my way
I let the trees pray for me
Breathe their peacefulness
into my being
Listen to all
they have to say

Each tree
a living prayer,
each human adding either
dark or light
to the planetary plight

One from 2018 to share with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, fine reading every Sunday morning. Come join us! On the Vancouver Island, we are in the grip of a heat wave. It was 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) yesterday at my sister's farm. It is not as hot here, but still too hot. Where is our cooling fog, our cool sea breezes? Each year, climate change is felt more strongly. My spirit grieves.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Liberation: 1972

She and Helen Reddy sang
"Hit the Road, Jack," with gusto,
while her husband glowered.
She read The Feminine Mystique,
a revelation, and felt the "click".

He toe-d her stack of Ms magazines
and muttered,
"We were happy till you started
reading this crap
and began thinking
you were a person."
"You were happy," she corrected.
"Yes, and I could be again
if you started being
A Proper Wife."

In 1972, it was over.

She took her kids up the hill
to the store
and bought them candy.
Heading back downhill,
in sudden joy, she began skipping,
two babies bouncing in the buggy
in front of her,
her oldest boy giggling and leaping

She was walking through
crunchy fall leaves
in the city's West End
one amber afternoon,
all alone and unencumbered,
the children with their dad,
when she realized,
"I can live my own life now.
I'm free."

For my prompt at Real Toads on Wordy Thursday: Being a Woman in Times Like These. We could write of the dystopian age we seem to be headed for, or simply tell the story of one woman's flight from oppression. This was mine. My heart has never stopped its skipping. Smiles.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Bridging the Gap

The bridges are all falling down,
so we must build them up again:

the bridge between your world, your experience,
your perception, your ideology, your reality,
and mine;

and especially the disconnect
between human beings
and the natural world.

The teachings of the First People
are the bridge from
settler/dominant consciousness
to the healing and restoration
of the Earth Mother.

Let's leave behind
our unthinking, destructive ways,
and respect Mother Earth
as a thinking, feeling, conscious being,
alive in every atom of energy,
in every blade of grass.

Our only bridge into a better tomorrow
is the understanding that
we are one with everything,
and closing the gap
between earth and spirit -
between self and other -
between you and me.

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif at Poets United: Bridge

I just finished reading The Archipelago of Hope, Wisdom and Resilience on the Edge of Climate Change, by Gleg Raygorodetsky, who travelled to places feeling the effects of climate change, speaking with First Nations elders. Two of the closing chapters are written about his visit to Clayoquot Sound, where I live. I recommend it highly. Last night I attended a workshop by a young Tla-o-qui-aht woman, Gizele Martin, who taught that in the language of her people "the only word for wilderness is home."

Monday, June 10, 2019

Singing the Song of Wild Salmon

We are singing the song of wild salmon,
singing the song of the People,
who once knew fish so plentiful
they could have walked on their backs
across the river.

Today they are singing
a song of sorrow
for the salmon are diseased and dying;
all that feeds on them
-         - whale, bear, wolf -
are hungering.

We walk on the roadway, singing:
singing for wild salmon.
Eagles circle overhead,
their cries sharp and piercing.
They add their voices to those
singing the song of 
wild salmon.

The young warrior beats his drum
and sings a powerful, ancient song,
the song of his people
for all of Time :
that everything is One.
He is singing for the food
that feeds us all,
singing the song of 
wild salmon.

Yesterday the Tla-o-qui-aht people called for a rally at Anchor Park to say they want fish farms out of their territory. Pollution and sea lice from the fish farms are infecting the wild salmon, which are now diseased and dying. If the salmon disappear, this whole ecosystem will be impacted.  

First Nations have been opposing fish farms for many years on the Coast, as they watch wild salmon stocks decline, orcas and bears and wolves all hungering. Governments move too slowly, and in a crisis there is no more time to delay. We walked to the fish plant chanting: Fish  farms out of Clayoquot Sound! Young warriors sounded the drums and sang for the wild salmon, that has kept their people alive for thousands of years. 

They spoke yesterday of how, since colonization, they have watched the ecosystems they protected and cared for for millenia being destroyed. Now, they are our greatest hope for protection of all that is left and endangered - these are unceded territorial lands of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. This is their homeland. We are only visitors here. 

Sunday, June 9, 2019


Photography by Carlo Pautasso

I offered you all that I am,
blooming with all of my brightness;
I unfurled my innermost petals
only for you.

You withheld yourself from me
in icy self-contained aloofness,
resisting the gift.
Not one drop of life-giving love
were you willing to give.

When I picked myself up,
I knew well :
you were the one
who lost out.
And I kept on

This is what popped out when I saw the photo prompt at The Sunday Muse. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Falling In Love With the Sky

Vision Quest Tarot
Created by Gayan Sylvie Winter, Jo Dose
Fair Use Principles

I walked with a heavy load
on my head
for many years.
This taught me balance.

The wrongs perpetrated 
upon me
by the dark-hearted
taught me to walk
in a kinder way,
and to keep my conscience

Spirit guides accompanied me
on my journey.
They guided me well,
into verdant forests
inhabited by the Old Ones.
They led me 
along the shore,
where whales sang to me
their ancient songs;
their mystical and mournful cries
took lodging
in my heart.

A feather fluttered to earth
in front of me:
an eagle feather,
to say I
was worthy.
I picked it up, and,
in that moment, 
fell in love
with the blue sky
and this whole,
beautiful, suffering,
benighted, struggling, conflicted,
glorious world.

At Real Toads, Ella  Wilson is making a guest appearance, prompting us to choose a Tarot card that speaks to us and write whatever comes. I chose from the feather deck, as feathers have been signposts on my journey. I am thrilled to see Ella again. She was  my first non-family follower, before I found Poets United, and we both plunged in. Hi, Ellie! I am also sharing this with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Mea Culpa

now washing up dead
by the dozens
on west coast beaches

ailing in warming, polluted seas,
impacted by boat traffic

bellies full of plastic
instead of food

mea culpa
mea culpa
mea maxima culpa

for Susan's  prompt at Midweek Motif: Plastic Bags

This past week saw "an unusual mortality event" as seventy grey whales washed up dead on west coast beaches in the U.S. and seven more along Canadian west coast beaches. There is a new baby orca near Tofino, and we hope he will live, but researchers are worried as he and his mother seem to be ailing. For certain, there is not enough food, the seas are too warm, and sonic interferance from boat traffic  impacts their existence. Meanwhile, it is "business as usual" for humans:

Sunday, June 2, 2019


He poked his head up over the stall
every morning,
big, perky ears,
eyes bright, full of love,
ready for another day
of playing with his ball
in the big field.

He was a late in life baby,
born too small.
But he had such life in him
that he grew.
Hand-fed by his human mother
when his birth mother
refused him her teat,
he became half-human, half-foal,
and my sister became all Mother.

He was only fifteen months old
when he was stricken with colic.
He tried so hard to stay.
The last day he collapsed inside the door
of the animal hospital.
His  bowel had ruptured.
Poor baby.
He had suffered so much.

Some losses we never get over.
My sister can barely say his name.
He was the sweetest foal,
an unexpected gift,
arriving like a comet,
and blazing across our sky -
 a star burning out
that was just too bright
to stay.

For Baby Leo, R.I.P.

This baby was buried, with the ball he loved so much, on my sister’s farm. He was the most adorable little being. He fought hard to live the first time, and even harder the second. But the fight lasted too long.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Tree Reverie

Image from Wepna Loneagle
At Grandmothers Circle the Earth
No copyright infringement intended.

I remember when we were many, as far as the eye could see, covering the land from sea to sea. In those days, the wild creatures were plentiful, and the few humans were our friends. We lived together in harmony and mutual respect.  Now, most mountain slopes are bare, marked with clearcuts. And still they come for we few Old Ones remaining. We tremble; the earth shudders with their mighty equipment. I cling with my roots, dig them deeply, feeling in the underground network of our joined hands the screams of the fallen, that the humans don't hear. I ache with the thump of their bodies hitting the ground. As they die, they go silent. Roots slain, I will hear them never again.

I weep as my sisters fall, long roots pointing at the sky,  as if the wisdom teeth of the planet are being pulled, along with the wise old ways human beings have forgotten. The wild creatures flee, homeless, with nowhere to go,  starving and afraid. The planet warms; wildfires come for those of us remaining. Our garden has turned into the apocalypse in just one hundred years. For greed, for oil, for money. The last of my kind watches in horror and disbelief. Because  humans don't understand, our fate will soon be theirs.

216 words. For Telling Tales with Magaly at Poets United on Sunday: writing from the perspective of trees. Sunday in Tofino, we are holding a tree event, to state the obvious: we need to protect the old growth we have left. We are fighting  losing battle, it seems.