Saturday, July 31, 2021

How My Garden Grows


Roots by Frida Kahlo

If I set a fine table
and offer you
all the bounty of my garden,
will you till the soil,
let it rest,
then restore it to health
for the years to come?

When did we forget
this earth is a garden,
and what we take out,
we need to put back?
Gardens are forever,
yet we live
in a frenzied Now
on a planet
lit by flames
and flooded with despair.

I laid the table well
for you,
but you forgot to care.

for the Sunday Muse. I seem to have a one track mind these days as, where I live, Mother Earth is burning up (along with all the wild creatures), yet crazed people are roaring about on holidays as if there is no tomorrow. At this rate, I worry that there might not be. Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but these are the words that came, I just wrote them down. 



In these days of floods and fire,
hope just may be
a mother wolf and her small cubs
walking along the shore
at dusk.

As darkness settles around them,
they tip back their heads and sing:
sweet baby howls filling our hearts
with tenderness and the possibility
of a better tomorrow.

for earthweal's open link. My friend Chris lives in a floathouse up the inlet. These past few evenings, she has thrilled to the sound of these baby wolf howls, too sweet for words. We have to keep this world alive, for all the small beings, human and non-human, who deserve a future.

Monday, July 26, 2021

On Gardens

My garden taught me
how to nurture things
and watch them grow,
how roots need soft, loose soil
as, inch by inch, I carefully tend
all the seeds I sow.

With Mother Earth's garden,
we have been less than kind.
Now from our disconnected dream,
(and all our barren spirits lack),
we're waking up to find
a nightmare of floods and fire,
too late, too late
to repair the harm
and get our garden back.

for Sarah at earthweal, where we are contemplating LAMMAS, the harvesting of grain and making it into bread. We have not tended Mother Earth's garden well, and are harvesting some painful consequences. Out of this, I do still hope humanity will rise to what is required of us. 

Summer Days

In summer, my whole back yard
was a garden. Early morning, the swish-swish-swish
of the sprinkler, turning round and round,
was a sweet song of nurture,
love in every seed I sowed.
Neighbours hung over the fence and said
"The nature spirits love her.
Look how lush her garden grows!"

The garden fed my hungry children
and healed my broken heart.

   Back then, wise folk warned us
     there were poisons in our food,
pollutants in the land and sea, 
  but we were too bemused
 to comprehend,
   lulled by materialism
      into disconnection
from the earth
 in days we thought
would never end.

      (If you want to feel connected,
       sow a garden. Watch it grow,
       inch by inch and row on row.)

            The garden we planted then,
            when we were full of hope,
     and young,
           we are harvesting now,
         in floods and flames,
            our dreams a nightmare
       just begun.

for Sarah at earthweal, where we are contemplating Lammas, the harvesting of grains and turning them into bread.                                                                            

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Lessons the Deer Can Teach Us


"The opposite of extraction capitalism
is deep reciprocity."
- Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, 
from As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom
Through Radical Resistance

Once, in the long ago,
the deer disappeared from the north
where the people had been
taking them wastefully, without respect.
The deer refused to participate
in this inequity any longer.
They went elsewhere
and the people grew hungry,
and then awakened.

Today I can see in indigenous eyes
that they too are intentionally withdrawing
and resisting the settler/colonial system
that has been trying to disappear them
for three hundred years.

They oberve us with blank eyes
that turn us into white ghosts.
Their opaque expression says,
"I have removed myself
from your system
of oppression, which extracts
without giving back."

I watch with respect and admiration
their strength and power rising,
hear their true words. 

Like the deer,
they are removing themselves
from the greed-crazed mamalthni,
to follow their own path
on the earth they have tended
for ten thousand years -
the earth it took we settlers
only three hundred
to destroy.

In fact, it feels like Mother Earth herself is removing herself from us in the only way she can, with storms and wildfires and floods. Rampant  capitalism set in place the destructive path that got us here, yet it will not ease its grasp upon the coffers of the world. They will cut down what trees are left after the wildfires until there will not be a bit of cooling or oxygen left on what will then be an uninhabitable planet. It is unfathomable  to me, how crazy this greed is. It is a voracious, all-consuming madness. But now the bill is coming due and who will suffer most are  the marginalized and our non-human relatives. Whales are already swimming farther out to sea in search of food, in waves that are too warm. The screams of animals in the wildfires haunt my dreams. We created of a bountiful garden a hell on earth, yet believe we are the only thinking creatures. I withdraw further into silence, watching the madness unfold.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

I Hear Their Screams In My Dreams


They say
near the wildfires
they can hear the screams
of the animals
dying most horrible deaths.

How many times
can my heart break
in one lifetime?

Too many times
to count.

It is too terrible to think about, the hell we have created on earth for the beyond-human realm. And yet, as a poet friend said to me today, if we turn away, who will be left to fight for them? 

Monday, July 19, 2021



Wild Buffalo at Standing Rock

When I come back, I'll be like
the herd of buffalo arriving
at Standing Rock, the natural world
rising up to stand with the water protecters
who are trying to save the river.

Water is life! the warriors said, praying
under a hail of rubber bullets.
They stood in the water in winter
and were not cold, because the river
was with them, against the militarized police
and the black snake that would bring death
to their people.

When I come back, I will be like
the white Spirit Bear, swimming from 
island to island in search of food.
Already, I am growing too weak to swim.
What will still be here, when I come back?

I will come back like the unsettled spirits
at Ninstints in Haida Gwaii. When you step
on shore even now,  you can hear
the keening and wailing of those
in the Spirit World, the First People
who died in distress from smallpox
brought by the colonial invaders,
only the first of their burnt offerings.

When I come back, I will rise
from a small unmarked grave,
where, long ago,  another child
was made to bury me,
under the heartless gaze
of the black robes.
When I come back, may no child
ever have to live under a gaze that cold.

Now I watch the skinny black bear
wandering, hungry, across the village green;
the thin grey wolf, loping along the shore
in search of the salmon that are no more.
I see dead whales on the beach,
stomachs full of plastic and styrofoam.
Raven and Heron and Eagle -
all of their eyes are looking at me
from the tops of trees: asking
what have you done to the world
once so abundant? 

When I come back, if I am human,
I will wear a cloak of shame and guilt.
If I am of the beyond-human realm,
I will be wary, hoping the Two-Leggeds
have either learned how to live with the earth
or have disappeared in the floods and fires,
the pandemics and calamities of our times.

When I come back, will the world
have stopped burning? Or will it
be ash and stagnant water, from which,
eons from now, a small green sprout
may one day hopefully appear?

for earthweal where we are telling it like it is without compromise, in celebration of Ingrid Wilson's new book: The Anthropocene Hymnal featuring poems by some of earthweal's poets. Yay, Ingrid!

Friday, July 16, 2021



The crone, wrinkled and gnarled,
with her long stringy hair,
is stirring in the forest
in her nest of leaves.

Rabbits and wolf cubs perk their ears
and the bear is arrested mid-swoop,
while fishing in the river.

She is sounding the drum,
its reverberating thrum
calling the Council of All Beings
to the river's edge.

Her drumbeat is calling me
out of the grey town.
It beckons me deep
into the forest's heart,
where all is green, and silent
and sacred.

I enter the primeval sepulchre
as the world goes still
and falls away.

The way forward is written
within that stillness.

I need but listen closely,
to find my way.

from 2013 for earthweal's open link . I am always at home in the forest.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Harvesting Hope


I planted green bulbs
that turned purple,
week by week.
They taught me
we often find
much more
than we seek.

I planted children
who turned into wizards
and shapeshifters,
flying free.
They were changelings,
but who changed the most,
back then,
was me.

I planted my footsteps
on a path leading Away,
my heart on a quest
for the place that would
make me

I planted a broken heart
by the seaside,
in the dune's soft slope.
All my life,
I have planted sorrow
and harvested hope.

for Claudia's garden prompt at dVerse. So lovely to have Brian and Claudia in the house.

Monday, July 12, 2021

No More Frogs, No More Sad Songs


Small roadside tavern,
I put  quarters in the jukebox
but you didn't dance with me.
Your eyes were busy
Looking Elsewhere.

No wonder every song
I played
was a sad song.

When I traded you
for a dog,
my songs got
 SO much happier!

LOL. My first quadrille, with big congratulations and thanks to DVerse on their tenth anniversary. Brian and Claudia are in the house. Yippee! Thank you to the wonderful founders of dVerse, and thanks to Bjorn and Grace and staff for keeping this awesome site going.

When Hope is a Broken Elephant Heart


Hope is an elephant with a long memory,
who is the wisdom-keeper of her tribe,
carrying the collective memory of
those old golden days when 
there were more wild ones than humans,
when elephant families, prides of lions, 
zebras and rhinos and chimps roamed the land
in breathtaking numbers, and men walked
warily around the edges of the savannah,
outnumbered and mindful that they entered
this wild world as guests.

(This was before the wild ones were so few,
and humans so greedy and power-mad
that they herded the last few remaining beasts
into "hunting compounds" where brave white hunters
could shoot a trapped lion for $30,000
and a piece of their soul they were too clueless
to ever miss.)

Who are the beasts? Who the predators?
Who are the unleashed ungovernable, who have 
no concept of the rights and the place
of the beyond-human realm
in the ecosystem we call Earth?

My heart feels as heavy as an elephant's memory,
who remembers being torn from his bellowing mother,
screaming, stuffed in a ship's hold
and carried across the sea,
to live out his life in a concrete enclosure,
or stand on his tippy-toes in a circus ring
to make people laugh (those who are
not weeping.) 

When humans get too big for their britches,
natural consequences hold them to account.
Witness: wildfires wiping out a town overnight.
Witness: unprecedented heat, freak storms,
pandemics, floods, shifting ground,
cliffs falling into the sea, buildings built on sand
collapsing with all the living bodies inside,
who only moments before were making coffee,
watching tv, thinking about
what to make for supper.

And the hidden toll: billions of beings:
dying in warming seas,
wild ones who cannot outrun the flames,
those starving and displaced who wander 
into towns and are shot or who drown
swimming from island to island in search of food,
because we are too many and, now,
they are too few?

My hope becomes a sad old broken elephant heart
- endangered, sorrowing, heavy,
longing for the time that used to be,
when the wild ones roamed the savannah
and the white man trod its edges carefully.
When we knew what was wild and required respect -
before we became the wild, ungovernable ones,
and lost the respect of all other creatures
for our absolute and utter failure to care.

for earthweal where I try to contemplate hope while feeling rather hopeless. The west coast is burning from California on up. 301 wildfires are burning in B.C.  Vernon, a large Okanagan city, is under threat. Last week Lytton burned down to the ground, people escaping within minutes of losing their lives. One survivor said had it happened at two a.m. the town would be a graveyard now, as they barely got out in time. And a long hot summer ahead.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

In the Wildwoods II

In the wildwoods,
do you hear the keening 
of ancestral voices
through the trees?
Ghost riders
on the winds of change,
they wait to see 
if we choose the way
Mother Earth needs us to go,
or keep repeating
the folly
that we know.

In the wildwoods,
listen to the talking trees;
they will teach you
how to heal, if you listen.
The Mother Tree will show you
all her offspring,
and how she nurtures them
under the ground,
how she helps all others,
the Mother Tree as giving
as any other mother.

In the wildwoods,
wolves walk soft-pawed
and listening, alert
to any danger,
big ears upright
and attuned.
In the wildwoods,
my spirit wolf
is between two worlds,

He always went 
before me
on the path,
and I would follow.
Sweet wolf,
I'll not stop looking
'til I find you.
Keep waiting;
I am not that far
behind you.

Thursday, July 8, 2021



A loon at Porcupine Lake

The loons are calling at Porcupine Lake,
haunting cries as one flits across the water,
swift-winged, after his mate,
and I think of you, old pal of mine,
how we walked so many miles
of shoreline, explored so many
forest trails, you ahead, always,
tail up, eyes bright, your wild heart
thrilling as you visited
your wilderness home.

I knew you always wanted to stay.
You'd pick up a piece of driftwood,
carry it back to the car, climb reluctantly in,
dejected till the next time
I pointed the nose of the car
towards our lost home.

Then you'd bark, so excited,
and leap from back seat to front,
from front to back, your big tail
whapping me across the face
with every jump, me laughing,
your eyes full of joy,
heading home. Heading home.

Now I am here without you,
old pal of mine, and the lonely cry 
of the loon flying after its partner
is my heart winging its way to you
across the years and miles.
(How many miles is it from here
to the Rainbow Bridge? Too many
for any but hearts to make the passage.)

for Pup.

Monday, July 5, 2021

We Are All One

"We are not solitary waves."*
Wickaninnish in blue.


We are all one, sing the beings of earth,
their song wafting through the forest
and along the shore.
But we stay too noisy to hear their song.

We are not solitary waves.*
We are a drop of ocean; and we are
ocean. We are small, but many,
and are learning late to walk
with soft footprints, to take
and to restore with careful hands.

We walk in fragile beauty with blind eyes.
We accept unthinkingly all that
Mother Earth so generously gives,
even as the planet heats,
birds fall from the sky,
and the life-giving trees
keep coming down.

Flames lick across forests and towns;
terrified wild ones flee, and
whole towns burn.
The sea warms; octopuses
walk out of the waves to die upon the beach.
"Too hot!" gasps Salmon, as small fry
shrivel on dry riverbeds. "Too hungry!" says Bear,
thin and gaunt along the water's edge.
"Too many of you!" says Wolf,
habitat gone, and with no place to hide.

We are waking in the middle
of a nightmare, learning late: 
we are all one;
what happens to one will
happen to us all.

We walk in fragile beauty, with blind eyes.
What we need to change is

for Brendan's challenge at earthweal: Interdependence.

* A line from the song "Solitary Waves" by the wonderful Wyrd Sisters.

A man from Lytton being interveiwed on the news about his flight through the flames from his town that burnt to the ground that night, said "We're the canary in the cage. It's coming for us all." And still corporate criminals have such control over the government that politicians mouth empty platitudes and do not take the strong and immediate actions needed in our existential and very evident crisis. 



Lytton, Now and Then
Fire Department photo


What will it take for us to understand
that the health of a river, a forest,
a species, is deeply connected
to our own - that our physical
and spiritual selves,
our cities and villages,
air, and sky, creatures and plants
large and small, are all interwoven,
that we struggle and suffer and die,
or flourish,  bud and grow,
in equal measure to how we humans
live upon the earth?

We walk in fragile beauty
with blind eyes. We accept
unthinkingly, all Mother Earth
has to give. 

The temperature climbs up and up.
The trees keep coming down.
The sea warms up, and octopuses
walk out of the sea to die upon the beach.
"Too hot!" gasps Salmon, as the small fry
shrivel on dry riverbeds. "Too hungry!" says Bear,
thin and gaunt along the water's edge.
"Too many of you!" says Wolf,
habitat gone, and with no place to hide.

"We are all one" indigenous elders say.
"Trees and animals are our relatives.
Water is Life, and sacred. 
If we protect the earth,
she will protect us."
They watch with sad eyes 
at the planet burning up,
at wildlife fleeing the flames
in terror. The rest of us
make a lot of noise,
so we can't hear; we stay
too busy, so we can ignore
the mounting peril.

It is becoming too clear
to deny: we have passed
the tipping point.

When we understand that one day
our town, too, will burn; when
grocery shelves stay empty because
the crops all died; when water
is our most essential need 
and it is scarce - will we then
connect the dots and moan:
"Too late. Too late."?

Stay tuned. Humankind
is waking up in the middle
of a bad dream.
What we need to change
is Everything.

Our best hope is to unite our voices across the planet, in numbers significant enough that governments can't ignore us; to speak with force considerable enough to out-shout the corporate criminals who now hold governments in their sway; to vote climate deniers out and climate warriors in. Right now, it's not looking good. My friend holds onto her belief that the transformation of consciousness will occur in response to the crises coming towards us one after another. It is a shame we didn't transform in time to prevent what is unfolding. Humans have always been slow learners, for all we think we're so smart. 

Friday, July 2, 2021



Lytton Then and now
photo by Lytton Fire Department

"We're the canary in the cage,"
he said.
"It is coming for us all."
He fled the burning town through flames,
running for his life. Now he owns
his vehicle, his t-shirt and a pair of shorts.
The wildfires ate his town.
Some people are unaccounted for.
I think of the wildlife trapped in the flames,
the burning, the pain, the terror;
the heat waves still to come,
the other towns at risk
through the long summer,
the planet heating more each year
until we all are fried,
while legislators talk in circles
and the status remains quo.

"We're the canary in the cage,"
he said.
"It's coming for us all."

The town of Lytton, B.C. burned down night before last after the heat wave B.C. experienced last week. There are 230 active wildfires still burning, some towns on evacuation alert. Lightning strikes overnight have helped to spread the conflagration. 23 fires span more than ten hectares; ten are bigger than a thousand hectares. This means even less trees to counter the rising temperatures. Even replanting now wont help us. They MUST NOT cut down what forest remains. I will continue my letter writing campaign to elected officials. How can they not connect the dots? Gah.