Saturday, January 30, 2021



Upon your lap, my Mother Earth,
I listen to the river's song,
of renewal and rebirth,
that calls me home where I belong.

Like a tree, my roots go down,
deeply where there is no sound,
only earthworms burrowing,
through hallowed ground.

Like a tree, when harsh winds blow,
that assault me, then grow still,
the fickle weather helps me grow,
changing me, as weather will.

Like a tree, my centre lies
where human folly is forsaken.
Your heartbeat says:
Endure. Just wait.
These earthlings one day
will awaken.

from 2014 - shared with earthweal's open link

Friday, January 29, 2021


That old wolf moon
is shining down on me
and I wonder, 
can you still see me,
Black Wolf of My Heart,
whom I've missed
every day
we've been apart?

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Deep Time

Tonquin forest

Tonquin Guardian

His perch more precarious
with each year

In old age I am living in deep time,
unable to pick up a rock without thinking about
the many aeons it has seen; its history
held wordless and yet present in my hand.

I have lived many lives,
the poet said, and so have I,
each one lasting about a decade,
give or take, me emerging, heart-scalded
but wiser, at the end, ready to plunge into
the next adventure, the next decade
of becoming.

Deep time is speeding up now,
as we struggle to awaken to all the species
who are flickering and dying, fail to grasp
the enormity of the melting taiga,
the tilting of the earth on its axis
at the poles, sorrow on the faces
of the indigenous people of the north,
who say the sun has moved its position
on the horizon.

In deep time, I fear it is too late for hope,
yet still I try. I speak to Tofino Council
about the folly of clearcutting the village's
only old growth forest to make way
for housing, for humans, for us,
explaining the connection between
the trees breathing in and out,
as our own chests rise and fall.
It should be so simple
to understand. But dollar signs
and political pressure flickers
in their eyes. The wild things
will lose another home.

Sigh. In old age, I am living in
deep time, knowing too much to
ever take for granted any single thing;
resigned, as earth cries out 
in her many voices, wondering
why so few of us can hear.

The line "I have lived many lives" is from the line "I had many lives" in "Formaggio" by Louise Gluck. For Brendan's challenge at earthweal: Deep Time.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Love Beyond Death


The biggest sign
that love transcends death
was feeling your snout on the edge of my bed,
the morning after you died,
the way you woke me every morning of your life.
You gave a soft "whuff",
pressed your nose down hard,
right about the time your big noisy body
was being fed into the flames.
(It still kills me, you burning.
But there was no other way
this nomadic, homeless person
could keep you with me, except in the urn,
which goes with me everywhere,
and will go into my coffin when I am gone.)

I didn't open my eyes. I was just waking,
into the rest of my life without you,
and I thought you were Gone.

I still hear that "whuff", 
feel the weight of your snout on
the edge of my bed,
that final morning
when you came to tell me

Pup, my wild wolf, the love of my life,  left this world January 15, 2011. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021



At the beginning, there was the lakeshore
and the big, blue hills, and I asked for
weiners and beans every day for lunch,
until my sister was born and she wanted
chicken noodle soup, so then we ate
chicken noodle soup.

Before life got dark, there was laughter,
sunshine, a long line of laundry
on the clothesline. My parents
had a big garden; my mom preserved things.
My dad made wine, a pillowcase of grapes
hanging on the doorknob, juice dripping
into the bucket below.

This was before my grandparents knew
that I was alive, before dad's divorce
so they could get married, before
my grandparents came to meet me
and loved the pretty town full of orchards
so much they moved there; before the
glamorous aunts and uncles all died,
their faces on grainy old film emerging
from my grandma's cottage smiling,
impossibly beautiful.
Only one of them now still alive.

Before the drinking and the violence
got so bad that I emerged shellshocked,
child of trauma, numb, voiceless,
finding safety in my grandma's house
on Christleton Avenue, where she
taught me to live, and that life could
be peaceful, serene, so quiet
you could hear the old metal clock
on the kitchen windowsill
tick-tocking in every room.

"I  never knew survival was like that.
You look back and beg for it again,
the hazardous bliss before you know
what you would miss."

for Wild Writing by Laurie Wagner. Inspired by "Before", by Ada Limon. The italicized lines are hers.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

This Is What Life Does


This is what life does:
It starts off ordinary, a cup of tea
in the morning, a slice of toast,
feeding the birds, turning on the news.
And then it tosses in an armed insurrection
during a pandemic where it turns out
we don't have enough serum after all.

Sigh. Weariness descends
like a heavy grey cloud.

I watch a new President's face grow gaunt
and worried overnight. I hear welcome words
of reason, after four years of falsehoods and lies.

Did you know that starfish have water,
not blood, in their veins? 
(I pause to ponder what runs
in the veins of domestic terrorists.)
Sea stars have eyes on the ends of their arms.
Is this a message?
If we did, too, would we see the suffering
around us more clearly,
and wrap our arms around those
who need comfort and help,
instead of looking away?

None of what is going on
makes any sense.
Or maybe this is the transformation
of consciousness we have
so long been awaiting,
disguised as insurrection which transfixes
our minds and hearts, so that we say
as one loud human body:
This is Enough! and demand
a new and better world.

We live in faltering hope,
like starfish, who can grow a new leg
when they lose one, and who have
eyes on the end of their arms.

Day Three of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner
Inspired by Starfish by Eleanor Lerman

Friday, January 15, 2021



If ever you would
speak with any tree,
come walking in the forest
here with me.
I'll show you the wild mushroom
and the root,
but where the ancients gather,
set no boot.

If you would speak
with nature spirits wild,
you must maintain the heartbeat
of a child,
learn riversong and
mountain chasm deep.
You must commune with angels
in your sleep.

As you step lightly on
the pungent moss,
and feel the leaves
the winter wind doth toss,
let your spirit fly away
among the trees.
It will return
upon the morrow's

I go into the forest
dark and deep,
every night after
I fall asleep,
become a woodland
guardian, reborn
I do not want to leave
when it is morn.

Last night my spirit
fought as a black wolf,
against four brown wolves
on the forest floor,
This told me
that a battle lies before,
my spirit having
its door.

Come with me.
I will show you secret groves,
moss-hung and ancient
in this stand of pine.
Deep in the bracken,
where the hoarfrost glows,
the Old Ones are singing Home
this heart of mine.

One from 2012, shared with earthweal's open link

Thursday, January 14, 2021

On Puppies and Their People


facebook image
no copyright infringement intended

Today's sermon is a blue-eyed wolf dog
who needs to run, but is never let off his leash
because his owner has not trained him,
and is afraid he won't come back;
I long to snap the chain and let his long legs lope
along the shore, and through the forest. 
Wild things need to run.

Today's sermon is a confused black puppy,
eight weeks old, who sits down because 
his owner is training him too much
and he doesn't know what he is supposed to do.
"No touch, no eye contact," the fool man says.
"It teaches the puppy to be calm."
(It teaches the puppy to be depressed,
quelling that puppy joy that
being a puppy is all about.
I want to abduct the puppy.)

Today's sermon is puppies found abandoned
in dumps, in frozen wastelands, inside tires
and dumpsters; it is the one survivor puppy
found with his litter frozen dead beside him.
Today's sermon is humans who lack humanity,
who think animals don't matter.

Today's sermon is rescued dogs
who approach, with fear and trembling,
but who learn, over time, 
that humans can also be kind.

Today's sermon is well-loved dogs
with happy grins, loping along the shore,
and chasing each other in joyous circles.
In a perfect world, every dog
would have a life like that.

I'm dragging grace around
like a rusty wagon,
pretending it's whole,
the poet says.
I'm old. I know some things.
I know what makes children and animals
feel safe and happy.
My penance for living this long
is to watch the heedless young
who think they know more than they know:
yet don't understand how fragile
small and helpless beings are.
I watch them learning everything
it took me so long to learn,
watch them breaking hearts,
including their own.

I'm dragging grace around
like a rusty wagon,
pretending it's whole.
My heart has dents and bruises
on it; such grace as can be found
hasn't got a lot to say.
What good does all this Knowing do,
when only old people, babies and dogs
can hear its sorrowful song?

Inspired by "Today's Sermon" by Cheryl Dumesnil, and Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. The italicized words are Cheryl Dumesnil's.

Monday, January 11, 2021



In the long ago,
when the world was young,
Sky Woman fell to earth,
landing on the back of a turtle,
clutching seeds and dreams.

Her (and our) instructions:
to use her gifts for good.

The animals helped her
to make a world.
Plants made food
from seeds and light and water,
and gave it all away
that all might live.

The hole in the sky
through which Sky Woman fell
is still sending beams of light,
bathing we wayward humans,
in an effort to awaken
our remembering.

The light is urging us
to transform this world
back to its beginnings,
when plants, animals and sky
breathed us into the world,
and everything was one.

We are being asked
to remember:
we are all
Sky Woman's people.

Sunday, January 10, 2021



I'm standing on 
the rim of the world,
at the far edge of far, 
next stop Japan.

I am thinking of you.

The news is bad.
It is very bad.

But the view is beautiful
from here.

I send you
a small postcard
of hope.

Believe in the essential goodness
of humankind.

Believe in Mother Earth
who, like us,
wants to live.

I stand on the edge
of the edge of the world.
I send you this
small postcard
of hope.

A poem from 2014. We need some hope right now, as we try to keep our footing on a planet all askew. What grounds me is Mother Earth, and the beauty of nature all around me. The heroism of trees breathing in carbon, even as they are being chopped down, and the carbon is too much; the steadfastness of the waves, the moon, the seasons, moving through their cycles, in spite of our heedlessness. We are the only creatures not working with the natural world. We need to learn how to, and fast. Meanwhile, we take solace where we can, in the splendor of the wild world.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Where To Begin?


Where to begin.....

when CNN is worrying a nutcase
might blow us all up
on his way out of office?

when the rogue "president" of the USA
incites his fanatical followers,
his "Great Patriots",
white supremacists wearing t-shirts that say
"60 million wasn't enough"
- seriously? -
to storm the Capitol,

then issues a statement,
when he is asked to resign,
saying it might "further divide
the country",
as if his four years of rhetoric and lies
didn't do exactly that.

He was pressuring senators DURING THE ATTACK
to obstruct the ratifying of the votes,
because the only thing that matters
is what he wants.

How do I wrap my mind around this week?
I am packing to move into seniors' housing,
my "moving guy" just hurt his wrist,
and covid is rampaging everywhere

as we watch, numb with disbelief,
while crazed extremists storm the Capitol,
(facebook posts a meme saying 2020 was weird.
Day 6 of 2021: showing a man wearing horns
standing behind the Presidential desk.
You can't make this stuff up.)

For four years, I have been outraged,
assaulted in my spirit, could not believe
they would not remove a man
so clearly unfit for office,
watching in frustration
as he did his dirty work.
Government now considers him unhinged.
But he has always been unhinged,
unbalanced. A narcissist and sociopath.
There is nothing new to see here.
He has always been
-blatantly- this person.  

Yet his sycophants smiled and
bowed before him,
in hopes of political gain or power.
Fearing him, just one man,
mentally deranged, every damaging word
given too much air time,
too much power.

His presidency has been a curse.
And more stand in line behind him, 
hoping to take his place in 2024.

How does a country unite
against white supremacy,
the wish for civil war
to send the country back a hundred years
where they could lynch and kill
those of colour
with impunity?

How do we find ourselves
back in 1950
in 2021?

Where do we go from here?
Get him out. Get him gone.
Throw him in a rubber room.
Protect Biden and Harris and Pelosi.

He seems to have no clue
that he will go down in history
in infamy.

How I balance all of this craziness?
I went to the beach. It was sunny and mild -
glorious. The waves were huge.
I uttered a prayer of gratitude
that I am here. Still alive.
Living by the sea.
Trying to keep my balance
through the man-made inferno 
of hatred stirred up by electing
a white supremacist
to the highest office
of the land.

My sister has always worried about him blowing us all up on his way out. I thought that was unlikely. Yet right this minute I am watching them discuss this seriously on CNN. Surreal. Unbelievable. It just gets worse and worse. Meanwhile, covid rages on. God help us, for we don't seem to have a clue how to help ourselves. Meanwhile, the poles melt, and the climate crisis accelerates, unheeded.

for earthweal's open link, reporting from our corner of the world. Hey, today Greenpeace phoned me, a fundraising call. We talked about the climate crisis, and he gathered I have been an activist for 40 years. He wanted to know more about my writing. I told him about earthweal and he was impressed. He said "Keep doing it". 

Monday, January 4, 2021



An elephant never forgets, so,
in this cement cage in the zoo
for long years I remember:

the tall grasses and delicious leaves
of the savannah; plunging into
the river, the joy of spraying
water over myself with my trunk.
I remember dust baths, and
the trumpeting call of the herd
when it was time to move on.

I remember freedom and joy,
holding the tail of my mother,
when I was small, her tender trunk
reaching back to guide me;
the whole herd forming
a circle of protection
around me when danger
came near.

I remember:
my mother's shrieks of pain
as the Two-Leggeds gunned her down,
ripping off her tusks
before she was even dead.
I remember my trauma,
my grief and shock at being in the world
without her. And then it got worse:
bad people herding me into a truck,
taking me a long way away
from my kin. I remember the big ship,
pitching and tossing. I never knew
the world could be this cruel.
I was one year old. A baby,
who only had one year
of mothering.

An elephant never forgets, so
I remember the kindness of
one of my caretakers; the cruelty of
another; the poking sticks,
the lashing whip. Fear, always fear,
vigilance at each approaching stranger:
does it have a soul, or is it
one of the Others,
the ones with dead eyes
and no hearts?

Thirty-five long years have gone by in this sad
little cavern. They call me the loneliest
elephant on earth but I know there are others.
Across the sea, I can feel the herd yearning
for me as I long for them, pining for the
wide yellow grasslands of my youth,
for my mother and aunts,
for those days when I ran and played 
with the other calves.

Now They are coming; again, a crate,
once more I am taken to  an unknown place.
But wait! Here there are others of my kind.
For the first time in years, my trunk
touches another's with relief and joy.
I weep.

Perhaps here, my heart will begin to heal.
I beg them with my eyes: please,
oh, please, let me stay.

I used poetic license to describe the background of my elephant. I don't know Kavaan's history when he was a yearling. He is 36, and has been in a zoo in Pakistan for 35 years, so there was likely trauma. He now is in a sanctuary in Cambodia, part of a herd again at last, though elephants usually stay, if not interfered with, in their matrilineal families.

I am certain that elephants, along with the other wild creatures, know exactly how dangerous humans are. The wild ones already feel the effects of the climate crisis most keenly. The only beings who prefer the comfort of denial  are we humans, even though the crisis is accelerating at a terrifying rate.

for my prompt at earthweal where we are considering When Animals Speak, writing in the voice of a non-human being, about how they are impacted by humankind and/or the climate crisis.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

From My Father

Pup, leaping for a treat!

From my father,
I got my sense of humour,
and my glow.
(At the coffeehouse,
they would say
"have you seen Sherry glow?")

From my mother,
I received strength,
my lion heart,
and to do all I could for my kids,
as she did for my sister
and me.

From my grandmother,
I learned peacefulness,
the template and deepest need
of my being.

From my children, I learned
to Become a Tree,
strong of trunk, to support them,
supple of bough, so as not
to tether them
when they needed to fly away.

From friends, I learned
that, since they believed in me,
there must be something there
to believe in.
They loved me until
I slowly learned
how to love myself.

From dogs, especially my black wolf,
I learned what unconditional love
and devotion felt like. That is why
it hurt so much to lose them.

From the sky, I learned
the art of
Always Looking Up.
From the wind, I learned to listen
for Mother Earth's song.

From the ocean, I learned
where I at last belonged.
From life, I learned the lesson
of loss and letting go.

From old age I learn
to tether myself lightly,
that time is fleeting,
tomorrow is not promised,
and to take joy in sunshine
and happy dogs on a beach,
and how where I am, right now, 
is Enough.


Saturday, January 2, 2021



image borrowed from facebook
no copyright infringement intended

One day in 2010, I was walking Pup at the end of our road, thinking about the stressful time I was going through, when I looked up to see several rainbows arcing across the sky. It was glorious. These lines began coming as I gazed in wonder.......

When you are hanging onto
the very last edge 
    of the edge
of the skinniest branch,
and you feel your grasp slipping,
   look up!
There's a sky full of rainbows,
row upon row of them,
shining up there,
to tell you that
all will be well
   all will be well
      all will be exceedingly well.
God's in their heaven
in the so clear air,
and all will be
exceedingly well.

When the grayest of rain clouds
has just dumped its deluge
   upon you,
and you are mopping your eyes
and wringing out your hair,
   look quickly!
You just might glimpse
the shine of angel wings
   hovering there,
at the very edge of
your peripheral vision,
to encourage you and I
that, on the other side
of this trauma
or sadness or challenge,
the radiant dawn
of a brand new day
lies somewhere
just waiting
to break across your
morning sky.

When you have reached
the very limit
of what you feel you can
or should withstand,
when the stress has
weighed you down so far,
you're not sure exactly
how you will pull through,
go out to where the water
meets the mountain.
See the waterfall
tumble down its slopes
   for you.
Watch the eagle
lift out of the mist
into the shrouded skies.
Take a deep breath
and believe,
just like the eagle,
your spirit, too,
your spirit once more
   will rise.

A hopeful note for a new year at earthweal, for its 51st open link. Wow, that year went by so fast, and so full of challenges, who could keep up? I have a great elephant story to tell there on Monday. I hope you will stop by.