Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Words


 

I come to the keyboard with a blank stare
and an empty head. Gone, gone,
the days of connection, words traveling
from my head, down my arm, firing my pen,
coming faster than I could write.

I call on the Muse,
who stopped listening
some time back,
when I started harping on
the climate crisis,
boring everyone
and accomplishing nothing
other than relieving
my angst.

I come to the keyboard,
because what else is a poet to do,
after 62 years of tap tap tapping?
The engine coughs, sputters,
grudgingly catches fire.
Fingers find the keys.
On the white screen,
some words fall out.
Who is writing?
No matter,
I am grateful for the words.
 
***

The "process" of someone who has been
seriously fatigued by the act of living.


LOL. Best I can do, my friends. Apologies to all bards.

for Desperate Poets  where we are contemplating our creative process - not very creative for me these days, as I have become a mute observer at the sorry spectacle of this erratically spinning/warring world.


The Tongues of Falling Trees



Did you know
we tremble as the saws come near?
See our branches quiver at the sound
of the big trucks rolling in.
Only the sensitive among you
know our tender hearts. Only
the animals and birds hear
our silent screams.

We shiver as that cold energy
approaches, numb souls,
killing ecosystems without compunction,
disassociating themselves
from what they do for money.
Holding hands beneath the forest floor,
we send each other messages of farewell,
weeping sap-coloured tears
as the grappleyarders yank our sisters
out of the earth, as if they are pulling
the wisdom teeth of the planet
without novocaine.

As we who are left sway
in the sudden exposure
at the edge of a clearcut,
can you hear
our sighs, our keening sorrow,
watching hungry bears and wolves
cross the ravaged land in search
of a new place to hide
from the Two-Leggeds;
yet they are everywhere.

We wish we could pick up our skirts
like the wild ones
and tiptoe softly away.

Did you know
that as soon as you enter the forest,
we know you are here?
We turn our ears and our welcoming branches
to those of peaceful energy. We know
who comes in fellowship, in sisterhood.
We love those of you with gentle hearts
who walk softly and reverently here.
We feel your awe, gazing up at our tall spires.
Sometimes you place your hands on our trunks;
do you feel us tremble in response?

Please tell the others
what all the wild world knows:
we cool and protect you from the blazing sun.
Please protect us.
Let your poems be
the tongues of falling trees*.
Speak for us;
please help us live,
for what you save
will save you
in return.





inspired by the poem "The Trees Have No Tongues", penned by Vancouver Poet Laureate 

The closing line in her poem is "Let each poem be a falling tree's tongue," which I think is just brilliant.

Monday, December 4, 2023

What Life Does

 


This is what life does....
it takes your lumpy, earthy bunion of a life
and polishes it, for decades, until most of
the dross falls away and, slowly, the gem that's left
begins to shine.

It sends you seeking, when you're young.
You run all over trying to find Out There
what you can only find within. So then
it sends you back (and, trust me,
the inner journey is the hardest.)

This is what life does...
it brings you gifts, showers you
with blessings, allows serendipitous happenings
that you know you were helped to find.
And then it assigns you the work
of giving back.

Life takes you to the forest, and the shore,
and teaches you to cease all thought and simply listen
to the song of Mother Earth, in her many voices.
It is your Coming Home.

This is what life does...
it starts you off as a silly girl
who doesn't know a thing,
wallops you upside the head
as many times as it takes,
sends you through the Valley of Tears
then brings you out, laughing and astonished,
full of wonder, grateful to be alive,
on the other side.


Inspired by the wonderful poem Starfish by Eleanor Lerman. The italicized lines are hers.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Not Alone

 


Because of how dogs pull on their leashes
to come to me for a treat,
and look at me with happy eyes...

because of how people smile at me on the street
- so kindly! -
because I am old, and hobbling...

because the house across the street
put up their Christmas lights,
and I hung mine in response...

because of how the small children
from the daycare walk past my window
at eleven o'clock every morning...

because when I enter the forest,
the tree beings turn their faces towards me,
welcoming me in to their green
and mystical world,
to tranquility,
to sanctuary...

because of how I stand under a sky full of stars,
feeling my solitude, and,
at the same time,
my being one of eight billion humans
also looking up, pondering the mystery...

because the waves sing their eternal song,
whooshing in to shore, and then
receding, me feeling the reverberations
in my chest, as millions of souls
have stood before, seeking solace,
seeking peace, feeling the depth
and vibrancy of life
lived at the edge of the world...

I know I'm not alone.

Inspired by How We Are Not Alone by Maya Stein.


Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A KINDNESS REVOLUTION




What does a Wild Woman do
when the news continues to astound,
humans committing atrocities
on other humans, bombs dropping
all around,
all manner of suffering and trouble,
women and children starving
in the rubble?

We need a Kindness Revolution, she sighs,
pouring a second glass of wine,
because one doesn't do it any more.
(She knows that is a very
slippery slope. Don't worry.
She is wise.)

She turns off the news.
She would like to write a poem
that inspires hope, lifts hearts.
But she is so freaking tired.
She is old.
She has lived several ages,
truth be told,
but never one so toxic
and so cold.

It's the opposite of
 a Kindness Revolution.
But she has always
Lived In Hope,
so that stubborn flame is
flickering still.
Wild Woman believes
in evolution/revolution;
 always will.
(Give peace a chance.
War is over
if you want it.

Let's keep singing it
Until.)

What we have is today:
brilliant November sunshine,
wild waves and Stellar jays,
hope and grief all mixed together,
because this is where we're at:
inclement weather.

Wild Woman is grateful:
for another generation rising -
(May they be brave!) - for dogs
with wagging tails and smiling eyes.
For Mother Earth, with her trees,
and clouds, her ever-changing skies,
struggling so valiantly to survive,
on which we're blessed
to still be here,
still dreaming,
still alive!

In all the discord,
what does a Wild Woman do?
She prays, she hopes, she dreams.
 Sometimes she cries.
She writes poems of peace
and struggles to be wise,
stretches her rubber soul
to hold both hope and sorrow,
goes to bed and
prays for a Revolution
of Human Consciousness
on the morrow.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Letting Go



I save my love for what stays:
what is close at hand - the ancient forest,
birdsong, the roar of the sea -

and dogs, looking at me with
their doggy smiles, eyes full of love
for the simplest thing: a pat,
a biscuit, some loving words. 

I let go of what wants to leave:
who turns away, becoming mist;
so many leavings along
one's path, no words of farewell,
just sudden absence; I bless them
with the gift of grace
as they go on their way.

I save my love for what stays.


The italicized lines are from the poem "I Save My Love" by Marjorie Saiser, of Wild Writing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Days That Will Not Come Again

 


Where there was something and suddenly isn't
- a beach, a forest, the song of the surf,
the crash of waves on shore,
sunset sinking below the horizon,
running through the wild world 
with a big black laughing dog -
absence becomes a presence
that fits into a corner of our hearts.
Heart walls expand to make room
for the memories, watered with tears,
that come, unbidden, at random moments.
There is an ache, a missing, that feels 
almost as strong as the presence did,
for we are remembering Joy
from a place of less-than-joy.
We are remembering love
from a place of loss-of-the-beloved.
We are remembering companionship
and feeling the pining of our solitary soul.

Where there was something and suddenly isn't
we have to work hard to
remember gratitude, recognize enough-ness,
look up at the sky and trail
the eagle's flight with our eyes,
seek out riversong or a place of salt and sea.
We somehow learn to make a space for sorrow
inside our aching chests,
and place our love and remembering there,
glad that we recognized joy
and fullness of soul when we had it,
though everything after has been muted,
tinted grey and sepia,
compared to those golden,
radiant, long-gone wild
wilderness days
that will never,
     will not ever
         come again.



The two italicized lines are from Naomi Shihab Nye's poem Burning the Old Year .

Sharing this at  What's Going On,  where Sumana's prompt on Wednesday is Memory / Remembering.

Insignificant

 


The small things I do to help the earth
feel so insignificant, compared to
what needs to be done - especially
when the worst corporate offenders
are doing nothing.

The poems I write - pleas sent out
into the universe (which hears them) -
do little good, when world leaders,
corporations, the offensively wealthy,
cling to capitalism, even at the price
of every other living being's survival.

And yet we keep on keeping on
because giving up is not an option,
even when
scientific voices grow more urgent,
because we love the earth, and
what we love we try to save.
And because what we save
saves us.




For  Rajani's climate series. 

A message I have written about before but it doesn't hurt to repeat it.

Monday, November 20, 2023

HYMN OF PRAISE

 


Chris Lowther photo


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.

***

Praise the amber sunlight in late afternoon,
burnishing the forest golden.
Praise the eagle,
swooping twice overhead.
When I called out to her, "Beautiful!"
she fluttered her wingtips at me
in response.

Praise the stately cherry trees out front,
who have shed their leaves,
going into their winter sleep,
who will burst forth
in white and tender blossoms
next spring.

Praise Brother Bear, his big paw
reaching into the river
in search of one last salmon
before his winter nap.
And praise Sister Wolf,
who is teaching her cubs
the forest trails
and how to find their hidden den.

Praise those who are caring for
the suffering, in impossible situations,
under a bomb-filled sky,
and praise those who are trying
to find a way to bring this horror
to a merciful end.
(May all killing stop. Praise be.)

Praise our peaceful day
on this side of the world,
with which we mend our tattered hearts,
so we can hold this aching world
and bear what is too heavy to lift,
because what we care about,
we try to save,
and what we save
saves us.

Praise what we can,
in this world so full of pain
and heartbreaking beauty.
May Mother Earth receive our love
and carry it on winds of change
across the sky
to silence and still
the guns and bombs,
the inhumanity
of war.

***


"In certain ways, writing is a form of prayer." Denise Levertov. The first poem came to me as I was walking a forest trail. I sped up, to get to my car and paper and pen before I forgot the words. The second is a praise poem, inspired by "Praise Song" by Barbara Crooker.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Heart Broken Open

 


How would we be to each other,
if we knew we are each one small piece
of the broken heart of the world?

This must be why we wake up aching,
why, when everything around us
is beautiful beyond reckoning,
our hearts still feel broken inside us,
because the world is hurting
and we are the ones who cause it,
and the only ones who can heal it.

Today I will stand at the edge of the sea,
next stop, Japan - such vastness.
I will count the oystercatchers on the rocks.
Maybe an eagle will perch so close
I can see its feathers, it regarding me
with its imperial eye, me humble,
passing gently so as not to disturb.

Why can we not pass this gently,
have this same regard,
for our fellow humans?
How would we be to each other,
if we knew that we each
are one small piece
of the broken heart of the world?

The idea of each of us being one small part of the broken heart of the world comes from Mark Nepo, who taught this concept at a writing workshop recently.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

This Morning, Out My Window

 


This morning,
out my window,
the sky is becoming its day face,
after the long, dark night.

Just so, looking up,
does my heart expand
and take a circle or two
above the trees:
joyous, expansive,
above all of the cacophony
of humans being less
than we should be to each other.

My heart, a wise old owl,
perched on a cedar bough;
a raven with its gobble-cry;
a heron, skinny matron,
purse clutched under her wing.

The heavy stones in my heart
called grief,
called war,
the human-caused suffering
of all beings,
the accelerating climate crisis,
(ignored, because we are distracted
by the bombing):
I lay them down in the River of Solitude,
then walk on to the sea:
take refuge in
the eternal waves
that will be here long after
you and me.

My wish: that the great sky above
cover the entire globe
with peace; where
no bombs fall,
and all who suffer
find the healing, help and hope
they need.

A big wish. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

THINGS I HAVE LOVED

 


Me and Pup - the Dog of Joy
(He was jumping for a treat!)


The sky, ever-changing in colour and mood,
in sun, in starshine, in midnight moons.
The river wild, remembering my old
wolf-dog's eyes looking helplessly at me
as the current caught him,
and he started drifting away,
me getting ready to
plunge in after him, till an outcropping 
caught him, returning him to me.
For I have loved him best
in this world.

I have loved mornings, the certain smell
at the farm that takes me back to
summer mornings as a child; and that
golden time in late afternoon, when 
the light changes and turns the trees
to amber; and that smell - petrichor -
just before the first drops of rain,
when once more I am back in childhood,
listening to a thunderstorm
in the back room of the cottage
on Christleton Avenue
with my Grandma.

Sunrises and sunsets, which I miss 
in my elder years, because I am always
still tired, when I wake up, and
too tired at day's end.
But I remember, I remember, skies
that looked like the floor of heaven,
me sitting on a log, wondering
if the one I loved loved me.
He didn't, but my wolf-dog did;
he showed me how love was
meant to be.

I love tiny purple crocuses 
out on the lawn, brave forerunners,
as spring tiptoes in,
just waiting to spread her skirts
of white blossoms across 
the two old cherry trees
in the yard. I love summers,
sitting out front in the sun, and rocking,
watching the world walking by
with its children and dogs and canes.
I love when they wave and I wave back.
I love the big window through which
I watch the changing skies and seasons.
Sometimes an eagle swoops past,
sometimes a skinny heron
perches in a topmost tree.

I love that last Valentine's Day
I woke up to discover
someone unknown had taped small hearts
all across  the front windows - love,
to make a stranger smile.
I love the orange gerberas
on my desk, with their black eyes,
brightening this rainy day
as I ponder the winter ahead
with its indoor comforts.

I love ancient old growth: thick weathered
trunks and old man's beard,
moss and lichen,
and feeling in the forest like I once did
long ago at morning mass:
silent, peaceful,
reverential.
I love long sandy shores stretching
to forever, and the way my wolf dog and I 
walked them, wildly, joyously
for years; never again
would I feel so whole, so free,
after he was gone from me.

I love the beauty of the world,
the true, good hearts of animals, and
what is best in humanity,
when people bring their open hearts
to helping others
in times of trouble.
Times when we puny humans
reach deep within,
and connect with something deeper,
something bigger
than ourselves
that is called Love.

So much love keeps my heart
full to the brim
on any given day,
and I know that
I have been very lucky
in this life; I have been
gifted and blessed
in every single way.


For Mary's prompt at What's Going On? LOVE. What the world needs now. 

Between Here and There

 


This poem is a bridge between here and there,
between trouble and peace. I write to
find my way to what lies beneath:
the bigger story in which my small
human journey is contained.

I didn't mean to carry so much:
the heavy lift of helping others
carry their own burdens;
the weight of a world in freefall:
people at war with each other,
at war with the planet itself.
One grows old
before we learn to travel light.

My head wakes every morning
to, first, the weather, what kind of day
it is, indoors or walking weather.
Then the news rushes in, the horrors
that happened overnight while 
I was sleeping; the insane antics 
of people wanting to govern the world
who are unable to govern themselves.

My poems are an effort to sweep the path,
make a clear space in my thoughts, the better to
breathe in the peace of Mother Ocean,
walk in the greenly Sister Forest, eyes
following the flight of birds above,
in the clear air - the most fortunate of beings,
who do not know of war, who are content
with simply Being.

My teachers: waves, the wild ones, trees.
A simplicity that brings me to my knees.


A Wild Writing poem sparked by Mark Nepo's unpublished poem "At Gate 3, in August." The italicized lines are his.

How to Begin

 




Start with the dust on top of the bookshelves:
neglected for a time, one thing you can do
to make today better. Remember that you are
only one human. Forgive yourself for
not being able to fix a broken world.
But don't forget to add whatever light you can
to the living of your days and
what you offer to others. Wonder about
what a green and growing peaceful earth
would feel like. Know that, at least
in your one small yard, your silent rooms,
you can accomplish
peace.

A Wild Writing offering sparked by Catherine Abbey Hodges' poem "How to Begin."

Friday, November 10, 2023

Look For the Helpers


 

"Look for the helpers," a wise grandmother
once said. "In every disaster and calamity,
there they are, calm and kind,
hands reaching out,
doing what they can. No thought
of race or difference, just one human
being there for another."

Sometimes nothing can be done, when
disaster is beyond the scope of human
reckoning. But even then, hands and hearts
reach out, to soothe, to comfort, to hear
a whispered plea for a hand to hold.
All quiet healing is welcome.

In these times, heart heavy,
I walk soft-footed
on the earth.
I speak more gently.
I pray to deer and rabbit,
horse and dog,
to teach we humans
how to heal:
ourselves,
each other,
and a world in pain.


Inspired by Joseph Fasano's poem "The Healers". The italicized lines are his.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

DREAMING IN GREEN (G is for Giraffe)

 




What are these walls and floors
where nothing grows?
What are these fences wrapped around us
keeping us from each other,
one on one,
when my Mama wants
to teach me how to run?

My Mama tells me stories of the savannah:
grasslands, where all my cousins run and play,
tall trees to nibble on,
an open sky...
Why are we not there, too?
I wonder why.

I love my Mama, and I love the sky,
but I need trees and grasses,
freedom I have never 
felt or seen,
no fences, lots of grass,
and so, when I dream,
in my wooden stall
at night,
my dreams are green.



The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the gold standard for assessing endangerment, has found that giraffes are “vulnerable,” meaning they face a “high risk” of extinction in the wild. And for some of the nine subspecies, this risk is imminent. As of 2020, there were at least 579 captive giraffe at 103 zoos throughout North America and more than 800 in European zoos. Their lives are lengthened slightly by incarceration, but I am pretty sure they would prefer to run free on the savannah.

for Rajani's climate crisis series.   All the wild ones are feeling the impact of accelerating climate change.

Walking in Earth Shoes


Warren Rudd photo

Walking in earth shoes, I do not have to
venture far to feel Mother Earth's unease:

breathing smoke from the wildfires
feeling the grass crackle underfoot
noting the parched soil under the thirsty trees

I perform a water ceremony under the wilted rhodo,
its leaves all pointed downward, reaching for
moisture no longer there. Drops from
the watering can fall on the thirsty roots
like tears. We have been on water restriction 
since early May. We are watching so much
shriveling and dying.

please hold on till the rains come, we whisper

but we can't promise rain will come.
It is still warm and sunny in November.
Along the forest trail, huge swathes
of ancient cedar are gone, tall wooden walls
of housing rising on their graves.
Along the roadway, stumps are shoved
back into what's left; some trees turned into
ten foot trunks, with token fringe,
topped and limbed to make way
for new hydro lines above.

They call it Progress, but why so savage?
The neighbouring trees, thin and exposed,
dusty and wondering if they come next -
I feel their pain.

But, still, there is so much beauty everywhere.
I marvel: blue skies, waves
surging endlessly in to shore, 
a new baby orca with its mama, passing by.

Hard to know that, under this same sky,

climate refugees are on the move;
and now civilians, caught in the latest war,
mourn their loved ones, sobbing and desperate,
on our tv screens. We have not learned
to live together peacefully on this earth,
seeing "Other" instead of "Us".
Why is that so hard, when we all have
beating hearts that love to live?

So hard to watch oblivious First World ways
continue as if all is well;
so much denial, and entitlement:
annoyance at traffic interruptions -
the "inconvenience" of
forests aflame, that closed the roads
and stopped our frantic rushing
to and fro. Denial that the cost 
of capitalism is coming due.

The planet turns and burns,
and countries bomb each other.
It is grievous to have a human heart
in a world at war, where
people have forgotten that
the natural world is dying, too.

I put my earth shoes on,
find a green space in which to feel
mixed gratitude (for all that is)
and grief (for all we've lost
and are so swiftly losing.)
Is there a green space big enough
for this much sorrow?
Stay tuned.
I'll put my Earth Shoes on,
and try again
tomorrow.

 

for my prompt at What's Going On? Walking in Earth Shoes, which will post at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.

I wrote this poem in summer when the fires were burning all over the province. Some are still burning, but the situation has impoved greatly. The fall rains  have just begun. I updated the poem to include this latest terrible war - so much suffering and death. My heart is having trouble holding all of it. Thank heaven for the forest and the beach! They save me. And they are asking us to save them in return.  Peace and light, my friends, our antidote in dark times.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Now and Then

 



Then, when you and I and the world
were young, the music was everything.
There they are, so young and alive,
riding the wave of their music
into the future. There we were,
back when we still dreamed of love,
before it hurt so much we gave it instead
to small children and dogs.

There are the ones still here: aging, grizzled,
with wise eyes, and here we are, aging too,
our memories reaching back to golden years
when music was the backdrop of our lives,
and all our dreams were sailing ships,
luring us from shore.


Saturday, November 4, 2023

DONA NOBIS PACEM: 2023

 



TAKE THIS POEM

Take this beautiful morning,
this November sunshine,
this blue-sky day, with the song
of a thousand seabirds,
wheeling and circling
at the edge of the sea.

Take the eagle's cry,
from the top of the cedar,
as he surveys his kingdom.
Take the heron,
gliding past my window,
looking like a skinny matron,
purse clutched under
her wing.

Take the waves, rolling in like
white-maned horses, wave upon wave,
day after day - our own glimpse
of Eternity.

Take this moment, peaceful,
crisis-free, in the places
where you are;
breathe deep the ordinary, when
so much in this world is no longer
routine. Feel the peace
of nothing-going-on.
Let your prayers be prayers
of gratitude. May your tears
bless those living through
apocalyptic times.
(Our turn will come.)

Take this poem which
I offer you with open hands.
Take its wish that you
and all you love 
be blessed. Take my dream
of a green and flourishing earth.
Maybe if we share it,
some green tendrils
will begin to grow.

Take a break from the terrible
and disheartening news.
Let's walk our peace into the world,
step out into our front yards.
Let's lift our arms to
the cloud-dotted blue above,
the trees breathing with us in tandem,
such generous and benevolent beings.
Take this ordinary morning
into your heart and let it live there
all day long.
Take this poem,
like a prayer of peace,
into your very being.
Let it sing.



Cox Bay, Tofino, British Columbia
Canada


Today we peace bloggers once again send out our prayers for peace, in a world where bombs are falling. We find ourselves living in a world of "Other", instead of a world of "Us". Valarie Kaur reminds us to See No Stranger. She calls for a revolution of the heart. This resonates with me.

This year Mimi Lenox is asking us to contemplate the transforming power of walking in peace - being peace. This is more challenging than usual right now, where division is everywhere, and tensions are rising across the globe.

This poem was written before the latest war began. I offer it as a branch of the peace we all want. It is hard to find the words, even for someone who has written millions of words in her lifetime. We are taking too long to evolve. Yet somehow we have to hold onto hope that humankind can learn to live the ways of peace.

Thank you, Mimi Lenox at Blogblast for Peace, for once again sending our prayers for peace across the globe. We need it more every year! 


Wednesday, November 1, 2023

START WITH WHAT YOU LOVE

 


Maybe you find yourself heartsick, grief a lump
in your chest, and you do a checkup: health reasonable,
home peaceful, some food in the fridge. Then you
expand the circle: one son in a nursing home,
post-stroke, one daughter struggling to keep
her head above water, working too many jobs.

Then, wider still, and yes, here it is: bombs falling,
civilians suffering: innocent Israelis attacked
by terrorists and brutally slaughtered; desperate
Palestinian civilians living the hell of bombs
dropping, uncared for by their own government.
So much hatred, so much suffering, 
yet the bottom line: civilians, just people,
suffering, dying, starving, displaced.

One grows silent, not knowing  what to say,
for fear of angering one side or the other,
hearing and understanding the suffering
of both. And then being called out
for being wordless, when one is expected
to take a side, and one's "side" is humanity,
so often at the mercy of its leaders, including
here in North America.

A sick feeling that all is not well with the world:
anti-Semitism rising, anti-Muslim sentiment
rising, right-wing, trump cult, versus left wing
keepers of Democracy - everyone seen as Other, not as Us.
How to move forward in the world? Does it matter
if I clean the house or let the dust gather?
Does it help if I send some cash to my son
or a bag of dog kibble to my daughter? Does it help
when so many humans (and dogs)
are without food and water and the sky
is raining bombs?

Start with what you love, the poet said, so 
I go to the beach and watch the waves rolling in
under a blue sky, surfers riding the crests joyously,
happy dogs frolicking on the sand. I come home
to my peaceful rooms and remember
to be grateful. But I never forget that,
across the sea, bombs are falling,
a living hell for all in the right place but
at the wrong time. Knowing that,
even here, even now, as far away as North America,
things can always get worse.

Inspired by "Start With What You Love" by Laurie Wagner of Wild Writing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

A SLIPPING-DOWN LIFE

 


We spend the first half of our life gathering
and striving: each move into larger and larger homes,
filling them with things we spend
the last half of our life giving away.

Each move, in our later years, is into
smaller and smaller spaces. We down-size,
until we are down to our very last treasures:
the memorabilia of our lives.

Will these small rooms full of my wolves
and books and comforts be my last, or
will there be one more move into
a nursing home? One never knows.

But while I am here, still somewhat mobile,
I know enough to be grateful, every day,
for the good fortune, many blessings,
and the many small homes
that have come my way.


for Susan's prompt this Wednesday at What"s Going On? Moving Homes.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

VISITATIONS FROM THE DEAD

 


Totems at Ninstints
BBC photo


They have been many: an ethereal woman appearing
to my mother on an upper floor, questions in her eyes;
wings signalling a death that followed my mother 
down the hall on waking; the sound of galloping hooves
along a country lane at full-moon midnight,
echoes of a fatal buggy ride a hundred years ago.

A woman attuned to the other world heard
wailing and keening of long-dead villagers
at Ninstints, a village wiped out by smallpox
when the settlers came, their grief never-ending.

And now the voices of dead children are calling us
to their unmarked graves across Canada,
and the generational trauma of residential school
can no longer be silenced. "They found us,"
they whisper to each other. "Soon we will be
going home."

What are the spirits of Israel and Palestine
telling us? Are we listening? To the grief,
the horror, the suffering, the endless
spilling of blood, after which no spirit
can ever truly rest. 

There are spirits among us, they say,
trying to get our attention, the waft
of a cool breeze in a hallway, items
moved from place to place,
a cold  shock  down my spine,
knowing that her ghost was right behind me;
a photo of a loved one that jumped off a bureau 
as we were speaking of him. Galway Bay tinkling
through my brain, from left to right: my Grandma
saying goodbye. The weight of a snout
on the side of my bed, a whuff,
his fierce resistance to leaving,
as his body went into the flames.

There be spirits here, when the veil
between the worlds grows thin -
and other times as well, if we
are listening: the dead telling us
that once they walked like us,
sleepwalking, unawakened
to the world
that's coming next.

for Desperate Poets : Night of the Desperate Dead


Saturday, October 28, 2023

OBSTACLES

 


facebook image


Because even the word obstacle is an obstacle,
try to love everything that gets in your way.

Use line-ups and waiting rooms as moments
in which to meditate and feel peace, when
just waiting is what is happening.

Strive to be accepting, resigned
to all we can’t fix or heal.
It took 50 years of struggling
to help, to make everything better
for others, to learn how to
let go and just
Be the Observer.

Serenity comes when we learn how
to bow in service to a larger story……
the way of all beings.

The larger story right now
is one of great suffering,
hard to carry in one’s mind and heart,
and yet, even now, our love for
our fellow humans, who are
experiencing such pain and desperation,
can unite our voices to plead for
their safety and survival.
It does not feel like enough,
but it is all that I’ve got
to get me through this world
that injustice has made.

Inspired by “Even the Word Obstacle is an Obstacle” by Alison Luterman of Wild Writing. The italicized lines are hers.

Friday, October 27, 2023

When All Else Fails

 


Rainbow over First Street Dock
by Marla Williams

When all else fails, I go to the shore,
step onto the sand as if it is a new country,
different every time I visit,
 yet always the same.
The sussuration of the waves
lulls my spirit, lisping:
all will be well
all will be well
all will be exceedingly well.

When all else fails,
I go to the harbour,
watch the play of clouds and mist 
over Wah-nah-juss,
perhaps admire a rainbow
arching across the sky,
as if painted by a Master Artist,
the answer to our "why?"

When all else fails,
I remember that this world
has seen it all before,
yet learned so little:
bombs and suffering,
displaced human and non-human refugees,
devastation that can never 
be considered "winning."

When all else fails,
my words fail me, too.
So many poems about peace,
the climate crisis,
injustice, war,
and here we are,
doing it all again.

When all else fails,
only the earth itself, and dogs,
with their true hearts,
can comfort me.

Inspired by the title of "When All Else Fails" by Lana Hechtman Ayers.


Thursday, October 26, 2023

Nothing Left to Say

 


facebook image


It feels like there is nothing left to say
when once again, we stand at the brink of war,
when civilians are being held hostage in tunnels
underground, when other civilians are starving,
without food, water, or a safe place to hide
from the bombs.

Wild ones, tell us how to live like you do.
For certain your lives are harsh - made
more so because of us - but there is simplicity 
and justice in taking only what you need,
respecting the other creatures you share
the earth with, trying to raise your young,
avoid being killed, staying in your territory.

Owl, oracle, wisdom-keeper,
you have seen all this before.
So have I, and I am weary
that we do not learn that in war
no one wins, everyone suffers.

Brother Wolf, you know the ways of man
are dangerous. It is why you hide from us,
deep in the forest. You know we are
the fiercest predators on earth.
Do you wonder that we destroy, not just 
your habitat, but our own? That we
borrow from future generations
so we can have more now? Your clan
always makes sure the cubs and elders
are fed first. Teach us your ways.
I can hear you say: we earth creatures
have been speaking our pain to you
for decades, but you don't listen.
The ways of man are deadly
to all other living beings.

Sister Tree, breath of life, do you
wonder at how we cut you down,
the lungs of the planet, then do not 
understand why we are choking?

Mother Earth cries out in storm and fire
and flood, in all her animal voices,
in whalesong and dying salmon.
Is it that we are too afraid that we
ignore her piercing cries?



Tuesday, October 24, 2023

E is for Existential Crisis

 


E is for Existential Crisis.

E is for Extremely Discouraged.

E is for Ecological and Environmental Devastation,
and for Endangered Species: including us.

Meanwhile, the world turns and burns,
wages war against each other instead of
uniting to save all of our lives.

E is for emissions, increasing every year
because of addiction to oil and obscene wealth.

Which brings me back to where I started out:
E is for Existential Crisis.


for Rajani's climate crisis series. 

O is for Ordinary

 


O is for ordinary: a look out the window
at my street, smiling as small children
from the daycare walk past, waving;
the warmth of a cup of English Breakfast 
tea in my Dog Lover mug with the black dog
on it; sunshine and morning, and no bombs
falling, geranium leaves turning orange
as fall tiptoes towards the coming winter.

Could anything be sweeter
than a West Coast morning?

Walking at the shore, life is everywhere:
mussels clicking along the rocks, starfish
clinging to the sloping sides, anemones
that curl their arms up if you touch them
gently. Yet what amazing creatures they are.
When you really see them, they are
magical: each a small being, living
its life in spite of battering waves,
drought, heat, too-many
humans; each a small life trying
to survive the whims of fate,
and not ordinary at all.


for Sumana's prompt at What's Going On?  Ode to the Mundane, now open until Sunday evening - the beautiful ordinary, otherwise known as peace and well being, and not much going on, which we know enough to be grateful for, the while our hearts are breaking for all those who are suffering and dying across the planet. 


Monday, October 23, 2023

Dear Creature

 


Nocturnal Visitations
by Forest Woodward

When the veil grows thin
between this world and the next,
I watch for you,
and listen for your howl.

You followed the path
where the Disappeared go,
and I could not follow.

The morning after you died,
just as they were
feeding you into the flames,
I felt your snout
on the edge of my bed.
You whuffed to wake me,
as you had every morning
of our life together.

And then you were gone,
into the ether,
to find your own way
along forest trails
in the sky.

You always went before me
on the path.
Wait for me.
I am not far
behind you.


for Desperate Poets where we are supposed to be Creature Seeking. But there has always only been one special creature for me, and I miss him still.


Saturday, October 21, 2023

Children of the Earth

 


We're all dreamers. We don't know who we are.
In a world at war, our hearts freeze; we hide
ourselves away from pain too great to bear.
We dream. We don't remember
that we come from the earth, from sky
and moss and water,
each of us with a dream of life and love
on this beautiful planet of blue and green.
We have forgotten who we are,
how we are meant to live: in this wondrous place,
with care, with inclusion, with concern for others,
even seven generations hence.

We find pockets of peace among the mossy trees.
We wander the shore like lonely exiles
from a place we never knew. We have forgotten
that we are children of the earth, born in
an earthly garden, under a heaven strewn with stars.

Bombs fall, families die in the rubble.
Who will "win" in this medieval torture chamber?
For certain, thousands will lose, have lost, are losing.
What must the land feel  as alien rockets pound
into the earth?

When the rockets grow still and we emerge,
blinking, to see what is left, we'll start again
the endless restoration of our wanton, profligate
destruction. Brick upon brick, we will build more walls,
make more guns, wage more assaults
upon each other and all the other beings who are also
trying to live in a world we humans are destroying
faster every day.

We're all dreamers. But we have forgotten who we are.


The italicized lines are from the Poem "Mother and Child" by Louise Gluck.