Monday, October 31, 2022

Poetry, Trees and Me


The Hanging Garden Tree
Meares Island, Tofino

I think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree.......*

This is where my poetic journey began,
along with my love of trees.

I fell under the spell of words
when I was eight. The teacher
was dictating; the word
was "paw". I loved that word
and wrote it as carefully and
reverently as I could.
The teacher smiled. 
And I still love that word.

When I was fourteen, sitting in class,
my first poem came, with urgency.
I wrote it down:

Each acquaintance on the road to Never
whispers through the soul
and leaves a soft thought to remember
when tomorrow dawns cold.
It seems each person that I meet
on this long journey to the end of things
is someone I can love
and I must tell him of my love
for if my heart stopped beating
e'er one more sky was streaked with dawn,
how would my many loves live on,
uncertain of this extra dream of life
only my heart, in love, can dwell upon?

And I was off, chasing the words,
finding the wild places, in my heart and
in the world: the forests and hillsides,
the meadows and rivers and
wild winter waves, loving dogs
and wolves and people and then
coming home to put them into poems.

Quoth the Raven : Nevermore!*
drew me to the wilder shore,
urged me to listen to the inner voice
that led me out of the desert, over the mountains,
and to the sea, where I
forever belong.

My poems leave a trail behind me
for others to follow after I am gone.
They say: I was here, and
this is who I was.
They are the words
of my soul-song.

My teachers looked the other way through high school, as I feverishly penned my poems. Poems slowed for me during the busy years of raising my children, but started up again once I moved to Tofino.

And with what joy I found the online poetry community in 2010, which sparked a frenzy of writing through all the glorious years since. What a journey it has been! 

* The tree quote is, of course, from the poem by Joyce Kilmer and the raven quote from Poe.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Writing My Anthem


I write my anthem in ink,
full of sorrow, ethereal dancers
on the periphery of my vision,
from the other-world,
I write full of gratitude
for all the small joys:
song of the mockingbird,
peace of an old growth forest,
the gaining and losing of dreams,
the brightness of morning.

I write my anthem by tapping the keys,
pecking, as crows do, searching for
just the right return. Ghosts of
my past selves dance by,
that old masquerade, smoke and mirrors,
until I emerged onto a wild beach
and turned into my Self.

I write my anthem with tears
for all I have lost; with thankfulness
for all the gifts given;
not least, this world full of poets
on the other side of the screen: all of us,
tapping and tapping together,
writing to say we were here
through all
the journeying years.

for Shay's Word List, where we are celebrating the wonderful Susie Clevenger, and remembering our years as Toads.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Kindling Poems


In days of olde, when fire was the source of what heat and light there was, villagers would gather on the commons, where a huge fire would be burning. Someone from each household would take coals and embers from the communal fire back to their houses to light their own hearth fires. Perhaps our poems are like that. A community of souls, we come to read each other's words, and take away what light and warmth we find to strengthen our minds, comfort our hearths, and inspire our own poems. Together, we hold firmly onto light and hope, to withstand the outer darkness. We fortify our own and each other's hearts.

Our poems, as kindling,
stoke other fires, other hearts,
and we all stay warm.

for earthweal: Kindling from the Forest of Light and Shadow

Monday, October 24, 2022

Out There, Just Past the Dark


To counter the darkness, I place a circle 
of small white candles outside
the door, to welcome sprites
disguised as small humans,
begging for treats.

To counter the darkness, I go
into the wildwood, dark green and pungent,
mossy-trailed, to gather small branches
and twigs from the  forest floor,
old man's beard to catch the blaze
of the Samhain beach fire,

and bouquets of salal and rosehip
for the long-gowned maidens
to carry as they bunch their skirts
and leap across
the flickering flames.

Out there, just past the dark,
I feel you watching: wolfish snout,
brown eyes that saw into my soul,
a heart that never wavered,
come to see me when the veil between
your world and mine grows thin.

Out there, to counter
the dark-hearted of humanity, are the
bright hearts of the awakened ones, who come
to heal and restore to Mother Earth
some of what has been lost.

Out there, to the starry sky that
illuminates our darkening world,
I send a plea:
transform our consciousness 
from sea to warming, rising sea.

Illuminate our vision.
Decolonize our minds.
May our light outshine
our darkness
while there's still time.

A humble offering for Brendan's challenge at earthweal: Kindling from the Forest of Light and Shadow. 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Fox Music


Photoshop Manipulation By Julien Tabet

you take the high notes
and I'll take the low.
Where the song will take us,
we don't yet know.

We humans have caused
a planet-full of
inclement weather.
Teach us a song of harmony
that we can sing together.

Remind us we are only one
of earth's many creatures.
We will be your students,
and you, our teachers.

We can learn again
from you how to belong,
and join in altogether
 singing an earthlings' song.

This reminds me what it felt like as a kid, when adults would tickle us into helplessness, thinking we were enjoying it because we were laughing, but it felt like too much. Fox giggles are adorable though.

Friday, October 21, 2022



Raven travels the Blue Road
to bring Wild Woman a gift.

You carry a message of trust,
says Raven,
light for the darkness of our times.
There is magic in the void,
creative forces swirling in the cosmos.
Reach up, and grab yourself a fistful of hope.
Scatter the news that all is far from lost,
that for every troubled soul,
there are one thousand more
dreaming only of peace,
of justice.

Continue affirming
that being more, not having more,
is where peace lies.

Raven hopped onto the hood
of Wild Woman's car just yesterday morning.
She gifted him with crumbled biscuit,
and he flew, swift, away,
bread in his beak, and happy.

A gift for a gift.

A small heart-lift from 2014 for earthweal's open link.

Monday, October 17, 2022

In A Floundering Sea


Mother Earth,
you grew me like a tree
on a riverbank, toes in the water.
You grew me with eyes
always looking up
at your ever-changing skies
that taught me to strive.

I am a student, longing
to learn the language of clouds,
of trees, of birds and beasts,
of whalesong.
I learn from my indigenous neighbours
that everything is one, that
even the lowly slug's slippery journey
across the path is to be respected.

I am a sailor on the sea of hope,
praying for safe harbour.
I am holding two truths simultaneously:
the glorious beauty of this long, golden fall,
and the forests dying of drought.
I am a beating heart, aching
at salmon lying dead by the thousands
in dry riverbeds, yet lifting
at the news fish are still leaping
the rapids in the river that I know best.

There is an owl calling to me at night
from the nearby forest. I listen; so far
it has not yet called my name. One night,
a cougar screamed below in the darkness.
Here, the wild ones come close, into "our" world,
which is wilder and more cruel than theirs.
I long to walk back with them,
into their world, of deep forest
and hidden unpeopled shore.

I stand on the tombolo, and turn
in a slow circle: 360 degrees of beauty,
radiant and shining. I close my  eyes;
when I open them, the colours
have deepened. I am one with the sky,
the sand, the cedar, the soaring eagle,
the croaking raven,
one with the song
of the waves
~ my soul-song.

Mother Earth,
you grew me like a tree, with strong roots
to hold fast against the storms of this life,
but you kept my branches flexible,
so I can support others, yet not break
when the wild winds blow through.

I am a tired tree, now,
bending low towards the earth,
still a student, striving to learn
the language of the wild world
I hold in my heart.
I am a sailor on the ocean of hope,
in a floundering sea,
praying for safe harbour,
and shelter, and justice
and peace,
for all of your beings.

for Lindi's marvelous challenge at earthweal: Enactivism and the Poetry of Becoming. It is a must-read!

Friday, October 14, 2022

Mother Sky / Small Bird


Expansive Mother Sky,
in all your greys and blues,
your hazy autumn hues,
you hold my heart
the way the rugged maple
holds the twiggy nest
in which sits a wee brown bird,
serene, and softly singing.


Small bird,
with your sweetness
you are
the bodhisattva
of my morning.
you awaken me
to the plight of all beings.


who own only feathers,
are far happier
than we.
Teach us your song.


Sharing an oldie from 2015 with earthweal's open link. Looking forward to Lindi's challenge on Monday!

Monday, October 10, 2022

Elegy to Wild Salmon


 Dry temperatures and no rainfall mean not enough water in the rivers for the annual salmon migration.   Upwards of 80,000 thousand dead fish line the riverbank in Bella Bella, B.C. Migrations in other areas are   impacted as well. An ecological disaster.

Every fall we have watched in awe 
as you flung your mighty bodies
up the rocky passages,
making your migration
to spawn next year's 

Bears grew fat
along the shore
when all was well.
But this year
all is not well.

The summer stretches into October.
Your wet channel grew dry;
the riverbed is now just rocks
covered with your bodies.

Farewell, farewell,
to nutrient-rich food
for bears and wolves
and eagles,
to big family dinners
for indigenous people,
who have lived respectfully
with salmon
for 10,000 years.

The First People of the land
never dreamed
there would come a time
of no more salmon.
The white man's greed
cares not for others' need.
I feel the shame.

We have dried up all the rain.
How do we now get the river
to return again?

Will I ever watch you fling yourself
upstream again,
amazed how high you leap
against the rushing
downward push
of the roaring current?

Some of us know
the collapse of this ecosystem
- a disaster -
will have a reach far beyond
next year's migration.
Our impact is having consequences
beyond my gloomiest

It is the saddest
of farewells.

It is amazing, given all of the extreme climate events, that world leaders are not pressing the panic button. Meanwhile insane men are pressing nuclear buttons, so maybe we won't have to worry about no more salmon. What a CRAZY world this is. I just learned that the last of the old growth is being made into WOOD CHIPS and sent to other countries. Not even being used for construction or industry here at home. When a writer tried to talk about the ecosystem to the CEO of a logging company in northern B.C., he repled, "We're making money, lady." And that is all that matters, to the greedy corporate mind. It seems we are a suicidal species, with deadly impact on all other beings.

for my prompt at earthweal: Wild Souls

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Oh, My Love!


For the first time in his life,
the Way opened before him.
Heart wide, eyes clear,

he climbed the ladder
in the gallery. On the exhibit,
she had written one word.

Yes! he read, with joy

and Oh, my love! he replied.

for The Sunday Muse

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Okay, Pussycat

More afraid of us, with good reason,
than we are of him, he crouches,
assessing the level of threat.

Okay, Pussycat, we're going.
This man is wise in the ways of the wild.
He carries only a camera, not a gun.
He leaves hastily upon encroaching
on a wild one's habitat.

When wild creatures look at us,
I can see our betrayal of them
in their wary eyes.
The Two-Leggeds are heedless,
and we are everywhere.

There is no rain this fall.
Not enough water in the rivers.
Thousands of dead salmon litter the riverbanks.
Because we like our big trucks and cars
and can't connect the dots.

Humans need houses and more and more
and more land. Voracious, we grab it all,
the dominant arrogant species,
who refuse to hear the voices of the wild,
and so will one day finally realize:
we are all nature's creatures,
and will share the wild ones' fate.

And sharing with earthweal's open link.

Monday, October 3, 2022

This Is What I Have Heard


This is what I have heard:

The seas will rise in a single night,
as high as apartment buildings,
and will sweep back out with everything
- armchairs, SUV's, bodies, trees -
in its voracious maw.

My sweet village will one day swim out to sea.
My shelf of books - the work of my lifetime -
with all my poems about the climate crisis
 - be warned!  I wrote fruitlessly, endlessly -
will make good reading for sharks.
It is possible the entire island might
one day disappear and the mainland
will become the new coast. (In fact,
a futurist once told me, when I lived there,
longing for the sea, that when the poles melt,
the ocean will roar through the Fraser Canyon,
and the Okanagan will become its shore.)

The time of fires and floods is at hand,
as the ancients prophesied. And still
we carry on as if we aren't walking
the fine line at the edge of a cliff,
in danger of falling. In danger of it
crumbling under us. In danger of
being swept away.

This is what I have heard:

Human nature learns everything
the hard way, and won't change
until forced to. I'd have hope
if we elected indigenous grandmothers
all over the world
to clean up this mess. Grandmothers
understand about cleaning up messes,
and how to nurture life so it can survive.

This is what I have heard:

Before the storm, all the chickens
found somewhere to hide. All the gulls
sat on the sand facing out to sea -
a clue that big winds were on their way.
A dolphin got swept in and left behind
on somebody's couch.
Many animals are moving north
to higher ground. Humans, who do not
prepare well ahead of time, cry
bitter tears at all the clean-up.
And, when the whole world
needs cleaning, how many will be left
to do the work of relearning
how to live on a finite planet
that can provide for our need,
but not our greed?

I took the first line from the poem "Rain at Night" by W.S. Merwin. For earthweal: A Lyre for a Changing Earth. The dolphin was poetic license. But I do wonder, as always, how many non-human sea and land creatures were impacted by the storm. The unseen, uncounted dead.

Saturday, October 1, 2022



If there be loons here,
then, they are hiding,
perhaps in the tall fronds along the shore
where I walk no more
with you beside me.
Once we heard a beaver slap his tail
like cannon-shot,
the birds startling from the trees,
your ears perking up,
wolfish and knowing.

It is lonesome here,
without you,
my old pal.
Yet yesterday, I breathed in
a deep draught of dry, crackly leaves
and, in that moment,
was purely happy.

Life goes on.
We were two souls, travelling.
We are still two souls, travelling,
just on different planes,
and I can't find a loon anywhere,
for solace at Loon Lake.

A poem from 2015, to be shared with earthweal's open link, as this new October begins. The lagoon in Port Alberni is alongside a forest trail Pup and I walked so often through October afternoons.