(c/c B.C. Premier John Horgan)
A Raging Granny
In memory, I return to the bare brown hills
of my childhood summers,
that turned blue in winter snows.
Again and again, my heart goes back
to the little cottage on Christleton Street,
to the glamorous aunts and uncles
coming smiling out onto the porch in the video
now gone grainy after so many decades.
Sometimes now, on early summer mornings
at the farm, I smell lake-scent, bullrushes,
weeping willow and Ponderosa pine, and
I am back again, eleven years old,
freckle-faced, hair in a pony tail,
in pedal pushers and t-shirt,
biking the hot and dusty streets.
"There are landscapes one has lost":
1260 Ethel, when my children were
young, leggy and laughing, before life
brought us all so many tears.
My trailer in Tofino, the realization
of my dream, eagles wind-surfing overhead,
sunrise a fiery orange over the inlet,
joy and contentment at finding home
in the place of my dreams.
My last little home, a smaller trailer
in the country, where Pup reigned supreme,
his elderly paws padding beside me
in the darkness before dawn, returning
to our little home warm with golden light,
my heart brimming with gratitude
for the peacefulness
of that little home we'd made.
There is no going back. There is only
remembering: I recall the pain of loss,
the longing, when I left this beloved landscape
for the valley. Seventeen years of yearning,
before my joyous return.
One can never own a place. One can
only love it, and protect it, immerse oneself
in the beloved landscape with joy.
Remembering the past yet
fully present in the Now,
our hearts are large enough to carry
the full mix of memory and loss,
sorrow and gratitude that fills us
when, in memory, we return
to all the places we have loved,
that made us who we are.
Inspired by Places To Return by Dana Gioia at Wild Writing. The italicized line is hers.
inspired by I Write Because by Anne Marsland of Wild Writing.
for earthweal where we contemplate Extinction - quite possibly our own.
B.C. got a taste of nature's fury the past two days when ten inches of rain fell over huge areas of the province, causing major flooding, highway destruction, landslides, and evacuation of three towns. Major highways were closed, and we now have a huge mess to clean up, so soon after wildfires affected the same areas now hit hard by flooding. 275 people had to be rescued by helicopter, trapped in their vehicles overnight between two landslides. We dont know how many cars got swept away. One major highway will be closed for months.
An unthinkable number of livestock, wild and domestic animals will have died in the floods.
Governments thought the price of addressing climate change would be too high. The cost of not addressing it will be much higher. And on-going. We are watching climate breakdown in real time now. And it is accelerating faster than expected. Target dates of 2050 for lowerting emissions are just ludicrous. The science was clear 40 years ago and we havent yet begun.
What doesn't keep me awake at night,
is the real question. The climate crisis
is worsening; creatures are going extinct
at an unheard of pace; emissions are not
being reduced, even though the scientists
warn time is running out.
I stare into the darkness of two a.m.
thinking of the old growth falling,
temperatures rising, floods, tornadoes,
hurricanes, wildfires all increasing;
"heat domes" and "cyclone bombs"
occurring randomly and often.
And no one connecting the dots;
climate change: words, words, words
at conference after conference,
where no targets are being met.
Not enough action follows.
Canada funnels 12 billion a year into
fossil fuels and FOUR billion into
Corporations still hold
all the power, and they are
Half my neighbourhood forest
is coming down, ripped from the earth
by a giant claw: as if the wisdom teeth
of the planet are being pulled.
It will be an even hotter
summer in 2022.
And even before they finish
clearcutting this half, they are
talking about cutting the rest.
At night, as I worry, thin hungry bears
and cougars and wolves stalk the village,
in search of food. Their habitat is now
too small to support them.
They travel farther to find a place
where man is not.
The other night, a hungry bear pounded
the lid of the garbage can in frustration.
What will this world be like
for my great-grandchildren
and their children?
Will they walk hot dusty streets
like hungry bears?
Will water cost a hundred dollars
a gallon? Will wars be fought
over water as they were once fought
I stare into the dark.
It gives me no answers.
for earthweal. Inspired by "Things That Keep Me Awake at Night" by Laurie Wagner of Wild Writing.
I drove my neighbour to the CoOp and we made it there and back right between two rainfalls.
This week, I am watching the wild geese flying over, so heartened by the honking of their homeward song.
Yesterday afternoon, looking up and out my big window, I saw a heron fly over, looking for all the world like a skinny matron, her purse clutched under her wing, off to go shopping in the sky.
I have a stack of books waiting to be read these rainy afternoons. And cups of tea awaiting sweetener from my less-than-shiny spoons.
I have the gift of being grateful for small things, which makes my life seem very rich indeed.
At writers' group, when they asked for a poem, the one I found folded up in the back of my journal was one that they liked.
The winter waves are silvery grey at the shore, pounding in like wild horses, so loud their thundering roar.
Memories that once were painful are now softened by the wisdom of my years, shining golden the time when both the world and I were young and all our songs were up ahead, still waiting to be sung.
I have lived 75 years on the planet and am still here tapping at the keys. I am quite pleased.
I have lived enough stories that, if I tell them all, it will take several books and the rest of my life.
My spirit guides were whispering to me all the way along. They told me everything would be all right. And they were never wrong.
Inspired by "Fifteen Strokes of Luck" by Ellery Akers
Here's a good quote by Mary Karr: Poetry is when you start in a sacred place and then get ziplined to something truer.
We humans have perfected
the art of forgetting. We forgot
the woolly mammoth, and the sabre-toothed tiger,
barely registered the passing of
the Dodo and the Great Auk.
The Tasmanian tiger tiptoed quietly
out of our dreams, vanishing silently,
the way the snow leopard
pads elusively the snowy peaks,
keeping safely hidden, and rarely seen.
Did you know the vaquita,
the most critically endangered
marine mammal in the world? There were
only a handful left when last
anyone looked, disappearing before
I even learned their name.
We have perfected the art of forgetting,
turning away from the uncomfortable,
retreating into our privilege,
the warmth of our houses, turning on
our technical distractions, so we
dont have to remember that,
in Madagascar, a million people
are eating cactus leaves to survive
because of drought and climate change.
We just don't want to know.
"Too painful," we shudder. "I just can't."
If we were to remember all the death
and destruction our species has caused,
even in just the last hundred years,
it might topple us out of our ivory towers.
(Plus - ivory. I could write a whole
other poem about that.)
A poet once wrote a poem in praise of forgetting,
but we humans are already too good at that.
What is hard is remembering -
the lost ones, the scorched earth,
the choking and turbulent sky,
the warming seas, the struggling creatures
on land and sea, eating their own version
of cactus leaves, as they silently grow thin
and fade away.
We humans are way too good at forgetting.
We could write a whole encyclopedia
with the names of the lost.
Inspired by the poem "In Praise of Forgetting" by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach
I was thinking about the way
we have been huddling in our houses,
feeling cut off from the rest of the world,
other than the horrors we see
on our tv screens, yet how kindness
still weaves itself through our days,
in the way the clerk at the store
calls me "love" because I am elderly,
and no one else has called me that
in decades. It shines in the story
of someone leaping into icy waters
to rescue a dog the tide carried out,
just before he succumbs; or
how our eyes kindle as they meet
those we know, standing in line
patiently at the Post Office, because
only two can go in at a time;
and how careful we are to mask up,
to stand six feet apart,
to protect ourselves and each other,
because life is so precious,
so suddenly finite.
Old age is the highway of empathy.
By now, we have suffered and recovered
enough times to have compassion for
other struggling humans, not as far, yet,
along the path. We have surpassed
those rushing, impatient years
when we wanted everything at once
and the world, in its wisdom, said "Wait."
So, we beam at small children walking past,
exchange hand waves with infants
in their parents' arms, side/side, side/side,
like the Queen; carry a pocket of treats
for village dogs, who get to know this,
and drag their owners over every time
they spot us. These small moments
of interaction, which now comprise
the social entirety of our lives,
are enough to send us home, heart happy
and smiling, and loving this village,
this Island, this winter-wild ocean
with its roaring waves.
Maybe these moments
are, as the poet said,
the true dwelling of the holy
in our lives, our own fleeting temples.
They feel so, to me, this extending a smile
of kindness, the glance that says "I see you",
breathing silent blessings as we hold open the door
and our fellow human walks through --
small gifts of goodwill
to fellow beings hungry for such gestures
of grace and connection, that remind us
we live in a wonderful world,
one that we share together.
I've been thinking
of this all day.
Inspired by "Small Kindnesses" by Danusha Lameris. The italicized words are hers.
Not long ago, you were the mightiest of the mighty.
Your roar declared your kingship.
At sunset you lay high on the veld,
the sun shining amber on your golden coat,
peaceful, surveying your domain,
your eyes serene and proud and unafraid.
Other creatures feared you, made wide berth
around your passage, hid themselves
when you came near.
Then the Great White Hunters came,
the Two-Leggeds, beings who smelled
of blood and death,
more savage and less just
than the lives they stalked.
They decimated your tribe, forced
those of you still living
into “canned hunting compounds”
where, for $35,000 and a piece of their soul,
they could shoot you, take you home
to lay your hide underfoot,
wear your claws on leather thongs,
hang a picture of their mighty conquest
on a wall for all to see how bloodthirsty
they are, grinning like ghouls as they
hold up your heavy head, your lifeless form
to the camera.
They backed you into a corner.
Were you afraid? No, you stared them down
with an expression that looked very much
like disgust, contempt.
One raised his rifle; you did not cower,
but stepped towards him, roaring
one last mighty roar
as the shots rang out,
majestic to the very last moment
of your life.
Lion of my heart, for my species
In all our years of domination and plunder,
we have not grown kind and wise;
have yet to learn how to live
with dignity and compassion
- with justice -
on this earth,
a species whose best hope
is extinction and
This poem is based on the life of a mighty lion, Ingwavuma, who reacted this way when cornered in a canned hunting compound. Some of his descendants, the last of the white lions, are alive today in a lion sanctuary run by the Global White Lion Trust in Africa, begun by Linda Tucker. Her book The Mystery of the White Lions is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. Ingwavuma carried the gene that birthed his white-skinned descendants. Shaman Credo Mutwa prophesies that when the last white lion is gone from the earth, mankind will vanish too.
Well. It is a big wish we bloggers have every year, along with Mimi Lenox and her annual Blogblast for Peace.
It takes courage to keep believing in times like these. But we are poets and words are what we have, so we use them in hopes they will add some positive energy to the universe - and send some love to the beings in the natural world who are suffering, unable to ask us to stop torturing Mother Earth. Peace, my friends, as this tired but beautiful old world turns and turns.