Wednesday, August 31, 2022

At the Poetry Reading


At the poetry reading,
Cricket, the white senior dog,
sat attentively,
listening to my poems
about aging gratefully.

She had an expression on her face
like she was adjudicating
the poems.
All philosophical,
and slightly weary.

"Humans," her expression said,
"They always
over-think it!"

Our new poet laureate, Heather Hendry, hosted a lovely Poetry Picnic at Monks Point last night. Monks Point is the site of the very old house of one of Tofino's pioneers, Katie Monk, whose gardens are lovely. The site is co-owned by the District of Tofino and the Nuu-chah-nulth people, and its eventual use has not yet been determined, other than it will be a protected site. 

I was hoping I wouldnt choke up reading my last poem, as it was about my love for this place and my limited time here. I happened to look up and catch Cricket's expression and she just cracked me up! Saved the day.

I love dogs so much.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

All Sad Songs Sound the Same


Walking alone beside the silver sea,
a melody takes me back in reverie
to summer days with you under the sun
when you and I and the world
were still so young.

A blackbird heart you had,
that yearned to fly, your spirit
not free to join me in the sky.
It was your heart I hung
all of my love upon.
The doves sang
us awake each day at dawn;
then, one silent morning,
they were gone.

I've carried you with me,
a bittersweet
blackbird memory,
a shadow life
that never came to be.
The love was true,
only our youth to blame.
Since then, all songs of lost love
sound the same.

for Shay's word list, where we are contemplating the wonderful work of Jackson Frank, a sure way to awaken those old-time blues.



Stamp Falls

Sing me a song of river, green and wild,
as it makes its steadfast journey to the sea.
With its beauty I'm enchanted and beguiled,
in the wildlands, where my spirit feels most free.

As it makes its steadfast journey to the sea,
sing to me with Raven's husky gobble-cry.
In the wildlands, where my spirit feels most free,
the Old Trees listen to my whispered sigh.

Sing to me with Raven's husky gobble-cry,
with grak! of heron, hoot of sleepy owl.
As the Old Trees listen to my whispered sigh,
sing me eagle's shriek and Old Wolf's howl.

With krak! of heron, hoot of sleepy owl,
all is beauty. I'm enchanted and beguiled.
Sing me eagle's shriek and Old Wolf's howl.
Sing me a song of river, green and wild.

Friday, August 26, 2022

In the Dreamtime

A composite of my photos put together
by Steve, whom we knew as The Unknown Gnome,
since gone on to the spirit world.
(Note Pup in right lower corner.)

Swimming in dreamtime,
she follows the songlines of the ancestors
across the bare brown desert of the heart
towards the mountains.

On the other side, where the ley lines meet,
all green and golden,
a power place,
lies the great sea, silver and shimmering,
and singing with ten thousand voices
of the ten thousand things
that comprise the dharma path.

In this dream,
there are the haunted cries of wolves, of owls,
of ancient spirits,
and the deep green forest is alive, awake,
and talking in tongues.
It whispers to her soul
where are you?
why are you not here?
Trees reach out their arms for her,
and she is drawn there
as surely as a murrelet is drawn back to its nest
from across the shining water.

Wild Woman rides the winds of hope
in this dream,
looking down on all that she loves:
green bearded old Grandfather Cedar,
the roar of the waves,
caw of raven,
imperious piercing eagle-cry,
long white beaches
stretching to Forever,
and her, above, exulting,
in the tangy salt sea air,
flying along the shore.

So many impediments between her
and her heart's home,
in the real time.
But in the dreamtime,
one is always There,
cradled by the sleepy forest,
curled in the rootbed of an ancient cedar,
beside a small tender wolf-pup
with shining eyes
and joyous, yipping heart,
mist wrapping softly around them
in the fresh new morning,
with the sound of the soft waves,
lapping, forever,
endless and eternal,
in her heart.

An oldie from 2014, when I was living inland and longing for my spirit's home. See how such persistence pays off? By early 2017, I was here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

To Love and Not Die


"Is there a way to love and not die?" the poet asked,
and I remember the feeling of having given
my whole heart, and how easily he walked away,
the devastation, and then, the anger, that once again
I had been played for a fool.

Each time, the long years after to re-grow that heart.
Each time, re-learning that the only one I could trust
to protect my heart was me - and my big black wolf.
Each time, the rising up again to blue skies
and clouds and the way the sea looks silvery
in certain lights. That sky got me through
a lot of hard passages, kept me Looking Up.

Yes, there's  a way to love and not die, I reply,
when your lover is Mother Earth, when
the beauty and wonder of the natural world
makes you catch your breath in awe
and delight. When a being with black fur
shows you how love is meant to be done,
so you will never again mistake it
for the false promises of someone
who knew all the pretty words,
but never meant a single one.

Inspired by the line from Joy Sullivan's poem Wood Frog that is italicized.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022



Buffalo at Standing Rock
They came in support of the warriors

When I come back, I'll be like
the herd of buffalo arriving
at Standing Rock, the natural world
rising up to stand with the water protecters
who were trying to save the river.

Water is life! the warriors said, praying
under a hail of rubber bullets.
They stood in the water in winter
and were not cold, because the river
was with them, against the militarized police
and the black snake that would bring death
to their people.

When I come back, I will be like
the white Spirit Bear, swimming from
island to island in search of food.
Already, I am growing too weak to swim.
What will still be here, when I come back?

I will come back like the unsettled spirits
at Ninstints in Haida Gwaii. When you step
on shore even now, you can hear
the keening and wailing of those
in the Spirit World, the First People
who died in distress from smallpox
brought by the colonial invaders,
only the first of their burnt offerings.

When I come back, I will rise
from a small unmarked grave,
where, long ago, another child
was made to bury me,
under the heartless gaze
of the black robes.
When I come back, may no child
ever have to live under a gaze
that cold.

Now I watch the skinny black bear
wandering, hungry, across the village green;
the thin grey wolf, loping along the shore
in search of the salmon that are no more.
There are dead whales on the beach,
stomachs full of plastic and styrofoam.
Raven and Heron and Eagle -
all of their eyes are looking at me
from the tops of trees: asking
what have you done to the world
once so abundant?

When I come back, if I am human,
I will wear a cloak of shame and guilt.
If I am of the beyond-human realm,
I will be wary, hoping the Two-Leggeds
have either learned how to live with the earth
or have disappeared in the floods and fires,
the pandemics and calamities of our times.

When I come back, will the world
have stopped burning? Or will it
be ash and stagnant water, from which,
eons from now, a small green sprout
may one day hopefully appear?

I wrote this last summer and shared it at earthweal. Am sharing it again for Brendan's challenge: River, Gone, about the disappearing rivers of the world, which should awaken consternation in everyone as to what lies ahead. Very soon water will become more important than oil, and more scarce.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Almost, I Can Hear the Singing

It's okay not to know where you are,
the poet said.
It's also okay to know,
to understand that I am poised
at the edge of the riverbank,
the ferryman coming
around the bend.

The woman said, when she
came back from death, she
had found herself crossing
a great plain towards a river.
She could hear the ferryman
and the people on board, singing.
She did not climb aboard.
Instead, she came back
to tell the tale.

So I stand on the riverbank,
knowing the ferryman
is on his way.
What I have is this day and,
with great luck, the next,
in which to love
this beautiful wild world,
this wide sky.
Almost, almost, I can hear
the singing.

But it's not time yet.
Not yet.

This morning six fat robins
are perching plumply
on the branches
of the cherry tree.
I put my birdsong cd
on the stereo,
crack the window
so they can hear,
hoping they'll join in.
Almost, I can hear the singing,
their little hearts, and mine,
so full of gratitude
and joy.

The incident I relate is true. A friend of my grandma's told her this story about her near-death experience. I have never forgotten it.

For  Brendan's challenge at earthweal: River, Gone, which is about the disappearing rivers turning into dry riverbeds around the world. I conjured a different kind of river - or maybe it is the same kind, after all. Death, whichever way you look at it. 

Friday, August 19, 2022

In Your Next Letter*

In your next letter, would you let me know
if the A&W is still open at Shops Capri? 
Someone would pick me up in a 1955 Chevvy
that smelled of leather, talcum powder,
and whatever guys put on their duck tails
back then. First, we'd drive up one side
of Bernard Avenue, through City Park, then 
back the other side, seeing and being seen.
Then we'd pull in to the A&W, and girls
on roller skates would come out, take our order,
attach a tray to the side window, and bring us
our hamburgers and shakes. Boys used to marvel
at how small I was, yet how much food
I put away. They didn't know I went hungry
all week.

When you write, tell me if you remember
the days when we wrote letters back and forth
all the time, fat envelopes stuffed with
page upon page of our daily doings,
the substance of our lives. How I wish
I had some of those letters now.
Back then, stamps cost just pennies and
letters arrived the next day. Then automation
took over. The cost of a stamp is now a dollar ten,
and letters take over a week to go a hundred miles.
They call it progress.

Do you remember what a big deal it was 
when the "floating bridge" replaced the ferries,
and how a tired doctor, driving home across the lake,
didn't see the span was up, and plunged into the lake?

Do you remember how, on soft summer evenings,
the streets were scented with roses, sweet pea,
pinks, wisteria and lilac? How full of romantic
dreams I was back then, waiting for my life
to begin, when all would magically come right
after so much painful confusion. Do you
remember the letters I wrote you later,
dismayed with what happened instead,
but had to live it anyway with as much humour 
as I could muster?

When you write, tell me what you remember
of those sweet sad, funny times, as we look back
with wise grey heads, laugh lines and hearts
full of secret tears, reflecting on how little 
we knew back then, and grateful that
we made it through not too badly, after all,

* Inspired by Mary's poem with the same title, which can be read here. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

At the End, Only Earth and Sky


We are born in a whoosh of water,
gasp in our first breath, then we cry:
water, essential, from our very first day.

Through the Sacred Medicine Wheel
I journeyed,
dipped my toes in a magical sea,
soul thrumming with the song of the waves.
My sign, my element, my spirit's home:
Mother Ocean.

Above, the sky, the vast expanse,
curving over all -
the great blue bowl of ether.
Underfoot, the earth, brown and humble
and mothering.

I bow to you, Sky, I sing with you, Wind,
I dance in the rain, laughing,
the rush of raindrops on my face
cleansing my spirit,
washing all negative energy away.

When I am clean,
when the Great Bowl Above grows dark,
I creep homeward,
settle beside the fire,
remember the winking stars,
the wheeling seabirds,
the many rivers and beaches
I have loved,
all the beauty gracing
this span of time
that is still mine.

In memory,
my grandmother's long, white finger
points at the glass of water
on her bedside table
as she lay dying.
"The dying always ask for water,"
she had told me, and it is true.
Water: a single tear rolling down her cheek
as we said goodbye.

To the earth I bow, in gratitude,
in homecoming.
It waits to receive me, in turn,
when that final moment comes,
when I will become one
with All That Is.

First, there is water,
at the end
only earth and sky.

An older one, shared with earthweal's open link.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Things To Do on an Afternoon in August


Go through old letters and smile, remembering.
Send loving messages to friends still alive to
let them know you remember those golden days
in the sun when you, and they, and the world
were young. Play the music that was the sound track
of your life back then; remember wailing away
all afternoon with Connie Francis and Brenda Lee,
dreaming of the love story that was waiting for you
up ahead, how it would turn your life from painful
to happy. Don't spend too much time thinking about
what happened instead. 

Stay indoors out of the heat, and drink iced tea,
cold from the fridge. Watch an eagle fly over,
in the cloudless blue, as the fog slowly rolls in,
knowing it will swallow the beach
where hundreds of tourists are fitting 
a year's worth of fun into three too-short days.

Remember the town as it was thirty years ago.
Write the Village Council asking them to save
what's left of our local forest, threatened by
that onerous word: Development, a monster
with an insatiable appetite who can't be stopped.

Spend the rest of the day
the golden years of laughter and dreams
that shine so, now, in reverie.

Sunday, August 14, 2022



A wolf in Chernobyl
photo: Sergiy Gaschak

Thirty-six  years after
the humans left this place,
thriving wildlife have reclaimed
the site as sanctuary,
a green and verdant forest
covering the land,
now one of the rare places
on the planet
where wild creatures
live undisturbed.

How sad,
that it takes a nuclear event
to provide safe haven
for wild creatures,
that it takes our absence
to make their lives
more possible.

After cataclysm,
after the ocean
covers coastal shores,
after flood, wildfire,
drought and famine,
after climate refugees
have walked a thousand miles
and fallen
off the edge of the world,

it gives me comfort
to imagine
- slowly, in barely perceptible
increments of time -
greenness unfolding
across the land once more,
wolf and bear and deer
creeping back,
finding no trace of us,
making their way,
hesitant yet unhindered,
as in the earliest days
of our collective memory -
the garden unfolding
all its beauty
under friendly
benign skies
once more.

Thirty-six years later, because humans left the area, it is now thriving as a wildlife sanctuary, one place on the planet where wild creatures get to live undisturbed.

An article at Blue Dot Magazine in 2016 stated, "Humans, it seems, are worse than a nuclear disaster. A long-term study of animal populations around Chernobyl has found wildlife to be flourishing in the absence of human activity. A team of scientists surveyed the human exclusion zone surrounding the site, observing large animals like deer and elk to be in abundance despite lingering radiation."

credit: Valeriy Yurko

For my prompt at earthweal : Re-wilding

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Not Haiku


Life and I gave you feathers,
but you have to
grow your  own wings.


You thought life came with
flying lessons,
and that I should have taught you,
but when it comes to
leaping off treetops,
that can only be decided
by the courage of
the bird.


My hollow bird-bones are now
too tired for long flights.
I am happy to sit
on a mossy limb
and watch the young ones


Owls speak to me in the night.
I listen closely,
and so far
they have not yet
called my name.


for Carrie at The Sunday Muse

Friday, August 12, 2022

Life's Golden Beauty All I Know


Chestermans Beach, Tofino

I try to hold the flickering flame
fast faltering my eyes before,
to clasp it for some moments more,
its magic mine to keep and tame.
It flickers out, no one to blame.

I try to slow the speeding days,
delay them as they canter past.
I want them to forever last;
they rush towards sunset's golden haze,
extinguish in a fiery blaze.

One does not ask the question "Why?"
We live our lives, hoping the end
will answer like a loving friend.
Our choices, as the days go by,
have cast our fate. We live. We die.

Sunset too close, lit by its glow,
I want this life to never end,
as day by day my last ones spend,
bedazzled by its fiery show ~
life's golden beauty, all I know.

An oldie to share with earthweal's open link

Monday, August 8, 2022

Kelowna Thunderstorm

Global News photo

Gun metal lake and gun metal bowl
of lowering, ominous sky, I swam 
on the edge of storm
that summer afternoon, back when
adults didn't worry much about
kid safety - sink or swim.

Alone in the lake, alone in my
twelve years of living, the scent
of danger near and familiar,
I floated my log on the waves,
gazed up at the sky so changed
from its normal friendly blue.
Thunder rumbled and roared
above my head
like the sky was about to fall.
I didn't know that water
attracts lightning. No one gave me
any guidelines on how to survive
in this world. It took me some years
and my own children's lives to learn
just how vulnerable to danger
children are,
how much they're in need
of protection.

There was a metallic smell in the air
I could almost taste. Just before
the lightning flashed,
some instinct for self-preservation
sent me back to my grandmother's cottage
where we'd sit in the back room,
as on so many summer afternoons
of my childhood,
listening to the thunderstorms
she loved so much.
I loved them, too,
once I was safe inside.

All my life, when I smell that
particular smell in the air,
listen for its roll and clap,
thunder takes me back
to summer afternoons
with my Grandma,
listening to the sky
sing in rumbling voice,
in that small cottage
that offered me
the only safety that,
back then,
I knew.

for earthweal: LIGHTNING FALLS. Right now, in the Okanagan, several serious wildfires are burning, threatening towns and reservations. People are being evacuated, or put on alert. Weather experts say all the fires burning throughout the province were sparked by lightning strikes.

Keremeos Creek wildfire
B.C. Wildfire photo

Sunday, August 7, 2022



She tosses the rice
to the left, to the right.
There must always be rice
for the blessing.

The Lama walks,
blessing the land.
A rainbow appears on the right.
It is said that this Lama
manifests rainbows
wherever he goes.

A whale is swimming by,
down below, in the bay.
The eagle, watching from the topmost scrag,
gives one piercing, joyous cry,
then resettles his feathers.
He does not fly away.

Joy beyond joy,
tears on her face,
a Lama is blessing her homestead.
The whale! The eagle!
The rainbow!
Miracles, all.
When the blessing is over,
the Lama smiles.

"This is Buddha Land,"
he says.

In truth,
it is all Buddha land,
full of miracles and wonders,
for those who have eyes to see,
and hearts to understand.

One from 2012, my friends, because we need to remember beauty, and joy, and hope, especially in dark times. 

Friday, August 5, 2022



Walks Far Woman

Plant your bare feet upon the earth
and take one step,
peaceful, smiling,
your roots sending tentacles
into the earth.
Find stability, and balance,
knowing your every step,
your every breath,
connects you to the All-That-Is,
as above, so below.

Remember the wholeness
with which you began
this journey.
Shape your brokenness
into a sturdy vessel
once again,
for all will be well,
all will be well,
all will be exceedingly well.

Feel the wind and the warm summer rain
on your face,
hear the birdsong in your heart.
Earth and sky,
wind and water,
all belong
to you.

Experience the peace of this one step,
this single moment.
Then, take another,
each step a gift received,
each moment an opportunity
to give.

Walk with joy upon the earth,
pilgrims of a planetary miracle.

It is all
a gift from God,
this world we walk through.
It is all Buddha Land.

sharing with earthweal's open link. A poem from some years back - before the climate crisis got so severe. But we still need to find peace somehow, in the midst of it all.

The Little Things


When you tell a story, be sure to include
the little things: the way you walked past wisteria
the other day, and had to stop and bury your face
in the blooms, such a heavenly scent, and how
it made you remember the pinks and sweet peas
in your grandmother's garden. And you wonder
why none of the nurseries carry pinks any more,
when it is the only plant you want.

Remember to describe how the harbour looked,
that misty morning, with fog and cloud wisping
on Wah'nah'juss, how you had climbed the trail,
and turned, and been flooded with awe and joy
at how beautiful it was, and how happy you were here,
small boats chugging busily across the bay
from Opitsaht, and how you watch
in case a pod of orcas come by, as they do
now and then, and you are so rarely in the right place
when it happens. But you remember the grey afternoon
when a family of greys were at the rubbing beach
off Tlaakasiis, and an eagle landed just feet away
to eat some fishy thing he found onshore.

Our days are made up of such moments,
and they colour our lives with green and sea
and sky. Wherever we are, it isnt the big things:
the promotion, the man you loved so much
who came and went, the things you bought
(and disposed of). It's the memory of grandchildren
giggling wildly in the back seat as their brother's
ice cream fell off its cone and dribbled down his shirt,
and you were driving down the highway 
and couldnt help, so all you could do was laugh
and shake your head, helplessly, at the joy of it;
it's the way Pup would sit, his stare focused
on the grandsons, eating hot dogs around the fire
down by the creek, and the way those gigantic
old oak trees curved their branches over us
in protection. It's the way I looked up at the stars
those late nights, walking old dogs along the road,
the way the lights shone so warm and cozy
inside my little trailer, and how I knew
that I was Home.

I do miss that trailer. I loved it there.

Monday, August 1, 2022



In the long ago,
when the world was young,
Sky Woman fell to earth,
landing on the back of a turtle,
clutching seeds and dreams.

Her (and our) instructions:
to use her gifts for good.

The animals helped her
to make a world.
Plants made food
from seeds and light and water,
and gave it all away
that all might live.

The hole in the sky
through which Sky Woman fell
is still sending beams of light,
bathing we wayward humans,
in an effort to awaken
our remembering.

The light is urging us
to transform this world
back to its beginnings,
when plants, animals and sky
breathed us into the world,
and everything was one.

We are being asked
to remember:
we are all
Sky Woman's people.

This poem was inspired by legends of the indigenous people, handed down in oral tradition. I especially love the legend of Skywoman, arriving on Turtle Island.