Monday, March 29, 2021

How We Hold It Together


I'm thinking today of how
another crazed man armed with a knife
killed a person and injured six others
in front of the Lynn Valley Library
yesterday in North Van. 
This used to happen in the U.S.,
but now it is happening here,
hate crossing the border.
The dark hearts have been unleashed
and given permission; they
are enjoying the unfettering
of their violent impulses.

How will we ever get these disturbed genies
back in their bottles?
The good news: the people who intervened
to save lives, who kept the man there
till policemen arrived.

I'm thinking of how we hold it together:
the bottle of red wine I carry home
for watching the news; a treat for dessert;
good books and old familiar movies;
a heart-leap, noting pink edges
on the fat, bursting, ready-to-open cherry buds
on the big old trees out front;
a treat and a pat on the head
for the wolf-dog next door,
who lifts my heart with his
wild and toothy grin.

Somehow we still make a life,
make a living with whatever is at hand:
sunshine and forest walks, a chat with
a neighbour, kindness, given and received,
wherever we can find it.

Meanwhile, the big wheels we cannot control
continue their ominous turning.
Hillsides bleed tears; forest defenders stand
in front of logging trucks.
Fish trawlers empty the ocean,
no thought to the generations ahead
who will have no fish.
Capitalism gobbles the world faster than
we can replenish it. Our hearts ache
for all we are losing: forests and shorelines,
as all the wild ones silently disappear.

We are a small universe among other universes,
the poet says. That gives me some peace.
If not us, then some creatures, someday,
will open their eyes on a natural world
once again. They will begin their careful living,
understanding what we have so clearly
not understood: put back what you take,
so that all of the future
can live.

Inspired by "After Reading There Might Be an Infinite Number of Dimensions" by Martha Silano. The italicized lines are hers. The universe line is Brendan's, at earthweal, where we are contemplating turning points.

A Dream for the Wild Ones


We are past the tipping point,
deny it though we try:
sea-rise and weeping mountainsides,
deaf to the wild ones' cries.

As the people fled Chernobyl,
the wild ones entered in,
now living in a dream world
free of their human kin.

I dream a time, some worlds away,
when life  begins again,
a small wolf cub with its mother
in a safe and sheltered den.

A universe among universes
may give the heart some ease,
that one day earth will breathe again
as freely as she please.

A small ditty for Brendan's spectacular prompt at earthweal: The Turning Point.

Friday, March 26, 2021



The Hanging Garden Tree 
on the Tall Tree Trail, Meares Island

Trees are portals of living memory,
doorway to mystery and secret dimensions,
above and below-ground.
A tree is a vault of stored history,
songs and dances of the old ones,
forever remembered.
They have recorded every lonely wolf howl,
caw of Raven, piercing cry of Eagle.
If you place your ear to a mossy trunk,
you might hear a whisper of whalesong;
lie down and listen under the earth,
to the pulse of life traveling
along the roots
across the forest floor.

It is sacred, here.

We enter their world as visitors.
We listen.
In deep, deep peace,
our heart rate slows.
We breathe,
and are renewed.

I place my hand on your trunk,
Sister Tree,
in wonder,
   in connection,
     in solidarity,
       in gratitude,
with deep respect
and admiration.

Your forest, my cathedral,
I enter humbly, as a guest.
I come away

The word I am looking for, here,
I suppose, is reverence.


I borrowed the phrase "trees are portals" from advertising about an event  held in Stanley Park,  Vancouver, in 2016 by the Aeriosa and Spakwus Slulem Eagle Song Dancers. Their art card stated "Old growth trees in Stanley Park are living portals. Witnesses of ancient Coast Salish celebrations and ceremonies, they are the connectors, the ones who will remember today's songs and dances when we too are gone." What a beautiful thing to think about. Befriend a tree, will long remember you. 

shared with the open link at earthweal

Monday, March 22, 2021



Fairy Creek Valley
TJ Watt photo

I remember standing on the road
in the Summer of '93,
hundreds of us, holding placards,
hearts high on hope, and singing.
We stopped the trucks from rolling in.
It took the love of thousands.

It is 28 years later (!!!)
There are only a few
ancient forests left
on this Island that I love.
And now they're coming
for the big trees at Fairy Creek.

I can hear the Old Ones 
sorrowing on the breeze.
Cry of raven, song of wolf
plead with us to save
their forest home.

The trees tremble in fear,
holding hands across
the forest floor,as the noisy
grappleyarders move in.

Bring out your drums,
fine people.
Put on your jingle-skirts;
don your medicine bundles.
Shore up your hearts with
love of wilderness,
of life, of the hope
of a tomorrow for all beings.
Shine up your courage;
fortify your hearts.
Meet us on the road;
there will be dancing
and fellowship
until the trucks roll in.

The law will tell you to disperse.
Stand strong! This is not 
the time to falter or to bend.
Time to listen to the trees,
who are speaking with
their leafy tongues:

Thank you for coming.
We are with you.
We see the kindness
in your hearts.

The last of the Standing People
are calling. We place our bodies
on the road. We will stand firm.

If the Old Ones fall at Fairy Creek
there won't be much of a story
left to tell.

for my challenge at earthweal: Old Growth: Last Stand at Fairy Creek.

As I was looking at earlier poems, to spark some ideas for this poem, I found this one. I include it, just to give you a smile:

Grandmother Cedar,
instead of cutting you
to be pulped into toilet paper,
for wiping the
disconnected assholes
of the world,
we should be

Friday, March 19, 2021

A Bed for Wolves


Tall Tree Trail 1989

When I die,
perch me in the bowl
of an ancient cedar 
- gently! -
don't crush the mosses.
Let my eyes face the sea,
my ears attune to
the tides and the patter
of the rain
on the leaves.
Let me sway gently
in the winter gales,
supple and bending
like a Taoist gentleman
practicing Tai Chi.
When, in time, I topple out,
come back and make a nest for me
of rotted nurselog and dampened salal.
Add a blanket
of thick moss
and old man's beard.
Tap it down lightly.
Let it become
a bed
for wolves.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Not the Great Canadian Novel


We're not writing the Great Canadian Novel here,
just putting some words down to say
I was here and this is what is happening
on the day after St. Patrick's Day, 2021,
a nod back in time to my great-grandmother Julie,
who fled the potato famine in County Cork,
and wed a man laying track for
the first railroad across North America.
A hard-bitten life.

As a girl, my grandma saw
the ruts in the ground made by
covered wagons not that long before.
She lived almost 100 years,
in a different time
than we do. Even my childhood
felt sweeter, kinder, simpler.
There was no excess, just careful living
by those who had hungered
through the Great Depression.

There was judgement and racism, yes,
but there were no mass shootings
by fanatical white supremacists.
There was the Ku Klux Klan
down South, but they
were not members of the Senate,
trying to destroy democracy from within
and calling it patriotism.

We're not writing the Great Canadian Novel here.
Perhaps it would classify as a prophetic
Orwellian nightmare gone awry,
more apocalyptic than those
ahead-of-their-time writers could ever
have foreseen. I hold onto hope
from crisis to crisis, and ride the waves
of everything in between.

Inspired by "We're Not Writing Anthologies Here" by Maya Stein

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Being Human


photo by Christine Lowther

This being human is a walk
through an old growth forest,
head tipped back, gazing at
the reaching boughs. It is
a slow stroll along a sandy beach
stretching to forever at twilight,
the great song of the rolling waves
lulling one into peace.

This being human is a long look back
at years shimmering in the golden haze
of reverie; the recognition that,
back then, we did not comprehend
the magical time we were living through:
Elton and the Beatles turning
on the turntable, as our heroes fell,
one by one, to the bullets' arc;
as we gave peace a chance, then gave up
as our last hero fell on a New York sidewalk.

This being human  is a revolving door.
Some characters in our play
come to stay; others visit
more than once, then push themselves
out and away.

In the end being human is accepting
that the race has been run;
we have learned - or not - the lessons
that we came here to learn.
We sit, nodding gently,
in deck chairs in the sun.
What shines the brightest
is all that happened when
we'd only just begun,
and all our songs were still waiting
to be sung.

for the prompt at dVerse, which struck a chord: to use This being human as a starting point for your poem.

Monday, March 15, 2021



Takaya, beloved by Vancouver Island residents,
killed by a hunter March 24, 2020
TJ Watts photo

For eight years, you loved me,
watched me, told stories about me,
listened to my songs.

I was your connection
to the wild,
to Mystery,
to a world in which you have
forgotten you belong.

You love wolves, you say,
yet hunters are allowed
to kill us every year.
"It's legal," they justify.
But is it right?
Of you, my kind
lives in great fear.

We live in peace.
We stay as far away from Man
as we can.
But you have left us little space
in which to be.
And every time there is a choice
of territorial rights,
you choose you
and murder me.

That day, I was
enjoying the sun.
I had not eaten yet;
the day had just begun.
I smelled his presence,
but other humans
had been kind.
The bullet hit me with such shock.
He left only my tag

I see some of you have tears
that I am gone.
It was prescience,
the lonely notes
you heard last winter
in my song.

Takaya's last smile
two days before he was killed
- so trusting
TJ Watt photo

Takaya's tag

Takaya lived for eight years on a small island within swimming distance of Victoria, the southern point of Vancouver Island. First Nations believed he carried the spirit of one of their elders who died just before his appearance. He lived wild, on his own small island, but had formed a trusting relationship with a photographer, Cheryl Alexander. Sometimes when she was sitting just being near him, he would lie down at a short distance. Through her photos, and those of TJ Watt, who took the photos in this post, the public came to know and love Takaya.

All winter in 2020, people heard his lonely howls. In March, whether looking for food or seeking a mate, he swam to the city across the bay and trotted down the city street. I feared for him. Because he was so beloved, wildlife officials did not dare to kill him, as is often the case in such situations. They tranquilized him and released him in unfamiliar territory, which usually spells a death sentence for a wolf, alone in other wolves' territory. But, as usual, it was a human, a trophy hunter, who killed him two weeks later. Hunters are allowed to kill two wolves a year.

We know it was Takaya, because he was the only wolf on Vancouver Island with a yellow tag. It broke the hearts of many. WHEN will humans evolve enough to allow wild creatures the same right to live we claim for ourselves? Asking for my friend Takaya.

for Brendan's wonderful prompt at earthweal: The Animal Gaze - most often, a tale of struggle.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Fox-Heart, Leaping


Surreal Artwork by Ronald Ong

My heart leaped
from summer into winter
when you left,
swift fox-heart
pouncing into grief
so suddenly,
with no time
to prepare.
It crossed
an endless Gulag winter
before emerging into
the leafyness
 of spring.
Foxy leaps from green
to white,
then slowly back again.
listening keenly
to Earth's heartbeat
to find its way
towards sunny days
once more.

Sharing with the foxy poets at the Sunday Muse!

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Paws Up


Jasmine, my golden girl,
paws up

On earth, you live like rushing water,
but there is something to be said
for slowing the pace, suspending
the clamouring mind, and simply
sitting in a chair in the sun.

The world passes by, in cars, or
at the end of leashes, smiling dogs
and their people walking up the hill.
Sometimes, they wave.
I wave back.
They look at me, sitting outside
the seniors' home, and mistakenly think
my life must be dull. Oh, how wrong
they are! My mind might be
walking a mountain trail in Tibet,
in search of the snow leopard.
It might be swooping and darting
with the hummingbirds, checking out
the state of the almost-ready-to-bloom
cherry blossoms. It might be mining 
the richest source of all, 
travelling all the way back in time,
remembering, remembering 
when the world and I were young,
when all the love songs that ever were
were still ahead, all waiting to be sung.

What wisdom could come from sleeping in the sun?
In my blue chair, thoughts still, contented,
breathing in one more gloriously unfolding spring,
I feel the wisdom, learned rather late,
of simply Being, enjoying the Now,
(while there still is a Now),
all striving over and accomplished,
more than happy with What Is, especially
the sweet rooms behind me,
me basking out front like
an old dog on her back, paws up,
warmed by the golden balm of this
early springtime sun.

Italicized lines from "Promotion Review in the Afterlife" by Brynn Gribben

Wednesday, March 10, 2021



This poem is a conclave of elves.
This poem is a fairy tale,
told to a small child by her grandmother
This poem is a cup of my Grandma's tea.

This poem is chock full of elves
clustered under a speckled toadstool in the forest.
They are hiding from a small girl-child,
peeping out from under the toadstool's rim
with eyes that winkle and shine.
This poem is a conclave of elves.

This poem is a small girl sitting in front of the fire
listening to stories, on long, quiet winter afternoons.
"Watch the blue fairies, dancing in the flames,"
her grandma says, and she looks,
and sees the fairies.
This story has no beginning, and no end.

This poem is a song sung by druids
in the springs and groves of a woodland dell,
as violet shadows lengthen at close of day.
This poem has standing stones in it, and ghosts,
myth and blarney from County Cork,
laced with a spoon of golden honey
in a shamrock teacup of amber verbena,
a cup of my grandmother's tea.

This poem is a conclave of elves,
winkling and shining in stories of long ago.
This poem is a fairy tale told to a small child
by a Grandmother who knew
small children need mothering.
This poem is a cup of my Grandma's tea,
in a time whose memory shines more brightly than today.

* Celtic and Welsh meanings for the word druid are seers, and sorcerers. Poets may be numbered among this group. Smiles. They played an important part in ancient pagan Celtic society according to Wikipedia.

This poem, written in 2015, is (mostly) patterned after Hannah Gosselin's wonderful Boomerang Metaphor Poem form, introduced at Real Toads in 2014. One of my favourite forms. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021



Only when you have lost everything,
multiple times, starting over and over again,
can you really appreciate the warmth
of that hand held out, those twinkling eyes,
recognize a fellow being, heart full of compassion
and lived experience, who, one day,
had a hand held out to him, in turn,
and is passing kindness along.

This bus we’re on takes us on a grand adventure.
We don’t know where we’re going,
but we gasp at the view through the window.
We go up hills, motor sputtering so badly
we aren’t sure we’ll make it,
then coast down the other side, praying
the brakes don’t fail
and we’ll arrive alive at our destination.

Out the window we might spy
a car on fire, at an intersection.
We pass too quickly to ever know
if the people inside got out alive.
Sometimes there is a dead deer,
hit by a car and left by the side of the road.
One prays there isn’t an orphaned fawn nearby.

We all start out with dreams
and pay with heartbreak.
We gain and lose so much,
our hearts stay dizzy.
There is dark and light
in the hearts of humankind,
so we turn to dogs and cats and horses
with their devoted, peaceful,
uncomplicated hearts;
together with our fur companions
we heal the pain of being
creatures on this earth.

When I think of kindness,
I look to Mother Nature, who,
despite the climate crisis,
forest fires, floods and pandemic
- in spite of all we have taken
and taken and taken without giving back -
still rolls out one more
splendid springtime for our delight,
with its nesting birds, budding blossoms,
tall brave daffodils, small spotted fawns,
moving through the cycle of growth
as hopeful as She ever was,
moving always towards the restoration
of all that has been lost -
a kindness which should
inspire our hearts to walk
more humbly, sensitive always
to the weight of our footprint
on her wild and beating

inspired by "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye

Playing Hide 'n Seek with the Muse


The Muse first whispered in my ear
when I was fourteen, sitting at my desk
in school. She insisted I write down
the words she gave me:

Each acquaintance on the road to Never
whispers through the soul

the poem began and, from that day,
the words have never ceased.

During the busy raising-children years,
the poems were fewer, farther in between.
I felt the guilt; I knew writing was a gift.

In 2010, the poems were faltering
for lack of nurture, until I found
the online poetry circuit, where, 
for happy years of give-and-take
we all were writing at the top of our game.

It was in those years that Wild Woman
began to speak. Some days, I wrote as me;
on other days, Wild Woman wrote the poems.

But she is weary now. The poems
are less poem than words transcribed
by a faltering pen.
I remain grateful to still be here,
and writing anything at all.  Grateful 
to know so many poets around the world.
Grateful to appreciate that, as long
as there is a world, there will be poets,
bearing witness to the burn and the beauty,
the sorrow and the wild, galloping joy,
the incomparable adventure
that is life.

This poet knows her best poems are behind her. But I am grateful to be still connected to a community of poets, still sharing words and observations on the journey.

For Brendan at earthweal where he invites us to explore the nature of poetry.

Saturday, March 6, 2021


image copyright Gaby Harig

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


shore birds on the sand
lift, dart, swoop and land as one
summer joy in flight


in the following I tried 7-5-7

Luna leaves as Sol arrives
Sun and Moon - same sky
little boat chugs happily

Haiku from 2014, shared with earthweal's open link

There's a Pandemic


There's a pandemic,
and the shelves of my pantry
are stocked with rice and legumes.
In the event of an apolcalypse,
I will survive for a while,
to be further horrified by 
our resistance to evolving.

There's a pandemic,
and days go slowly,
yet weeks and months gallop by.
My whole being has slowed
into a pace well suited
to my time of life:
leisurely mornings,
putting off domestic chores
till that eternal tomorrow,
maybe a sweet walk
through early spring,
a classic movie in the afternoon.
If a poem pops up,
that's a bonus.

There's a pandemic, and,
after a year of marching in place,
wearing our masks,
washing our hands,
we have adapted into cautious beings.
Now the variants are mobilizing,
the vaccine racing it
to see which reaches the most hosts.

There's a pandemic,
and nothing is promised.
We enjoy the days we have,
blessedly free of illness,
so far,
waiting for the needle
that will give us some sense
of relief and safety.
The 90 year olds are being seen
this week, and I am only 74.

The italicized line is from the poem "Poem I Wrote After I Asked You if Cereal Can Expire" by Catherine Cohen.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Almost, I Can Hear the Singing

It's okay not to know where you are, 
the poet said.
It's also okay to know,
to understand I am poised
at the edge of the riverbank,
the ferryman coming
around the bend.

The woman said, when she
came back from death, she
had found herself crossing
a great plain towards a river.
She could hear the ferryman
and the people on board, singing.
She did not climb aboard.
Instead, she came back
to tell the tale.

So I stand on the riverbank,
knowing the ferryman
is on his way.
What I have is this day and,
with great luck, the next,
in which to love
this beautiful wild world,
this wide sky.
Almost, almost, I can hear
the singing.

This morning six fat robins
perched plumply
on the branches
of the cherry tree.
I put my birdsong cd
on the stereo,
cracked the window
so they can hear,
hoping they'll join in.
Almost, I can hear the singing,
their little hearts, and mine,
so full of joy.

The incident I relate is true. A friend of my grandma's told her this story about her near-death experience. The italicized line is from the poem "Tonight I Can Almost Hear the Singing" by Silvia Curbelo, from the Wild Writing exercise by Laurie Wagner. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

No Words Till 2 A.M.

ABC News photo

No words for the lives, human and
non-human, lost to covid,
to extinction, to flood and famine,
to wildfire and winter storm.

No words for the ways of death
we keep living, in spite of clear evidence
that we are committing ecological genocide.

How to wrap one's mind and spirit
around the guilt of our species,
especially we white colonists
who have emptied the Garden,
and put nothing back?

The unsayable words: Mea culpa. 
The unanswerable truth:
have we wakened too late
to restore and heal Mother Earth?

The icebergs are melting.
I say that calmly. But we should 
be shrieking in terror:
The icebergs are melting!!!

The nightly news has become
a litany of devastation
to which we become immune
in order to live with
any hope at all.

The unsayable turns itself
into words at 2 a.m.,
as we lie awake
staring at the ceiling,
knowing the bill is coming due,
during our own lifetime,
knowing it will be our grandchildren
who will pay the steeper price.

Meanwhile, the conspiracy theorists
are setting matches to snow,
to see if it melts, because the Texas storm
had to be a hoax.
For them I have no words at all.
Their reason has fled.

for Brendan at earthweal: The Unsayable

I saw a report that some people actually believe the Texas snowstorm was a hoax. I think a portion of our human population has lost its mind. Sadly, they seem to have a lot of support in their determination to seize back control and make the rest of us as crazy as they are.

"Fake snow" link: