Thursday, April 30, 2020

This Poem.......

This poem didn't start here,
and it won't end here.
It began in 1960, in my ninth grade classroom,
when the words started coming
and I couldn't stop them,
so I began to write them down.

Each acquaintance on the road to Never
whispers through the soul
that first poem said
and leaves a soft thought to remember
when Tomorrow dawns cold.

I was fourteen. Since then,
the words have accompanied me
on a long journey: through pain
and sorrow, heartbreak and healing,
under blue skies and grey,
me always looking up,
in joy, in gratitude, in love and wonder,
words skipping across the page,
at first in search of, and then finding,
better tomorrows.

The words watched me grow old.
They grew wiser. They began to look back,
to evaluate, to sum up, to see the wondrous pattern,
the many gifts, the way I have been guided
by invisible forces.

The words drew me to the sea;
they exulted up and down the shore;
they wrote odes to joy and to
a big black wolf; they mourned his loss.

They began to chart the Crone Path,
but this poem isn't ending yet.
There is still one chapter, still more beaches
to trod, still more blue skies, more looking up,
more gratitude, more wonder.
No, this poem isn't ending yet.
Not yet.

Day seven of Wild Writing: This poem starts (or doesn't start) here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

What If....?

Day 6: Wild Writing

What if a tsunami comes
and swallows the whole shelf of books
I have spent the last few years writing?
What if the books survive, after my death,
but no one reads them?

What if my poetry dies with me,
does not live on, this road map
that charted my journey
and everything I have learned?
What if no grandchild picks them up, one day,
and turns the pages, getting to know me
better than they ever did in life,
because they are reading
the words of my heart?

What if I never get to live
with a dog again?

What if this virus is with us forever,
wave after wave of peaks and valleys?
What if we can never go out again
without worrying about disinfecting everything
when we get home?

What if, this summer, temperatures climb
to unlivable levels?
What if fire season gobbles
more and more forest,
and burns the koalas and kangaroos
that survived last year's inferno?

What if we survive the virus
and the air gets so polluted again
that we choke on it, trying to breathe?
What if the polar bears and grey whales
and orcas go extinct?
What if the melting ice at the poles
tilts the earth on its axis?
What if the sun beats down beats down beats down
mercilessly because we did not change
our ways in time?

What if we keep treating animals the way we have
and the viruses keep multiplying because of it?

What if, while I was getting groceries,
the virus caught a ride on me
and is making its way into me
and the most horrifying death I can imagine?
what if, standing at the beach,
heart swelling at the beauty of the shore
on this grey misty west coast morning
- I so grateful grateful grateful to be here -
it was the last time I will ever stand there?

What if, one day, all that is left
are clearcut slopes, burned forests,
crumbling high rises, deserted cities,
a boiling sea, and skeletons
with mouths hanging open
from begging for water
with their last breath?

A cheery little poem - not - in response to the wild writing prompt What If....? You can see my mind runs on one track. Thank heavens for earthweal and a place to put it! Will share with their open link on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Weren't We Beautiful?

Day Five - Wild Writing

Weren't we beautiful, in the olden days,
six weeks ago, gathering on the beach,
laughing together at all the loopy dogs,
or stopping to chat in the aisles at the CoOp,
no masks, no exaggerated veering
round each other, like tugboats or frigates?

Weren't we beautiful
at the Friday seniors' socials,
doing Qi Gong, sharing poems,
gathered 'round tables, happy as ravens,
chortling like magpies?

Weren't we beautiful, thinking
the weeks would keep rolling out,
taking for granted they would all be the same,
that we wouldn't so suddenly be turned into hermits,
like Cinderella's pumpkin at midnight,
germ-conscious, wary, and oh, so vulnerable?

Wasn't it beautiful to pretend, back then,
that death lay up ahead, somewhere undefined,
not close, not stalking store aisles,
or lurking on doorknobs and grocery bags?

I remember an elderly woman, years ago,
mourning her husband's death:
"We'd sit on the patio every evening," she wept.
"Life was so beautiful, then."

It used to be my childhood years,
or my years as a young mom,
with that patina of gold, that shine.
Now it is mere months ago,
as we unknowingly went through
our last weeks of Normal,
innocent and unaware.

Life was so beautiful, then.

Monday, April 27, 2020

New Maps to Light the Way

The hole in the ozone has healed
in these few short weeks

What we need, I think,
is not a new map to the old world,
because the old world,
pardon my language,
is f*cked, (by us),
with injustice, corruption,
and greed-at-the-cost-of-

What we need
is a whole new map
to a whole new world.

Mother Earth will help us
- is helping us now -
healing as fast as she can,
before we all come out and
press our feet to the accelerator again.

Gaia, help us
to learn what we so need
- and so resist the imperative -
to learn.

May we set the reboot.
May we set our sights
higher than they have ever
dared to dream.
May we learn what the
original people of the earth
have known for millennia:

We are all connected.
What happens to one
happens to us all.

Mother Earth's creatures
have gone hoarse
- and I have gone half-mad -
repeating this.

We need:
new maps
new eyes
new vision
new dreams.

Dream big.
It is all possible.
But it takes every one of us
(and ALL our votes)
to get us there.

for Brendan at  Earthweal: New Map to the Old World

I am frustrated. And tired. Smiles. But hanging in. Humans are too slow to learn, even slower to act, to change. How much worse does it have to get? Stay tuned.

What Do I Want to Remember?

[Day 4 of Wild Writing, inspired by William Stafford's poem "You, Reading This Poem, Be Ready".]

What do I want to remember?*
The way the earth smells, outside my door,
every morning,
fresh, like summer days when I was a child,
beckoning me, trails and beaches softly whispering;
the quality of silence in my solitude,
peaceful, full, undisturbed,
as I turn on the computer and begin,
cup of tea to my left, and all of the words in the world
to summon, choosing the select few that describe
the life I am living today, in the time of covid:
indoors, life slowed, ordinary, familiar - safe;
outdoors, enticing radiant beauty all around,
calling me forth, yet an invisible threat
lurking everywhere.

I want to remember the jays and towhees
on my balcony, feasting; the jay with the strange yodel,
who lets me know when the sunflower seeds run out;
and the chubby raccoon, stuffing herself
with both hands, that I had to shoo away,
so the landlord doesn't know I am feeding birds.
She sat back, assessing me,
the level of threat, contemplated staying,
(the seed was so delicious!)
Sadly, wishing she could stay,
lonely, missing dogs no longer alive,
I waved my arms: "Shoo!"
and she shooed.

I want to remember long sandy beaches,
stretching to forever, the smell of the sea, beloved,
the way the beach is a different hue every visit.
I want to remember trails through old growth,
 the ancient beings breathing peace,
me drinking it in, awed, respectful,

I want to remember apple orchards and
leggy, laughing children when
the world and I were young:
flying kites on Knox Mountain,
bike rides, popcorn, poverty, laughter -
happiness and Making Do.

I want to remember
that courageous, terrifying leap
over the mountains to the sea in midlife,
responding to the call of the wild shores
that freed my spirit forevermore.
I want to remember the grief of leaving,
the long years of exile, the better to be grateful for
the gift of my return, in old age,
to walk the beloved shores
once more.

I want to remember a long life lived,
the many blessings,
the ways I was helped
and guided by invisible forces,
the gifts I was given, the gifts I gave,
the journey made, the price I paid,
the running from, the returning to,
the song of the Wild Woman
forever in my heart.
I want to remember the big, black wolf
who loped along wild shores with me,
who is waiting for me
at the end of the trail.
I can almost hear
his lonely wail.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Re-Visioning A Kinder World

As the virus makes its way
through the population
and we hide indoors,

the hole in the ozone is mending

the Himalayas are visible
for the first time in years

Los Angeles has blue skies

wild creatures are tentatively
poking around in places
they have not been seen in years

As the virus takes so many,
we become newly aware of

our mortality

our interconnectedness

We see how quickly Mother Earth can heal
when we help her

We are given these weeks of contemplation
to re-vision the kind of world
we want to live in

Time for a reboot, a rewind,
a redirect,

so when we move forward
we do so in a new way
more life-affirming and just
than the old.

for the prompt at Real Toads: Day 26: Re-Boot, Re-Wind. Re-Charge.

We live in hope we will come out of this better, but one can dream. (and elect a certain person out of a job he is unqualified to hold.)

Today When I Could Do Nothing

Wild Writing Day Three (the title is taken from Jane Hirschfield's poem)

Today when I could do nothing, I:

Sat with the news and wept with the people talking about the loss of their loved ones at the hands of a mass shooter

Watched a video of  a seventeen year old victim playing her fiddle and wept

Watched Dr Bonnie end her virus briefing with “I will spare a sigh  and a wish for thee” to her people in Nova Scotia and choked up

Felt my heart swell with pride at how nice Canadians are, and how hands reach out to help in every crisis

Today, when I could do nothing, I:

Tried to string some words together to say this is how it is for me today

Remembered that on other days, I can offer more, words that might help others, but, today, this is the best I can do

Today when I could do nothing:

I decided I cant listen to one word about trump and his misguided followers today. The mind boggling aspect of some of them standing on the steps of their state capitals with assault weapons “protesting” health guidelines, of some of their women donning the red robes and white headdresses of Atwood’s Handmaid Tale garb, of his advising ingesting bleach to cure the virus and some people doing it, would twist my brain into knots, were I to try to understand what would be funny if it were not so absolutely deadly dangerous to so many others.

I did a quick spot cleaning, not the deep cleaning that is needed, because the weight of world affairs is sapping my energy so that some days, it is enough just to be living through these times. “Must do”’s can wait.

I shooed a very cute raccoon off my balcony. She was happily scooping up birdseed with both hands, and I wished I could have let her, but I live in an apartment, am not supposed to be feeding the birds, and didn’t want to alert the landlord. I flapped my hands at her and she sat back, assessing me. Very cute but, for her sake, and the birds, (and my continued tenancy) I had to say, regretfully, “Shoo.” Cute little masked bandit, she shooed.

I lay on the couch and watched the trees outside my window dancing in the wind and uttered prayers of gratitude that:

Today, when I can do nothing, I have a roof over my head, food to eat, and I do not have the virus, the scariest virus – and the worst possible death – I can imagine.

I have my writing with which I can fill as many hours as I can sit at my computer

I have connections online with poets all over the world

I have books to read, movies to watch, and peaceful, silent hours in which no discord ever happens.
And for all of this, on a day when I could do nothing, 

I give thanks. I give thanks. I give thanks.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Flying Free

The Sea Inside

When I was  inside my glass cage
and all the fish were flying free,
there was a sea inside, I knew,
there was a sea inside of me.

I spent too much time in those days
trying to contort my too-large being
into something that might work,
but there is no unseeing Seeing.

Smash it all; build something new.
Out I leaped, found something true,
left the bowl for all the fishes,
left the sink all full of dishes.

My excuse is that it is Day 25; that Canada just lived through a mass shooting, which is so not like Canada that it rocked us all (the only other one was in 1989); and that it all feels a bit much. And the last line, while not deathless poetry, at least made me smile. (I actually never would have left the dishes; I am a bit OCD. Just a tad. LOL.)

Something Sweet

Once, there was a house full of things:
sofas, pillows, a china cabinet full
of pretty teacups. They bring me
my tea  in thick mugs that don't break
when I drop them.

On the bedside table, I pass the hours
arranging neatly, over and over,
the comb, the brush, the toothbrush,
all the things I own now.
I wish there was a soft woolly robe
in my suitcase. It gets cold here at night;
it is hard to sleep when I am cold.

I look at my long wrinkled toes
at the end of my legs, at the end of my bed.
They make me laugh
and remember hazy days in summer,
when I walked barefoot in the garden,
smelling the morning, and smiling.

I hope there is something sweet
after supper, something sweet
to make it worth waiting all day
for people who never come.

for Day 25 at Real Toads: the Suitcase Project

The prompt is to write a poem in first person about someone in a mental hospital, listing what might have been in her suitcase. I once worked in a seniors home, and have made hospice visits, and am always struck by how few possessions a person is allowed or has room for at the end of their lives. There would be photos of their families, and houses full to bursting with Things, and I would ponder how the women had once had houses full of things, while on their bedside tables lay all their few possessions, a comb, a toothbrush: no warm clothing or blankets, no belongings, no comforts. Just bodies, being housed.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Wild Woman Bears Witness

There IS no why

Wild Woman's heart
cannot contain the grief
of what is happening:
on this planet
to the animals
to those fighting the virus

to those in sorrow
over the loss of loved ones
to a madman's gun

lives lost
our innocence lost
on top of a pandemic
is too much to bear

It spills over

Wild Woman weeps

everyone waiting for some good news
everyone waiting
for a better tomorrow

how have we gotten it so wrong
in this world to which we all belong?

gotta be a better tomorrow
gotta be

otherwise, why?

"Turn the tv off," people tell
weeping Wild Woman.
But, no matter how bad it gets,
no matter how much it hurts,
Wild Woman will bear witness
to the end.

In Canada, we are reeling from the shootings in Novia Scotia last weekend, something Canada, and especially small communities like those in Nova Scotia, are ill equipped to deal with. On top of the virus, being unable to gather to support and help the heartbroken, our own hearts broken too, we mourn the collective innocence we shared last Saturday night before our world turned dark. Because we are kind people, because we are resilient, this will not break us. But it has shaken us.

Nova Scotia Strong Canada Strong


What was it like when the virus came? some young person might ask twenty-five years from now. If there still are humans then, if the world is remotely habitable.

When it first hit, people didn’t pay much attention, thinking it was a flu like other flus. Until the numbers started rising astronomically, and the deaths were described as suffering and horrible. Until health authorities became the people on the news and the news was just about all and only the corona virus news, watching the numbers climb, exponentially, especially in Italy, people dying faster than their bodies could be gathered. And then in New York, where people were buried in mass graves, no time or space to do anything else.

We were suddenly living in a pandemic that threatened us all world-wide. It wasn’t a sci-fi book or movie. It was here, and we were in it. We ARE in it.

I am fortunate. I live in a small village with good leaders – conscious leaders – on Vancouver Island where, thanks to limited ferry traffic, our officials have managed to keep numbers manageable. It is worse on the mainland. And health authorities expect a second wave in fall. I fear the “return to normal”, when all those tourists will climb into their cars and travel here with all their deadly germs. After all the weeks of us sitting in our houses, of people shutting down their businesses, of everyone being so careful – how easily and quickly it can all be undone.

Health authorities say the virus will be around a long time. That the best they can hope for is to "keep death at a manageable level". Our doctor here in Tofino says "what is an acceptable number of deaths in our small town, where we all know each other? Who are we willing to lose?" No one, of course. And covid is not how I want to die.

It didn’t take long for the virus to be traced to wet markets in Wuhan, where terrified animals crammed in cages await, with full conscious awareness, their terrible deaths: dogs, cats, wild game from Africa. They barbecue small monkeys there. They boil dogs. I once saw a photo I wish I had never seen of a dog’s eyes as he was lowered into the vat of boiling water.

(That young person, 25 years from now: I can feel you recoiling in horror, wondering what kind of humans we are. Well, in North America, animals in “factory farms” are treated no better. Pigs are kept lying down while they are fattened, barely squeezed into their metal confines from which they never move. And pigs have the intelligence of children, they are conscious beings, as are all other animals.  Cows are beaten and abused on their way to slaughter. The metal bolt to the forehead which finishes them off must come as a relief. I don't know what humans do to their minds to absolve themselves of commiting these acts. I am glad for the many vegetarians and vegans, for whom no animal has to suffer and die in order for them to eat.

I once, horrified, watched someone lower a lobster into a boiling pot of water. The lobster reached out its claws, gripped the edges of the pot, trying to stop its immersion. Even a lobster can want to live, can feel fear, can dread a cruel death.)

What manner of humans are we? All my life I have waited for the transformation of consciousness. Since 1980, I have been talking about climate change – now a climate crisis – have waited for humanity to wake up. And here we are in 2020, no farther ahead than we ever were, the planet so hot we are tipping ever closer to the apocalypse AND NOTHING CHANGES. We react to all the disasters, floods, forest fires, hurricanes as if each one is an isolated incident. And the tundra melts, and the icebergs melt, and the poles are melting, both north and south. Polar bears starve, or drown swimming for miles,  trying to find food. Whales are in decline for lack of food, pollution and warming seas. Koalas and kangaroos burn alive as wildfires rage beyond control. I have not recovered from the last wildfires and now, on the Island, wildfire season comes around again.

Always it is the suffering of the animals that bothers me most.  Animals live according to the laws of the natural world. The factor that unbalances and distresses the whole is man: with our greed, our profligate and wanton devastation of the land as “resource”, unsustainably, beyond earth’s capacity to give.

Here is the virus, forcing us inside. The climate begins to heal itself. Wild animals creep out into areas that have been unsafe. Before Mother Earth can breathe a sigh of relief, man is at it again: WHEN can we go back to normal?

Seriously? Normal is broken. Normal is what got us here. We need a new respectful, sustainable normal. We need social justice. We need to liberate the animals. We need to GIVE UP ON fossil fuels and put everyone to work creating clean energy systems.

To the person 25 years from now – if you are here, then we succeeded. Otherwise my words are going out into the universe, as they always have, in utter discouragement that we are so incredibly slow to understand, and even slower to act.

This is When the Virus Came – Day1

Alive on Planet Earth

When the Westerly blows,
and waves crash rapturously on the shore,
when treetops poke their spires
up through the fog along the slopes of Wah'nah'juss,
my heart exults in wonder.

When the eagle's piercing cry
echoes across the harbour,
and the heron picky-toes along the rocky shore
seeking her breakfast,
dogs lolloping in and out of the waves
with loopy grins,
and surfers stand to ride, and fall,
and rise again,

When the morning sun rises
over Lemmens Inlet,
geese flying above in a wavering V,
as the sandpipers whirl and swoop as one
along the water's edge,
and ravens croak their gobble-cry,

When  sunset paints the sky
with colours too fantastic to describe
as the big old fiery orb sinks down
below the horizon at day's end

When just being alive and breathing
in this  forever place
seems wealth beyond compare,
and I most richly blessed,
thankfulness expands my heart
to bursting, again and again,
so dearly do I cherish the beauty,
the sheer interconnected wonder
of Clayoquot Sound.

How grateful I am
to have walked this earth walk
along its beloved shores,
the song of the waves
forever advancing and retreating
in my heart;
how dearly I feel the blessing,
rich with all life's worth,
just to have another day, like this,
alive, on planet earth.

I revised an older poem for my prompt on  Day 24 of Poetry Month at Real Toads:  Wonder

Also sharing with earthweal's open link.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


She stumped the thorny aisle, pled troth, wore ring,
but on that morn no happy birds did sing.
His awkward kiss grazing her fast-turned cheek;
the justice of the peace smiled: two such geeks!
Babes in the wood, unaware and sorely bound,
a small cafe for their wedding repast was found.
Thus the beginning, which did not bode well.
The toad did not transform; she heard the tolling bell.
When it came to the intricate game of life and love,
it seemed she was a solitary dove.
Marry in haste, so many years to rue.
He built the cage from which she finally flew.

They came apart: the years ahead too bleak.
She waved farewell; he kissed her fast-turned cheek.

for Day 23 at Real Toads:  to write something referring in some way to the Bard.  I did so in the title, and by sharing a sonnet.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


For fourteen years, I lived with a very noisy, hilarious, big, black wolf. With him, my inner Wild Woman came to life, and I lived my highest, most glorious years in Tofino. We mourned its loss together when we had to leave. He has been gone almost ten years now, and I still have tears every time I think of him, or write about him. He was the love of my life; I have written many, many poems about him, and will likely write many more. He Lived Large, did Pup.

When you live with a wolf,
you learn about connection:
to the wild, and to another being,
deeply, without barriers,
even speech, because, so often,
your minds  meet
and, sometimes, he tries to talk.

When you live with a wolf,
you must seek out the wild places daily.
He must never be caged, or enclosed,
or tied up, for his spirit must run free
and unfettered, as it would with his pack.
He resists all restraints,
refuses to submit, is very Alpha
(which you, decidedly, are not),
stays with you because he chooses to,
not because you make him.
Living with you is a negotiation he makes,
because he loves you,
but you know that he relinquishes a great deal;
it is a compromise, giving up the wild,
and living in a house with you.

Walls remain foreign to his substance.
He will eat a doorjamb, of an afternoon,
to be Out rather than In.

When you live with a wolf, his intelligence
and devotion shine in his eyes, which never leave you.
He lies at the front of the yard
where he can keep an eye out for danger;
places himself between you and any threat.

But when you are walking through the forest,
by the river or along the beach
then he is gone far ahead,
his spirit joyously at one with the wild,
and he won't come back till he is ready.

He always knows where you are,
checks on you from time to time,
then is off again, in and out of the water,
joyous, and grinning his big toothy grin.

When it is time to go he plods slowly,
with resignation and a heartfelt sigh;
climbs grudgingly into the car
to resume domesticity once more.
His heart accompanies you,
but  his wild free spirit he has left behind,
on those beloved shores,
to be picked up again upon return.

When you live with a wolf,
you cohabit with a very large presence.
This makes his eventual absence
almost too great to bear.

But those years as twin souls,
that called forth your deep wilderness nature,
taught you joy as no one and nothing else
ever has.

For them, you would not have traded anything.
To have had them, you bear the pain.
For them - for him -
you will, eternally and forever,
give thanks.

for Linda at dVerse: Fur Companions

I revised an older poem for this prompt.

Old Tree

Old Tree,
tell me your story.
You have seen a thousand years
of seasons come and go,
witnessed the wilderness
turn into towns,
watched sadly as the wild ones
- those who have survived -
retreated more deeply into the forest,
growing ever more afraid
as the Two-Leggeds
steadily advanced
with their chainsaws
and their heavy tread.
You have wept as your sisters
turned into houses for humans
instead of birds
and small furred creatures.

Tell me about the time
when you were young,
when wolf pups huddled
among your roots,
and bears scratched their backs 
on your rough bark,
those days
when all the wild creatures
spoke to one another
in the same language:
moose and bear and deer.
Tell me about a time
when life was securely lived,
when the word "wild" meant "home",
when safety and the seasons
were all you knew.

Tell me your ancient tale, Old Tree,
and it will be 
a fairytale
to me.

Monday, April 20, 2020


A sleepy little town in Nova Scotia,
a Sunday morning,
and a trail of twenty-three deaths
-so far -
plus the shooter.

We shall not speak his name.

We mourn.

May the legacy of those
who lost their lives
be our push for increased gun control
and the banning of assault weapons,
because we can.
We will remain
Canada Strong.

This is unusual for Canada, so we are in shock. The shooter first assaulted his girlfriend andhandcuffed nd bound her, but she managed to escape and hide in the woods. He then went on  rampage for thirteen hours, killing 23 innocent souls. One death was an RCMP officer, a beautiful young wife and mother as she sought to apprehend him. Another was a beloved teacher. It was a small community, so everyone there is touched by this tragedy.

His rampage included the burning/exploding of  vehicles, and five structures. Officials expect there may be more deceased discovered inside the buildings as the investigation of 16 crime scenes continues.

Prime Minister Trudeau said there are gun legislation bills in the works, to be dealt with when possible, as they are focusing on the pandemic right now. Like other people mourning deaths in a time of social distancing, everyone will find it difficult for there not to be a public coming together to honour these peoples' lives. I imagine they will find safe ways to do so. There will be a virtual vigil on Friday that the country will tune into. Sadness upon sadness.

The last mass shooting was of  fourteen women at the Polytechnique in 1989.

The world is in a sad state. Almost more than Wild Woman can bear.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sometimes a Feather Will Drop From the Sky

On the edge of drifting into dream,
at 2 a.m., Wild Woman heard a voice
and woke back up:

Sometimes a pathway, 
a direction, is shown.
Listen to the animals;
they will show the way.
Even the green growing things
are speaking.

Sometimes a feather
will drop from the sky.
Treat it with honour
and it will lend you
its wings.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Birds of Waaxp̓inč̓a

Late spring evening, 
a thousand turnstones sing
across the harbour
on what we mamalthni**
call Neilsen Island.

The First Peoples of this land
have always known it 
as Waaxp̓inč̓a*,
island of the river otters.

The birds converse
in their ancient tongue.
The Nuu chah nulth say
there was a time
when human and animal
plant and tree
spoke to each other
in the same language.
It is we mamalthni
who have forgotten.
But the living land and water
cedar and osprey
orca, wolf and bear
must carry this wisdom
of interconnection
in cellular memory.

In counterpoint
upon the moment’s rapture,
a boat motor roars;
a seaplane flies in, low:
we humans, being –
our cacophony and clamour,
our relentless encroachment
on the wild -
the thousand singing voices
falling suddenly silent.

**Mamalthni is the Nuu chah nulth word for white people

* Waaxp̓inč̓a  means island of the river otters

This poem is part of the Sound Range Project: Poetry of a Soundscape, envisioned and brought to life by Tofino Poet Laureate Joanna Streetly. The project pairs poems, recorded sounds, and the language of the Nuu chah nulth people into an interactive map of Clayoquot Sound.


"Believe in your dreams!" Wild Woman told her childen.
"Believe in life, in nature, in Mother Earth,"
she told her friends.
"Believe in the transformation of consciousness,
in the goodness of humanity,
that we will change in time," she wrote in poems.
By now, she was sounding  a bit shrill and desperate.

Now, everything has changed.
Turns out the warnings were right;
but now we are reacting to disasters,
rather than making change to prevent them.

A bit late for raised consciousness,
but better late than never.

Her heart lifts as humans rise to meet the challenge.
It sinks as capitalism re-opens
its voracious maw to gobble More.

"Do we learn nothing?" she asks the walls, redundantly.

"Believe!" says the stone on her desk,
catching her eye, refusing
to let her fall into despair.

"I'll try," replies Wild Woman.
At this point, she will take encouragement
even from a stone.

for Day 18 at Real Toads: Encouragement

and for Earthweal: the Crossroads

Friday, April 17, 2020

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

Wickaninnish in blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clayoquot Sound Haiku

Wolf Spirit, your call
from your misty mountain lair
sends my soul keening


footprints in the sand
my heart follows where they lead
till I'm home again


bonsai in the bog
a little touch of Asia
in Clayoquot Sound


for Day 17 at Real Toads: Exploring Nature's Wonders - Haiku

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Wild Woman and Black Puppies

Wild Woman is blindsided
by a small black puppy in a movie,
remembering that small black pup
that grew into a big black wolf:
totally his own wild being
- and the love of her life.

Almost ten years,
since he died,
and a small black puppy
that will grow big,
grow old,
and die
still brings her to tears.

Wild Woman Knows What She Knows

Wild Woman made a journey
into the future, into the remains
of a world where all beings
have been finally deemed equal
in our capacity to suffer and die from
a deadly virus.

She saw two screens,
where future life was
playing out.

In one, the global wildlife trade
had stopped, wet markets and
factory farms had closed.
Animals were granted respect
and lives free of abuse,
as were all humans.
Humanity had changed the way
we live on Mother Earth.
She was beginning to heal.

On the other screen,
were wars and great suffering,
rampant disease and death
from hundreds of pandemics
unleashed by cruel practices,
 a world of rapacious greed,
extreme poverty and suffering,
a world choking on its own fumes,
a beautiful garden turned into
a human-created hell.

Wild Woman woke up
before she saw which path we chose.
She has no answer to that question;
she only knows what she knows,
and she'll share her wisdom well
before she goes.

Experts are saying the corona virus will still be around (the same as influenza) even after we flatten the curve and develop a vaccine. They also say more pandemics are waiting to be unleashed in the places where animals are cruelly caged, slaughtered and "processed" into food. (In North America, our factory "farms" are as damning as what we cluck about overseas. Hundreds of workers in those facilities are testing positive for covid.) Ancient viruses are also waking up in the north, where the tundra where they are stored is melting. This virus is our biggest sign yet that global change is needed in how we live on earth. Huge change. We need visionary leaders.  We need to heed the experts, and our own inner wisdom.

for Day 16 at Real Toads: In the Remains

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Wild Woman was feeling discouraged.
No one was "getting it" - the message
everything in the natural world has
been trying to say, for years.

Then, she met a happy, bouncing black lab
in the park and gave him a treat.
It made her happy.
She watched some Canadian doctors singing
"We Rise Again". They made her cry,
and remember how beautiful
most humans can be.
Top that off with an hour of uplifting stories
from Canadian front lines,
and a cross-country video
of schoolchildren singing Oh Canada,
and she is done for.
Tears, heart all squeezed
and bunchy -
and springing back to life and hope again.

Wild Woman wants to invite
all of her American friends
to move to Canada.
Please. Come up. Be happy
and cared for.
It's nice up here.

Orange Folly

Hanging In There
with permission

Wild Woman's spirit is flagging.
Awaiting the transformation of consciousness
on the planet
is proving exhausting.
Humans are slow to learn,
even when all the facts are clear.

There is an orange fool
whose reality tv show
Narcissist Emperor of the World
would not be believable
even as fiction.
Sadly, this folly is only too real.
His lips flap every day:
ever more outrageous.

"Make it stop," Wild Woman pleads.
She is barely hanging in.

for Day 15 at Real Toads: Folly. Didn't have to look far. Given the thousands of people who have died because of the orange fool's incompetent handling of the corona virus, it is a bit much to hear him criticizing the World Health Organization. But that is what he does: accepts no responsibilty, deflects by blaming others. Make him stop. Vote him out. Please. Consider it a public service to the world. Smiles.

I can't get over the yes-men around him, evasive eyes, uncomfortable nervous smiles, abdicating their responsibility to the people, allowing him to run the U.S. right into the ground.

My Muse is flagging, given the weight of all that is happening - that will continue to happen if governments and people worldwide do not change our ways. It is a relief to be old, at this point.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Small Bat, Humming

A small bat flew low and
whispered in Wild Woman's ear:
"They are barbecuing my relatives,
and other creatures, and are blaming us
for the pandemic."

"The pandemic is not your fault,"
Wild Woman assured her,
offering her a bell-shaped blossom
so she could sip some nectar.
"Humans have been interfering
with wild creatures for too long,
and now we are paying the price."

Small Bat looked relieved.
"What can we do about this?"
she asked, sounding doubtful
that she could do anything at all.

"We humans can leave wild ones in the wild,
and close all the places where animals suffer,"
Wild Woman replied.

"Oh, that sounds good," smiled Small Bat,
stretching a foot up, curling it
around a branch, swinging softly
upside-down, and humming.

I am discouraged that, even though experts are calling for the closing of all global wild and exotic animal trafficking, and even though the virus began in the wet markets of Wuhan, that the markets reopened the minute the lockdown in China was eased. Experts say there will be another pandemic
if all such markets are not closed. Can you imagine? Another pandemic on the heels of this one?

for my prompt at earthweal: the connection between wild animals, us and the pandemic.

Sunday, April 12, 2020


Back then, I would see you at sunset,
walking along the shore with your camera
and your dog,
as I was walking along with my camera
and my dog.
I was smitten, but we both were shy.

Once you sat down beside me
at the Alley Way,
and I bolted, too awkward and admiring
to sit and stay.

One day, on the bus, both of us heading
to the city, you confessed
there was a woman you had really loved,
but you had not been ready to commit
and so she did not stay.
"Now I am," you said, "but I have
a long-distance love."
"And then, there's me," I thought,
but did not say.

Now you live across the hall from me
in this old building. Isn't life strange?
We have both settled into the solitary lives
we did not plan.
We are both happy, maybe a little lonely,
resigned to our dogless existence,
still walking solitary shores at sunset,
cameras in hand.

Do you know that I once dreamed of you?
That when I ran away, that day, I've always wished
that I had had the courage and the confidence
to stay?

for Day 12 at Real Toads:   to write to someone who doesnt know we love them. Ha. He lives right across the hall from me, because life is ironic, like that.

Sunny Days

Easter Sunday: a wide-brimmed hat with streamers
down the back, white gloves to the wrist,
a polka-dotted dress - everyone filing in
to the small white clapboard church,
hushed, reverential. The priest and altar boys
came out, the census swung back and forth,
the incense wafted. Up in the balcony,
we sang the Magnificat, hearts swelling.

Later, we all went to Grandma's,
for a family meal, men congregating
in the front room,
women busy in the kitchen.

No matter how carefully we set the table,
Grandpa always sat down and "played
checkers" with the salt and pepper shakers,
thumping them one way or the other;
we could never get them right.
The women would crack up laughing.

I remember coloured baskets, with chocolate.
Then, when I was raising my own kids,
there were easter egg hunts in the back yard,
Stephanie finding the low-lying candy,
Jeff skidding along on the ground,
to grab as much as he could.

Then we'd climb Knox Mountain
and fly kites on the grassy field
overlooking the lake.

Sunny days.

Saturday, April 11, 2020


I once grew a garden
when the world and I were young,
rows of food to feed my
 smiling, leggy children,
all those summers in the sun.

Fat rabbit,
you wandered down the rows,
eating as you pleased,
then you'd lie down for a snooze
beside me
as I plucked weed after weed.

You grew and grew,
and then one day
went missing from your cage.
I suspect a neighbourhood hunter
came and carried you away.

I remember my summer garden
when the world and I were young,
and a soft fat gentle rabbit
lying beside me
in the sun.

for The Sunday Muse

Thursday, April 9, 2020


Print by Maria Sibylla Merian

Like the fat, busy spider,
we spun our webs
to keep us from seeing
too closely
that the choices
we were making
were weaving
an unbalanced world.

Now the wild world
which we have so long abused
has bitten us back.

We are left with a choice:
to continue along
a path of destruction,
or to begin to restore and heal
Mother Earth and ourselves.

66 words for Words Count with Mama Zen at Real Toads.   Mama Zen, we miss you!

The link between the wild exotic "wet" markets in Wuhan, the virus and humans has been proven.  The markets were closed at the beginning of the pandemic. My heart sank when I learned they were re-opened as soon as the lockdown lifted. It seems we learn nothing.