Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Red Shoes

I know there is a thing about women and shoes,
but I seem to be missing the gene.
So when I talk about footwear, it has to be
about non-shoes.

What I wear: Crocs, for slipping on and off
when I walk a dog, or calf-high Muck Boots
for going out to the barn to muck a stall
or give the horses carrots.

I own one pair of runners at a time,
wide, like a flat-bottomed boat,
which slip and slide.
I replace them every several years
when the soles have worn off.

My daughter did not get her sense 
of style from me. She wears:
combat boots for Kicking Serious Ass,
strappy silver Mary Janes, for when she's Feelin' It,
platform heels to fitness shoes,
and all that lies between.

When we go out, beside her tall, beautiful elegance,
I feel like the frizzy-haired Witch Down the Lane.
I cackle a little louder at such times:
sheer bravado.

Yesterday I met an old hippy over in Coombs.
With twinkling eyes, we recognized each other;
(it must have been our long and frizzy hair.)
He told me he was in Haight-Ashbury Back In the Day,
that he wore thigh-high leather boots
in which he promenaded.

Back in the day, I lived one block down
from the gorgeous hippies on Fourth Avenue,
existing in a parallel polyester lifestyle,
pushing a buggy full of babies,
inside the straitjacket of a conventional marriage
in which I didn't fit,
not one little bit.
I had just missed that Freedom Bus
by fifty seconds.

My big unweildy free spirit
kept bumping up against its confines
till the madwoman finally escaped from her prison
and was no longer mad.

Then I pushed my buggy of giggling babies
down the hill, hippety-hopping,
laughing and leaping,
heading us all to
a happier life.

My spirit never tried
to stuff itself back into
that little box again.

The only red shoes that ever spoke to me
were Dorothy's, on that journey she made
away from and back to herself,
finding the power she had always had inside her.

I have worn the soles off a lot of running shoes
this lifetime, walking through some of
the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
All I ever needed was a pair that fit me,
that would carry me into the wilderness I love.

How many pairs do I have left?
There's no way to tell. But one thing I know:
when music from those years calls to my spirit,
I can still kick them off, and dance a lick or two
across my empty room.

for Sarah at dVerse: Seeing Red

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Song We Are Meant to Sing

Raven by Pennybright Studios

Today, as an unfamiliar world
- difficult, astonishing, unbelievable, frightening -
unfolded itself outside my window,
I heard a crow make a warble
I have never before heard
from a bird.

I wondered what new kind of crow
she was striving to be, what new song
she was trying out,
what its message might be.

Perhaps she is imploring us to stop repeating
the same old tired droning familiar song,
to have the strength to try out one
so new and unthinkable
it gives us massive fear and goosebumps.

Then we will know it is exactly
the song we are meant to sing.

Sing out, my friends.
It is a time for new songs,
new ways of being on the planet
and with each other.
Time to sing forth
a better day.

for my prompt at earthweal.  Trying to hold out hope for the other side of this disaster. But there is much suffering between here and there, for everyone, everywhere.

I Send You a Song

Your song heard round the world
lifts my heart; music,
the language of love, of connection,
of our shared humanity and hope.

No matter the times we live through,
the mellow notes of the strings
lift the weight of our cares,
the way the musician's shoulders lift
as he grooves, in joy,
and strums his fine guitar.

People stood on terraces in Italy,
and sang, before the numbers of
the dead began to rise.
A girl in Vancouver's West End belts
the national anthem on her balcony
in gratitude.
Outside hospitals, long lines of fire trucks
and police cars slowly pass, sirens and lights on,
to thank our medical heroes,
who stand at the door in tears.
I choke up at the beauty of the human heart,
which brings its best self
to meet the challenges
we are facing, now, together.

In my village, a doctor is living apart
from her children to keep them safe.
"I hope they understand," she says,
tears in her voice.

I can't give her time with her children,
can't send roses to thank her, but I can send
a prayer for her safety.
I can send her a song
to lift her tired heart, so she can
walk the halls of our small hospital

I send you one, too.

for my challenge at earthweal: Flattening the Curve, how self-isolating is affecting us, how we are responding during this time of fear and uncertainty, not knowing what comes next, but knowing we are in it together.

Friday, March 27, 2020


We are born in a whoosh of water,
gasp in our first breath, then we cry:
water, essential, from our very first day.

Through the medicine wheel, I journeyed,
dipped my toes in a magical sea,
soul thrumming with the song of the waves,
my sign, my element, my spirit's home:
Mother Ocean.

Above, the sky, the vast expanse,
curving over all -
the great blue bowl of ether.
Underfoot, the earth,
brown and humble and mothering.

I bow to you, Sky. I sing with you, Wind.
I dance in the rain, laughing,
the rush of raindrops on my face
cleansing my spirit,
washing all negative energy away.

When I am clean,
when the Great Bowl above grows dark,
I creep homeward, settle beside the fire,
remember the winking stars,
the wheeling seabirds,
the many rivers and beaches
I have loved,
all the beauty gracing
this span of time
that is still mine.

In memory,
my grandmother's long, white finger
points at the glass of water
on her bedside table
as she lies dying.
"The dying always ask for water,"
she had told me, and it is true.
Water: a single tear
rolling down her cheek
as we said goodbye.

To the earth, I bow
in gratitude, in homecoming.
It waits to receive me, in turn,
when that final moment comes,
when I will become one with
All That Is.

First, there is water.
At the end,
only earth and sky.

A poem from 2015,  for the open link at earthweal.

Thursday, March 26, 2020


they bring news of your death;
shot by a trophy hunter,
mourned by us all.

For seven years
you lived on your island.
This past winter we heard your lonely howls.
When you swam across 
and trotted down a city sidewalk,
I feared for your life,
knew your days were numbered,
hoped for the best.

You were likely looking
for a mate.
Instead, you met your end,
a bullet sent by
a hunter's gun.

My heart breaks,
and I'm not
the only one.

Photos by TJ Watts, taken two days before Takaya
was killed - the last photos of him alive.
He looks apprehensive - this is a new territory for him,
not his island home.

Takaya's last smile

For seven years Takaya lived on Discovery Island, across from Victoria. This winter, people heard him howling. He sounded lonely. In late January, he swam across, trotting down a street in James Bay. He was tranquilized and moved to a wilderness area (which was also a hunting area.) He was killed 50 miles from where they released him.

So many people loved this wolf and mourn his loss. It's the same old story: pushed out of shrinking habitat, when a wild creature comes into contact with humans, it is always the wild creature who loses.

When will we stop killing these beautiful creatures?

Monday, March 23, 2020


So tranquil, the slopes of Wah'nah'juss,
bodhisattva of my morning,
reigning peacefully over the harbour,
mist draped cozily along her shoulders.
Small boats chug back and forth
across the water.
All is peacefulness.
Villagers walk with purpose, distancing,
warily eyeing surfaces
where the virus might be lurking,
ready to fasten mortal coils
onto its next unwilling host.

There is peril. Mortality has come into focus.
At the same time, Mother Earth goes about
her business of heralding spring.
Small birds sing joyously from the hedgerows,
innocent of human cares. Owning
only feathers, they are
more fortunate, and happier,
than we.

The beach rolls its eternal waves
in to shore, and out again,
a silvery beauty, tides following the moon,
our footsteps following the shore
in cadence with its murmuring forever song.

I stood on Chestermans yesterday,
prayers of gratitude on my lips,
a thank you for the gift of these years
of living here, a second time blessed.
I imprinted the beach on my memory
before isolating myself;
it may be a while before I stand there again.

As humans retreat indoors,
spring unfurls its wonders,
perhaps never more keenly appreciated
than now.
Skies clear, waters run clean.
We lift our heavy foot from nature's neck
and she breathes more freely.
They say wild creatures are venturing out
at night. With fewer of us to fear,
they explore the newly empty places,
footsteps tentative, eyes alert,
expanding into the freedom
of more places in which to be.

All is beauty. The things we were
distraught about last year, when we had
health and freedom of movement,
seem foolish to us now.

We didn't know how lucky we were;
how quickly all could change.
The things we took for granted:
walks, gathering together,
the normalcy of day following days
that were much the same,
- not breathing in the possibility of death
when we touch our face -
all that blessed unawareness gone, for now.
I doubt we will ever revert to it again,
now we are woke. Normal life will return
with wonder and appreciation
on the other side of this:
another gift, another teaching
from the All-That-Is.

What we have now is the gift of life itself,
and gratitude for it all: the safety
of our peaceful rooms,
the community of friends, both near and far,
the ease of breathing in and out
with healthy lungs -
perhaps never more keenly felt
than in these days when our mortality
has never felt more frail.

and wonder for it all.

for Brendan at earthweal: Silver Linings.

It is ALL silver linings now, as we count the blessings we took for granted a month ago. If we have a roof over our head and food, we are better off facing this virus than billions of people the world over. We humans learn our lessons the hard way every time.

Bye Bye Miss American Pie

A long time ago,
when the world was young,
our dreams were as sweet
as all the songs ever sung.
By a virus’s petard
we’re now hung,
and everything
has come unstrung.
We’re all hiding, scared, inside,
and it feels like
 the music died.

“Bye Bye Miss American Pie”.
Our dreams are all busted.
They were high as the sky.
Now we’re kaput;
we are left high and dry.
Will this “be the day that I die?”
Will this “be the day that I die.”

The orange king sat like a horny toad.
“The best virus ever! I’ll be great!” he crowed.
His minions hooded their eyes
at the smirk he bestowed.
We're screwed, my friends.
They're all talking in code.
Stay safe. Let's all try not to die.

Now I don’t know where this song will go,
but I fear it is places we do not yet know.
“Bye, Bye Miss American Pie."
Our dreams are all busted.
They were high as the sky
till “the day the music died.”

When I looked at the image, this song popped into my head. This isn't the poem I would like to have written about it. But it's a beginning.

For Carrie at The Sunday Muse's 100th post! Yay!

Sunday, March 22, 2020


We womyn of the moontime,
following in the footsteps of
the shamanic dreamers of the past,
hearts attuned to the sound of the drum,
and the voice of the Watcher within,
know that, in every sister's herstory,
is an old wise woman with wrinkled cheeks,
a cackling laugh, and earth-based knowledge
of how to Be, of how to be

In this grey-cloaked winter of the dream-time,
we must remember to water
our parched womanly roots,
hold fast to the place in the earth that is ours,
as the winds whip our branches,
and the cold seeps at the edges of our being.
There be danger in this domain,
if we try to stay.

As the days slowly lengthen,
we reverberate with the rhythm of the tides,
those wild winter waves that knock our hearts
off the shelf of safekeeping,
into the depths, where we rediscover
what we forgot
that we already know.

There will come a time, just before spring,
when a woman has to step from 
the shore of the familiar
into the ocean of womynkind,
open our eyes in the space
between the old world and the new,
the darkness and the light.
There be no old maps to guide you.
You must follow in trust,
with a wild, wolfish, instinctual knowing,
from which you will emerge,
keen of eye, imbued with wisdom,
to mother the whole world.

One from 2014, when Wild Woman was afoot, and not so tired, for the open link at Earthweal.

Friday, March 20, 2020


We live in a time of not-knowing,
slowly waking to Mother Earth's lesson:
what happens to one,
happens to us all.

We are connected by the
sudden understanding
that we are each one being,
among a planet of other beings.
trying to survive.

We are not invincible,
not above all other species;
we are as prey to death and calamity
as any other.

Mother Earth shakes her head
in maternal sorrow.
Her children are slow to awaken.
We learn the hard way.
We can be arrogant and wayward.

But we are also wonderful:
Italians stand on their balconies,
come evening, and sing.
In the morning, trucks carry away
their bodies in a long line
of sorrow.

The sun comes up;
morning songbirds still sing.
Spring flowers bloom.

We so slowly wake to the lesson:
we are all connected.
What happens to one,
happens to us all.

for earthweal, where we are contemplating the pandemic

Monday, March 16, 2020


The Pupster

I don't know why I was surprised every time love started or ended. Men bumbled into me. They chose me; I didn't realize that, by not choosing, I was still making a choice. Once, only, I chose. It was true love. Our five teenagers fought us every step of the way. We didn't have enough hope or trust to weather the storm. Looking back, the truest love of all came from a big, black, noisy, hilarious wolf. He led me a merry chase, made me laugh every day, awakened the wild in me, shared my grief when we had to leave. In fourteen years, his eyes never left me. He entered the vet's office with resistance; he fought that final needle with everything he had. He didn't want to leave me. I have missed him every day of the nine years since.

144 words for Prosery at dVerse:  flash fiction of no more than 144 words including the line "I don't know why I was surprised every time love started or ended", from Jane Hirschfield's poem 
"I Wanted To Be Surprised." I didn't. I just wanted someone to be committed enough to stay!

We are Tomorrow's Ancestors

Wepna Loneagle-

Mother Earth,
you are ill
from how badly
we have treated you.

We have abused the wild,
eaten creatures not meant
to be eaten.
We have polluted your air and waters,
exploited and extracted too much
from all your systems.

You show us what
we refused to heed:
what happens to one
happens to us all.

How is it we humans
only learn the hard way
-when we are personally threatened -
that we are all connected?

Now we are as ill as you.
May we learn to find our way
to balance and restored health,
in our private homes
and, especially, in the
global home we share.

What happens to one,
happens to us all.

The corona virus is, to me, the outer manifestation of climate change and what we have done to Mother Earth. We have abused the wild, eaten creatures not meant to be eaten (I read the virus began with the eating of exotic creatures, bats and snakes from markets in China). Wild and domestic creatures have faces, hearts, emotions - they feel everything we do: love, joy, grief, loss, heartbreak, abandonment, pain, fear, terror. They smile. They cry. They want to live as much as we do.

We have extracted from the earth with no thought of replenishing, of restoring balance. We have made the earth, and ourselves ill. Perhaps the virus is Mother Earth's way of vomiting us out.

How is it that we only care when we are personally threatened? Will we learn from the virus what our ears refused to hear about the earth? That we are all connected, every creature and system?

I wish governments would rally around the climate crisis as they are around the virus - which is a symptom of the climate's poor health.

The virus will stop us in our mad rushing about (after we stand in line for four hours at Costco to buy toilet paper, that is.) Maybe, in stillness and reflection, we can regain some balance ourselves, and take steps to help Mother Earth regain hers - peace, care, concern for all creatures - in our homes, yards and communities, then spreading outward.

In old age, my many losses have taught me to not be anxious - to not cling tightly, to tether myself lightly, because everything is transitory, fleeting. Everything changes. Our only real security lies in our hearts and spirits, and in how we respond to what is happening.

This virus is an illustration of how interconnected we are across the globe.

We are tomorrow's ancestors. We sit on the lip of  a world in crisis, at a fork in the road:

fossil fuels, viruses and death
clean energy, hope, renewal and a restoration of natural balance.

Our choices, individually and globally, dictate the outcome. Let us choose well.

for Brendan at earthweal: PANDEMIC

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Black Apples and the Kiss of Awakening

She was a Black Queen,
her black velvet cloak trimmed with ermine,
her black wizened heart and gimlet eyes
brooding over a world of darkness
where she would never, not ever,
be the fairest of all.

The young innocent beauty
of the King's daughter vexed her.
Just one slice of the black apple
sent the princess into a mortal swoon.

The Black Queen instructed six ravens
to carry the girl deep into the forest
and place her on a bier of thorns,
where the girl awaited
the Kiss of Awakening.

When the Princess's eyes opened,
she was Woke.
Now a Mighty Girl, she roared
back to the castle on her Harley,
locked the Black Queen into a dank dungeon,
toppled the Orange King off his throne,
and ruled, mightily,
until her face sagged
and her eyes grew dim.

Then it was time
to polish another apple,
eat one perfect slice,
and return to a dimly remembered,
but peaceful,
Golden Slumber.

for Shay at The Sunday Muse where we contemplate black apples.

Friday, March 13, 2020

To Speak With Clouds

Mother Sky,
teach me to speak
the language of clouds.
My feet on earth,
my eyes on the sky,
my heart swooping and soaring
with Raven, 
I am adrift in the beauty
of your forever blue.

I have walked through this life
head tipped back and 
smiling at the sky,
enraptured by your puffy 
storybook clouds,
your ever-changing colours,
your huge canvas,
which inspires all our dreaming.

Teach me to speak
as gently as clouds,
so my footprint on earth
will grow ever lighter,
like Wolf, like Deer,
like Heron.

After I learn 
the soft-speak of Cloud,
may I next learn
how to speak Tree.

One from 2015, for Brendan at earthweal

Monday, March 9, 2020


Canadian Coast Guard

During the storm, in flickering candlelight,
we huddled inside,
listening to wind and rain
lash the cabin walls.

Through fogged and
streaming windows, we watched
small boats struggling
to cross the harbour,
their small lights winking
through the falling dark,
brave hulls nosing up and
 - precariously - over,
then slapping down.
We held our breath as
they disappeared into the canyons,
between waves as high as houses,
then bobbed back up
so we could breathe again.
We held them in our gaze, until one,
and then another, reached safe mooring.

We fell asleep to the howling gale,
awoke to the silence of
the power still out.

Cautiously, we crept out from our houses,
surveying the damage
with awe and respect.

Big trees were down everywhere:
across the highway, leaning on hydro lines.
One crushed the neighbour's brand new car,
another indented a peaked roof.

At the height of our last storm, a landslide
closed the road for 24 hours.
The CoOp shelves grew bare
as villagers stocked up.

Everywhere, humans scurried like ants,
clearing away and rebuilding.
The highway crew brought in
a temporary steel bridge
so essential traffic could resume.
We greeted the food trucks with cheer.

On the west coast, we never know
when the next big storm will hit.
We only know it will.

I always have a box of fat storm candles
at the ready. And a headlamp,
for reading cozily in bed.

for Brendan at earthweal: Storm

I actually enjoy a good storm, am in awe of nature's fury in her pounding waves and howling wind. But storms have grown stronger of late; they do more damage, and the flooding is more severe than in earlier years.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

How Many Times Can a Heart Break?

"Eyes Without a Face" by Digital Collage Artist Robin Isely

How many times can a heart break?
We start out small,
cry loudly when things hurt
but, all too soon,
we learn to hide our pain away.
"We'll deal with it
another day."

We stuff it down,
stay so strong.
"Resilience," we bravely say.
"Gotta keep Moving On."

Here's a tip from Wild Woman
nearing the end of life's trail:
old age softens us,
makes us frail.
This woman, once so strong,
cries over everything
A big black wolf
who loved me
taught me how.

It's true. I always had to be strong, as a single mother of four. As a child of alcoholics I learned early to numb my feelings and not express them.  When Pup died, a river of tears started leaking out. Nine years later, tears still come so easily. 

To Better Love This World

The Dog of Joy - Leaping for a Treat!

Dear Mary Oliver,
I read your poem to him
as he drove us up-Island.
He was a hello,
and so soon a goodbye.

When I got home, I read some more,
pausing when you wrote, of your parents:
"May they sleep well. May they soften."
Life is a long list of letting go's.

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

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

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

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

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

I know this. And I know that
Mother Earth hums a love song
to all her children, furry and not.

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

for Brendan at earthweal, where he inspires us with Mary Oliver's words today. I wrote this in 2018. The quoted lines are from Mary Oliver's wonderful The Leaf and the Cloud, a book-length poem about life and death.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Beautiful Boy

I opened the door to go in
and there he was:
tall, black, beautiful,
a big-eared wolf-dog
who looked just like Pup.
"Oh! what a beautiful boy you are!"
I exclaimed, patting.

As my hand went to my pocket
for a treat,
he did the Pup head-tilt,
and sat, attentive.
Treats, pats, my heart
full of love and grief.

It was hard to complete my business
with him so beautiful,
and there.
I put on a smile, and
stuffed down my tears.
It was harder still to leave him,
to open the door
and walk away.

My heart wept all the way home.
It is weeping still.

Beautiful boy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Winds of Change II

Our Walk In Remembrance of Lost Species

photos by Joanna Streetly's talented daughter Toby

We walked, people of all ages
and a dozen big goofy, happy dogs,
from the fire, across the tombolo
to Ts'ix-wat-sats,
just before sunset.

“Despair is an indulgence,”
Joanna quoted.
“Let’s set our minds towards hope.”

We walked, mindfully,
single file, and I pondered.
I have been discouraged.
What could I bring back
to the communal fire
that was about hope?

It came to me, like the silver gleam
on the shimmering sea.
The shamans say
we are at a critical moment
in the evolution of the soul
of this planet.
As awareness of climate change
increases, we begin, of necessity,
to evolve.

This is, if we will it,
a transformative moment.
The people – we, ourselves -
can make the evolutionary leap
beyond those who are fixated on money.
It is within our power – our possibility –
to move with the winds of change,
creating other ways of being
       with the earth
than the old,
tired ways 
of fossil fuels and death,
of rich billionaires, despairing others.
The soul of our planet is on the cusp
of a Great Awakening.

The bad news:
Nothing will ever be the same again.

The good news:
Nothing will ever be the same again.

Protect What You Love

For my prompt at earthweal: Beating the Drums of Change - the fresh wind blowing across Canada as First Nations beat their drums and speak truth to colonialism. I stand with them in solidarity.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Winds of Change

"When the roots are deep,
there is no reason to fear the wind."
African proverb

Can you hear it?

Whispers on the wind, sighing through
the upraised arms of Grandfather Cedar,
singing along the burbling creek,
in the ocean's reassuring roar:

Change is on the wind.
Can you feel it?

It is a knowing in your heart,
a presence, that informs:
Now is the hour.
The ancient forest knows,
and breathes its message:

The drums of change
are beating across the land.
Are you ready?

Every cell of your body already knows
that you were born for this moment in time.
Your many lifetimes hold the cellular memory
of how to live upon the land.
This is why these times are
so painful to you.

Follow the songlines of the ancestors,
etched upon your heart,
and the drumbeats of the young warriors.
They will bring you safely home.

For my prompt at Earthweal: Beating the Drums of Change

Sunday, March 1, 2020

A Shrine to Hopefulness

The tortoiseshell cat stalks her prey
without mercy; inheritance from earlier
wilder cats, their DNA
quickening her instincts,
ruffling her fur -
deposits her dead bird upon the mat
then turns tummy-up,
as sweetly as a kitten
seeking pats, and purrs.

I place the small bird in the ground,
and make a shrine to hopefulness:
sunny daffodils, a fragrant
cherry blossom branch
placed upon the mound.
Life and death together listen
for spring's first melody
to sound.

for Kerry's Skylover Word List  I used without mercy for merciless, listen,shrine, tortoiseshell, inheritance, fragrant and ground