Sunday, January 30, 2022

All the Others


Photography by Josephine

Small being,
you look up at me
with such trust
it hurts my heart.

My years
have shown me
too many beings like you
at human hands.

But while I live
I will keep you
- one tender heartbeat -
safe and warm.
I can only pray
for all the others.

A small thought for Carrie at The Sunday Muse

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Like a Mother


Loving the world means loving the wobbles
along with the wonders:
the bad news trickled throughout the day,
the fog lifting off to reveal blue sky and warm sun,
the boat that ran aground yesterday in the harbour,
six people rescued, four in hospital,
and the green shoots poking up through the ground
with the promise of spring.

Loving the world means growing hearts big enough
to bear witness, encompass and advocate for change
(so much that needs fixing):
the heartbreak of cruelty to animals:
the man who killed his neighbour's beloved dog
for entering his yard; the terrible pain of factory farms;
the accelerating climate crisis, with so many humans
and animals suffering; refugees in tents in wintertime,
hungry children without beds, without books.

It's hard to find the words, sometimes.
Let me love the world like a mother,
accepting the bad with the good,
always hoping for better, trusting the good
will outweigh the bad, even when 
it feels like the opposite is true.
Let me love the world like a mother,
for all of its wonders, even though
there are so many days
when it's
breaking my heart.

Inspired by "Rain, on New Year's Eve" by Maggie Smith. The italicized words are hers.

shared with earthweal's open link.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022



Photograph by Jill Battaglia

The fragrance of lilacs takes me back
to your gloomy house, your gloomy heart,
where, together, we fashioned a chimera:
you, the fire-breathing dragon,
me, the she-goat, blindly loving
one who had no wish to be loved.

Your blackbird heart has haunted me,
down all the years. The blackbird song
we sang 
brings me to tears.

Your mask of suffering
bade me to move on.
You called my name, then,
but too late.
I was gone.

for Shay's word list. I used fragrance, lilacs, chimera, gloomy, haunted, song, suffer(ing) and mask.

Pink Plastic Unicorns on the Beach


Pink unicorns from crashed containers
Global News photo

"To understand a swan,
you have to learn how to cry,"
my son, the mystic, says,
his soul attuned to higher frequencies
than the rest of us can hear.

Meanwhile pink plastic unicorns
are washing up along the coast,
containers fallen off a ship
in autumn storms,
spilling forth their contents
faster than humans can
clear the debris away.
No word, yet,
from the shipping company
as to who, in the end, will pay.

These times are teaching me
more than I ever wanted to know
about learning how to cry.
Each day one more disaster
on my tv screen.
What will happen to
we earthlings
remains to be seen.

"Embrace change
and swim with the swan,"
the poet said, so I will try,
as one by one
these troublesome days
go by.

Perhaps I'll soon converse with swans,
look in their opaque eyes,
and finally understand
what this shifting ground
on which I stand
is trying so hard
to make me realize.

One of 109 containers
washing up along the West Coast
Global News photo

In October 2021, the MV Zim Kingston, (from Malta), floundering in winter storm, became disabled off the West Coast of B.C. One of the containers caught fire, and had to be put out in the middle of rescuing the crew, in violent storm conditions. 109 containers fell off the barge. Only four have washed up on beaches. The rest are out there somewhere and the contents will eventually hit shore.

50 tonnes of debris have so far been cleaned off the beaches manually, and picked up by helicopter. It is a daunting task and Surfrider Pacific Rim, the cleaners, say that more offal is washing ashore on beaches already cleaned. The area impacted stretches along the entire coastline of Vancouver Island, from Haida Gwaii to Victoria. Surfrider worker Alys Hoyland said, "We want the federal government to hold large companies accountable for cleanup." (Wouldnt that be great? If only.) So far not a word has been heard from the shipping company.

Being fully engaged in the Now has many hard moments. But it is better to know, and try to help, than live in denial while the waters creep up higher and higher along our shores.

for earthweal where we are contemplating immersion in the Now, and Swans.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Being Peace


One step. Two steps.
Walking on the earth,
I smile.

Heel and then toe,
slowly, mindfully.
This moment,
wonderful moment.

Being peace is what he taught.
In his honour,
we try to remember
to walk gently on the earth,
mindful of
this present moment.

for Thay, who has left us as gently as a leaf in the wind.


Photograph by Anita Sedberry
at Harold Ross Fine Art Photography.

This morning
the fog is rising from the sea,
lifting off cedar and salal
like a misty curtain
on an old painted window,
to reveal
the landscape of my dreams.

In my heart,
a flickering in response:
a candle,
lit in gratitude,
ever burning,
now that 
the time of supplication
has passed.

Friday, January 21, 2022



My granddog, Bosley, who will soon
have a puppy sister to play with.
A two-puppy household sounds like heaven!

I will not tell you everything will be okay.
We all know better than that by now:
the icecaps are still melting;
starving bears are swimming miles,
exhausted, in search of food;
underwater volcanoes can explode
with a force greater than a nuclear bomb.
(Think about that.)

There are too many worries to name,
and nearby the last of the Old Ones
are falling to chainsaws, bleeding sap
on the scraped earth. 

I don't know what to tell you, except:
it stays light a bit longer each evening,
and, some days, the grey skies draw back
and our old beautiful blue sky
is still there. We gaze at it, rapturously.

I can only say that life is a gift
that we all long to keep,
no matter what is happening.

Love is all around. So love because:
we are all here, breathing; because
the green shoots are popping up already
and we are not far from spring; love
because puppies are being born,
and baby everythings, even as
old peoples' eyes are closing peacefully
for the last time, on to their next adventure.

I can only say again that life is a gift
that we all long to keep,
that the beauty of forest and shore,
sea and sky, all the changing colours
of the earth, takes my breath away,
expands my heart with gratitude,
that, even, and always, alone,
a heart that hears the ocean's song
is never lonely.

Inspired by"New Year's Day" by Caitlin Myer. The italicized lines are hers.

Shared with earthweal's open link.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Once I Had a Starling's Heart


Once I had a starling's heart
that wind-surfed
the blue sky.
It swooped and dived
depending on
what feral hearts
flew by.

Pain perched me
in high branches.
Though the gypsies
caught my eye,
and  I longed to join
their gay parade, 
I was
too wind-burnt to try.

Time slowed the clock
while I communed
with the spirits
in the trees.
Weave my coffin
out of seagrass, then,
and plant me
where you please.

LOL. For Shay's word list.

Quarantine Poem # 117


The Tonga Volcano eruption

When we began writing pandemic poems,
we thought it would last one year.
117 poems later, the hospitals are still full,
people are dying, health care workers
are burnt out and falling ill themselves,
and I don't remember a time when 
I didn't wear a mask. Mine has become
my second skin.

I'm okay, though.
Thanks for asking.

I am quite happy being a hermit,
staying in, safe and warm,
in my cozy rooms.
I write in the morning,
have coffee with the Property Brothers
at ten, choose which movie I will watch
in the afternoon.

As floods destroy towns
and a volcanic eruption with an impact
they say was larger than a nuclear bomb
lays waste small South Pacific islands,
a normal day, indoors,
with heat and food,
is not something
to be taken lightly.

I'm okay, though.
Thanks for asking.

No one knows, any longer, 
what tomorrow will bring.
I no longer take for granted
today's imperfect offering.

Inspired by Quarantine Poem # 17 by Norman Minnick. The italicized lines are his.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Being Here Now



Photos by Christine Lowther

The tsunami missed us this time,
but swept away others.
Mother Earth's voice grows louder,
while leaders stay silent, responding
to crisis upon crisis, no time 
for addressing the fact
that we live in  a collapsing world.
Icebergs melt, huge cracks open in the earth,
floods and fire and storms batter,
one after another, so that crisis is
the order of the day, just
another bit of morning news.

Ram Dass was ahead of his time
with Be Here Now. I am here,
loving where I live, sadly watching
trees fall, more ecosystems being
cleared away for humans,
because we are too many.

We, who have voices,  are
the only possible agents of change
in this transapocalyptic world.
Let's demand that our leaders
act; with our dollars, refuse to support
corporate criminals and factory "farms".

The earth will force those who are left
to return to the Old Ways.
The indigenous people of the earth
will show us how.

Meanwhile, the 8th continent,
the forest canopy, is disappearing.
Where I live, in what is left
of the last of the old growth,
deforestation continues apace.

Some of us work to pass tree bylaws;
we bring to Council our dismay
at the forest falling; we fight to save what's left.
Every day we write a letter to Council,
pen a poem, visit a tree. We steadfastly love
the sea that one day will swallow us. 
We love where we live, while, every day,
its destruction is breaking our hearts.

The canopy as the 8th continent is  a premise discussed by Meg Lowman in the book The Arbornaut, in which she explores the kingdom at the tops of trees. A large portion of Tonquin forest is now gone. Already, they are talking of falling the rest, which they had said was not under threat. A group of us have been trying to get Council to pass a tree bylaw for years. We are now mobilizing to save the rest of Tonquin. So many wild creatures are being displaced and encroached upon. No government or corporate agencies think about them, and their right to a safe place to live. This "human first" attitude is what has destroyed so much of what was once bountiful enough for all (all but the greedy.)

Cutting old growth in an escalating climate crisis caused by a warming earth is insane. But leaders work for votes, not for what is best, or difficult. Easier to put in one's term, let "future" governmental agencies deal with the fallout. Except all of B.C.'s agencies are fully involved this year dealing with massive flooding, wildfires, heat domes,  collapsing infrastructure, and a pandemic. I think they have utterly lost control; the tipping point has been passed. One way or another, humans will  learn how to live on this earth. The way it looks, this may be after cataclysm. Meanwhile, we love where we live, we do what we can, we wish for enlightened leaders who rarely appear. 

for earthweal, where we are contemplating these transapocalyptic times, and how we are living through them.

Saturday, January 15, 2022




When I entered the forest,
they told me I wouldn't need
my glasses there, in that place
where one sees with the heart.
I hung them on a twig,
and followed the path
to where the puma waited
in her enclosure
for her daily walk.

Ola, Wayra, I whispered.
Her eyes were green and so pure.
She was a mix of all that had
happened to her
before the sanctuary,
and the young being's hope
that this improvement
in circumstances
would last.

It awes me how animals
still let themselves trust
after all they have suffered.

I let her out of her enclosure,
walked, holding her leash,
(and my breath)
down the trail, let her into
the larger space
where she could feel free
yet be safe
within borders.

She couldn't believe it. She ran
around and around.
Then she came to me,
laid her head on my knee.
Her eyes,
as green as the sea,
said thank you.

I just read a book titled The Puma Years by Laura Coleman, a memoir about her work through the years in a sanctuary in the Amazon. It is for wild animals rescued from terrible abuse, who are unable to live on their own in the wild any more. Wayra, a puma, was her special connection. The book is amazing, and the deforestation and wildfires that are steadily encroaching on this refuge are briefly described. There are a band of volunteers living in rough situations, without water, without electricity, yet they stay there year after year to care for the animals so harmed by the way humans live on this earth.

for The Sunday Muse

Clayoquot Sound Haiku 2022


Six in the morning
tsunami advisory
Is this the Big One?

Where will the wolves go
if the waters roll inland?
Swim fast, my loved ones.

Danger is over.
Once more, we get off easy.
Not other places.

Woke at 6 a.m. to a phone call from emergency services. Tsunami advisory because of the event at Tonga Island. Once again, I get up, gather the most basic essentials, medication, tablet, have it ready to run out the door. This is happening so often now. Each time I think: one of these times will be the Big One.

Footage of the actual event is very scary.

But, here, once again, we got lucky. People living along the inlet saw the water draw back, then rush back in ferociously. Beaches were closed as tides and currents were expected to be wild. People on boats were told to get off the water. The advisory was called off this afternoon. No flooding expected. I unpacked my little bag one more time. No end to it, it seems.

Is it wise to live on a faultline at my age? LOL. I have no choice. It is home. I am happy here.

for earthweal's open link.

Friday, January 14, 2022


The rusty metal heron fell over again
out in the yard. It is having a hard time
staying on his feet
these winter mornings.
I prop his spiky toes with a rock,
come back inside,
where the washing machine is humming.
Such ease, I have in my life. I think of
my grandmother, raising four kids
through the Depression, how she hand-washed
the sheets in the bathtub, wrung them out,
hung them outside in minus twenty temperatures
till they froze, then brought them back inside,
standing them up around the room to thaw.

But she thought I worked hard,
with my own four children,
and my huge backyard garden.
"I had my husband to help me," she said.
I can see her, in her red vest and skirt,
her white blouse, white hair, spectacles,
sitting under the grape arbor as I weeded,
the fat brown pet bunny munching
his way down the row, then
napping near me, luxuriously,
in the sun.

The snow has gone. Today the sky is grey,
promising rain. Soup is bubbling on the stove.
All is warm, all is well,
within and without:

Such gifts,
a winter morning brings.

This poem was inspired by Winter Morning by James Crews

Thursday, January 13, 2022

On Sorrows That are Not Obscure

My sorrows have never been obscure.
I always knew their name,
tucked them away in a pocket
for safekeeping, treated them gently,
let them be.

The poet said we are building
a version of the world
that we can live with.
I know I do.
I choose peace, over and over again,
because I like the feeling.

This morning, after days of rain,
there is blue sky and puffy clouds
out my window, and I am
heading to a wild trail 
along the ocean's edge.

Momento mori, he said, is our attempt
to capture the moments of our lives.

I pick up my camera.
I open the door,
press "Play",
jump into the moments
that will comprise my life

Inspired by Morii, from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig.

Monday, January 10, 2022



If you knew this was your last day,
or week, or month,
how would you spend it?
What would you tell people?
Would you pick up the phone more often,
speak words of love and appreciation?

Would you sit at the shore for hours,
watching the forever waves
endlessly advancing and retreating,
until, behind your eyelids,
they were engraved forever
on your heart?

Here’s how it is:
we have this moment, now.
No more are promised.
The ferryman will come.
We knew this
when we bought the ticket.
He will glide beside the dock,
and nod: we will step in.
It will be too late then
to change
what might have been.

Here’s what I really want you to know:
I carry it all in my heart: summer days
under my grandma’s weeping willow,
teardrops and song under a teenage moon,
young motherhood, with all the struggle,
and the laughter, all those leggy children
laughing in the sun; I carry it all,
the coming home to myself,
my great leap to the sea,
the big black wolf who taught me
all that love could be.

I carry it all with me: the gifts,
the gratitude, the sorrow,
(for the recipe, my friends,
has always included sorrow.)
It has been more than I ever dreamed,
if not all that it could be.
My heart is full to the brim
with gratitude and wonder,
should I depart Tomorrow.

for my prompt at earthweal: Gratitude. I am so grateful for it all. 

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Empty Pockets


Qualicum Beach

An oceanside RV park
in Parksville, Vancouver Island

This week, the ocean roared,  huge waves
swallowing whole beaches, right up into
RV parks and private lawns.
"It's happening," I thought. They said
it would be fifteen years until
the water level along the shores
would rise.

On this Island, Parksville beaches flooded.
On the mainland, the seawall and Kitsilano beach
disappeared under the waves.

The news keeps floating the fantasy
that these extreme weather events
are each one-time occurrences.
After each flood, people begin mopping up,
as if the only possibility we know
is this one step at a time, one day at a time
moving forward
through accelerating crisis.

Every living thing is imbued
with its own determination
to survive
its circumstances.

We are reaching into empty pockets,
the poet said.

Yet in spite of rising seas,
and melting ice floes,
in spite of landslides
and floods that swallow whole towns,
hope finds us. We hold fast
to the belief that, despite our ennui
and stubborn denial,
there is still time,
all evidence to the contrary,
to unite and find a way
to save this melting 
and imploding world.

Inspired by Some Tomorrow by Maya Stein. The italicized phrase is hers.

Monday, January 3, 2022



My granddog Smokey

Yesterday at three o'clock, thunder
roared so loud it shook my window,
then rain, then hail, then snow - snow
on the west coast, so rare. But weather
is disturbed now, everywhere.

Yesterday at three o'clock, in the city,
a giant tree fell into a couple's
living room and killed them
where they sat.

Wildfires in Colorado wiped out 
hundreds of homes, and then it snowed.

Ice floes are melting and, in the north,
the earth has tilted slightly on its axis.
I live on a coastline. When the waters rise,
mine, along with many other cities,
will be washed away.

And yet we live as if that day
will never come, because
the alternative, living in fear
instead of gratitude, is no way to live.

My neighbour came too close to me
in the lobby, talking his germs all over me,
then told me had just had omnicron. 

Now that we know that anything can happen,
how will we live? Can we cherish each normal day,
understanding that, at any given moment,
everything we have can be stripped away?

Can we cherish our mobility knowing that,
in a single heartbeat, it can be lost and 
we'll spend our remaining years
watching life through the window
of a nursing home? Is that what it takes
for us to recognize all we have 
to give thanks for?

Now that we know that anything can happen,
can we be more loving, kind, compassionate,
and grateful for this normal day,
this mix of struggle and hope
with which we face
this challenging year?

Inspired by Now That Anything Could Happen by Joyce Sutphen, at Wild Writing.

Loving This Queer Earth


(I adore this little girl!)

Looking at a queer earth,
an acting out earth,
an undependable, reactive earth,
requires a balance of grief and hope,
of love for what is, sorrow for
all that is being lost (including
that sense of well-being we once knew),
and the understanding we must cherish
what we have because, in an instant,
life can change, and everything we know
be stripped away.

I want the creatures to not be dying.
I want the humans to be better than we are.
I want healing hands to soothe
this distraught planet. I want
good to triumph and evil to be
banished. I want poetic,
environmental and social justice.

Yesterday at three o'clock, a sudden
roar of thunder, as if the heavens opened,
so loud my window shook. In the city,
a tree fell into a couple's living room
and killed them on the spot.

The lesson of our times:
cherish what we have because,
in an instant, life can change,
and everything we know
be stripped away.

for Brendan at earthweal: A Keen Ear for a Queer Earth

Sunday, January 2, 2022

So Much Love


The music of my youth brings back
the memories of those golden
coffeehouse days, when fire and rain
sang in the living room,
I cooked in the kitchen, and
the musicians said they didn't need
an audience, as long as I was there.

The music thrummed in my soul,
all my songs hidden and unsung.
We laughed, we cried, we loved,
we thought that we would be
forever young.

But not one dream, not one love song
would be completely sung.

They sang the soundtrack of my youth
back then. They loved and lost,
as we all did, and so to hear them now,
singing the love, the pain of those lost years,

leaves me broken open, with my own
lost dreams, and all my hidden tears.

Gah. Just watched James Taylor and Carole King's concert on CNN, the music of my youth, coffeehouse days, loving and losing and not knowing how to hold on to the joy..........seeing the two of them singing together now - the music and love enduring despite the memory of past pain - just brings those years all home to me again.

So much love, so much twisted highway. At the end, it is the memory of love that remains.

I have read Girls Like Us, by Carole King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell, and also Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon, so I know the history of James leaving Carole for Carly, of Carly's anxiety in performing, of James' addiction issues - how they all loved and lost and suffered like we all did - and out of that the great music they birthed, and the love that has endured all that the coffeehouse we felt forever young........what special years they were -  a gift. I have been given so many gifts this lifetime. I can only be grateful.

Along the Shores of the Zambezi


Along the shores of the Zambezi
we travelled, eyes alert for lion, leopard,
the giraffe's long spotted neck.

Beneath the stalwart baobab,
we stopped to share: smiles,
wine, cheese and bread, and
the adventure of our lives.

I picked a red flame lily for you;
you put it in my hair. 
It was summer
on the savannah; we had no idea, then,
how beautiful we were, or how
our memories would
keep returning and returning,
across the years,
to all we
encountered there.

for Carrie at The Muse. Happy New Year!