Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Woman Who Knows What to Write


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2020



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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2020



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* from Robert Bringhurst's poem "Occupation".

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

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

Saturday, December 26, 2020



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 25, 2020



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's get to work.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Dark


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 21, 2020

An Imperfect Offering

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 18, 2020

Being Changed


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*    Italicized line by Edward Hirscht

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

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

Sunday, December 13, 2020



image from Sharkwater Extinction

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 12, 2020


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

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

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

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

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

A gift for a gift.

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

Monday, December 7, 2020

Waiting for the Light


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 4, 2020


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Red Fox


facebook image
no copyright infringement intended

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

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

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

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

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