Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Woman Who Knows What to Write


The woman who knows what to write
didn't show up today.
Maybe she's sitting by the fire,
trying to decide whether to watch
the journalists review
The Most Horrible Year That Ever Was,
or to read another tome about
the accelerating climate crisis.

Why choose? She can do both!
I recommend a beverage,
to soften and blur the edges.

Sometimes it's not easy
to face the blank page.

But she is grateful to have
somewhere to put her angst,
her worry, her outrage
at so many injustices,
somewhere to sing
her love for the wild ones, 
and the trees, and the sky
and the sea.

In the midst of the world
slowly ending, are there
any words worth writing?
With so much going wrong,
can (she) find the words - any words -
that actually make a difference?

The Republicans who voted 
themselves a big cheque 
at the beginning of the pandemic,
are blocking  a $2,000 relief cheque
to the working poor "because someone 
might receive a cheque who doesn't need it."

My sense of justice has been on high alert
and outrage on a daily basis
for four years. 
No wonder I'm so tired.

But here's what I want you to know:
The world is still beautiful.
Mother Earth and her creatures,
who live by natural law,
know what to do, and our lives
are a gift.

It is humankind,
in our denial, our greed, our excessive
demand for More, who is the square peg
in a round hole. We need to soften our edges.
We need to open our eyes, our ears,
our hands and our hearts.

The woman who knows what to write
didn't show up today.
She has a
world-sized headache,
so she sent her envoy instead.

Inspired by "Proxy" by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. The italicized lines are hers.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020



When the talking heads make my own head feel
like it is stuffed with cotton batten (and frustration,
pain and angst), I walk my heart
into the rainforest, listen as the ancient trees
whisper songs of peace and beauty.

When I read about the melting poles,
and that the sea will rise fifteen feet
maybe within my lifetime,
and certainly within my grandkids',
I dream of wolves,
wish I could run away with them,
live in the forest under natural law,
so much more just than human rule.

When the world is not heeding
the severity of the crisis we are in,
because no one wants to make hard choices,
from our leaders on down,
and they wish away the day of reckoning
with a denial that is incomprehensible
when all of the science is so clear,

I ponder what place I might escape to,
knowing there is no place left
that has not felt the desecration
of our heavy human footprint,

and then, I walk my heart back
into the forest, listen to the trees
breathing peace, send a message of love
and apology to the wild, wild world,
tell it I am doing my best.

When my heart is laden
with the urgent change that needs to happen
and is not, is not, happening,
I lean against Mother Earth's mossy breast,
close my eyes, am sung to sleep
by the chatter of small birds, and then -
I dream of wolves.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020



I did not have to go far to find a Feast of Earth Fools,
led by a Lord of Misrule. Across the border
a bacchanal such as we have never seen has been
rioting for four years that kept me awake at night.
It changed me.

Emerson said, "Wisdom consists in
keeping the soul liquid."

Well, I tried. But it was the Misruler's defeat at the polls
that restored my soul to me, and renewed my hope.

There are still fools aplenty in the halls of governance,
who likely will try to obstruct every good step forward,
because that's what fools do, when power and party
come before the people they are paid to serve.

I feel the Ancestors hovering near.
They are worried. They see we are only 
a handful of years - a handful! - away
from climate catastrophe. I see the look
in Greta Thunberg's eyes - is she giving up?
This year trudges on to its exhausted close.
"Next year," I say, with faltering hope,
"next year will be better."

Our job as poets is to bear witness.
"Bear this," the poet was told in a dream,
so bear it we must. The creatures starving,
dying, going extinct, silently disappear.
They have no voice with which
to tell us they are gone.
The world waits for us to notice,
to care about something beyond 
our simple lives.

This earth ship is sailing a stormy,
warming, plastic-laden sea.
When the poles melt, the oracle says,
the sea will rise fifteen feet.
Millions will drown, seaside cities
will go underwater. Including mine.

Whichever horizon to which 
humanity sets  sail
is fraught with peril.

A poet told us we don't have to change the world.
"Our only task," he tells us, "is being changed."*
And after we change, we act.

* from Robert Bringhurst's poem "Occupation".

Well. Our task is being changed insofar as our awareness leads us to change our habits and priorities, so Mother Earth and her creatures can live. And to raise our  voices to demand those who lead us lead us towards zero carbon emissions and clean energy. Like yesterday.

for earthweal, where we are contemplating The Feast of Earth Fools.  Wishing you all a more encouraging 2021.

Saturday, December 26, 2020



What is the story behind the poem?
she asks. Write that.

When I write about blue skies,
shall I tell you that they saved my life,
kept me looking up all my life,
gave me hope during my most hopeless years?

When you look at this peaceful, smiling woman, 
would you ever guess that inside her lives
a terrified child with a history of trauma and abuse,
with a lifelong dream of a love that never arrived
in the way that she dreamed, yet arrived, nevertheless,
in ways more amazing than I ever could have imagined,
better, more perfect, because it taught me
to love the whole world.

We approach the blank page with
our minds and fingers, rolling out our history
- our her-story - in fragments, in memories,
in stories of that time out of time
burnished golden by the setting sun
of our old age. Growing old
is to live in the Country of Perspective,
which would have been helpful to have
when we were young and green and growing
through a confluence of conflicting experiences.
We picked our way through like sniffing dogs
in a minefield, aware that under every rock
lay hidden the potential of devastation:
so many times we crossed that emotional wasteland
until we learned to trust the most important one
we need to trust: ourselves. And then
we learned to laugh.
And then to sing.

Watch me standing in the forest, breathing peace.
You can't tell, but the trees and I are speaking,
in the language of spirit, shape-shifters, 
listening to the whispers of
the wild ones hiding among the leaves.

A little girl once wandered through the forest
seeking kinship with ponderosa pine;
and now an old woman communes with
trees that always were, and never can be,

Last night I watched Don't Be Nice, a film about slam poets and their poetry which blew my mind. They said "what is the story behind the poem? write that" and this spoke to me. I also saw the power of performing a poem, more than simply reading it in rote fashion. It makes a difference. They made me want to up my game.

Friday, December 25, 2020



I thought I'd put my heart into a poem,
and take it to the forest, dark and deep,
find the mossy path, the broken limb,
a perch from which to read the trees to sleep.

So sonorous, all words verdant and green,
so soft the moss, the pages all between.
I turn them, leaf and fern, salal and flower,
sweet and protected, in my leafy bower.

The dark will tiptoe in on doe-like feet,
will settle tenderly upon the boughs,
and I softly away, and smiling sweet,
the forest safe and dreaming deep, for now.

Oh forest dear, my sanctuary blessed,
it is to you I come, when I seek rest.

One from 2014, shared with the fine folk at earthweal for their 50th open link.


It is December 2020. What a year it has been! But we have made it through. Mimi Lenox at Blogblast for Peace thinks we are in need of some spiritual sustenance, and I so agree. I am joining her in launching a couple of old peace globes - because what we do every day determines what life will be like for our grandkids and great-grandkids in a very short time.

Lunabella is now five, and as beautiful, sweet and innocent as can be. I will be gone when she faces the consequences of what our leaders do or dont do now about the climate crisis. And right now, on our watch, people are dying from covid, caused by our interactions with and disrespect for the wild creatures. Species are going extinct at an unprecedented rate, the planet is warming, the ocean is warming and full of plastic, the poles are melting and our leaders are squabbling about other things,
such as the hallowed Economy, and how helping poor people takes money out of the pockets of the rich. We are still kings and serfs, my friends, though I hate to be the bearer of bad news.

I just read Our House Is On Fire by Greta Thunberg's mother and it is an informative and alarming read. We either know this stuff, or dont want to know. Either way, the clock is ticking and changes are not being made fast enough. Or enough enough. Or at all. 

So where is hope? We have to have it because we cant live without it. 2020 is ending and it was the Annus Horribulus of all years. My sense of justice was outraged every day. I feel like I am emerging from an abusive relationship. I am in need of healing. For that, I walk in the forest (because I am fortunate to have some forest left near me, though it is under threat), or walk on the beach, trying to just see the beauty, even though I know sea life is choking on plastic every day.

We need leaders to lead. But when they dont, we need to remember that we vote them in, we give them their paychques, and they are supposed to be there serving the people. Right? Or is that an old-fashioned concept?

In 2021, let's remind them: there is a population to save that has been neglected this year, in the USA, where over 300,000 died, while the president was focussed on other things (himself); the virus has mutated like your worst science fiction nightmare. There's a planet to save: if we dont reduce carbon emissions SOON, we will pass the tipping point, and it will be too late. The rich likely think they have enough wealth to save themselves but wont they be surprised when they find out they are only human, like the rest of us, needing air to breathe and water to drink?

There is so much that needs fixing, it is daunting: the abuse of animals, in the wild and domestically, at the hands of humans; racism and hatred against other human beings just like us, who only want to live like any other person, and have their children grow up safely; corruption in those who lead us that goes unpunished, while a young man stealing a backpack goes to jail for years. People extol Progress, but the cost of that progress has been the devastation of the natural world, which is in peril, everywhere. People want life to continue as usual but that is not possible.

If we want survival as a species, change is needed now.  If the people demand it, the legislators cant ignore us. It isnt too big a problem, if the people are all together. We are many; our leaders are few.  Greta showed us even one voice makes a difference. But for elected officials, used to the status quo, our voices need to be many; we need to remind them that serving the people is their mandate, not self-interest, or the projectory of their personal careers. The choices we make in our personal lives need to reflect our love of Mother Earth too. 

2021? It has to be better than 2020, because I think we hit bottom in 2020. The good news is, once you hit bottom, if you dont give up, you RISE, and set your course in a more positive direction. I think we're there, my friends. It is time.

Let's get to work.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Dark


The dark embraces everything,
last night on the beach, looking
for Jupiter and Saturn,
winter wind cold on our legs and faces,
eyes looking up, at the chunky half-moon.
We even saw Mars. 

It was solstice, the shortest day of the year,
and now slowly the earth will tilt us
towards light again - so swift, the seasons,
now that I am old, the numbers
climbing up so fast. 

I emerged out of darkness, as we do,
as we all do, and strove towards
sunny days and blue sky.
Friends helped me, and dogs
helped me more, till my heart
healed itself like a craggy old bunion
that I polished until it shone
like a pearl and I taught it to sing.

I believe in the night, the poet said,
though nights once brought terror
and pain to a shivering child;
they are calm and safe now, with my bed
and my books, and dreams mostly
of moving into new places
that will slowly, over time,
turn themselves  into homes.

The italicized lines are from Rilke. This poem was inspired by Wild Writing by Laurie Wagner, and Rilke's poem, "Night".

Monday, December 21, 2020

An Imperfect Offering

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
     - from "Anthem" by Leonard Cohen

Light the incense.
As the smokey vapours rise,
may they carry all our prayers
into the Otherworld.
Let the hundred candles shine,
illuminating and banishing
our dark night,
in this early morning, 
and so transitory light.
Scatter the petals of aging blooms,
making a carpet on which to kneel,
and pray whichever prayer
you feel.

When you are ready,
sound the bell -
one clear and solitary ring.
As our chants begin,
we meditate
on what we have to bring.
May the All That Is accept
in time
our most imperfect

for Brendan at earthweal, where we contemplate the state of the world, mutating covid, and summon up some hope to ring a solstice bell. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Being Changed


It is a dark, stormy Friday,
and people are dying everywhere.
But, also, people are living,
as best we can in a pandemic,
heading towards our solitary Christmases,
trying to hold out hope
for a better new year.

Winter, Wild Woman says,
is a time of gestation,
from which we hopefully will
emerge transformed.

Wait! Wild Woman spoke
in the middle of her long nap?

*This poem has come across vast distances,
has swum the sea, has hopped a plane,
to find you.

Let my poem be a prayer,
a song of hope.

Great forces are at work.
The Ancestors are near,
concerned, and whispering
words of encouragement.

**Our job is not to change the world,
the wise man says -
our job is
(to be) changed.

*    Italicized line by Edward Hirscht

**  Italicized lines from "Occupation" by Robert Brighurst - I changed the bracketed words.

Inspired by Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. Sharing with the good folk at earthweal.

Sunday, December 13, 2020



image from Sharkwater Extinction

The visionary swims through a world of blue,
awakened dreamer, with eyes that see,
champion of the deep sea creatures:
a ballet au deux, in the depths of the sea.

He aches for the creatures he loves so much:
fins sliced off, live bodies
thrown back in the water
to die excruciating deaths,
because humankind has lost its way
not realizing even now there is
a price to pay.

"I know how I will die," he said,
but he didn't know it would be so soon.
He died where he was most at home,
surrounded by the beauties he loved,
so he was not alone.

I watch him swim with these gentle beauties,
see the film he took of those dying in the nets,
their faces showing  agony
that hurts my heart,
because everything needs to change,
and we haven't even made a start.

Young dreamer, you gave your life
for the swimmers in the secret sea,
and because of you, we can only hope,
one day they will swim free.

for my prompt at earthweal: Sharkwater Extinction, about Canadian diver and filmmaker Rob Stewart, who died filming the sharks facing extinction because humans like shark fin soup. Sigh. Fishermen capture them in driftnets (along with many other creatures, all of them doomed to expire), slice off their fins and toss them back into the sea to die. How did we become so barbarous, so wasteful, so disrespectful of life? She asks foolishly.

Saturday, December 12, 2020


Raven travelled the Sky Highway
to bring Wild Woman a gift.

"Here is a shiny key," she croaked
in her gravelly voice.
"Though I love its shine,
I have been told it is not mine."

"What doorway will it fit?"
I asked, rather afraid of the answer.

"The door of your heart," she replied,
"which you must keep open,
if you are to do any good at all.
Scatter the news that all is far from lost.
Grab a fistful of hope; creative forces
are swirling in the cosmos.
They are coming to help you."

"That is good news, kind Raven,"
I answered,
offering her crumbled biscuit
on my open hand.
She flew swift away,
bread in her beak, and happy.

A gift for a gift.

An oldie, shared with the good folk at earthweal's open link. May your weekend hold gifts, too.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Waiting for the Light


The dark creeps in early these rainy afternoons.
A squirrel scampers across the yard
hoping to find a secret nut,
to hide for his Christmas dinner.
What is sleeping now,
waiting through winter darkness
to emerge in spring?

I sow dreams of social and planetary justice;
may they take root in human hearts,
and flourish there. May hope come again
into the minds of humankind.

The animals burrow deep
in wet, cold earth,
hiding from rain, and us,
sleeping through the hungry months
of winter.
We pace our solitary rooms,
light candles, listen to tunes
of peace and goodwill,
songs of spirits rising,
songs of  forging
a future for all earth's children
and all creatures, great and small.*

Our hearts are resting, too,
like sleepy bears,
watching for light to reach
our dark, dank caves.
I have to believe we will emerge
from our long winter
our spirits fortified for the work ahead:
healing the many ills,
(both physical and societal,
oppressive and imposed),
mending the wounds of racism
and inequity, replacing toxic rhetoric
with words of respect and dignity,
binding Mother Earth's wounds
with loving compassion.

Before I leave, this is what
I want you to know:
Life is defined by what we let in,**
not by all that we
let go.

I turn my face to the east,
watch for that light
to climb the sky and usher in
a more enlightened
and transforming spring.

for earthweal, where the topic is Advent. The italicized lines are from:
*a book series by James Herriott and
** from a Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner exercise.

Friday, December 4, 2020


Like an old tree,
I survived storm and drought,
the clipping and bending
and breaking
of my boughs.
I learned to stand steady
as winds of change
howled through my limbs;
thrust my roots down deep,
braced myself against
the slipping sands
under my feet.

Like an old tree,
I have endured,
weary of my labours,
branches drooping,
bark chipped and pocked,
the foreboding 
of an early frost
nipping at my toes.

I send messages
of encouragement
to young sprouts
popping up,
jostling me,
their growth encroaching
on my space,
as has been the grand design
through all of time.

They will carry my legacy,
my teachings, my dreams,
into tomorrow,
replacing my songs
with their own,
spreading their arms wide,
expanding in the sun,
all the while 
is bending me
into the earth.

An oldie from 2018 to be shared with earthweal's open link #47. Wow! Soon we will be one year old! And what a year it has been.   When I wrote this poem, the prompt was: what do I think of myself? I think: I am a tired old tree. I think: I have risen above my raising, yet been less than what I might have been. We do our best. It is all we can do. Today I walked a wild beach. The waves were breathtaking. I am bemused by the wonder of being back here - this place I missed every day of the seventeen years I was away. Gifts.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Red Fox


facebook image
no copyright infringement intended

She said if a red fox had crossed somewhere,
that area was safe.
Safe for whom? Not foxes. Not wolves.
Not trees, all shivering in fear
of the Mighty Two-Leggeds.

They say only the south wind
flattens the grass,
yet I found a circle of bent-over yellow fronds
in the field, where a soft-eyed doe
and her fawn bedded down last night.
So sweet.

There is a story of when the ice detached
and the people floated away,
a polar bear's dream, as she swims,
in desperate hunger, increasing distances
in seas that once were solid underfoot.

We are teachers to our grandchildren,
and what are we teaching them now?
That everything is a resource, put here
just for us? That time is money;
that money rules? But "the spirit liberates,"
my stubborn optimism insists,
refusing to let go of a more just
and sustainable world, 
(which can be ours, if we choose,)
willing it to come into the
consciousness and determination
of seven billion people and the leaders
who lead us - whether over a cliff, or,
at the very lip of disaster, who will
turn it around, legislate the tough changes,
so we can all start the hard work of healing
the sorrowing land.

for Sarah's cool prompt at dVerse: Travels in the Wild, a prompt I could not ignore. The italicized lines are taken from an essay about Alaska in the book Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie. 

Monday, November 30, 2020



I scuff past limp leaves
of brown and red and gold:
a glorious profusion
hugging the base of a stately maple,
aware that under the soggy blanket
sleeping larvae hide,
sharing protection, shelter, food,
with moth pupae, insects, 
toads and salamanders.

From this humble shelter,
I envision, come April,
as the sun warms and beckons,
the lifting of a hundred wings
out of the crumbled leaf-litter,
a fluttering bouquet of butterflies, 
arising joyously
to brighten all 
our springtime days.

I am always blown away by the workings of Mother Nature, how everything works together to make the whole. What an amazing design, each being interlinked with every other. It's brilliant. 

for my prompt at earthweal, where we are contemplating how wolves change rivers, how salmon impact forests and how each species is part of, and affects, the whole: what happens to one, happens to us all.

Friday, November 27, 2020


Tonquin Guardian
by Christine Lowther

Forests are peopled with trees.
From babies to wise old
Grandfather Cedar,
all are in a state of either
Becoming or Enduring.
Much like us.

Listen to the song of this old tree,
and he will teach you
how to live.

He will whisper to you
of roots and tree-tops,
earth and sky,
and of your inter-connectedness
to All That Is.
He will tell you the secret
of how to live with
the natural world,
with respect, nurturing life,
doing no harm.
Like a tree.

When the West Wind croons
through his branches
and the riversong joins in,
listen to their song, and remember:
We are water.
    We are air.
        We are trees.

Monday, November 23, 2020


Wickaninnish in blue

If you knew this was your last day,
or week, or month,
how would you spend it?
What would you tell people?
Would you pick up the phone more often,
speak words of love and appreciation?

Would you sit at the shore for hours,
watching the forever waves
endlessly advancing and retreating,
until, behind your eyelids,
they were engraved forever
on your heart?

Here’s how it is:
we have this moment, now.
No more are promised.
The ferryman will come.
We knew this when we bought the ticket.
He will glide beside the dock,
and nod: we will step in.
It will be too late then
to change what might have been.

Here’s what I really want you to know:
I carry it all in my heart: summer days
under my grandma’s weeping willow,
teardrops and song under a teenage moon,
young motherhood, with all the struggle,
and the laughter, all those leggy children
laughing in the sun; I carry it all,
the coming home to myself,
my great leap to the sea,
the big black wolf who taught me
all that love could be.

I carry it all with me: the gifts,
the gratitude, the sorrow,
(for the recipe, my friends,
has always included sorrow.)
It has been more than I ever dreamed,
if not all that it could be.
My heart is full to the brim
with gratitude and wonder,
should I depart Tomorrow.

for Brendan at earthweal where we are giving thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in the US. Stay safe everyone!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Fake News

Image by Justin Dingwall
click HERE for his website.

You can take a sheep to the table,
but you can't make her eat.
She will, or won't; her choice.

You can present all the facts, the science,
the realities, but the delusional prefer
their own versions; the fake news
they speak of, they don't realize,
is everything they believe.

Once I watched a wolf-dog
make a graceful leap
from floor to the middle of
a family dinner table,
in a single arc, not spilling
a single thing.
He looked around
at our astonished faces.
"What? I just wanted to see
what's for supper."

I am watching the dismembering
- the dishonouring, the unpatriotic discrediting -
of everything I once believed;
watching those fanatics who would rather
believe lies than believe in their own
democracy. I am waiting,
with sheep-like and placid patience, 
for January, in hopes a certain voice
will fade from the airwaves,
so reasoned discourse can
begin again.

What's up is down;
what was sense is nonsense.
It is as astonishing to me
as a wolf-dog
in the middle of the dinner table,
who suddenly learns
to speak.

Well. I waited for the election. I am now waiting for January with the same indrawn breath. One reporter hoped that after January 20, a certain voice would not be covered on the news. God, that would be awesome. Just to not have that voice in my head, like an earworm, tunneling into my brain relentlessly, like the worst abusive relationship I ever survived. I did get a kick out of Rudy Guliani literally melting on-screen the other night, ranting about the conspiracy we are all in on.........I have never before witnessed mass hypnosis, or mass mental imbalance. It is ASTONISHING to me that so many Repubs in Congress stay silent. Where is their patriotism now? Where is their pledge to uphold democracy? What about their vow to serve the people (who are dying while the commander in chief plays GOLF?) How can one man abscond with the reason of so many people, so their eyes take on an absentee, fevered glow and they reject facts and cling to fanaticism? I will never understand it.

Thursday, November 19, 2020



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 wildfires are burning
and a virus stalks our days
as the naysayers bray
"It's a hoax!"
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 our planetary plight

Shared with the fine folk at earthweal, on our 45th open link weekend. How time flies!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020



Winter storm
power out all day
trees fallen across the highway
and dervish-dancing
outside my window
little to do but read about dog rescue
(and the millions for whom
rescue does not come)
and break my heart.

I walk up the hill, walk down,
peek at the ocean, calmer now
that the storm has passed.
Then home, up the too-steep stairs,
down the dark hallway,
into rooms un-alive
when not plugged in
to the outside world.

I light four fat storm candles
for comfort
for company
for pleasure
for light,
pour a glass of wine
and watch birds at the feeder.
The small, shy birds take turns,
respectfully. The fattest stellar jay
intimidates the others,
takes more than his share,
flaps his wings and puffs his chest
and chatters.
(I am trying not to think
"Democrats and Republicans" here.)

Today I am reading a book
about dog rescue
by a woman who fosters dogs.
She wonders why the wave
of dogs never stops.
Her book tour took her through 
the shelters of the American south,
breaking her heart and mine,
the endless suffering of abandoned
and mistreated dogs. Their sad
and seeking eyes.

One shelter, run by a woman of vision,
worked well, gained community
and government support,
proving it can be done.
The author, inspired, thought
"If people knew, they'd care.
A shift would occur in how
we care for animals."

Take care of the ones put on your path,
Wise Woman says.

I call my poet-activist friend:
"It's good we do what we do," I say.
"We use our platform.
People would rather not know;
they try not to know. It's too distressing.
But once they know,
they can't not-know.
And once they do, surely
they will care that all these dogs
are needlessly dying."

We need a paradigm shift
in how we care for animals.

I read somewhere that poets
provide a moral compass,
tackle the hard subjects,
point the way to true north.
People read our words and say
"I've never thought of this before."

We do what we can;
it is never enough,
but it is something.
Who knows who reads our words
and walks away
with hearts
forever changed?

Deep thoughts on a stormy afternoon.

Monday, November 16, 2020

meditation on green


facebook image
no copyright infringement intended

the color of life, of growth,
tall, spindly pine
draped in old man's beard
a thousand fern fronds
under whose umbrella
twin blooms
small as a baby's tears
peek pertly
jagged stump
covered in soft thick moss
framed by tall cedars
among whose lofty branches
songbirds flit
their trill echoing
across the sleepy forest
winding trails
through the silence
paths springy, living
where we walk
heads thrown back
- alive!-
one with the ferns the fronds the trees
their height that teaches us to strive
the sky
a compass for
all our flighty dreams
clouds drifting by
one breath two breaths
leafy breath
and human sigh
ringing through
the silent canopy
piercing me through
with each piercing
I'm made new
forest floor alive
under our
live feet
step so lightly
don't crush the mosses!
fairies drinking dewdrops
from the white bell-shaped blossoms
frogs in the skunk cabbage
yellow jonquils
line the deadened pond
the forest holds its breath
and waits
it waits
'til we are gone

For earthweal where Brendan wants us to Keep It Green!



The way a hummingbird feels,
weightless, still, suspended,
when you rescue it from the windowsill, then
set it free on the balcony : it darts off in relief,
having thought, for brief moments, that all was lost.

The way, in the midst of hateful rhetoric
and marches of protest, an African American rescues
a white policeman who is being beaten,
because our hearts are all human; 
under our perceived differences,
there is no "other". Only "us."

The way this virus is showing us
our humanity, our intense vulnerability,
the transcience of life, the dearness of
those we love. And it is showing us
the heroism of front line workers, especially
health care workers, putting their lives
on the line to save ours. The best way we can help
is to wear a mask and stay home.

The way that, even when my head aches from
the load I am carrying, I can look down
through the forest, watch the curled lip
of a winter wave breaking in storm,
and feel restored.

The way the stellar jay on my balcony
learned to yodel, to tell me when
I need to put out more food. How he once
flew through my open door into my kitchen,
turned around and flew back out,
checking out my birdcage, while he
flies the whole wide world.

The way a dog's heart is incapable of deceit,
and how he will be loyal to even the sternest master,
a devotion many do not deserve,
a fact which breaks my heart.

The way the world stands on the lip
of the apocalypse. Which path
will we choose? Healing, restoration,
working together, taking the strong steps
we need to take? Or continued division
and lunacy: facing climate collapse and 
a rampant virus, wasting energy on hatred
that needs to be spent on saving our own lives.
If there is a future generation, imagine
how astonished they will be at 
the way we are living now - hating 
our fellow citizens, burying the American dream,
following a madman like lemmings
over the cliff of denial.

They say, if you climb the
Empire State Building after dark,
during the time of bird migrations
along the eastern seaboard,
first you will catch your breath
at the beautiful lights. Then,
once your eyes adjust,
you will see birds, small and large,
fly past, making their way south.
Some will be caught in the lights and 
will lose their migratory path,
circling in distress, losing energy.
Knowing this, certain buildings turn off
all the lights at intervals,
so birds can find their way.
If we are capable of this much thoughtfulness,
why not extend it to all
our fellow beings?

The life cycle of the smallest bird,
the great humpbacks, the tiny bee,
are magical mysteries that lift the heart,
worth more than all the money
being made on Wall Street.
Oh, the beautiful wonder of it all!

*inspired by the poem "Nine Surprising Things Worth More Than This Shimmering Metal" by Hannah Morgan. For Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Conversation Between a Climate Crisis Denier and an Environmentalist

"I spare myself the news,"
she says comfortably.
"I don't need to know;
I like my inner peace."

It must be nice to be
a climate-change denier,
a group in which you must remain
oblivious to belong.
But we poets are the canaries
in the cage. Our job is
to sing the planet's song.

"What's the use of stressing?
It won't do any good.
Nothing's going to change,
even if it could."

But I am too aware of social
and environmental woes.
Can't turn my eyes away, impossible
to un-know all I know.

"It's all fake news, anyway.
They feed us lies. It's all a hoax."
(It's plain impossible
to educate some folks.)

The sad truth: when the cataclysm comes,
it will swallow believers and unbelievers
just the same. (Like the virus,
you believed only after it came.)

Even if it feels like
emptying the ocean with a spoon,
even if our worst nightmare
arrives too soon,
in the meantime, I'll
do everything I can
to help Mother Earth fulfil
her life-affirming plan.

for earthweal, where Jim wants us to write in the voice of a climate crisis denier. I found it impossible to do the whole poem that way. Had enough trouble, even so. Smiles.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

I'm in a Mood About America


Photograph by Bryan R. Smith FP/Getty Images

I'm in a mood about America today.
On Sunday, with such relief and joy,
we hoped sanity had returned,
and Democracy prevailed.
We let out our breath, that we had been
holding for so long without knowing it.
We cried; we cheered; we dared to dream

On Monday, on Tuesday, trump refuses
to concede; launches litigation; behaves
as he always has and always will,
an autocratic toddler living in his bubble
of denial - unreality played out by
a reality star, but on a world stage
tilting and toppling as he flails about,
while citizens sicken and die.

I'm in a mood about America today.
Where are the consciences of his
obsequious enablers?
Where has legality and the Constitution,
lawfulness and tradition, heritage and
Democracy gone, when one 
deranged and toxic person
can hold a planet hostage and no one
is brave enough to tell him
it's all over, his mad sad game
is done?

I have PTSD from watching the news.
Like an abusive relationship, the madness
has gone on too long.
I need for it to end.
I need to not hear that voice 
creating stress in my head.
I want to remember what it was
to be amazing.
I want to remember what it was
to simply live, without fearing
that the world is ending.

The President-elect speaks
in his calm, reassuring voice; he smiles.
All will be well, he says;
the process will play out.
He is more concerned that
the current president
is trying to remove health care
from 20 million souls
in the middle of a pandemic.
(And still the trumpian psychophants
smirk and grovel.)

In January when, in spite of everything,
a new President takes the oath of office,
when sane minds rule and diplomatic,
inclusive language returns
to the airwaves, when the orange toddler
has toddled away, with his grinning cohorts,
we will welcome back the America
we have always known - with its
great-hearted people, its shining dream
of peace and a unity we must now
all work to build. We will remember
what it is to feel amazing
- to spend a normal day -
once again.

We will reach out our hands in friendship,
invite the "other" (who is just another us) in,
we'll say "thank you", say "I'm sorry"
and - together - we'll begin

for Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. Inspired by the poem "Say Thank You, Say I'm Sorry" by Jericho Brown. The italicized words are his.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

In Washington Square, people are singing Beatles songs. In my heart, I'm dancing


Image Source

Let's gather some embers
from the communal fire
of hope,
take them home
to light our own
hearth fires,
spread the warmth.

Let's keep the candle
of kindness,
of empathy,
of revived energy,
burning in our hearts
through the
challenging days 

I am so relieved. As is much of the world. I am so happy for my neighbours to the south. I have deep respect for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They have a big job to do. I have confidence in them. Grumpypants will likely not take part in the transition, ungracious as he is. I won't miss him.

How cool, on the news in Washington Square, people are singing Beatles songs. First time I have felt this happy and hopeful since November 2015.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Wild Woman Needs Her Hair


The world holds its breath
as the votes are counted and re-counted.
The orange man blusters, as expected,
because this is about his ego,
not the American people, 
(it never was about
anything but him)
and "I don't like losing" -
the only honest thing
I have ever heard him say.

For a moment, I saw him 
as a hurting human being.

But flawed humans only know
how to act as they always have,
so: lawsuits, unfounded challenges,
sowing seeds of mistrust
in the democratic process,
the bedrock of American democracy.

There has never been
such a stressful or contentious election
(even when, last time, Russian interference
"won" the election
over the will of the people).

But the American people came through.
They voted for decency.
For democracy.
For social and environmental justice.

The stress has been killing me.
My hair is falling out,
and, God knows,  Wild Woman
needs her hair.

I obsessively watch the news.
I walk on the beach.
I pace.
I try to trust that goodness
will prevail.
(He has dampened the hopefulness
of my heart; perhaps
my greatest grievance.)

In the streets of some cities
in the USA, people are dancing.
My heart will dance, too.
It will hope again,
once the anouncement is made,
when it is official: we have been
delivered, and civil, reasonable voices
will soon return to the airwaves again.
When someone who knows
government is there to serve
leads us again.

Meanwhile, my scalp shows through.
My wits, such as they are,
are at their end.

It is possible that this "presidency"
has been killing me, lover of
social and environmental justice
that I am. It is possible,
however, resilient as I am,
that my heart and hope will Rise Again.

January, 2021 : we have a date!
I promise you,
there will be dancing!

sigh. for earthweal. I am sure you are all feeling as battered as I am. This is excruciating, but expected, given who we are dealing with. Let's put a cone of safety around Joe and Kamala. Seriously. I simply cannot take much more.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

This Is What Life Does

This is what life does:
it brings us, over and over again,
to the same place.

Election night, 2008: such joy,
tears of relief and hope
as the Obama family,
so beautiful, with such grace,
walked out onto the stage.
Class act. Hope for the masses.

Election night: 2016.
In deep discouragement,
I turn off the tv,
and go to bed, scarcely believing
in the choice America has made,
waking next morning to
my worst redneck nightmare.
Even so, I never dreamed
how bad it would get,
how far from democracy,
how near to autocracy and fascism,
we would travel.

Those four years changed me,
changed us all, revealing
a country's soul split in two.
I walked farther away from hope
than I have ever been,
and then turned back.

Now here I am again: there never was
a more important election,
a more consequential choice to make.

The numbers are close and for two days
they do not budge, as the weary vote-counters
thumb through the piles,
the orange man bleets and blusters,
and we all hold our breath,
all around the world,
to see what our next four years will be like.

I only know I can't take four more years
of what we've lived through.
Neither can the planet.

"Move into the magic and the beauty,"
my writing coach encourages.
The magic: if I could look at the screen 
and have the blue numbers say 270.
The beauty: this morning's walk 
on the beach; the eternal waves
rolling in, rolling out, endlessly breaking
in white foam on the sandy shore.

This is what life does. It brings you
to the same sorrows, says
here you are again.

It also brings you back
to magic and joy,
to lift your heart
and enliven your feet
along the winding path.

Inspired by "The Return" by Ruth L. Schwartz, and Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. "Move into the magic" is from Laurie; the italicized lines are Ruth L. Schwartz's.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020


When the news is bad,
and the world seems to have gone mad,
I wish there was a forest trail
I could run away on,
leading to a small wooden cabin
in a peaceful glen,
where there would be no more
news reports, no more divisive rhetoric,
only the song of the wind
rustling through the trees.

In that place, morning would wake me
with birdsong,  a smiling sun
rising behind the mountains.

Deer would amble softly past my window;
small rabbits would dart about,
stopping to nibble grass,
scratching their ears with their furry back feet.

In that place, my soul would open
like a trusting flower,
expanding to meet the vastness of the sky,
a blue bowl overhead bringing nothing
but day after peaceful day
to we creatures of the forest.

In that place, my heart would
begin to heal from the helplessness
of watching human beings stray
so far from the way our ancestors lived
on the living land. I hear their mournful voices
in the wind; raindrops are their tears of sorrow
falling to earth.

We are living in a mad, mad world,
breath held, fingernails bitten down
to the quick, hoping for good things,
for kind words, for an end to division,
for peaceful hearts for all.

Meanwhile, the sky overhead watches serenely;
the Bigger World continues on its path.
We make our way from one day to another
with no shortage of hope, clinging to
the memory of a shining dream
we once held so dear.

Our passports to Tomorrow
are our green hearts,
our love for Mother Earth,
our refusal to watch her die.

I am readying my peace globe as I monitor CNN during the election of the President of the USA.  As always, nature is the balm for my anxious heart. My love for Mother Earth keeps me working to help her survive. This much I know is true: there can be no peace without social justice. We are farther from social justice than we have been for fifty years. How to keep hope alive? We must keep our hearts open, and hold onto the vision of how this world was meant to be.

Blogging with Mimi Lenox and the peace bloggers. What a decade we peace bloggers have lived. Good luck to us all. God bless us, every one. Smiles.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

A Forest Trail to Run Away On


youtube image

When the news is bad,
and the world seems to have gone mad,
I wish there was a forest trail
I could run away on,
leading to a small wooden cabin
in a peaceful glen,
where there would be no more
news reports, no more hateful rhetoric,
only the song of the wind
rustling through the trees.

In that place, morning would wake me
with birdsong, and a smiling sun
rising behind the mountains.

Deer would amble softly past my window;
small rabbits would dart about,
stopping to nibble grass,
scratching their ears with their furry back feet.

In that place, my soul would open
like a trusting flower,
expanding to meet the vastness of the sky,
a blue bowl overhead bringing nothing
but day after peaceful day
to we creatures of the forest.

In that place, my heart would
begin to heal from the helplessness
of watching human beings stray
so far from the way our ancestors lived
on the living land. I hear their mournful voices
in the wind; raindrops their tears of sorrow
falling to earth.

Meanwhile, the Mad King rules
with complete disassociation from our reality,
sipping from his golden goblet of denial,
living in his own mad world,
while we live in the one his words
have divided and imperiled.

Meanwhile, the sky overhead watches serenely;
the Bigger World continues on its path.
We make our way from one day to another
with a shortage of hope, yet the memory
of a shining dream we once held dear.

Our passports to Tomorrow
our green hearts,
our love for the Mother,
our refusal to watch her die.

for earthweal, where we contemplate having a green heart in a mad world, a state of being I live every hour of every day.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Begin Again



The world as we knew it
has become unrecognizable,
when trucks with trump flags
try to run the Biden bus
off the road and trump,
with fatherly affection,
muses "what a group!"
So pleased.

Armed men stand outside polling booths
intimidating those trying to exercise 
their basic right to vote.
"Freedom", but only for the right,
not the rest of us.

We could not, with our normal minds,
begin to make up how bizarre and fascist
America has become
under the flourishing
(and presidential encouraging)
of the racist right.

The vault of darkness and hatred
has been opened wide; how will
we get the evil genies 
back into their bottle?

But something will be born from this.
I believe in the American people,
the vast majority of whom do not accept
the current reality. 

I will not forget a single step
of this journey,
as, one foot after the other,
I walked farther away from hope and peace
than I have ever been, and then
turned back. My sense of justice
won't allow me to surrender
to all that is so wrong.

Meanwhile, I lift my eyes to the blue sky,
to the bigger world that exists
beyond the touch of human lunacy,
a world that will outlast us,
whether we awaken and rise up,
or succumb to environmental collapse
and allow the earth mother to
take a deep breath and simply
Begin Again.

Inspired by "Setting Forth" by Mary Oliver and Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. The italicized line is hers. Hard to find the words these days. I am holding my breath till the election, with my last shred of hope, appalled as vans draped in trump flags tried to run Biden's bus off the road. Whatever the results, we are in for some tough times,  given the unleashed and emboldened racist right. trump, so pleased with his supporters. Putin must be well satisfied at what a good job trump is doing of destroying the country from within - and all trump's enablers are just as guilty. Good luck on the 3rd - to all of us.

At earthweal Brendan is exploring what it feels like to have a green mind in mad times. I live that reality every single day. But I do believe in the American people, most of whom know North America can be so much better than this - because it has been, and can be again, once we get past this unending shit-show.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020



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 earthweal, where we are contemplating Samhain,  the time when the veil between the earth and the spirit world grows thin.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020



After an oil spill, the mist above the inlet
is filled with the spirits of all of the animals
who have died in the spill.

Orca-, eagle-, heron-spirits,
hover over the ocean. They rest in trees
along the shore.

They carry a message for the people
of the earth: Wake up. Wake up to
Mother Earth's cries.
Heal her wounds.

After the wildfires,
the smoldering, parched earth
releases the spirits of all the animals
immolated in the flames.

They remain near the black, dead land,
near the horses' bones, the smoldering hooves,
near the deer, and rabbits, and wolves,
near the lives they loved and lost.

They carry a message for the people
of the earth: Wake up. Wake up to
Mother Earth's cries.
Heal her wounds.

After flood waters recede,
and all of the bodies of drowned creatures
are bagged and carried away,
the spirits of that place
sit vigil near the watery graves,
praying we humans will awaken
to our mandate: to restore
Mother Earth to wholeness.

They carry a message for the people
of the earth: Wake up. Wake up to
Mother Earth's  cries, her distress.
Awaken to all you can be,
all you can do,
to heal the Earth Mother,
the only home
of All Our Relations.

The idea for this poem came from reading Into Great Silence : A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas by Eva Saulitis. Eva spent twenty years among the orcas of Prince William Sound, both before and after the oil spill. The animals she grew to know like her family are now vanishing due to the after-effects of the oil spill, the intrusion of human development into their wild habitat, and the warming seas of climate change.

shared with earthweal where this week we are contemplating spirits. I think the spirits of the wild must hover around the scenes of devastation, in mourning. I hate to contemplate their terror, fleeing flames and floods, and enduring famine.


At midnight, under a full silver moon,
you can hear hoofbeats galloping
along the colonnade -
the wild ride of horses
who never arrive.

Their riders are now denizens
of the underworld,
seething with frustration,
brooding at how their lives were
so foolishly cut short
by a night of revelry,
that saw their wagon tipped
returning home
along that row of black poplars.

If you are faint of heart,
best not to venture
along that ghostly lane
when the moon is full.
Those who brave the dark
to hear the hoofbeats,
never do so again.

Ha, in Kelowna, there is a long driveway off Guisachan Road lined with tall poplars, leading to a small house. Near midnight, one night long ago, the daughter of the house heard hoofbeats galloping along the drive, but the expected horse and buggy did not arrive. The father and son, returning home after a night of drinking, had tipped their wagon and been killed. The local lore was if you went there at midnight of the full moon, you could hear the hoofbeats. Two local teens, when I lived there, decided this was hogwash, and parked there. Sure enough, they heard the hoofbeats and couldn't get out of there fast enough. They were so scared. I took poetic license with the closing, to make it even more ominous. Smiles.

As I am Irish, there are many ghost stories in our family history. I lived in a haunted building with a ghost who made her presence known for the year that we co-habited. We would hear footsteps overhead, go upstairs and no one was there. But once I felt her right behind me and a cold chill went up my spine.

for earthweal, where we are celebrating a week of the spirits and Samhain:  A Hallowed Moondance