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.