Sunday, November 28, 2021

Dispatches From the Edge


The Sumass Prairie Flood
Abbotsford, B.C.

Reuters image

Ministry of Transportation images

Getty images

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:
(c/c B.C. Premier John Horgan)

Welcome to the climate crisis. Too bad we missed our emissions targets for 2020. Oops. I hate to burst your bubble of denial, but setting emission reduction targets of 2050 is ludicrous. By 2050, if human life survives, perpetual heat domes will be baking all life for months at a time.

Tzeporah* is telling it true: the only way forward is the way you do not want to travel, capping fossil fuel use and scaling the industry down by mid-century. Stop with the pipelines. Stop clearcutting the few remaining old growth forests we have left. The capitalism extraction formula makes a few very rich, but it is costing the rest of us dearly, and will have  an even more devastating impact on our grandchildren's and great-grandchildren's lives, along with all non-human lives.

We just watched large portions of our province disappear underwater, people and animals suffering and dying, towns emptied, livelihoods wiped out overnight. I used to feel frustrated when government said it was too expensive to address climate change.  The price tag for not addressing it will be even higher. And the trouble is, we will be so busy reacting to crises, it will be impossible, now, to gain the upper hand enough to slow the pace of climate breakdown.

A series of storms are lined up off the coast; the second  is battering us now. It is long past time to stop making decisions based on economics, and to start making them in terms of survival on this planet. You were not elected to make life great for corporations; you were elected to serve the people and steward resources carefully for future generations.

I can't tell you how your smiling, smooth, empty words, words, words annoys me, along with your lack of action.

A Raging Granny

for my challenge at earthweal: to write Verse Letters: a form of address like a dramatic monologue. As I watch Politico-Speak on the news, and those smug, smiling, over-privileged faces, while so many are suffering, it helps to send off a verbal slap or two. *Tzeporah Berman is a lifelong activist who speaks to government and industry about the accelerating climate crisis. 

The third atmospheric river system is set to hit tomorrow. The long tin buildings that house livestock on factory "farms" are full of drowned cattle. Three towns have lost a large percentage of their housing. Thousands are displaced with no where to go; they have lost everything. When climate refugees are within 100 miles, the climate crisis gets very real indeed. I can hardly bear to think of how many domestic and wild animal deaths there have been. I write from the edge of the West Coast, and the edge of hope.

Saturday, November 27, 2021



The Sumas Prairie Flood

Getty images

Reuters image

Ministry of Transporation images

CBC photo

This time the river comes from the sky,
an atmospheric river that floods vast areas.
Major highways and bridges collapse.
In long tin barns, thousands of animals drown.
Humans are displaced with no where to go;
climate refugees are now in our back yard,
and tomorrow it could be us.

Skies are dark; the rain pounds down,
relentless, a second storm, a third.
The fourth will be the biggest yet,
they tell us nervously. "Have essentials
packed and ready to go." But go where?
I live on a narrow peninsula with one road out.
Sitting in backed up cars beside a surging sea
feels less safe than staying home, and what does
one take, when one has only two hands,
one grab and go bag, five minutes?
Let it all go, I think, as I have let it all go
so many times before.

In times like these, the givers appear:
driving their boats down what once were streets,
rescuing people and pets; feeding the displaced
in community halls, making coffee, sandwiches,
soup, handing out trays with a smile:
"Have this; it will warm you."

They are sandbagging the dike, in fear
that it will break again in the next storm,
and they will be back where they started.
They are herding terrified cows in water
up to their necks; they are gathering
what animals they can into whatever shelter
they can find. They are on the news,
choked up, but brave, saying, "We won't give up.
Come spring, we'll plant again."
Yet how rebuild in a floodplain, when 
it is certain more floods will come?

"One river gives its journey to the next"
the poet said, "when giving is all we have.
You gave me what you didn't have;
I gave you what I had to give.
Together, we made something greater."

From When Giving Is All We Have by Alberto Rios; Wild Writing. Italicized lines are the poet's.

A series of atmospheric rivers is flooding much of British Columbia, in a scope undreamed of by climate change deniers, but a clue to those of us who understand the climate crisis that we dont have ten or fifteen more years "to turn things around." Climate breakdown is happening now; it is accelerating. We discover how helpless humans are when nature responds to the distress we have caused her. The scope of destruction is greater than can be fully comprehended. There have been some human deaths and uncounted thousands of domestic and wild animal deaths. Livestock trapped in the agriculture industry buildings drowned captive; disposing of the bodies will be an ordeal in itself. Humans are as busy as ants trying to shore up infrastructure against the endless rain. I have no idea what will remain after the fourth and biggest storm early next week. The best of human nature comes out at such times. We  are grateful for the many hands reaching out in compassion to provide assistance. There is no "other" in a crisis, only givers, and helpers. Only humans, struggling together against forces so mighty they humble us. 

shared with earthweal, where we seem to be chronicling the apocalypse, sooner than we expected.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

In Memory, I Return


Kelowna, B.C.

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.

Monday, November 22, 2021

In Praise of Clayoquot Sound

Warren Rudd photo

My life has been a pilgrimage through hallowed ground.
My lover, Clayoquot Sound, her siren song
                 the ocean's roar,
I live enraptured by the beauty of this glorious
                 place I've found,
my heart exulting in her forest and along
                 her golden shore.

My lover, Clayoquot Sound, her siren song
                 the ocean's roar,
like a murrelet, along her ley lines I was drawn.
My heart exulting in her forest and along
                her golden shore,
I will give praise until the breath of life is gone.

Like a murrelet, along her ley lines I was drawn,
beauty like a banquet spread before
               my spellbound eyes.
I will give praise until the breath of life is gone,
blessing the All That Is for silver sea
               and cloud-kissed skies.

Beauty like a banquet spread before
               my spellbound eyes,
I live enraptured by the beauty of this
              glorious place I've found.
Praising the All That Is for silver sea
              and cloud-kissed skies, and that
my life has been a pilgrimage through hallowed ground.



Wind whispers
through the canopy
like lake ripples
through the trees

Small leaves spiral
thick as raindrops,
pixies dancing
on the breeze

Sunlight consecrating trees -
almost I hear an organ sound:
I, pilgrim and acolyte,
the golden forest
hallowed ground

Birch bark like ancient manuscript
writ by a gnarled and pointy hand
tells tales of olden times long-gone,
bygone days upon the land

Once again, the breeze-song swells,
upon the wind a hymn of praise:
to these blessed simple days,
these days we have,
a hymn of praise.


for Brendan at earthweal where we are giving praise  for nature's beauty. The second small hymn was written some years ago, when words were flowing more easily than they do now.



I write because today it is dark
and rainy out
and I am staying in.

I write because I live much in silence
and tapping on the keys is how I talk
to people, even though not many
will read my words.

I write to leave a trail behind me
so, after I'm gone, those who know me
will have a way to find me, and learn
things about me that they never knew.

I write because my tabletop Christmas tree
is sweet with twinkling lights, and I want
to share it with you.

I write because I made a big pot
of potato leek soup yesterday, and 
it makes me happy.

I write because words arrived
with urgency when I was fourteen
and I knew I was meant to write
them all down.

I write to chart
the journey I have made
through this world
that is beautiful and troubled enough
to break your heart, and then heal it.
I write to say thank you
to the All That Is
for such a fine journey.

inspired by I Write Because by Anne Marsland of Wild Writing.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Sky Dog


Up in the sky
your face appears
made of clouds -
big wolfish ears
your long snout
your eyes looking
down on me.

What are you
to tell me?

As you fade away
an owl calls.
She doesn't say my name.
But I wonder.

Friday, November 19, 2021

The End of the Rainbow


The book of poems that is my life
has an arc - decades of hope and optimism,
faith and trust, love of
the natural world: a rainbow
of possibility for all
of humankind.

We are on the downward curve now,
up and over the arch and sliding
into disaster, climate breakdown,
suffering and death.

How many animal bodies perished
in the soup covering much of
this province?

How many more poems of disaster
will I write before I close my book
for the last time?

I am living to see things
that were never in my dreams.
My poems of gratitude
have turned into
poems of grief.

I am saying farewell to the world
of hope I once knew; saying hello
to times of floods and fire.
Where are the Shambhala Warriors
we were promised, who will lead us
to the other side?
I was raised on rainbow promises,
and now there's not a rainbow in sight.

for earthweal's open link

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

When Mountainsides Fall Down


Ministry of Transportation photo

Merritt, B.C.
CBC News photo


On the ocean floor, tiny plankton and krill
are such small creatures,
to have such impact
on whale and ocean health.

We humans,
self-important and entitled,
at the top of the food chain,
have a devastating
and destructive reach,
forgetting that we are only one
among many other beings.

Yet, when Mother Earth rages,
rivers run their banks
and mountainsides tumble down,
we get swept away
as easily as tiny krill
are scooped and sifted
through the grey whale's baleen.

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.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

What Keeps Me Awake at Night


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;
nothing changing.

Government-speak addresses
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
climate change.
Corporations still hold
all the power, and they are
killing us.

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
over oil?

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.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Strokes of Luck


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.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

In Praise of Remembering


The Vaquita

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.

for my prompt at earthweal: The Great Forgetting

Inspired by the poem "In Praise of Forgetting" by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Monday, November 8, 2021

Kindness in the Time of Covid


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
I apologize.
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

for my prompt at earthweal: The Great Forgetting.

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.

Thursday, November 4, 2021



Peace, a state of being
whose time has come:
for heart-shattered humans,
all over this suffering world,
for starving salmon, whales,
wolves and bears,
for old growth trees, the Ancient Ones,
falling to satisfy corporate greed
in a time of accelerating climate crisis.

May we hear the wisdom
of indigenous elders, who are warning us
to change our ways -
we, in our daily choices,
governments in the tough legislation 
it will take courage for them to pass,
corporations in realizing
you can't breathe, eat or drink money.

May all remember
that every being on this earth
just wants to live.

Peace is Possible.

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.

Monday, November 1, 2021

There Are Spirits Here


The portal of the night illuminated by moon
and silvery-etched clouds promises cosmic mysteries
to the dreamer who navigates by the stars.
The faint inky outline of the mountains,
huddled along the shore like sleeping giants,
casts a shadow across the land
where once the Old Ones walked.

There are spirits abroad in the land
this night.
I can feel them close, but just beyond
my sight.

Grandfather Cedar towers,
black against the starlit sky.
On the fencepost,
an owl's yellow eyes
are fixed on my passing
like a messenger
from the other world,
feathered prophet.

What are you
trying to tell me?
I ask.
What is it that I
need to know?

"You already know,"
she says.
"The time for listening
is over.
Now it is time
to act."

Looking up,
all is beauty,
all is peaceful,
all is silence,
all is promise.
Yet I feel
our Mother's pain.

I feel the spirits, near,
the eyes of the ancient ones
looking at me with unspoken request.
I see the world as it was in the Old Ways,
shift my vision to what we have become,
weep for the displaced,
the dispossessed,
fur beings and humans alike,
who wander this disintegrating planet
in an endless quest
for sustenance and peace.
Nearby and all across this island
are razed, desecrated slopes
where the Standing People
once stood green and thick and proud.
My thoughts turn to
the creatures that fly and slither,
that swim in the oceans
and lakes and rivers,
waters that now are ailing;
and to the polluted air,
birds falling from the sky,
the melting icecaps,
the damaged ozone.
My heart sends an apology
to the air and mountains,
earth and sky,
that we Two-Leggeds have
so afflicted.

Mea culpa,
to all the hungry bears and wolves.
Mea culpa,
to all the clearcut slopes.
Mea culpa,
to all the creatures
who have silently disappeared
under our watch.
Mea culpa,
that we never even noticed.

Owl tells me:
Place your hands upon
the trunk of Grandfather Cedar.
Sink your roots deep into the earth.
Sing your song of love
beneath Grandmother Moon,
and send it on the midnight wind
to the ancient ones,
who will carry it
to their sweat lodges
in prayerful ceremony.

Yes, there are spirits here,
inviting us to broaden our vision
from the seen
to the unseen,
to clasp hands with the ancestors
who have come to help us heal
Mother Earth's
deep wounds.