Friday, April 30, 2021

Into the Wildwood


Two of my four great-grandchildren,
Journey and Lunabella

When I want desperately
to save the whole world
and all of its suffering
animals and people,
but I can't,
I go into the wildwood,
where the yew tree drips soft rain
onto the ferns below,
all standing at attention,
faces upturned gratefully,
deeply drinking.

It is difficult to care so much
about all that is broken, unjust,
full of pain, where there should be
joy and thriving,
equity and promise.

How can I tell Lunabella,
with her eyes so full of dreams,
who has never known anything but joy,
that the world is dangerous,
and one day will hurt her, cloud her
luminous eyes with tears?

"You are wise and brave,"
I will say, instead,
"and your dreams
will take you journeying."

I will tell her, "Listen for
the singing birds within the forest.
Place your hand on the trunk
of Grandfather Cedar;
feel his heartbeat.
Bathe under the smile
of Grandmother Moon.
When the world feels prickly,
go into the forest, and
allow the nature spirits,
the trees and the wild ones
to fill you with peace."

When I want so desperately
to save the world and all its
suffering ones, but can't,
I walk by the sea,
where the only sound
is the song of the waves,
roaring and mighty,
beating in time with my heart.
My footsteps on the sand,
weighted by the earth grief I carry,
wash away behind me,
as I turn my face towards
those better tomorrows
that must emerge
from all of this sorrow
for the sake of
Lunabella, and Journey,
and for
all the children.

shared with earthweal's open link 

Heart Notes


This is what beauty looks like:
not magazine beauty, but inner glow,
truth shining out of bright eyes,
kind smiles. Beauty begins
from the inside out, and rarely
looks like a supermodel.

Beauty is the strength one gains
by living one's allotted years;
it encompasses joy and pain,
love and many losses. It doesn't 
count the cost. It is revealed,
not in the falling, but in the rising,
as you rise and rise and rise again.

Beauty lies in the laugh lines
around your eyes; it is heard
in your cackle, seen in
your ready smile, your hand held out,
your "how can I help?"
It is a thing, not of countenance,
but of character. 

It is hard-won. You know you have it
when you can make your tea
on a ridiculously lonely afternoon,
and still have a song in your heart.

Inspired by "Beneath the Sweater and the Skin" by Jeanette Encinias / Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. The italicized lines are Jeanette's.



Mother Earth
is so bountiful
with her gifts.

Life abounds everywhere;
small universes surround us:
mussells, starfish, anemones
in the tide pools,
fern, fungus, moss, and
old man's beard in the forest.

Geese fly overhead in formation,
spreading in wide v's, honking
their joy. Blossoms fall from branches
heavy with early springtime bloom.
The hummingbirds arrive.
Orcas dive and surface
down in the harbour.

Whole populations of bugs and bees
and butterflies carry out
their forward-pointed lives,
much as we do, thinking there will
always be more time.

Life thrives on the hope
of ever more life.
When wounded, the Earth Mother
immediately sets about
healing herself, putting forth 
new tendrils that grow up
through the fissures
to cover the lesions.

The news reports so many species dying.
I comfort myself by walking forest trail
and sandy shore, to witness how,
in spite of all, nature is always
working so hard
to live.

Day 30 My word was Bountiful

Thursday, April 29, 2021


Music was the sound track of our lives.
Those old tunes take me back to
those bright days when we were young
and all our songs were still
waiting to be sung.

I could look back and see only mistakes,
the ups and downs and inevitable heartbreaks,
but all that time my heart was being honed
the way a carver frees a butterfly
too long encased in stone.

Inspired by "Music for Guitar and Stone" by Ruth Shwarz


Looking back at a life that began
with years of trauma,
and the inevitability of
the poor choices that followed,
one might see only mistakes.

They asked, back then,
"what's wrong with you?"
The question they should have asked
is "what happened to you?"
Then I might have known
what to answer.

Now I look back in wonder
that, despite all the poor choices
(that I didn't even know were choices),
my life has been so full of wonder:
the gentle people who came my way
and showed me another way to live,
the inner quest that strove for freedom,
my life-changing odyssey to the sea,
and all that followed after -
the fact that I left pain behind
and that there has been
so much laughter.

Inspired by Oprah's interview on Dr. Oz where she described how we are impacted by childhood trauma, the question in italics is one she quoted from her book "What Happened To You?" which really resonated with me, a child of trauma who endured more trauma in my young adult years. I can never regret those painful years though, much as I wish they might have been kinder, because they gave me my four children, who made the journey with me and who are all amazing.

Living Well With Little


My grandparents, who raised five kids
through the Depression, knew what it was
to be frugal. In Grandma's kitchen drawer
was coiled string and neatly folded
brown paper, for re-use.

They lived modestly in a small wartime cottage.
They never bought anything remotely luxurious,
never replaced their furniture, upgraded
or redecorated. Grandpa had two suits,
one for everyday and one for "good".
Grandma had a pink dress and a light blue dress
in the same style, made by a seamstress,
worn alternately.  I can picture them now
as clearly as sixty years ago.

My family was impoverished,
but my grandma was shocked
at the expensive cuts of meat 
my parents sometimes indulged in.

I often imagine how horrified
Grandma would be at the price
of a car or a house these days.
(I am shocked myself.)

From the Depression to Baby Boomers
to today, we have forgotten the lessons 
of frugality. Landfills, an ocean
garbage patch, and a walk along
any street or shore are proof
we have become
a throwaway society. I think of
my Grandma's kitchen drawer:
the neatly coiled string, the brown paper,
the economical but comforting meals
rolling out at the same time every day,
providing a road map for me
out of chaos and into a
more orderly life.

Day 29 Elizabeth's word for me was Frugal

Wednesday, April 28, 2021



Words have led me on a journey
all of this lifetime: they waited for me
in busy years, when I felt guilty 
because I knew I should be writing.
They flew onto the page as fast
as I could write in those heady years
when all we poets were writing
at the top of our game.

Now all of that has gone quiet.
Visits are few. But the work
is still the work. I show up
every morning. I allow the words
to come and show me
what they have to say.

I write because that is the work
I am meant to be doing.
I will write anyway.

Day 28 

Inspired by Mothering Myself by  Felicia Rose Chavez

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Where I Come From [2015]


364 Christleton Avenue

I come from apple orchards and sweet-scented blossoms, from sweet pea and lilac, a canvas hammock slung under a weeping willow, wet bathing suits hung on the line, that dont have time to dry out before the next swim. I come from lake-scent and marsh grasses, the smell of summer mornings taking me back fifty years to a little cottage on Christleton Avenue. I come from brown hills covered with wild yellow daisies, the smell of sage and Ponderosa pine, and songs about tumbling tumbleweed. I come from weeping willow and poplar, and the gentle lapping of baby waves against the shore, from bullrushes and horsetail, that I tried to pick apart when I was not as tall as the green stalks. I come from bike rides past old country farms, as evening falls, the meadowlark singing its melodic song from the pasture.


I come from a cackling grandma and a twinkling grandpa, shiny dimes tucked into tiny white envelopes, to buy a popsicle and some dubble bubble. I come from a small sleepy orchard town surrounded by mountains, the Big Blue Hills of my childhood, and a lake down the street where the best day was finding a log to bounce up and down on, when the waves began to dance.

I come from family visits where the stove never grew cold, pancakes the size of skillets, with brown sugar on top, and strawberry shortcake served to the menfolk in serving bowls, with cackles and great hoots of laughter, Grandpa thumping the salt and pepper shakers, which were never in the right place.

The Marrs 
 from left to right: Don, Audrey, my mother Renee,
Cecile and LaVergne ~
Grandpa and Grandma Marr in front

I come from a line of strong women and gallant, devoted men, all the beautiful aunts and uncles with the trademark round Marr eyes, so impossibly glamorous to we freckled awkward children, as the ice tinkled in the glasses, and the stories and laughter filled the happy hours. I come from a little house on Christleton Avenue, that spawned generations of cacklers, and launched us all like little bouncing ships, that came and went from its shores, through the busy years, until, one by one, they came no more.

I come from dates in two-tone '55 Chevys, with guys with slicked back duck tails, who showed up smelling of talcum powder and polished leather upholstery. We would troll up one side of Bernard Avenue, through City Park, and down the other side, seeing and being seen, then do it all again.

I come from rose-scent and whisperings on soft summer evenings, in a small town full of rose and lilac dreams, from all the sad songs of broken promises and heartbreak, whose words would become a prophecy: Blue Velvet, Mr Lonely, Cryin' Over You, from a love of dancing in a girl who rarely got to dance once she was grown, a lover of song who slowly, over the years, forgot to sing.

When I go back to that town, I visit all the beautiful loved ones in the cemetery on the hill, where this week we will lay one more gently down, to join his parents and siblings in Heaven.


I took my flock of ducklings back to this town to nest when they and the world were young and, when the fledglings had flown, I gathered the wind under my wings and made a prodigious leap across the desert, over the mountains, to the edge of the western sea, where the waves had long been calling me.


And now I come from ocean roar and pounding waves, galloping into shore like white-maned horses, from sea and sky and scudding clouds, cry of the gull, wing of the eagle, small darting sandpipers, long-legged heron, long sandy beaches stretching to forever, and always and forever, forever and always, the song of the sea, waves advancing and retreating on the shores of my heart.


I am old-growth forest and morning fog, and the moo of the foghorn at Lennard Light, sunrises and sunsets, and the long lope of wolves along the shore as the dusk purples the sand and we take one last lingering look, then turn towards home.


These are the things that shaped me. I wrote this in 2015, on a weekend when my sister and I went to Kelowna when my last remaining uncle was dying. We drove around to all the places we had lived, as we always do; we visited the graveyard. On Friday night, there I was, with family, in my home town, in a springtime full of blossoms, listening to the songs of my youth. Wow. My uncle who had just passed away , was the last living sibling of my mother. His wife, our aunt, is still with us. The original Marr family is now reunited in heaven.



I travel by cane these days,
tap tap tap,
reminding myself of my grandma
tapping her way back to the seniors' home
from my place, a tear running down her cheek.
She was homesick all those last years
of her long life. For a time, as I aged,
I was homesick too, until the universe
opened a way for me to come home.

This is life in motion. We are all traveling,
even when staying still,
walking through this light together
towards our hidden but certain destinations.

Field notes: a black bear is
ponderously pacing the Tonquin trails.
An owl called early this morning
from the park across the street:
They are traveling too.

Sometimes I journey while sitting 
out front near the cherry trees,
head tipped back:
an eagle circles overhead,
reminding me of my daughter
mourning the move from the place
where eagles flew over her house.
Or I find myself back in the past,
moving through memories
of all the shining years,
lake-scent and whispering
engraved on my heart.

I return from these travels
humbled and grateful
to find myself, like a miracle,
here, in my life,
just the way I had
for so long
dreamed it to be.

Day 27

The italicized words are from "Transportation" by Kristen Lindquist

Monday, April 26, 2021




Braid the cattles' horns with daisies
now the winter's finally passed.
The pretty maidens all come lilting
one by one across the grass,
flowers in their hair, and singing,
dresses glimmering soft and sweet,
and they dance around the maypole,
tripping softly on light feet.

The Beltane fire is burning,
casting embers on the lawn.
Make your wish, set your intention
before the spring has come and gone.

Gather 'round the fire, my sisters.
Lift your pretty skirts up high.
One great leap, your curls a-flying,
as the lads all pine and sigh.

You're a mix of strong emotions,
half-demure, yet mostly wild.
Ride your wild-horse heart with caution,
half-woman, still mostly child.

Dance around the pretty maypole.
One by one, you claim your power.
From girl to woman you are changing,
like the springtime claims its hour.

for Sarah Connor at earthweal, as we contemplate Beltane.

Energy, the Lack Of


Wild Woman isn't very wild
any more.
She has so little energy.
When she tries to watch a movie
in the afternoon,
she falls asleep, then
wakes up feeling
ripped off.

It's the burning question of the Aged:
Prone or Properly Propped Up?
Prettily Prepped or
Just Plain Pooped?
Problematically Pampered or
Perilously Placed?
Peacefully Placid or 
Prankishly Perpendicular?

The aging parental problem
poses a plethora of
plausible possibilities, and
I think Wild Woman
just ran out of P's.

This is what can happen on Day 26 of Poetry Month. The word Elizabeth gave me was Energy.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Rebellion as a Coping Mechanism


Protect What You Love

This is not a political protest.
This is an uprising of the soul.
David Brower,

What does a Wild Woman do
when the news continues to astound,
when the very last old growth forests
on her Island - and in her village -
are being cut down,
when covid numbers are starting to climb
after a year of compliance
because people are "getting tired"?
(Oh. Boo-hoo.)

She sighs.
She pours a second glass of wine,
because one doesn't do it any more.
(Careful! She knows that is a very
slippery slope. Don't worry.
Never more than two.
It's her mantra.)

She turns off the news.
She would like to write a poem
that inspires hope, lifts hearts.
But she is so freaking tired.

Forgive her. She is old.
She has lived several ages.
This one is Too Hard.
(We are in Recovery from trump.
This will take time.)

But she has always Lived In Hope,
so that flame is still stubbornly flickering.
Perhaps Rebellion is simply
Never Giving Up?

What we have is today:
brilliant April sunshine,
trees full of blossoms and hummingbirds,
we have masks and social distancing,
old growth coming down, viruses from
salmon farms killing all the wild salmon,
we have bears and whales and wolves
starving for lack of salmon -
beauty and grief all mixed together,
because this is where we're at.

Wild Woman is aware, and
what she knows hurts,
but she is awake enough to be grateful:
for another generation of
forest defenders following
in her footsteps at the blockades,
for blue skies, and a sweet spring sun,
for a dog with a wagging tail
and smiling eyes, who stands
on his hind legs at her window
to invite her out to play, (bring treats!)
for still being alive, on Planet Earth,
with its clouds, and soft sea breezes,
its sandy beaches stretching to Forever -
for the gift of 74 years
upon this most beautiful
- this struggling-to-survive-
this needing-our-help planet.

What does a Wild Woman do?
She prays, she hopes, she dreams,
- she may cry a little -
she writes poems, writes letters
to every possible government official, and,
having done all she can realistically do,
goes off to bed and prays for a
Transformation of Human Consciousness
on the morrow.

When they tell us about extinction,
Rebellion becomes trying as hard as we can
to save what we are in imminent danger
of losing, to our
eternal sorrow.

Day 25
My word was Rebellion. For me that is all tied up with activism. I can't just watch all the old growth and salmon disappear, the wild things becoming increasingly homeless, all to make corporation CEO's wealthier at the expense of everyone and everything else. The science is clear. We have to make governments listen to us instead of corporations - or elect leaders who will. Like yesterday. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The River Wild


Stamp Falls
by Dan Aman, The Heart of Vancouver Island

In the piney-woods,
the path is scattered with pine cones
and fallen branches,
ground soft and springy underfoot,
smell of canopy and trees,
song of the river
wild in winter flood.

The rough bark of Grandfather Cedar
tells the story of a thousand years
of standing in one place.
When you look up,
when you lay your hand
against his trunk,
when you listen,
you can feel and hear his message:

Look into this little pocket of forest,
draped in moss and old man's beard,
salal springing up everywhere,
ferns and fiddleheads,
small white winter berries,
toadstools and wild morel,
every inch alive with myriad life forms,
an entire ecosystem can exist here,
in a patch
no bigger than
your hand.

Listen to the silence,
alive with the forest's breathing,
and the secrets
only the forest knows.
If you take the time,
this old tree
will share with you
his wisdom.

The river is wild in winter.
It expends its force
tumbling and crashing over rocks,
rushing the banks
and frothing white and foamy
through the canyon.

Sit a spell.
Just Be.
Breathe the river in,
breathe your worries out.

The word I'm looking for, here,
is reverence.

From 2012  for earthweal's open link. When I lived inland, Stamp Falls and its river was the wildest place I could find. Pup and I went there often.

Abandoning Haste as a Life Choice


Marry in haste,
repent at leisure,
the playwright* said in 1693,
a lesson this wide-eyed girl
without a clue in 1963 
learned a bit too late
to do me any good.

Life has such haste and urgency
when we are young: the hustle,
the bustle, the fleetness, the flurry,
the scamper, the scurry.

No wonder I'm so tired
after all that rush and kafuffle.
No wonder I slowed it all down
the minute I didn't have to
work three jobs just to survive
any more. (Thank you, Old Age Pension!)
How I love my slow mornings
with large cups of tea, surveying
spring blossoms. My fridge magnet
says it all: "You know you're old
when happy hour is a nap."
It used to be a joke. Now
it is the truth.

Smiles. Day 24

*William Congreve, in The Old Bachelour

Friday, April 23, 2021

Joy is Cherry Blossoms in the Sun


Right here, right now, 
I am gazing at cherry blossoms.
The next-door dog is
rolling and rubbing himself
on the lawn, making us laugh,
reminding me of my own wolf-dog,
how he cracked me up every day,
how, at times, he tried so hard
to talk.

What is wisdom?
What is letting go?
the poet asks.
I ponder.

Now is the time for
long, slow days, sitting
in the sun remembering:
all the losses, all the gifts,
the hellos and the goodbyes.
How joyously we welcomed in
all of those highs,
how we mourned all the lows.
And yet what we were mourning
were the things that had brought us
the most happiness. So were they even
losses in the end?

Perhaps wisdom is
the letting go,
the acceptance of
Being Here Now.

I cast my mind back
through all the years,
plucking out this memory,
and that, like silver-backed salmon
from shining seas.

Truly, I am not counting losses
at all, but only gifts. Old age
is a time when we have let go
of the pain, remembering only
the joy.

Day 23

The italicized lines are from Barbie Joins a 12-Step Program by Denise Duhamel

Ocean of Joy


My river journey
took me to the sea,
where I plunged into the Ocean of Joy.

More alive than I had ever been,
I gloried in old growth forests,
long sandy shores, waves
rolling in like row upon row
of white-maned horses,
sunrises and sunsets beautiful enough
to break your heart, (or lift it
higher than it had ever been.)

I was introduced to bioluminescence,
under a midnight moon: so magical
I can still see the waves,
the wake of the boat
outlined in radiance.

My inner wildness came out to play:
the waves blessed me; the dunes
dubbed me Wild Woman
of the Western Sea.

I was more joyous than
I ever knew I could be:
ten years of joy every morning;
ten years of gratitude at dusk.

That Ocean of Joy called to me
after I went away. It did not stop
calling until I came back to stay.

Day 23

My word from Elizabeth was Joy

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The River of Sorrow


I paddled the river of sorrow
with a voyager's brave heart,
for I always knew I'd emerge
from the rapids and find
a kinder, gentler way.

I set my compass to True North
and followed the Map of Believing,
for Hope was the name of my craft,
and Trust was the journey.

There came a turning
where some voyagers choose
the Fork of No Return.
It descends to the lower depths,
travelers stuck forever
in the swirling eddy
of pain and regret.

I took the sunnier fork,
with the blue sky above me.
Small birds flew ahead, circled back
to encourage. Their song led me forth.

I met fellow believers. We smiled
and we sang as we paddled.
We were now on the
River of All We Could Be
and the time was all morning.

The passage was swift and 
it taught me the joy of the journey;
amazement, reverence, humility 
as the river gave me its gifts.

It is eventide now, and my paddle
has slowed for my arms
have grown tired. Content to drift,
I'm at peace in the  Stream of Reflection.
In the Estuary of Gratitude,
I give thanks for all miracles and wonder.
When it's time, my craft
will slip softly away from its moorings
and I'll paddle off to the stars.

Day 22. 

My word from Elizabeth was Sorrow.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Presence, in the Land of Apple Blossoms


The Dead Woman came into her body
at mid-life; a slow emergence,
the thawing of ice, the painful
experience of feeling her feelings,
unfolding her icebound limbs,
that made her long for the frozen state
once more.

The others would not let her go back.
They insisted she Be Here Now,
fully present to all life would bring.
Allowing her space in their proximity,
until she felt safe, they
gentled her into bloom. Then, 
like a flowering tree, dropping 
poems like spent blossoms,
she unfurled her crossed arms,
opened herself to the world,
and the world loved her back.

The sunshine of love and life
 drew her forth, with music
and song and lovely people
dancing in a circle in a meadow.
Because they believed she was 
someone to love, she did too.
She became Wild Woman, 
fully herself, free, unfettered,
alive; and, after a short time,
she spread new wings
and flew.

Day 21

A poem about Presence, as a response to yesterday's Absence.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

In Absentia


The neighbourhood fell silent
once you were gone: your big,
noisy self left an absence
so huge it became a presence
that has walked with me for
over ten years.

Those big ears, your goofy grin
a forever ache, a yearning,
something missing: the absence
of laughter, how you cracked me up
every day, how your brown eyes never
left me. How they looked
into my soul.

Even my dreamscapes are
absent of you. Though I long
for dreams where we are
together again, you fail to appear.

Where are you,
my big, noisy boy?

You have become a state
of being away. You are
a vacancy that can never
be filled.

You are, forever,
a wolf howl in my heart,
a crying to the moon,
a walk on the shore
with half my heart. 
The other half went with you.
It is wherever you are.

You always went before me
on the path.
Wait for me.
As always,
I'm not that far
behind you.

Day 20

Elizabeth Crawford at Soul's Music gave me the word Absence. In return, I gave her Presence. And next we will contemplate Separate and Together. A way to get through the rest of April.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Hope Is a Radical Act


"Hope takes root 
in suffering and sadness."
          - David Montgomery in his essay
            in the Washington Post

Hope is a radical act,
an act of love,
a refusal to be defeated,
a promise to the planet,
an offer to help,
right here, where I am,
that says: I see you, each struggling
tree and wolf and salmon.
Your right to live is
just the same as mine.

Hope does not turn away
in despair. It steps out the door,
joins the blockade, writes the
letters, signs the petitions.
It holds out its hand,
says "How can I help?"

Hope is the Raging Grannies
on the steps of Legislature.
It is the refusal to allow
the Earth's destruction.
It is the peoples' voice
telling government
we demand climate action.

Hope cleans the beaches,
greens the planet,
grows a garden, saves an old tree,
unblocks the small creek where
fish are trapped, writes the poems,
sings the songs, finds homes for the strays.
Hope puts huge doses of positivity
and action and willingness
out into the world, an energy
that travels far, and catches fire.

May it spread through our billions
of hearts. May our billions of hands
reach out to heal Mother Earth
right where we are. May the grey clouds
of hopelessness draw back
to reveal a morning shining down
on Earth Warriors, encouraging the bees,
removing plastic from the ocean
and turning it into roads, restoring
wildlife corridors, planting forests,
walking more, driving less,
feeding the hungry and dispossessed.

May that morning sun rise upon
an earth that's truly blessed,
each of us doing what we do best.
Loving the Earth with hands and hearts,
where our Mother needs help,
we find a way. There is a little 
prayer I pray:
Let's turn all the guns into ploughshares,
and with them till the hearts of  humankind,
so together we can turn the soil
of Mother Earth
onto a better, kinder,
more all-inclusive

Day 19

for Brendan at earthweal whose wonderful essay prompt, in honour of Earth Day, is to write affirmations of ways of restoring Earth.

Sunday, April 18, 2021



Entering the forest,
there's a feeling of connection,
of being welcomed in
to a green and peaceful world
where everyone is kin.
Tall cedar,
spruce and hemlock,
candelabra snags,
hollow root-beds
for small critters
and mossy, rocky crags,
are homes for the wild ones
- squirrels and owls,
wolf and bear -
there is a kinship
in the forest
all we trees and beings

Fern and salal,
and old man's beard,
mushrooms beside my boot,
fiddleheads and swamp lanterns,
sedge, salal and root;
- nurse logs thriving
with new growth
and ever-thrusting life -
in the forest,
all is hushed
and absent of all strife,

and I, who am the go-between,
from this other-world
to mine,
would like to polish up
the green,
and make the whole world shine,
spread this blissful peace
to you,
in just the perfect rhyme
that will save
these ancient trees
that are
as old and rare 
as time.

This forest
will soon be gone;
the town creeps closer
every day.
I hear
their silent plea,
whispered, so sweet, to me.
I walk its trails
with guilty sorrow,
and turn my eyes away.
Mea culpa, mea culpa
 that I've
no power to let them

Day 18. I used an exercise Elizabeth Crawford gave me years ago, about how to write a poem when one has no ideas. It was posted as a chat at the former Poets United in spring of 2019.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Third Wave

It's the third wave of the pandemic,
numbers rising alarmingly,
the virus now attacking the young,
who are tired of restrictions
and, ignoring them, are increasing
the likelihood they will continue
far longer.

Small businesses are closing their doors;
grandparents languish for lack of hugs
from their grandchildren; we wonder
what it will feel like to walk around
with naked faces again one day.

This morning I remembered
the tiny Suzuki violinists,
who played one night at the coffeehouse -
how adorable they were, how their mothers
stood behind them, playing their own violins;
how everyone smiled, and life was golden,
and so safe. We had never heard
of a mass shooting, in that quiet town,
in that peaceful year.

A thirteen year old with his hands in the air
is shot and killed by police, and people
quibble over what he "might" have had
in his hands just before.
A thirteen year old, shot and
killed by police. We are having
the wrong conversation.

The cherry trees, in full bloom, are full
of hummingbirds: darting, drinking joyously,
their tiny wings buzzing overhead.
I sit and watch them against the backdrop 
of cloudless blue. Anyone would think
this earth is a garden, that life is meant
to be peaceful, that we are here to share
and lift each other up.

It is the third wave of the pandemic,
and the beginning of the Sixth Mass Extinction.
My heart is heavy with remembering
the decades that brought us here;
it is lightened by small hummers
in the branches overhead,
who make me grateful for
these hours and days of peace,
the gift of white blossoms,
sunshine and blue sky: that sky
that has companioned me
all my life, and kept me
Looking Up.

Day 17

Friday, April 16, 2021

The View From Above

You once took me up
in a small plane.
We looked down on
all the islands, small and large.

From our lofty perch,
we caught our breath
to see
the gigantic outline of
a resting grey whale,
adrift in the feeding grounds
of Ahous Bay.

One day we walked the trail
across Vargas,
me stopping at every leaf and fern
to exclaim,
you worried we would miss
the outgoing tide.
(We did, and had to row hard
back across the channel.)

Now you have left this earth.
What do you see from above?
Do you see me, still hobbling about,
mouth dropped in wonder
at one more unfolding spring?

Are you glad I continue
to pen words,
that I still find you
in sunrises and sunsets
as I always did,
that even though you are gone,
your presence in my life
still shines as golden
as it ever was, when we walked
these wild beaches

The view from above
must be
 just another way
to love this earth.

Day 16

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Small Philosophers


A small, weary metaphysician
sits on my left shoulder,
muttering in my ear: "there's no hope;
clearly the world has gone mad", or:
"surely, the transformation of consciousness
will occur; as the crisis escalates,
humans will know we have to
change our ways."

She is realistic, yet stubbornly
refuses to abandon hope.

Then we turn on the news;
not much hope there,
though we are both pleased to observe
the kindness of people to each other
when things are dark and scary.
We applaud those who stand up,
reach out, object. We love the helpers.

This is what we see: a schizophrenic 
population at odds with its own inner knowing,
angry, lashing out, forgetting how to
dive within and tap into our greatness.
My small metaphysician observes
a befuddling planet full of warring factions
who see only Others, and crown Self king.

We have decided our job is
to notice the small things: how the surfer
stands up on the lip of the wave and 
slides softly down; her joyous shriek;
the kindness in dogs' eyes, their tails wagging
an endless happy-to-meet-you.
(Let's all be like dogs.)
We stop to ponder the dewdrop
on a morning leaf, six fat robins on the grass
listening for worms (we listen, too.)

Since my small philosopher and I are old,
we are free to be as odd as we please:
to pontificate or cease from speaking
altogether; to be amazed by every blossom,
every bird, the way a cloud puffs 
perfectly against the sky.

For so long we "sought the approximate
weight of sadness
," but in the end,
it is joy and beauty and the possibility 
of peace which frees us.
For, after all, what a breathtaking, beautiful,
wonderful world this is! It has been  a journey
of Amazement, of Gratitude, and of Wonder.

Inspired by "The Metaphysicians of South Jersey" by Stephen Dunn. The italicized line is his, and my closing line differs in tense from his, which was "what a world it was."

Day 15

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

When Forests Fall


When forests fall,
do the mother trees weep tears,
do the roots grip hands
under the forest floor,
cling to the earth,
resist the grapple-yarder?

Do they hurt, coming out
of the ground like
the wisdom teeth of the planet
are being pulled?

When forests fall,
thumping hard onto the earth,
wild ones fleeing in terror
as the worst predator on earth
approaches with screeching saw,
do the nature spirits rage
or only mourn, rage being
foreign to their nature?

When forests fall,
and temperatures climb,
and forked-tongue,
self-satisfied politicians
speak untruths to soothe the masses,
we speak for the trees,
   we stand for the trees,
     we plead for the trees,
        we risk arrest for the trees

and still
the forests fall.

Day 14

Sharing with earthweal's open link

Every Song a Sad Song


Today, his human, whose life has been hard,
heard his time on earth is limited,
his main worry his fur companion,
four times rescued, another survivor
of this up and down life.
Today that creature's intelligent wolfish
light blue eyes are sad.
Somehow, he knows.

Sadness in the walls; sadness in his human's voice;
sadness for the trials and losses,
all the heartbreak and courage it takes
to keep moving forward in this world
through Whatever Comes.

Some nights, a poet just can't find the words,
though all the songs in the world
are of just this: life and death,
love and loss, joy and pain.
Some nights, 
all the songs are sad songs,
in human and doggy hearts.

Day 13

Monday, April 12, 2021

To Sing the Forest's Song


Let me sing my song for the struggling world,
a low wolf-howl at midnight
as wolves and bear and deer
pace vanishing habitat
to find a place of rest.

Let me sing of wild salmon, lice-riddled
and cancerous, struggling up-river 
in a migratory trek as old as time,
and of the bear and wolves and whales
who eat them, now going hungry.

Might I sing of tree-fallers
razing ancient forests,
the shriek of the insatiable saw,
the thump as the Old Ones,
here for thousands of years,
hit the earth, roots and
underground networks sorrowing;
birds fleeing in terror, fallen nests
full of babies left behind?

How find a song of joy
in the midst of this madness?

It is Mother Earth Herself
who teaches me to sing.
No matter how stressed, she
rolls out her bounty every spring,
every living system programmed to live,
to heal, to stand upright
after being knocked down -

like we humans, who forget how nature and we
are wrapped in the same skein, attuned to
the same cycles, rising to fall then rise again.
We come from the stars, but it is to Mother Earth
that we return, becoming one with the wind
and the soil and the sea and the sky.

When it is time,
plant something green and growing
on my grave and, when you stand there,
remember: here is one who loved the earth
with wonder. Here is one who said thank you
to every tree and cloud and inbound wave,
to every fluttering bird.
Here is someone with a wolfish,
gentle heart, who walked
with a light tread and sang
the forest's song.

for Brendan's very cool prompt at earthweal: Toward an Eco-Poetry



"MMMMM," she says, licking,
nibbling along the edge of her waffle cone.
"Oh my God!" agrees her friend,
loosening a chunk of chocolate
with her tongue.
As they step outside the shop,
cones held aloft,
a brown and black dog sits up straight,
being His Very Best Self,
thinking the treat is for him,
and everybody laughs.

"Let's talk about positive things,"
they had agreed as they set out.
Too often, these days,
the news is bad, alarming, scary.
Too often, it feels like
half the world's gone mad.

But when the sun is shining silver
patterns on the sea, and small 
migrating seabirds are gathering
along the shore, as they have done
for all the years before,

when dogs with loopy grins
gambol across the sand,
and an ice cream cone is 
melting in one's hand,
when all of spring and summer
lies before, life is so good
we need not one thing

Day 12

Sunday, April 11, 2021

On the Path


Before I knew I was on the path,
I was on the path, eyes fixed
on the sky, breathing deeply
the essence of tree-ness, 
sage, and Ponderosa pine.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull
informed me I am an ocean person,
though I spent years in the desert,
distant waves advancing and retreating
in my heart.

The universe sent me guides:
gentle people whose way of being
in the world changed my life
and my story.  Very soon after,
I gathered my wings and flew

over the mountains to the sea,
and joy came to reside in me.
I have lived halfway between
convention and the longings
of my heart for the wild places,
dreams of cabins in the woods,
off-grid,  floathouses on the shore,
a foot in both worlds,
but heart all green and wild.
A wolf spirit companioned
my journey, the years he was alive,
and the ones since he's been gone.

Looking back, I clearly see
the path, how it curved and
made connections at exactly
the right moment in time,
how it led me where
I was meant to go. In my lifetime,
the universe has sent me so many gifts.
This morning the cherry blossoms
are about to open
on yet another spring,
and I am grateful, grateful
to hear the wild world sing.

Day 11

Saturday, April 10, 2021



She wants edgy
but I'm all soft surfaces,
for life has honed me smooth
and knocked off all
my bumps and corners.

She wants specifics
but my brain is soup.
I  pluck out familiar things
I can identify, a branch, a leaf,
but when it comes to the names 
of moss, moss is just moss to me,
and beautiful enough that way.

She wants poems  about
the being-ness of trees,
when I am still trying to master
being a human loving trees.

I need to go into the woods
and stare at a tree, allow it
to reveal its specific self to me.
Then maybe I can write
about what it is to be a tree
in this world that is so dangerous
to trees, and you, and me.

Day 10.  An editor here in Tofino is doing a tree poem anthology that is going to be amazing. I am struggling with submission guidelines, non-specific as I am, and prone to generalities.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Paper Boats


In a moment, the middle of an ordinary day,
the neighbour comes home
with his whole world crumbled.

Cancer, round three, has accelerated.
His rescue dog, who has survived so much,
his feral now-tamed cat, face more
inevitable change. He faces much more:
a battle he has fought two times before.

The poet says "let it all in,"
yet our human minds grapple
with the details. We resist.
We "But..." We "What if...."
We grasp. We want a different
story, a kinder one.

The ending is the same.
What is, is here before us.

"Practice becomes simply bearing the truth,"
she says. Down here in the rubble,
in our sadness and our human
helplessness, we are urged
to see with new eyes, rise up,
as an eagle seeks higher ground.

Sometimes this is possible.
More often, it takes some time
to get there, to where we "allow"
what is already here to unfold
as it unfolds. Surrendering, riding
the current, small paper boats circling 
the swirling depths.

Day 9

Inspired by "Allow" by Danna Faulds. The italicized lines are hers.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Blood Money

facebook image
no copyright infringement intended
- just admiration

They say there are no perfect conditions,
just carry on anyway, don't wait
for a more auspicious time.
Perhaps this imperfection, and 
our rising to meet it
is the perfect time:
this moment, right now 
is what we have.

Show up in this noisy, half-crazed
world, gently, the way 
the morning light
rises up over the mountains.
Show up for whatever comes
your way. It may be bad news.
It may be a walk along the shore.
It may be the spooky light-blue eyes
of a goofy laughing dog
who loves you, who cavorts with
silly pleasure when he spies you
through your window.

It is possible that this poem
is a practice. How surrendered,
how accepting, can I be?
How well can I carry
this earth grief / this earth  joy
in the same moment?

The poet said "show me
the wild animal that you hide,"
and here he is, Wolf, howling
in the forest, which is falling
all around him. Here he is,
trying to save his pack
from human predators.

Here he is, howling my grief 
and my outrage that his home
- and our home - so beautiful,
so breathtaking - is being
carved into bleeding
ravaged pieces so corporations
can grow rich.

Day 8

Inspired by Holy Humanness by Olivia Cooper. The italicized line is hers.

I just sent letters to the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, and all appropriate BC government ministers, about the need to stop the logging of old growth. The crazy thing is that the BC government in 2020 issued a report calling for a halt to logging of old growth - and yet Fairy Creek is to be logged - thousand year old trees, so rare and endangered on the planet.

It feels like a losing battle. But also feels good to do something. Some of us are asking the UN person to let BC know it is being seen internationally and is operating against the UN's values and goals. Worth a try.

Will share this with earthweal's open link.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Can You Hear the Sound of a Heart Quietly Breaking?


Fairy Creek
Will O'Connell photo

It is raining and the recycling
is sitting in the blue box on the curb.
The cherry buds look saturated;
I wonder if they will bloom.
Maybe after the next hot sunny day.

In the blue box the recycling
is sitting on the curb.
Another day begins in Clayoquot Sound.
At Fairy Creek, the arrests
will soon begin. Protectors
of Mother Earth will get hauled away;
the corporate criminals will laugh
all the way to the bank.

The kettle sings; another day begins.
As the trees fall in the forest,
so many of us care.
My aching heart is with those
at the blockades,
singing Water my blood,
Fire my spirit,
while my old
wrinkled sedentary self
sits here helpless in my chair,
as blue as the recycling box
on the curb.

"Worth More Standing" the young ones
say. It's true. What price tag
can be placed on the Old Ones
who keep us cool
and give us air to breathe?

It is raining and even the recycling
is blue and sitting on the curb,
like any other ordinary Wednesday.
The days go by; the last
of the Standing People fall,
breaking my heart and
terrifying every displaced
wolf and bear and bird.

Day 7

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

To Sing a New Song


"You can learn to whisper,
to turn up the volume,
to sing within the family
of animals."

       - Richard Louv, in Our Wild Calling

I have looked into the huge, ancient eye
of a grey whale, who whooshed up
alongside my boat, thrilling me
to my toes. Her breath smelled 
as old as time, a mix of ocean floor
and fetid air; us, sharing that breath,
that gasp of oxygen, that moment in time
unlike any other, before her head lowered,
her back arching, fluke rising,
then vanishing under the sea.

That day, we passed a small island of rocks,
inhabited by sea lions. When we cut the motor,
and drifted, we heard their growls and barks,
they turning their eyes on us, strange creatures,
gently rocking in the sea in our red survival suits
and rubber boat.

In the trough between waves, small puffins
were bobbing importantly atop the waves,
looking like small officious hoteliers,
suave in their tuxedos and smiling beaks.

They say each whale has her own song, 
communing over vast distances:
certain sequences indicate location,
gathering, or alarm.
Once, on the other side of the Island,
a man with a flute lowered himself 
into the sea, with a microphone.
When he played a series of notes,
dolphins echoed them. After a time,
they began to improvise their own riffs
on the notes he had played
 - an inter-species jam session.
This thrills me.

Perhaps what we, as a species,
need to learn most is to
quiet ourselves, to watch,
to listen, to what the singing earth
is trying to tell us. Within the
family of animals, together
we can begin to sing
a new song, one of joy
and communion, concern,
compassion, hearts open
to every other
living thing.

Day 6

Monday, April 5, 2021

And Yet, Here We Are


Had 2016 to 2021 been written
years ago as science fiction,
no publisher would have published it
because it would have been deemed
"too unbelievable."

And yet, here we are.

What we are left with is irony, 
satire, boggled minds.
And grief.
Laced with some stubborn hope,
because we are human creatures
who cannot live
without it.

Day 5

When the World Begins to Sing


photo by Elisabeth Smith of Tofino

Come walk by the shore with me,
so teeming with life.
Hear the mussels clicking
and crackling on the rocks.
See the anemones waving their stubby
little arms in tidal pools;
when I gently touch, they curl
them in protectively,
just like us when we are poked.
Starfish cling to the rocks
in glorious shades of green,
eggplant, orange.

One year, our starfish had
the wasting disease;
we are happy to see them
flourishing again.
Sometimes they get stranded
on the sand; we put them back
in the water quickly
so they don't die. They breathe
through their legs in sea water.
In 2017, on the Welsh coast, octopi
were crawling out of the sea and
beaching themselves on land.
We don't know why.

The message of nature is abundance.
I walk in wonder at how much
life and beauty there is,
despite all that is wrong
in the human realm.
The non-human realm has
one focus: to live.
Buds unfurl; species reproduce;
flocks of sandpipers circle and swoop
at the edge of the sea.
Eagles ride the thermals,
circling lazily on the currents.
Sometimes they swoop down 
thrillingly, grasp a fish
in curved talons,
swoop away.

vilella vilella

Small purple  "by-the-wind-sailors",
like little sailboats,
are scattered by the thousands
across the sand. I catch my breath.

Life teems, as munificent
as our best human dreams.
Everywhere is growth, is birth,
is spring.  Listen as, everywhere,
the whole birthing, burgeoning world
begins to sing.

Day 5. And shared at earthweal where Brendan set us to viewing the teeming world in the corner of the planet where we are. Every walk along the shore, or along the forest trail, I marvel at how much life there is here.

Sunday, April 4, 2021


28 years ago, he sang his Magic
the night we shut the Peace Camp down.
It was the Summer of '93
and we had saved the forests
of Clayoquot Sound.
Hippies were dancing joyously
 in a clearcut,
under a full, round Grandmother Moon,
following the song with
a long and loving
and a group hug.

Next day, driving out past Kennedy Lake,
I was singing Magic along with the cd:
"I thought I felt some love
from the mountains all around
As I gazed at the clearcut slopes
across the lake,
my heart broke; how I cried.
So many trees to save.

"I was thinking of a time
when all the creatures
shared the earth
" he sang;
how far we have come
from that time;
how many creatures have died.

28 years, and now tree defenders
are standing on the road
trying to save Fairy Creek,
one of the last old growth forests
on the Island.

2.7% of old growth left,
as the global temperature rises.
How insane to be cutting down
the very things that are here
to cool the planet.

I'm looking for some Magic
because Reason has
left the building. The corporate
bottom line cares nothing
for myth or magic,
nothing for sacred green spaces,
nothing about the world
our grandchildren and their children
have to live in.

I'm thinking of that magic time
"when all the creatures shared the earth."
I'm thinking of how many creatures
are now dying, how the trees
are falling, how each summer
keeps getting hotter.

Day 4

Saturday, April 3, 2021



National Observer - Will O'Connell photo

The work of the poet is to name what's holy:
Fairy Creek, ancient, mystical,
habitat for the non-human realm,
lungs of the planet.
The holy work of saving old growth trees,
the last of their kind, from being clearcut.
Wolves, their howls at midnight
as they search for a safe place to hide
come morning.
The neighbour's dog,
whose light-blue eyes - spooky, half-wild -
his toothy grin, smile at me.
His huge and perky ears.

The work of the poet is to
write it all down; capture the moments
tinged with the shine of memory,
and those with the immediacy of right now:
this moment of the pandemic
when the race is between the variants
and the vaccine, when people are tired,
and we seem to be losing the race.

So here I am, on a grey rainy day,
tapping away at the keys. By now,
I have worn the letters off some of them.
The hills are wrapped in clouds,
like a shawl over a grandma's shoulders
on a chilly afternoon.
My fireplace is on, cheering me.
Old tunes full of memories
spin, taking me back,
serenading me here.

Life is moving
but I am staying still, 
listening within. Waiting,
with tears in my heart, 
as the last of the Standing People

Inspired by "The Work of the Poet is to Name What's Holy" by Diane Ackerman. Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. This week the courts ruled in favor of the logging company. The tree defenders trying to save Fairy Creek will now begin to be arrested. The corporate criminals backed by law; those trying to save the planet being charged and held. It makes no sense. The photo above is on the chopping block. On Vancouver Island, there is less than three percent of old growth left.



Wild Woman lifts her antenna,
swivels it around like a periscope,
assessing  the territory. Much has changed,
herself most of all, on this journey
of sending sea-soaked words
out into the world.

The last of the old growth is falling.
Let the world fall silent
to ponder this grievous fact.
The Old Ones who provide habitat
for the non-human realm,
the lungs of the planet
that sequester our carbon,
will soon be gone,
as the planet warms
and the ice floes melt
and creatures everywhere
 - including us -
struggle increasingly
to survive.

A vast quiet has come to live
inside her chest.
Wild Woman is running out of words
of warning, of grief.
Resignation, a weeping sky,
Hope, a tightly curled, pink-edged
cherry blossom almost ready
to bloom.

Day 3 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Being the Observer

The Broken Group Islands
off the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet

Star dreamer,
singer of ocean songs,
gatherer of beach rocks,
I whisper to cedar,
commune with ravens,
send love to the wolves,
give deep bows to the sunrise,
wrap morning fog
in ecstasy
around my throat,
hobble along the shore,
eyes ever alert
for treasures.

I am at the time of Watching,
of Being the Observer.
I sift and sort
a plentitude
of memories,
noting with gratitude
the winding path
that brought me here.
I am a Gatherer,
bundling up
life's daily gifts,
with reverence
and wonder.

Since I am retired, (and very tired!), my current job is observing this world, so full of beauty, human-created disasters and earth-borne delights.

One from 2018 for earthweal's open link