Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Wild Anthropocene


Voice of America photo

The voice of the wild anthropocene
is heard across the land, in hurricane,
in flood, in wilding fire. Its force
is felt uprooting trees, flooding towns,
stirring animals and homes
into a mad and muddy porridge.

Birds fall dead from the sky.
Whale bodies wash onto the beach.
A mother bear and two cubs wander the town
in search of food and are killed.
Autopsy reveals, mother bear's
stomach is full of tinfoil and despair.

The planet heats. Across the hot
and burning land, war perpetuates, bombs
add further desperation to people
struggling to survive.
Crazed young men
with assault rifles shoot away
their rage. Politicians and the media
talk and talk, the next
school shooting already on its way.
Nineteen children's families mourn
as we think and pray, and claim
"our right" to not put assault rifles,
once and for all,  away.

And I have to wonder: as we make
a hell of heaven,
is it possible
that the blood and spirits of
all the murdered innocents
are transforming this seething, writhing
suffering earth,
on which we've all gone mad
and lost our way
to holy ground? 
Elusive peace, the plea
in every prayer I pray.

Italicized words are John Milton's. For earthweal: Anthropocene Wilderness. And she is getting pretty wild. 

Friday, May 27, 2022



Open the window, so the spirits of the dying
can fly out and away, into the starry night.
May the song of the spheres serenade their passage,
moonglow seal up the opening in the veil
between their new world and ours.
Watch the early morning light
slowly outline the rosy mountains,
then faintly tinge the sky
with the pink of promise:
a new day begins, for we, the living.

This moment, as every moment,
all of the waters of the world
are traveling in riversong to the sea,
bearing life along its precipitous passage,
down the mountain slopes,
plunging over falls,
pooling in quiet eddies,
till finally it reaches the ocean's roar
and finds itself home again,
on tomorrow's shore.

There be spirits here. Come walk
in the ancient forest with me.
Hear Brother Wind whispering the shaman's song
softly through the branches of Grandfather Cedar.
If you listen closely, you will hear
him speak.
He knows those who are lost,
those who have journeyed on,
those who will return again.
He will bring the touch
of the one you have loved so well
on the evening breeze.
When the puff of wind touches your cheek,
know it was sent to you with love
from the spirit world,
to gently dry your tears.

This is an old one from 2015 I stumbled upon just now. I wasn't sure where this poem was heading when I started off. I was remembering my mother's death, and how it felt like her spirit was flying towards the window, out and away into the night.

Some time ago, my friend, whose husband had died a year before, told me she had waited almost a year for a visitation from her husband, who had made dream visits to everyone else in the family. One night she finally dreamed of him. They were talking and laughing together, in the dream, and then she started to cry and said, "But you're not here!" And she said he told her, "But I AM here," as he wiped the tears under her eyes. And she woke, still feeling the touch of his fingers on her cheek.

I have not yet found the words for the recent school shooting. Maybe I never will. 

I Save My Love


I save my love for what stays.....
the way my room feels on a rainy day:
comfortable, cozy, peaceful. Safe.

My great-granddaughter's sweet smile,
her hands waving, side-side, side-side,
like the Queen, saying "Bye-Bye"
for the first time; her mother's delight.

The light blue eyes of my wolf-dog friend,
my love going with him to bless him
on his way, him 
taking up residence in my heart
along with my other lost wolfy loves.

The memory of a lover, below in the driveway,
looking up at me on the porch under a spring moon.
"Je t'aime", he said, but it was all a performance,
him playing lead in his own bad movie.
Me leaving after the first disappointing act.
I save my love for what is real.

I save my love for Mother Earth
and all of her non-human creatures:
the ancient forest and its residents,
the endless waves, the humped backs
of the mountains hugging the harbour,
for whales and wolves, herons and ravens,
for owls, for deer on their delicate feet,
fawns trembling at their mothers' sides.

I save my love for beauty, for kindness,
for people longing for a better dream
than the one we are presently dreaming.

Yet "Wake up!" the universe is crying:
"Spend every bit of love you have,
give it away with both hands. So many
have need of all that you can offer."
I take my love and apply it
like a poultice 
everywhere it hurts.
And it hurts everywhere.

Inspired by "I Save My Love" by Marjorie Saiser of the Wild Writing family. The italicized lines are hers. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

It Was Like This


In the middle of my life, I soared

out of the desert, over the mountains,

to the sea. It is a theme i keep

returning to, that triumphant homecoming,

where every misty cloud on Meares

made me catch my breath in silly joy, where

my utterances were all preceded by 

long, drawn-out "wow"'s: at surf-topped waves,

at sunsets beautiful enough to break your heart,

at bioluminescence, at the fight to save the old-growth,

me exactly where i needed to be, heart soaring with

the seabirds wheeling free over shining waters. 

Fulfilment was a full heart, amazed at

having made my dream come true. 

I didnt say it was easy - working two and three 

jobs at a time, trying to find the next place to live. 

But the payoff was the beauty, walking through 

some of the most spectacular landscape on the planet.

Leaving such golden joy broke my heart.

I mourned for years until i knew: i needed

to return, close that circle, have more years

in this forever place, satisfy the longing of my soul

to be back home. It was like this: i was happy there.

Inspired by the title "It was like this: I was happy" by Jane Hirshfield.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Tao of How


To and fro goes The Way, the Buddhists say,

and we are meant to find balance

in the in-between. Yet how

(that "how" again) do we keep our balance

in a hurricane? Or when the skies

open and dump a lake where our houses

are, now appearing like apparitions

in the flooded land? Breathe in peace,

breathe out love, a smiling monk advises.

I'm looking for how to meet this moment,

of flux, of distress, of injustice, of seeing

"Other" where we are meant to see "Us". 

Of seeing disappearing rights where

we once had dreams. Everything - other than

human reason - so extreme, we do 

the best we can.  I suspect the How

of Tao is simply muddling through,

with such grace as we can muster. 

The wise ones say, when we are speaking

of hatred, division, war on climate and

war on each other, the only possible antidote

is love. How to make that leap?

It would feel like the frog escaping

the boiling pot into a pond

of cool, clear river water - ourselves

and Mother Earth thrice and truly

Blessed. But, Observer of the Tao,

Please tell us how?

For earthweal: the Everyday Extreme

Saturday, May 21, 2022



She is a sky dancer,
caught halfway between earth
and heaven.
Swirl me some stars,
pour me a half-glass of hope.
Remind me that, while the view
on the ground is gloomy,
in the celestial realm,
spirits rain down
blessings on we benighted folk,
in the vain aspiration
we might catch some 
of their heavenly fire
and dream a brighter dream.
Sky dancer,
pour me some truth,
and I will believe.

Friday, May 20, 2022



Owl Woman has soft gray chicks
nestled at her breast.
In her mind lives the spacious sky,
dappled silver, shining.

Through her feathers,
Sister Wind woos her towards flight,
beckoning from the Four Directions,
for when she soars, she is free, joyous,
safe from harm.

She will teach these chicks
to fly.

Down her throat runs clear river water,
life-giving, replenishing.
The forest lives in her eyes,
green and golden,
and full of talking trees.

Her journeys
follow the flight-paths of the ancestors,
imprinted within her being.
The spirits fly with her
and whisper to her
the way that she must go.

Owl Woman may be earth-bound,
for a time,
but she never stops
dreaming of the sky.

An old one for earthweal's open link.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

An Inventory


One humanity, longing for peace but
at war with itself and each other.
One world, Mother Earth bursting
into spring: blossoms, baby animals -
and Hope.

The blue sky above after days of rain,
a few clouds scattered like sheep's wool
after a day of shearing.

The beach with its long strip of sand,
its joyful dogs, its waves, subdued
after the storm's passing.

One heart, as tired as it has ever been,
but still and always Looking Up.

The neighbour dog I rarely get to see;
we long for each other, but his owner
is not kind.

Downton Abbey, which I turn to
for escape from the daily news.

The eyes of Ukraine prisoners of war,
knowing they are being held
by a brutal regime to whom their lives
mean nothing.

Grief: we are not being
all we are meant to be.
Earth grief: heart breaking
at all the ways we have failed.

But let me count the joys: a sweet village
full of friendly folk; my heart, still
beating, keeping me this side of earth;
friends, with whom to share the perils
of our human birth; poems,
to mark the days, the months, the years.
They chart the journey made
and the price I paid.

This poem has come to say
thank you for the
blessing of having a grateful heart,
that recognizes all the gifts
I have been given
along the way.

Inspired by Wild Writing's Jen Lee and her poem Inventory.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022



"We're in this together, the wild, the domestic, the wormy, the laughing ones and the weepers, black dogs and Buddhas....all of us dancing in the stream of everything."
from Trauma Farm by Brian Brett

I am a small inconsequential speck in the vastness of the universe. I am united with every single other organism on the planet. I am insignificant, and a part of Everything, in the self-same moment, which keeps me humble, and feeling connected to the All That Is, at one and the same time. I gaze at the mystery of the night sky and I know, somewhere up there, is my path Home, through the clouds into another world, where I will journey one day. The mourning dove sings to me in the evening, and the hummingbirds dive-bomb the feeder as twilight falls. In the morning, the horse's whicker in the fields and the blue jay's call at the seed stump serenade my waking, and I step out to breathe in lake-scent and willow, which brings me full circle, from my earliest rememberings to Now, and I am, in fast-forward, that round-eyed child and this faded-eyed crone, and every age in between. Tell me that Heaven will be as beautiful as this planet and I will set aside all fear. Tell me there will be an ocean, and ancient cedar, and dogs. Yes, let there be dogs and I will not fight those final breaths. A neurosurgeon, a scientist who had no faith in anything unproven, died to the world for seven days, and when he finally woke, he said he had visited heaven. What made my heart leap is that he saw dogs there, leaping and running joyously with the people. I always believed dogs would be there, but now I know it. I will see my boy again. That big black wolf will run joyously to meet me and we will tumble together with the force of our reunion, as he used to throw himself upon me after every absence. And then we will point our noses towards the nearest sea, and walk again, as we did for so long....joyously, as I have not been able to do since he's been gone. "Black dogs and Buddhas"........yes, that will be my heaven and, meanwhile, the thought of it comforts my sojourn here, the thought of all that joy, just waiting for me up ahead, in a country I have not yet walked through, yet feel I know so well, so often have I read stories brought back by those who have briefly left this world, and then returned. For me, Heaven will be a big black laughing dog.

Monday, May 16, 2022



First, I had to become invisible,
so she could learn to accept me.
We sat the difficult, patient,
excruciating hours together,
her hooded, at times, for calmness,
my eyes averted,
until she could be with me unmasked,
without fear.

Next, I had to make her hunger,
so when I offered food
on my extended fist
she would come to me.
This was a dance that took some time
to choreograph.

I did not know,
until she laughed,
that goshawks were capable
of play.

We walked the hill to the field in dread,
her on my arm,
she because she was terrified,
I because I feared
she'd fly away.

The hardest thing to learn
was trusting
she'd return.

It took many fails a day
for a week,
her falling, hobbled,
to the ground,
angry and glaring,
and then we got it right -
she flew right to me.

In the brambles,
her first time loose,
caught by the bracken,
her yellow eyes
looked to me
for rescue. Trust.

I thought I was training her
to be a goshawk,
but she was teaching me
to unite my wild and human parts,
until my spirit rose
from its bed of grief
and flew.

for my prompt at earthweal: Lessons From the Wild. This was the story Helen Macdonald told in H is For Hawk, a most fascinating tale of an inter-species relationship.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Last Star of the Morning

Traveler walks like a moving tree,
like a wind-whisper, singing,
like the breath
of dawn.

Traveler is a
part of the landscape;
she carries with her
a corner of the sky.

Traveler rises
with the morning sun.
She is always walking towards
the next sunset.

There is the last star of morning
on her shoulder.
She wears the first star
of evening in her hair.

The moon is her mistress,
a songbird flies
from branch to branch
beside her,
and a wolf-shadow
her every step.

A very old poem from the series of Traveler poems I wrote during NaPoWriMo in April 2011, shortly after Pup's death. That series of poems came from somewhere else. It was like taking dictation. That hasn't happened for a long while now. Sharing with earthweal's open link.

How To Emerge From Lockdown


How shall I emerge from lockdown?
Cautiously, like a hedgehog poking its nose
out of its burrow, checking to see if it's spring?
With masks, since the virus is still here, lurking,
though most are pretending it isn't?

I was already a recluse, a hermit,
content in my small rooms. During lockdown,
all that changed was I went out into the world,
when I did, briefly,
with a mask. And will I ever be comfortable
revealing my naked face to the world again?

I may just continue making
short visits out, then come happily home.
Lockdown is lifted, but people are still
falling ill after they gather.

It's Saturday, and this is what I know:
sometimes the world won't let itself be sung.
But we can sing to it, until the frogs
begin to croak in small springtime creeks,
sing to it until it is ready to sing 
its own sweet song again.

An offshoot of Jim Moore's How to Come Out of Lockdown. The italicized line is his.

Thursday, May 12, 2022



Words are my currency. Spending them
is my satisfaction - this stringing of thoughts,
of phrases, trying to find the ones that create
a moment of connection - with you, and with
whoever might pick up my poems after I am gone:
to find me, come this way.

My work is to explain my heart,
even though I cannot explain my heart.

My mother said, "You should be writing
these stories down. You're the writer."
I should have listened. Memory is
selective, and fallible.

My work is to capture the moment
when the sun comes up behind the hills
at  South Chesterman's. My work is to
love the creatures passing through,
knowing I will have to, at some point,
let them go.

My work is to share the joy and grief 
of being alive, to express my gratitude
to the All That Is for my sojourn here -
the heartaches, the heartlifts.
Thank you. Thank you for it all.

Inspired by An Address to My Fellow Faculty Who Have Asked Me to Speak About My Work, by Papatya Bucak. The italicized lines are hers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022


The beauty: waves, mountains, forests. Clouds, misty fall mornings on the river. Fog, its unearthly delight. Dogs, wolves, all fur creatures. Birds. Stars. Bioluminescence. White lions and medicine men, with their ancient wisdom-stories. Elephants. Africa and Tibet, the places that live in my heart, where I live in my dreams. Song, and the blow-me-away voices of Old Soul children, sent to this planet so gifted, they show us the side of human nature we are meant to strive for. (Soldiers smiling in trenches underground as they sing how it is better to die under the gun than to live in chains. Though war does not belong in this poem, their courage does.) Love. The feeling of one's spirit having wings. The heart-lift that hits randomly: at sunsets, at witnessing kind acts - at performing kind acts. Heartbreak, because each time shows us how deeply we have been gifted by love.

Reasons to live through the apocalypse? Hope, that what humanity learns from the experience will help us finally learn how to live together, peacefully and sustainably, on this planet, and with Mother Earth.

*Poem inspired by Reasons to Live Through the Apocalypse by Nikita Gill

Monday, May 9, 2022

The Poetry of Witness

A hillside falls away; we catch our breath.
Every day, now, we are witnessing the magnitude
of this present we have created, foreshadowing 
a hot and steamy future. Frog and pot,
we simmer just beneath the boil.

Wildfires are burning, rivers turn into lakes
and swallow towns. Trees tumble down a slope
like skidding toboggans, as Alaska melts
and polar bears grow thin.
And we live on. Nothing changes much,
except everything gets worse.
Large segments of the populace go mad.
Hatred, terror and grief are everywhere.
Humanity has lost its way; is there still time
to recalibrate our compass with the
songlines, re-align
our hearts and minds?

It comes to pass, the Mayans said.
We write the poetry of witness, of awe,
of fearful wonder - and the grief of comprehending
in our starry bones that we are witnessing
a leaving. We move forward because forward
is all we know, into the Great Amorphous Beyond
that holds our common fate.
I fear that we may be awaking
forty years too late.

This landslide took my breath away. Brendan's prompt is timely.

Friday, May 6, 2022



Artist: Suzanne de Veuve

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 bustling village.
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.

for earthweal's open link.  I watch the news. I bear the toxic energies of people who live close by. I bear the unexplained silence of those farther away. To strengthen and reinforce the peacefulness that saves me, I go into the forest, walk along the shore. Everywhere I look is beautiful. I breathe in blossoms. I breathe out a constant "Thank You. Thank You. Thank You." 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Love Song to Clayoquot Sound IV


Oh, untrammeled coastal beaches
of Clayoquot Sound, you sang
a siren song to me for years
before I journeyed here,
long before I ever saw
the perfection of your beauty.

Your ley lines drew me to you
as surely as a murrelet is drawn to its nest,
a migrant whale to its feeding ground.
Your call could not be ignored,
and so I came, out of the desert
and over the coastal mountains.

And then, such joy! Waves galloping
into shore like white-maned horses,
misty, fog-shrouded mornings, 
thousand-year-old cedar, raven, eagles,
wind-surfing the sky,
 herons picky-toe-ing their way
along the mudflats, seabirds
wheeling free over shining waters,
my heart exulting that I'd made
my dream come true.

Love for your wild beauty
will never stop singing inside me.
I carry that song of joy within,
a gleaming treasure, a song of love.

There are spirits here:
they called me to this power place
of the First People, who have walked here
before us for ten thousand years.
Spirits of land and sea and sky
whisper to me, in the forest,
along all your wild shores.
They sing to my soul: deep peace,
deep peace.
They give me rest.
They tell me:
You are Home.

It comforts me to know
that one day I will be placed
in this beloved earth,
where tall trees lashed by winter storm
will sing over me.
It is good to know that
I will never have to leave,
that I will remain
forever in this beauty place
where my soul put down its roots
so deep they can
never be pulled out.

for earthweal, where we contemplate Spirits of Place. In 2000, UNESCO designated Clayoquot Sound a Biosphere Reserve.  But you would not believe how many old growth trees have been cut down since then.

Letting All the Bad Stuff Go


First there were the big blue hills,
covered in snow, across the lake.
There were bullrushes, my first black dog,
a swing; weiners and beans for lunch,
two large turkeys who walked,
one on each side of me, up and down
the driveway, to protect me,
because I was so small.

Later, there was Grandma's house,
apple orchards in spring blossom,
riding my bike far out into the hills.
Always, the smell of the hot, packed earth,
sage and Ponderosa pine.

Today there was a happy hello 
from a wolf-dog who loves me,
and his grim owner yanking him away.
Unhappy humans tend to take away
the happiness of others. Well, they try.
But I am at peace: with my life,
with my soul, with how hard I have tried
through all the high-hearted

I hold onto the joy: puffy clouds
against blue sky, spring unfolding.
I protect my
peaceful rooms, my peaceful heart.

I watch myself letting all the bad stuff go.

The title and closing line were inspired by Watching Myself As I Learn to Let Go by Rosemerry Wahtolla Trommer.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

When Elephants Weep*

Elephants cry real tears when they are sad,
remembering the savannah
where they lived when they were young,
the herd they were taken from.
Do they weep as they
ponder the cement enclosure
they now endure,
not a blade of grass to be found?

35 years at the end of a chain,
Kavaan lived. When she was finally freed,
tears coursed down her cheeks:
relief, gratitude, perhaps sorrow
for those lost years? 

In Africa, when their protector's heart stopped,
20 elephants he had rescued walked
for twelve hours, to stand
for two days and two nights
outside his compound.
They came back every year
on the day of his death
to pay their respects.

We all know that elephants grieve.
They gather at the bones of the fallen,
lifting the bones, caressing them,
remembering their dead. 

Do they weep
as they are being killed for their tusks,
as their babies are taken away?
Do they wonder how human hearts
can behave as we do,
such a warring species?

All I know is,
I want to wipe away their tears,
with a wish they never cry again.
All I know is,
when elephants weep,
it breaks my heart.

for the Sunday Muse and shared with earthweal's open link

The title of my poem is taken from the title of the book by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy. Kavaan was freed by Cher from captivity in Pakistan. The elephant whisperer who created a huge sanctuary for elephants was Lawrence Anthony. He died away from home but when his heart stopped, somehow the elephants knew, and started walking towards his home to pay their respects. There is so much we don't understand - but we get these glimpses that something much bigger than what we comprehend is going on.