Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Dancing at Fairy Creek

Just when the world seems
darker than dark, as I strive
to hang onto some hope
for the fate of the world,
comes a note of justice and sanity,
as a judge throws out the injunction
under which police brutally assaulted
the land defenders at Fairy Creek.

On the news, the forest defenders
were dancing.

The police packed up their vehicles
and went away. No more tear gas
sprayed into faces, mouths, genitals.
No more heavy equipment inches
from human bodies. No more toppling
young people from 30-foot heights
to the ground. No more broken bones.
No more crushing peoples' cars 
or use of "pain compliance."

The trees have been falling at Fairy Creek.
They are still in danger. But for
this one moment in time,
after one year of putting their bodies
on the line for the ancient trees,
after 1100 arrests, there is
this moment of joy, of relief,
of the possibility of reason and hope
in a greed-crazed world.

On the news, the forest defenders
were dancing.

This poem was inspired by the events it speaks of. The judge said that police behaviour carrying out the injunction reflected badly on the court, so he did not renew it. It was also sparked by the poem "Collecting Light" by Deborah Cooper, which closes with these lines:

"I save up every scrap
of light,
because I know that it will take
each tiny consolation
every day
to mend the world."

That it will. And every little bit helps. We can't give up, ever.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Saying the Names With Love*


* (after the famous poem "Say the Names"
by  the beloved Canadian poet Al Purdy)

Say the names say the names
and listen .........
these names that forever
sing through my soul,
that came alive for me
in the forests
and along the wild shores
of Clayoquot Sound.

Bedwell Sound and Lemmens Inlet,
Fortune Channel and Sulphur Passage,
those names ring through my heart
in kinship with those who put
their bodies on the line
- and still do -
-No Pasaran!-
to protect the Old Ones
under threat by
corporate greed.

Drumbeats in the early morning
along the Kennedy River bridge
still tap tap tap in my heart
along with my passion
for the trees, for the wild shores,
for the curving slopes
of my wild spirit's home.

Hesquiaht, Ashousat,
Kakawis, (Basket of Berries),
sound and resound
in my heart,
like the marine radio
my heart was once attuned to,
fishermen repeating the beloved names
above the static,
laughter and messages
and "Choo!"
the Tla-o-qui-aht goodbye.

Wickaninnish and Rosie Bay
and Combers, Ahous Bay
where the grey whales
stop to feed....
riding out in a zodiac,
the seaspray in my face,
the eagle's cry in my heart,
blue herons on the rocks,
little puffins bobbing on the waves -
every inch of land and sea and sky

Rain slickers and rubber boots,
the endless winter rain, and gusts of wind
that bent us over as we struggled
across the streets in winter gales,
and the wild wild roar of the waves
crashing on the shore,
while the foghorn mooed
at Lennard Light
and all the seabirds hid themselves
to ride out the storm.

Lone Cone standing tall,
and Catface Mountain,
peeping across at the
womanly slopes of Meares,
the sentinels and guardians
of our village,
orcas breeching in the channel
to our joyous shouted "thank you!"
and, across the bay,
the twinkling lights of Opitsaht,
little boats chugging back and forth
across the harbor,
heading home at twilight.

Say the name of the wild Megin River,
carving itself through root-packed shores
of cedar and salal,
and watch the wild wolves
pacing down to drink,
a black bear ambling along the shore
looking for fat salmon.

Hear the eagle's call
at Tonquin,
the waterfall singing at Tofino Creek,
or point the bow of your canoe
up the Cypre River.
Paddle hard for Browning Passage,
beat the tide,
or turn off along Tofino Inlet,
when the surge returns
to cover the mudflats.
Pull into the cove at Windy Bay.
Shelter there awhile.

Say the names say the names
and my heart weeps with love
for the otherworldly beauty
and the kinship with the wild
that lived inside my soul
when I lived there.

My heart will say these names
for as long as I live
and, when I die,
say these names over me
and bury me on a windswept dune
beside the sea,
so it can forever sing me to sleep
in my heart's home.

Say the names say the names...
cherish these wild and pristine places.
Stand against the corporations
who would clearcut and strip
these beloved, necessary
and endangered slopes.

Say the names, my friends,
before they all
are gone.

for my prompt at earthweal: Say the Names, inspired by Canadian poet Al Purdy's famous poem of the same name. I wrote this poem when I lived inland, missing this beloved place, with every name singing a song of love and longing inside me. And now I am here, so grateful. We blockaded in 1993 to stop the clearcutting. Since then, so many trees have come down due to over-development. And a mining company was eyeing Catface Mountain, to our horror. One never has the assurance that forests are safe, when one lives in an extractive capitalism society.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Old Houses speak in Hollow Whispers

Old houses speak
in hollow whispers.
This one has its own
story to tell.

The roof sagging into itself,
front steps rotted
and all askew like crooked teeth,
the door creaks slowly open.
Dust motes dance and whirl
in the afternoon sun.
There is the scent of mothballs,
and ancient cats.

The stairs groan, remembering
laughing boys and girls
pounding up and down,
sliding down the bannister.
On the walls are smudges and handprints,
cracked peeling wallpaper,
pale green, with big pink cabbage roses.
Tattered and dusty mesh curtains
hang limp and grey at filmy windows.
In the hallway,
up one side of the doorjamb,
back by the kitchen,
are penciled names:
William, Henry, Emily, Rose.

Upstairs, the small rooms
are filled with old iron bedsteads,
and remembered echoes
of whispered nighttime conversations
from a century ago,
when all the world
was young.

Two elderly sisters lived here
from the time they were small.
They were young women in this house,
dressed in sprigged cotton,
sitting on the porch
on cool summer evenings.
The brothers came in to dinner
sweating, silent, sunburnt
from the haying.
Suitors, in time, arrived on horseback
to pay their calls,
the young people sitting,
stiff and uncomfortable,
in the parlour,
teacups and saucers clinking
in their nervous hands.

How the sisters
whispered and giggled
with each other, later, upstairs
those soft summer evenings
before sleep,
dreaming their innocent dreams.

But life had other plans.
Their father died, and then their mother.
The brothers married off.
The two sisters stayed on,
in the house where they were grown,
and somehow, in the daily routines
and passing of the quiet hours,
the life they had dreamed of
passed them by.
They lived out their days
in this shabby, down-turning house.

Every evening, through all the years,
the two sisters walked,
slowly, with their canes,
along this country road.
Last time we passed,
only one aged sister was left,
standing, staring,
at the end of the footpath,
watching her days
slowly wind themselves down,
one by one.

no sister standing at the gate,
the house stands empty,
as it has not been since 1915.

How those echoes must whisper
like disappointed ghosts
through all
the dusty, barren rooms.

A story for the Sunday Muse. There is such a house with two elderly sisters,  out the end of Beaver Creek, in Port, where I lived before. Empty now of all but memories.

Friday, September 24, 2021

A Landscape Longing for Repose


I like for you to be still;
mindless chatter
makes my head hurt.
I prefer to listen to bees,
and the small sound the hummers make
when they dive-bomb the nasturtiums.

I like for you to be still.
At the shore, there are wave-songs,
joyously singing melodies
I need to hear.
They say, if you are quiet, and listen,
you can hear ants singing by rubbing
their back legs together.
I have been listening ever since
for their song.

In the forest, there is a symphony
of leafsong and summer breeze,
the timpani of light raindrops on salal.
But you have to be silent
to hear the sweet sounds
of nature at her work.
One must still one's heart
to notice the sky
casting a benign, bemused glance
upon we earthlings,
as we scurry about like demented ants
on a landscape longing for repose.

A poem from 2019 based on the title of Neruda's poem "I Like for You to be Still". Shared at earthweal's open link.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Mother Trees

Let's tiptoe with the Druids
into a world of green:
tall, sentient, conscious beings,
who help us breathe,

Do you feel that thrumming
in the centre of your chest?
Trees, like elephants, 
with every forest guest.

Look for the Mother Tree,
the most vibrant  in the glen.
She supports all life around her,
across the grove and back again.

I wonder at the fear they share
across the forest floor,
holding hands, and trembling,
at the chainsaw's
mighty roar.

Desperately, the forest tries
to dream their dreams in green,
but are waking to a nightmare
with every chainsaw's scream,
laying waste the ancient world of green
that took so long to grow,
before the dollar bill became
the only god we know.

At Fairy Creek, the Druids weep
as the Standing People fall,
reducing our chances of survival.
Death to one
is death to all.

There was a time on earth, many millennia ago, when carbon dioxide was so great human life could not be sustained. Then came the ferns and trees, making the earth habitable, cooling the planet and allowing us to breathe. "Thus," says Diana Beresford-Kroeger, in To Speak for the Trees, "cutting down trees, our life support system, is not only a suicidal act; it is a homicidal one, too."

She says the feeling in our chest we get in the forest is infrasound communication that trees, like elephants, emit over great distances. This feeling is called mothaitheacht. Diana was taught by Druids, who believe that trees are conscious, sentient and feeling beings, who can think, and maybe even dream. I hate to think what they must be feeling in Fairy Creek right now, as some of the oldest trees left on the planet are being mowed down by rabid greed.

for Brendan at earthweal: A Timbered Choir

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Collateral Beauty*


My grandkids, when they were younger

This world is so beautiful,
with moments of heart-stopping wonder,
when we catch our breath in awe,
at the myriad of small miracles
unfolding before us every day.

This world can seem so dark,
with the ignorant, entitled and ugly forces
that seem to be trying
to tip the balance of light into darkness
across the planet.
Sometimes, it feels like
they are winning.

Let's always remember
the moments of collateral beauty,
when we realize our 
profound connection
to everything.
Let's cling to our belief
that - no matter what -
this beauty is the way
it was always meant to be.

Inspired by watching the film "Collateral Beauty" with Will Smith this afternoon. What is that quote? "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Wild Woman Knows What She Knows


It is time, Wild Woman,
to bring forth all your gifts,
for the seasons now are quickening,
and swift.
Sing out your songs,
sing loud and strong and clear.
Write all your poems,
to say that you were here.

A Wild Woman creates her own way.
She runs with her inner wolves,
and she has a lot to say.
She speaks what truth she knows,
avoiding angst or wrath.
She follows her intuition,
along the unmarked path.

Wild Woman knows what she knows,
and she'll share her wisdom well
before she goes.)

Follow these pawprints into the forest,
Sister mine.
They will lead you to a home
Grandfather Cedar makes so fine.
An owl with piercing yellow eyes,
a cat with Cheshire grin,
will be on the doorstep watching,
waiting to let you in.

There is a conjuring old woman
living there,
her spirit fixed between
the sky and earth.
She has lived apart from others
since her birth,
doesn't care at all what people think.
Listen well to every incantation,
for all of them
are linked.

Wild Woman has fallen bewitched
by the beauty of the earth.
Before the fire,
she is singing over the bones.
When she finishes her song,
(and it won't take very long),
she will welcome you
to the Sisterhood of Crones.

An old poem shared with earthweal's open link.

Monday, September 13, 2021


One foot, another foot,
breathing peace, we walk
the labyrinth.

We have strayed from the Old Ways
of the People. Meditating
on the lip of the precipice,
what pathway will lead us
from the anthropocene maze?

At Fairy Creek, the elder speaks
of healing Mother Earth,
so all may live. 
He points his eagle feather;
I follow where he leads.

One step, a leafy breath.
Another step, a human sigh.
Look up! Rainbows and eagles
are painting hope
across the sky.

for Ingrid at earthweal: The Anthropocene Labyrinth.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Wings and Feathers


You are braided through my life
with wings and feathers -
always flying off to
Somewhere Else,
where I cannot follow.

We grew up together,
journeyed together,
souls in transit,
me learning too late
what I needed to know
back then,
alas and alack.

Slowly, my hair turned
the colour of
silvery ash. I am wiser,
now, but the thing about life is,
there is no
going back.

Thinking of my children, fellow voyagers, and how young I was, in my 30's, trying to raise four kids on my own. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Cry Like a Coyote photo

In Stanley Park, jewel of the city of Vancouver,
acres of forest trails are the delight
of the West End - home to coyotes,
who kept out of sight for years,
till we became too many
and their habitat too small,
till they grew hungry
and emerged from their dens
to be fed by humans.

This was not a kindness.

Some bites on the ankles
of people along the seawall
when they didn't produce food
other walkers had given,
and now they will be "humanely 
euthanized" for the crime
of existing near the margins
we have etched into
the forest that once was theirs.

On the news today, the "cull" (killing)
has begun - not humanely -
as they are caught in leg-hold traps,
suffering till they are "liberated"
from their pain by the "humane" shot.

I could cry like a coyote
for the shortcomings
of humankind,
for the loss of the wild ones' home,
for the destroyer species we are,

for our lack of understanding
of how to live with our wild neighbours.
I cry with the coyotes
who will be "culled" (killed) for the crime
of existing on land that has become
dangerous for every non-human being

and will one day be as unsafe
for those of us who believe ourselves
immune to the inhumanity
gaining ascendance
on the planet.

for earthweal - hard to find a positive note of hope these days. Innocent coyotes, whose habitat has been diminished and encroached - fed by humans, when they are hungry and lacking natural food sources - dying, because we are so many, and we have the power. 

Today the police and industry goons used heavy equipment to CRUSH the cars of three protestors at Fairy Creek, one belonging to  a media rep. Three CARS. How are they allowed to behave like this? Injuring protestors (daily!), crushing property - and no consequences at all. (I worry especially as my friend is a media rep and he is up there right now.)

I cry - like a coyote, like a wild wolf, like a conscious human who cant believe what we are doing to this planet, so unconscious that what we do to the coyote will eventually, karmically, inevitably, happen to us.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Please, Would a Shambhala Warrior Borrow My Pen?


When all of life is threatened,
and barbarians are strutting through
the halls of power,
when our future survival hangs by a thread,
it is said that is when the Shambhala warriors
will arrive.

They are bodhisattvas, beings of peace.
You may not recognize them -
(or you might: check out Joe Kennedy III
and Barack Obama. Look for eyes that shine
with empathy and compassion).
The Shambhala Warriors
will walk the corridors of power
armed with two weapons
- compassion and insight.
With courage and integrity,
they will dismantle the ways of death,
and lead us on a new path,
for the time has come
for a great Turning.


When you feel this earth grief we carry
is too much to bear, take heart.
It is because you care
that you are alive at just this moment,
to assist the transformation
from the patriarchal to the divine feminine.
Women are rising up everywhere,
planting trees and gardens,
cleaning streams and beaches,
standing guard to protect the sacred waters.

Women are wise in the ways
of growing things: food, animals, children.
Women understand that all things
are connected, each of us
a strand in the web of life.

Mother Earth is speaking to us, now,
with all of her voices.
Let us hear her, add our voices to hers,
and heal this world back together again.

Bodhisattva Warriors come in all shapes and sizes.
You will recognize them
by their peaceful countenance,
and their ready smile. They are kind.
One may offer you a seat on the bus,
when it is packed and you are tired.

They are gentle. In the midst of discord,
shouting, crisis and panic,
watch for the one who is still,
who observes, then tries to help,
if he can.

You can tell a bodhisattva by the way they see
the good in human nature. They are peaceful warriors,
who spread compassion, rather than further conflict.
They will give the little they have
to those who need it more,
and be grateful for the giving.


Bodhisattvas believe that, with kindness and love,
the crooked way can be made straight,
and the rough road made smooth*.

The best thing about a bodhisattva
is he doesn't know he is a bodhisattva.
He is humble, kind and serene, and,
when his out-stretched hand
is dealt a blow, he forgives
and quietly moves on.

This planet is peopled
with undiscovered bodhisattvas.
Their prayers keep us floating through space,
balance the toppling poles,
and bridge the distance between heaven and earth.

Their message is to turn from violence to virtue
before the Kingdom of Shambhala arrives.

 (* from Ecclesiastes)


Under the bodhi tree, the Buddha woke up.
May this whole world awaken.
Gandhi spoke of "the uplift of all".
In Sri Lanka, Buddhists speak of
everyone "waking up by working together".
The man-made ills of this world, they tell us,
can be mind-solved.

My friends, what world
shall we dream into being together?
Let us all become Shambhala warriors.
Let us write a new path into tomorrow
with our Shambhala pens,
open our eyes, our dreams, our vision
to the web of life to which we all belong.
With all of the sorrow, and hope and
love in our hearts, let us help our planet heal.

We have never felt so far from peace,
yet, somewhere up ahead, perhaps on the other side
of cataclysm, calamity and immense suffering,
I dream of a new world, shining and green,
dotted with buffalo, and trees,
and peaceful folk who have learned how to live
with respect for the land and its creatures.

In those times, whales will no longer starve.
The living waters will run clean, and wolves and bears 
will once again have forests in which to live.

We are alive in the times
of which the ancestors spoke.
I am waiting for the Shambhala warriors
to arrive. One lived in my pen
for a bit this afternoon. We dreamed
sweet dreams together
of the world that Could Be.

Some day, I dream, there will be
the thousand years of peace
we have been promised.
Not in my time, not in yours,
but I hold that vision in my heart,
to comfort me through these times
when it seems the whole wide world
has finally gone mad.

Many great Buddhist masters have prophesied that, when the forces of aggression amass on earth and no reason can turn them back, the kingdom of Shambhala will open its gates and its enlightened warriors will come forth into battle. Whoever they encounter will be given a choice -- turn from non-virtue to virtue or, by direct, wrathful intervention, be liberated into a pure land beyond suffering. 

It seems, now, given the right-wing, corporate-funded powers in many countries, that we will not make the conscious shift we need in time, but only after passing through terrible times of hardship, in response to cataclysmic events. But Mother Earth will heal. One day she will begin again.

for my prompt at earthweal: Consciousness Raising During the Apocalyplse. Hope and reality make strange bedfellows, but it's all we've got.

Saturday, September 4, 2021



Wild Woman, before she knew
she was Wild Woman,
once packed up a little yellow Pinto with:
a ten day old baby, two small sons,
a St. Bernard puppy (who grew!),
an English pram, an Underwood typewriter,
and assorted cereals, breads and cold cuts.
That's the Before shot.
(Note the high-water jeans!)

Behind the wheel was
an alcoholic con man,
temporarily disguised as
My Baby's Daddy,
with his calculating eye
and a beer never far
from his right hand.

Down Highway 101 we rolled,
past the glorious ocean
at which he refused to stop,
past the Monarch butterfly migration,
which we flew through,
because he was always rushing
to get Somewhere Else.

My baby daughter smiled
her first smile at me,
on that long drive.

We lived in and out of the car,
our own Hotel California,
for two months, give or take.
He had promised to get a job
and "look after you for a change"
but that didn't happen.
My kids grew lean and hungry
and once I wrote
the only bad cheque of my life
to get them some food.
(I repaid all of what
this entire aberration cost,
for years.
But it was all worth it,
to have my sunny little daughter.)

It was an adventure.
There were high moments, laughter,
the feeling of being young, and alive,
along with the worry
of living on the absolute edge
of desperation;
there was the coming to see
exactly how impossible
my life had come to be.

Late fall, we pointed
the nose of the car north,
and made our way back up the coast.
I looked out at all the little houses,
the small yards, men washing cars,
kids playing,
moms hanging their wash out on the line,
and Normal had never looked
so good to me.

Note: on return, he hit the road, and I was able to start my life over again from scratch, not for the first time, and not for the last. There is more to this story, but I'll save it for my memoir, LOL.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Hope and Survival During the Apocalypse

The jays chatter on my balcony,
squawking over seed, as if this life will go on forever,
and the seed will always be there.
This is hope during the apocalypse.

Somewhere wildfires are burning;
animals fleeing in wild distress.
Those fighting the flames
can hear their screams.

I walk into the forest: coolness, peace,
sunlight slanting through the branches,
everything green, green, green:
leafy breath and human sigh.
This is relief and comfort 
during the apocalypse.

The anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers
are protesting outside the  hospital.
Uttering profanities,
they block an ambulance from
delivering its patient.
They spit at a nurse going to work
(to save the unvaccinated 
dying of covid inside.)
This is entitlement and disrespect
        - to the max -
during the apocalypse.

At the CoOp, we catch each other's glance
above our masks; we nod;
our eyes smile. We do not speak,
our words too muffled. But there is not one person
without a mask. This is solidarity, this is a community
caring for each other, during the apocalypse.

It feels like a large segment of the population
is experiencing a psychotic break, convinced
by fake news that reality is fake
and fake news is real.
"Communist news!" they jeer
at the free press. My mind boggles
at the depth of the rabbit hole
we have fallen into.
If the Mad Hatter pours me some tea,
it will be no stranger than what
is on my tv screen.

The sandy beach stretches ahead
as it always has; the waves surge to and fro,
they ebb and flow, in their eternal dance.
This is my moment out of time,
my walking meditation, like
Thay in Plum Village:
with this step, I breathe in calmness,
with this step, I breathe out peace.
"I kiss the earth with my foot."

This is survival. This is
trust in the Big Picture, and in
Mother Earth's ability to survive.
This is me, trying to survive, myself,
to stay steady, to withstand. This is me,
holding onto hope,
dreaming in green
during the apocalypse.

Inspired by the amazing poem "Surviving the Apocalypse", written by 15 year old Nina Evans, a prompt for Wild Writing by Laurie Wagner. Sharing with earthweal's open link.