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.

Friday, November 1, 2019


SHINRIN YOKU (Forest Bathing)

Tip-toe-ing, I enter nature's house of prayer: leaf rustle, leaf crunch, soft sighing breezes, bird-chirp, chipmunk chatter, thick friendly trunks covered with moss and old man's beard. Staunch, enduring, arms pointing to heaven, the forest is teaching us how to pray. My footsteps slow. My ears attune to Deep Listening. My heartbeat slows to join that of the Earth Mother. I breathe in Peace. I breathe out thankfulness. My prayer: that a world this beautiful will continue to exist.

Forest green and gold,
I take your deep peace with me
out into the world.

Joining Mimi's Blogblast for Peace again. Come join us. This year the theme is Green. Thank you, Mimi, for all of your work for peace through these years we have journeyed together.