Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wolf Howl Woman

collage by The Unknown Gnome
who, sadly, is no longer with us

When voices whisper among the trees,
and shapeshifters flit in the misty forest,
capes swirling and  twirling
their transformation,
when a soft-eyed doe looks up
from tall yellow grasses,
and quick brown rabbits dart
from their burrows,

when the veil between
this life and the next
grows thin,

my heart listens for the howl
of a lonely wolf,
who has wandered the hills
these many years
looking for home.

In those moments,
my heart howls, too,
in recognition of our wild spirits,
never fully at ease
in the world of men.

I light a candle before his image.
His brown eyes look at me;
concerned, watchful,
they peer into my soul.
How he made me laugh!
How we dreamed together
under the moon.

"Visit me," I ask,
but he cannot find his way.

His howl
a mournful echo
in my soul.

for Sanaa's wonderful prompt at Midweek Motif: A Million Years Howl When Voices Whisper Under the Trees, a contemplation of the day of the dead.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Note to a Reader 30 Years Hence

In 2050, if a habitable planet still exists,
I picture a poet sifting through whatever archives
have been preserved.
Perhaps she will stumble across Real Toads,
and read the poems we have written
that have chronicled our time here:
our laughter, our tears, our outrage, our protest,
our love and concern for the planet
as it careens through space with
fires and flooding, hurricanes, typhoons,
climate refugees, both human and wild,
fleeing the flames and waters of our legacy:
our stubborn  refusal to
put planetary survival before
power, greed and excess.

I can see her eyebrows lifting in shock and disbelief,
as mine do almost every day.
The signs are so clear, the information so urgent.
Leaders wilfully deny the decisions
that need to be made.
The choice of power and profit
over the survival of billions,
that we record today,
along with our angst, our grief, our frustration,
may one day (hopefully) be read by
whoever survives the maelstrom
that lies between now and then

Poets are the canaries in the cage: our protest song
rings out to those both far and near.
To Tomorrow we say:
we sang it loud and clear.
Future generations will be the only ones to know:
did anybody 
- anybody?? -

for Kerry's prompt at Real Toads:  Metamodernism : how poets record the history and culture of our times. That we do, and the present times give us a ton of material. Today, in the British Columbia Legislature, a historic bill is being passed recognizing the inherent rights of the indigenous people, as set forth by the U.N. B.C. is the first province to do so. It is a good day. But also shameful that those rights took hundreds of years to be acknowledged, after a painful history. Better late than never. But, oh my! First Nations have been patient.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Watch for Me, a Sandpiper at the Edge of the Sea

Dear Earth,
I will return to the shores of Wickaninnish,
roiling in winter storm.
I shall come back to watch the morning break
against blue sky and rose-tinged puffy cloud,
to see all the creatures stir and waken,
and the day unfold.
I shall return to gaze in wonder,
at the end of day,
as the sun sinks, purple, azure, gold,
below the horizon,
and the skies become a masterpiece
painted by God.

I may return as a seabird,
as Jonathan, 
still outside of the pack, observing, 
still hobbling on the ground
and dreaming of the sky.
I'll pick a shell in my beak 
and carry it off to my perch,
then drop it,
deep in the forest,
for a wanderer to find, 
and marvel at, years hence.
Or I might be a sandpiper, 
one of the flock,
lifting and turning together
as one body, at the edge of the sea.

How could my spirit not return
to the forests and rivers and ocean I love,
to catch my breath once more as the morning mist
drapes itself companionably across Lone Cone,
to behold again her slopes turning deepest rose
in late afternoon?
The call of the murmurous, forever waves,
the smell of salt, kelp and seaweed,
ocean essence will draw me, as before,
to the beautiful shore.

I will return, once again young,
to the desert along the lake
where I began,
for the smell of peony and sweet pea
on soft-scented summer evenings,
for a shy, youthful kiss under weeping willow,
lake ripples lapping gently,
and all of life's hopes and dreams lying ahead,
all golden and shining.
I will return for apple blossoms, 
and the scent of sage and Ponderosa pine
on hot, dusty hills
covered with yellow flowers.

But then the shore will draw me back,
as it always did,
the blue sky drawing my gaze
as it did for all my many years.
I will heed the call of the ancient trees,
where restless spirits live,
their mournful song whispering  wisdom -
urgent truth for us to hear and heed,
if we but listen.

If I don't return in body,
I will return as raindrops on salal,
as moss on an old stump,
or old man's beard on cedar.
I will return
in wagging puppy-tails 
and wise old elephant eyes,
or a grey whale, diving, 
its fluted tail arching over and up,
then slipping down, down, 
into the mysterious depths.

Watch the world with wonder,
as I have these many years,
and you'll find me,
never farther away than
the nearest beautiful thing.

A poem from 2016, to be shared with the good folks at Poets United on Sunday morning.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Doggy Hearts

It is amazing
how dogs can go through
neglect, abuse, abandonment and pain,
yet still have the ability
to open their hearts
to trust and love

This is my daughter's dog, Cali, rescued from a kill shelter in California (hence the name, Cali.) This is Cali's "Gotcha!" day. She joined our family three years ago.

My daughter Stephanie has rescued many dogs from terrible situations, and it has been wonderful watching their eyes change from wary to the deep, glowing security of knowing they are safe and loved. Amazing how they, more easily than humans, are able to forgive the past and immerse themselves in a happier present.

for Sumana's Midweek Motif: Forgiveness. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019


We walk the fine edge,
between this world and the next,
trying to heal our pain,
recover from our illnesses,
adjusting to the decline of the body
that has transported us so far.

You have fought a long battle,
old pal of mine.
I am sensing your grasp on life
slowly slipping away.
Your eyes are on the eagle,
flying free of his fetters.
You are communing with deer
in your garden.
The orcas pass by,
your mind engraving
the vision and the joy.
Your heart is loving and mourning
this beautiful earth
you are slowly leaving.
We are never ready to let go
of the beauty we have loved so well.

For 37 years, you have always been there:
at the other end of the telephone,
through my joys and sorrows,
on the other side of my screen,
sharing all I was learning.
We have witnessed,
encouraged and supported
each other's journey,
collaborated on songs,
shared our love of the wild,
and music,
and sunsets.

You have been my friend, my mentor,
my guide, my guru.
You have shown me the way,
walking your pilgrim's path of the soul,
listening to your inner guides.

You can never really be gone from me.

On the other side, for you,
there will be a radiance:
your face shining as it did
in coffeehouse days,
when candles flickered on you,
smiling in the glow,
singing Gentle Jonathan
and Forever Young.

I will see you forever
strumming your guitar,
singing your songs
of trees and rivers
and eagles in flight.

On the other side:
Manders, curled,
purring on your chest -
and no more tumors,
shortness of breath,
fatigue and diminishing health.
Just an expansion of the soul
which has grown too large
for your chest to contain,
and needs more room
in which to grow.

In memory, you will always be
on stage at Brock and Friends,
or, later, stalking the sunset,
camera in hand,
at Chestermans Beach.

It is in sunsets I will
forever see you,
old friend of mine.

Always remember,
on the other side of sunset
comes the dawn.
That is where I'll find you,
once you're gone.


A poem from 2015, written for a close friend and mentor, Matthew from coffeehouse days. I wrote it when his health began to fail, and I sent it to him in his last month of life, in 2017, because I wanted him to know, while he was still alive, how much he meant to me. This poem was read at his celebration of life.

He was always attuned to Spirit. He did walking meditations, where he projected  a silent  "I love you" to every rock, and dog, and tree he passed. He told me that after a few minutes everything started loving him back. He was always Spirit-led and so I know he trustingly followed into the spirit world. They played the songs he had composed, as he was dying, and his wife said it seemed the sdongs had been created for those very moments, so peaceful and beautiful was his passing.

He was my friend, mentor, guru, supporter and guide. He knew me when, when I was just awakening, recovering from trauma. The coffeehouse in 1980 was filled with souls living gently on the earth. I walked in the door and I was home. They watered my parched roots, gave me space and acceptance, till my petals slowly unfurled. I have such gratitude for the gift the coffeehouse, and those gentle people, were for me. Matthew was one of the special people in my life. 

I will be forever grateful for having had such a friend.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Architect of My Dreams


The architect of my dreams
built a small cabin
for me
and set it to perfection
at the edge of the western sea.

But he gave me no roadmap
and threw away the key.

It took me forty years
to find its path and door
and, when I had to go away,
it took me twenty more

to climb, once more, the mountain
that led me to its shore.
And here I will stay, now,
forever, evermore.

a little ditty for Shay's Sunday Muse. #78 already. How time flies!

Friday, October 18, 2019


If there be loons here,
then, they are hiding,
perhaps in the tall fronds along the shore
where I walk no more
with you beside me.
Once we heard a beaver slap his tail
like cannon-shot,
the birds startling from the trees,
your ears perking up,
wolfish and knowing.

It is lonesome here,
without you,
my old pal.
Yet yesterday, I breathed in 
a deep draught of dry, crackly leaves
and, in that moment,
was purely happy.

Life goes on.
We were two souls, travelling.
We are still two souls, travelling,
just on different planes,
and I can't find a loon anywhere,
for solace at Loon Lake.

A poem from 2015, to be shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United as this October drops its leaves. That lagoon in Port Alberni is alongside a forest trail Pup and I walked so often through October afternoons.

Marbled Murrelet

Marbled Murrelet egg

She tends her nest well,
small brown mother,
laying her single tiny egg
on a mossy nest
perched on a  limb
of  Sitka Spruce.
To support the nest,
it must be old growth,
now endangered, like the murrelet herself,
like the polar bears, the whales, the salmon.
Like us.

She and her mate take turns
sitting on the egg; they change places
every 24 hours at dawn.

Then she zooms across the forest
out to sea,
to eat plankton.

Because we are alive,
we mothers continue to tend,
to nurture life,
to protect.
We know no other way.

Midst all the warring horror,
on a heating planet,
among the dying species,
small brown mothers everywhere
cling precariously to life
on the edge.

It is so courageous,
it stops my breath.

Murrelet chick

These tiny birds feed in the ocean, and fly up to 55 miles inland back to their nests.  They feed their chicks eight times a day. Their wings must get so tired! (I know mine are!) They are on the brink of extinction, with the disappearance of old growth. Only 7500 remain, according to Audubon.

for my prompt at Toads: On Wonder

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Hungry Dreams

We gather round the table
to eat our rice and beans
while, in their caves, the wild brown bears
dream their hungry dreams.

The salmon all did not come home.
There's naught for bears and whales
and, all this winter, I am sure
we'll hear their hungry wails.

Some eat too much; others have none,
depending where you live.
But there's enough for every child
if richer countries give.

Mother Nature shakes her head,
sending typhoons and gales.
When will humans ever learn
survival's not for sale?


My mother cooked everything
on the same black skillet for years.
It grew crusty, greasy and lumpy,
but in that pan she cooked up wonders:
French toast for my sister and me,
sometimes a steak for my father.
Bits of black sometimes
would be among the eggs;
we picked them out.

I remember that frypan
in the small hovel where we lived
the summer my father died:
food cooked on the oilstove
which was also our source of heat,
the silent meals around the table,
never being allowed
to speak the unspeakable,
the fights and beatings
that went on at night,
as I lay shivering in bed,
dreaming of peace.

I remember my mother, that summer,
never smiling, and then, her heartbreak
after my father died.
She took his fedora, clutched it to her chest,
and walked up and down the creek,
She loved him.

Now I live alone in small rooms,
eating my rice and beans
in a peace that wraps around me,
like a cloak of Enough,
colouring all my memories
with gratitude and love
for the journey made.

For Susan's prompt at Midweek Motiff: The Food We Eat

The hungry bears are on my mind, as they enter winter without any fat on their bodies. And that black skillet brought back memories, too.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


I have fallen in love with this movie, which so beautifully tells the story of a young boy who raises three orphaned pelicans in Australia..........I cried through the last half of the movie, because this is real life, and there are humans, and, where there are humans, there are hunters and heartbreak.

But there is also love and so much beauty. The pelicans and the young boy are all amazing. 

People I tell about it say they can't watch, because of the pain of a creature dying. It is hard on my heart to watch, too, as the suffering of animals bothers me more than anything else on earth. And the loss of a beloved animal companion triggers my own grief at being without my black wolf, also a wild creature who chose to stay with me rather than run free.

But the creatures have so much to teach us about living in the now and being grateful for the present moment. They do not live in fear. They live fully while they are here. And I tell myself, if they can live it, I can bear witness to the courage of their journey. And speak out when I am aware of their suffering.

There is a good environmental message in this film too, with a very positive ending. Because of the boy's friendship with the pelicans and a wonderful Aborigine, a bird sanctuary is proclaimed and millions of pelicans are allowed to live in peace. And, much later, his granddaughter will carry on the fight to preserve it. 

Monday, October 14, 2019


Wild Wolf Woman 

I tried to hitch a ride on a silver shooting star
but I wasnt fast enough. I just couldn’t reach that far.
I’ve a heart that rides the seas and hikes across the forest floor.
My soul drinks in the peacefulness and asks for more and more.

I am in love with wild things, every critter, every bird.
There’s too much love to say it all. I just can’t find the words.
So I wrap my heart in wild grasses, and tie it with a bow.
I share it with the creatures I encounter as I go.

On Cloud Horses I gallop across the blue, blue sky,
my eyes all round with wonder at the beauty flying by.
My kitbag full of memories is packed right to the brim
with sunrises and sunsets, even though my eyes grow dim.

I time travel with shamans. With a wolfish friend I roam.
Here the wild things know my name, so my heart knows I am home.

for Marian's prompt at Real Toads: to write inspired by "Prairie In the Sky", by Mary McAslin. I love her poem, and tried to match the rhythm and meter as best I could. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sister Tree

On the Tall Tree Trail, Meares Island
Such beautiful old beings live there.

Sister Tree, 
breathe me your peace.
When you breathe out, I breathe in.
We are connected.
The genetic code, 
in trees and humans,
is the same.
In Woman, 
the design of membranes 
in the placenta, 
nurturer of human life,
is the same as 
the Tree of Life. 

This fills me with awe.

How can we be so busy, 
so distracted, 
so disconnected,
so claimed by the worldly,
that we forget
we come from starlight? 
How is it we busy ourselves 
with technology
and forget it is 
our bare feet on the ground,
our eyes raised to the sky,
the image of sunset 
imprinted on our soul
that gives life meaning?

I turn off the tv, 
the computer, the phone.
I turn on birdsong, daybreak, 
Cloud Art
and stardreaming.

I place my hand upon your trunk.
My Sister.
In this moment,
it is only you and I,

One from 2014, to be shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. Come join us, poetry friends! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Bride of Solitude

My very wolfy granddog, Smokey

a sampan with a scarlet sail
is bobbing across a harbour.

a lion mother
brings back food to her cub.

Here on the west coast
there is chill in the air.
We bundle up in layers.
Pumpkins are smiling
on doorsteps
and from rocky ledges.

I am the bride of solitude,
who is never alone.
The forest is beckoning me
with long, leafy fingers.
Ravens are calling;
bears bumble along the shore
foraging before the long winter.
Dogs leap along the tideline
with loopy grins.

My days unfold
in peace and an
abundance of beauty.
I walk in gratitude,
through my 73rd vibrant autumn,
my eyes inhaling leaf-colour,
the song of the sea in my ears,
the eternal waves 
advancing and retreating
in my heart.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Blue Sky Tears

When small bears starve
in autumn,
I cry blue sky tears.
This is the time they walk the shore
in search of fat salmon
to gather girth for the winter ahead

but the salmon are not here.

The animals all
have questions in their eyes:
where is food? where shelter?
where, in this noisy, chaotic world,
do they belong?

"This is what extinction looks like,"
the oracle says,
eyes of truth
gazing into our
collective consciousness.
My heart is helpless with grief; 
the governments
turn a blind eye.

Nature is taking the only course
it can,
since she is getting no cooperation
at all
from man.

When small bears starve,
I cry my blue sky tears.

Impulses by Loui Jover  ~ Pinterest

for Sanaa's prompt at Real Toads: October - When Poets Dream, Lament and Sing.

The image above is what inspired my poem, along with the bears, who are on my mind non-stop these days. The song choice is "Somewhere I Belong".

First Nations are taking salmon to the shore to help them. A man on the news said he "prefers to let nature take its course." Nature IS taking its course - the only course it can, responding to what we have done to the earth to create this distress. Sigh.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Of Pumpkins and Shamans

It is a chilly October night. Mist is rising in the field; shapeshifters are lurking at the edge of the forest, weaving among the ghostly trees. Pumpkins roll and tumble down the cabin steps; the black cat, arching and spitting fear, tail straight up, yowls and skitters  away. It is a chin-whisker past the witching hour.

The shaman walks the medicine way, leaving no footprints. The shriek of the night-bird bids us follow. Hush, for there be restless spirits here. Gather your cloak tightly around you, for the fog will poke its chilly fingers at exposed human skin, trying to steal some warmth for itself.

"Whooooo are youuuuuu?" asks Owl, the words forming in smokey puffs as they emerge from her beak.

Above, the stars hold the promise of who you will be a thousand years from now. Gaze well, so when, one day, you meet, you will recognize yourself.

Owl bids us safe passage, as we traverse this eerie, darkling, midnight world. Let us hasten. Our shaman guide's cloak is already swirling with the swiftness of his being gone.


181 words for Magaly's Octoberfest at the Pantry of Prose andPoetry. This shaman has wandered into my poems before. I was happy at his reappearance.

Saturday, October 5, 2019


No salmon for brother bear;
the Salmon People,
diseased by fish farms,
reduced by warming seas,
are not returning
in numbers enough
to feed bears, wolves
whales and people.

The future is here:
climate change is accelerating.
When starving bears
roam the shores,
when tropical sea turtles  arrive
in Port Alberni,
confused by the warming currents,
when polar bears shrivel down
to just their skin,
how much louder can 
the wild ones speak,
and why are we 
so slow to hear?

I am so distressed by the starving bears, while the politicians babble on about economic growth and jobs, as the planet goes to hell. We need fish farms out of Clayoquot Sound, and the Broughton, and everywhere else where they are contaminating wild salmon. They can be moved inland - though who would want to eat farmed salmon is a mystery. 

First Nations have been taking salmon to feed some of the starving bears. On the news, a man opined that he "prefers to let nature take its course." Nature IS taking its course - because of us, and how we have raped  the earth, the animals are starving. And when they wander into town in search of food, they are shot.

Humans suffer, also,  yes. But we have voices; we can access resources. The animals depend on us to ease their suffering, to live in such a way that the world can continue with enough resources for all. The situation grows exponentially worse and STILL nothing happens. We have elections going on right now. My vote goes to the ones who recognize the days of fossil fuels are past, that the crisis is urgent, and that tough measures must be LEGISLATED NOW. Because many won't change their ways until it is legislated.

"But people might be uncomfortable if asked to give up too much," the TV announcer says. How uncomfortable will we be when the entire coast is swept away, when the forests burn, when agricultural land lies underwater, when there is no food, no more clean air? Switching from fossil fuels to clean energy would employ the entire country. LOTS of jobs in the clean energy field. 

We need to apply pressure to politicians at every level of government, to respond to the climate crisis.

No jobs on a dead planet. Do we have to grow as skinny and desperate as the bears to get the message? Argh.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Catbird Under a Fallen Moon

Commissioned Piece (Untitled)
Used with Permission

under a fallen moon -
the lights are on
in the castle
but nobody's home.

The throne
sits empty.

No birds sing
in the bare brown branches
of winter.

The court jester
is issuing weird proclamations
that alarm
the populace.

The commoners
have all run away.

No cream
for kitty
when the sky
has fallen.

55 for Kerry's Art Flash at Toads, inspired by the art of McMonster. It might be construed as political commentary. LOL.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


Gandhi-ji! Gandhi-ji!
voices cry out,
and the small, brown man smiles,
places palms together,
forever, now, humbly
blessing the world
with his Being.

Violence pained him.
He refused to eat
until it stopped.
His message: there
are no Others,
only Us - we humans,
living, loving,
needing a world
that is peaceful and just.
We have no idea that
it is already here
if all the hatred and killing

Now we have Greta, Emma,
Autumn and Alexandria,
truth-tellers who ignite
our hearts once again,
leading us out of despair,
pointing our noses
firmly towards

for  Susan's prompt at  Midweek Motif: Truth / In Honour of Gandhi

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

In Those Days

In those days,
we rode in Grandpa's
brown and white Ford
out to the orchards, in late summer,
and were allowed to each pick
an apple ripe from the tree.

Never since have apples tasted
so good!

In those days, our small town
was surrounded by orchards
(everywhere condominiums
are now).

We'd go past Pandosy Mission,
out KLO, then turn in
the Casorso's driveway,
where Auggie would be gum-booting it
across to the pigs' pen,
and Grandpa Louis,
skinny, eyes twinkling darkly,
would be stirring something
steaming in a big pot,
calling his five
brown-eyed granddaughters
to come for soup.

They were shy and smiling,
those girls, and their mother
nearly died with every birth,
so at Christmas each bedroom
would have its own small tree.
Muriel wanted to leave good memories
behind, she said.

When she was in labour
with the two sons who came last,
our whole school prayed that she
and her babies would live.
And they did,
the first being laid on the altar,
dedicated to God.

Those drives in the country
on Sunday afternoons,
stopping to get out at Mission Creek,
where Mickey the dog rolled
in something foul,
and we suffered all the way
back into town,
are the stuff of memory now,
all shining golden with
late summer sun.

Driving the young cousins
who came next after my sister and me,
one evening, Grandpa remarked
that the chickens were all in bed.
"Don't they stay up to watch The Flintstones?"
young Cal asked, his round brown eyes
concerned at the injustice.

When my sister and I visit, now,
we drive to all the remembered places.
Some of our old homes
have vanished; some remain.
Miles of condominiums are planted
where the apple orchards of memory
once bloomed.


Of you, in memory, I dream
summer days that did not end -
the coo of doves at daybreak,
blue sky over your shoulder,
your dark eyes looking down; a smile,
my heart open wide with wonder.
My summer of love
had arrived.

Of you, in memory, I sing
the song of a distant heart
that dared not open,
from whom I unwillingly
but inevitably had to part.

ploughing the garden under,
along with all my hopes

Of you, in memory, I recall
the coo of doves at daybreak,
how you opened
the door of the cage
and out she (we) flew.

No answer is an answer
to the questions of the heart

Of you, in memory, I sing
every time I hear
the dove’s soft coo.

we ploughed the garden under,
along with all my hopes

Of you, in memory, I wonder,
sifting through all
I have come to know today:
what would have happened
had I been brave enough
and whole enough
to stay?

But no answer was your answer
to the questions of my heart

and so unwillingly but inevitably,
the time came for us to part.

A fugue poem for Rommy's prompt at Toads: to write differently from our usual style. I find most forms difficult, so chose a fugue as have never written one before. A fugue, like the fugue in music, repeats a refrain or a theme throughout the poem.

Only one year, and one summer of love this lifetime. Too short. But fourteen years of love with Pup more than made up for it.