Saturday, January 28, 2023

Armadillo Dreams


I don't know. It's absurd. I just don't know
what to think anymore. Am as confused
as an armadillo in a tobacco store, dubious,
but willing to wait and see if the situation
might actually be genius.

There's a sweet, sad song on the jukebox,
that I used to sing when I thought
one day I'd be a superstar. But heavy boots
trampled all over my dreams, so now I
listen for the nightbird's call, for that
lonely train whistle at two a.m.
I don't really dream at all any more.

for Shay's Word List. I used ten of the words, and this just wrote itself. Cool list, Shay.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Tree People

Forests are peopled with trees.
From babies to wise old Grandfather Cedar,
all are in a state of
Becoming, Growing, Enduring.
Much like us.

Listen to the song of this old tree,
and he will teach you
how to live.

He will whisper to you
of roots and tree-tops, earth and sky,
and of your inter-connection
to All That Is.
He will tell you the secret
of how to live in harmony
with the natural world,
with respect, nurturing life,
doing no harm.
Breathing out, breathing in.
Being Peace.
Like a tree.

When the west wind croons
through his branches
and the riversong joins in,
listen to their song
and remember:

We are air.
We are water.
We are trees.

for earthweal's open link. A poem from 2016.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Grandma, Passing Through

Floss and Wilf Marr

She was larger than life,
when I was four:
twinkling eyes, a sense of humor,
lots of cackles.
She and Big Boy, the cat,
had a running game over
whether or not he'd make it
out the screen door
before she let it fly.
He would calculate the distance warily:
the lovely scent of the outdoors,
the pressure on his bladder,
but Her, standing holding the door
open invitingly.
Would he make it through this time?
Was it worth it?
How badly did he really
need to pee?
She enjoyed this game
much more than the cat did.

In the morning I'd wake to the slap
of water hitting the vines
on the side of the house,
as Grandma cooled things down
against the heat of the day.
Her yard was always abloom:
sweet pea and mint,
forsythia and mimosa,
and roses, twining the arched trellis
over the front gate,
where I'd hang, late afternoons,
swinging back and forth,
waiting for my parents
to pick me up
after work.

Late morning, as it was getting hot,
she'd lower the awnings
like sleepy eyelids
over the two front windows.

At naptime, she'd lie down beside me,
her warm, comforting, womanly body
lulling me off to sleep in safety.
No screams or crashes ever woke me
from sleep at grandma's house.

Her kitchen clock ticked
loudly and peacefully
on the kitchen shelf.
I could hear it in the back room,
where we'd sit, listening to
the crack and rumble
of the thunderstorms
Grandma loved in summer,
waiting for the metallic scent
just before the rains
hit the parched earth.

We "watched the fairies"
dancing in the fireplace
on quiet winter afternoons.

She was all I knew of stability.
She showed me, by living it,
that life could be normal, routine,
safe, peaceful.
I searched for a life like hers
through my growing years,
until I claimed solitude,
and found it.

She could be stern
I was more afraid of her displeasure
than I was of God's.
She said she had "magic glasses,"
that she could see me when I was at home,
and I believed.

She told me of a perfect little girl called Vivian,
who had wonderful manners
and never did one thing wrong.
"Vivian would never do that!"
All us grandkids hated Vivian.

She chortled with delight,
walking home from afternoon tea,
at how I'd said "Haaaaaah, Miss Hicks?"
when I didnt understand her question.

"Haaaaaaaah, Miss Hicks???"
my grandma teased,
fairly chomping with pleasure,
while I blushed and bridled.

When my Grandma was old,
in extended care,
I repaid her for all the hours
she gave to me as a child.
"I'm still here,"
she'd say disgustedly,
as I popped my head
around the door.
"I'm just
too damned healthy!"

We'd sit under the trees,
or at the window
watching the sunset.

I sat with her as she lay dying,
that long week.
Bending over, I whispered into her ear,
"Thanks for all the love, Grandma"
and watched a single tear
run silently down her cheek.

At the funeral, we played her favorite
"Galway Bay" at the end,
and my mom broke down.
On the bus going home,
I was thinking of Grandma
and all the years,
when the notes of Galway Bay
tinkled through my brain,
from left to right, and away.
I wasn't thinking of the tune;
it just arrived, in one side
and out the other.
Instantly, I said, "Hi Grandma,
I love you,"
as the notes exited my brain,
for I knew that it was Grandma
passing through.

for Sarah at dVerse, where the topic is grandmothers. Mine meant the world to me. She actually saved my life when I was a child, by showing me there was another life than the one I was living.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Never Give Up

I am so sad and everything is beautiful.
- from "Adrift" by Mark Nepo 

At the shore, the sun shines silver on
the scudding clouds, the island, the tombolo,
the shining water. My heart lifts
at the beauty of this world I walk through,
breathing wonder.
In the same moment, thinking of the suffering going on
across the world, I ache with grief at how we are
destroying our beautiful garden; at how cruelly
we are treating the non-human beings who share
this planet; at the hatred and division we are showing
our fellow earthlings.

This is how joy and grief co-exist in the lives
of humans who have lived this long. We know, now,
how we are meant to be living. We understand
how far we are falling short.

Yesterday I smiled at a heron perched on top
of the Coast Guard tower, her wings huddled
around her ears, as she surveyed the busy harbour,
the gentle rounded slopes of Meares.
She could see far. When I look out,
across the country, across the ocean and the planet,
I see a mix of peaceful valleys, flooding lowlands,
starving wild ones, breathtaking mountains,
devastated oil fields. Farther away, bombs are
pounding villages into rubble, and fascism is rising
across the globe. 

Yet this morning dawned
as beautiful as ever, the stars winking out,
the steady sun rising behind the hills
at Rosie Bay. Walking out onto
the sandy beach, one can imagine a world
whose heart beats in harmony, where gardens
flourish and everyone is fed. 

The pain exists between the vision
and the heartbreaking reality.
Yet, because of the beauty, 
the incredible courage, of Mother Earth
and every living thing
that only wants to live,
we can never give up,
never give up. We can
never give up.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Not Alone


Yesterday morning there was a flock of crows
on the lawn, looking like a priest convention.
What did they find to eat, at the tail end of winter?
I wondered.

It is still dark at 8 a.m., and not one light is on
in the condo across the street.
We take our wakings slow
this time of year.

The white blooming plant in the garden 
has opened all of its buds. "Pretty, pretty!"
I whisper, as I pass. It preens, and 
stands up taller.

The local dogs know I carry treats.
My day is made when I can offer one,
and pat a humble furry head, whose eyes
will shine in greeting next time
we meet.

One midnight, outside my trailer,
I found myself not two feet from 
half a dozen deer. Their soft eyes looked
at me. They didn't startle, or move off.
I gazed back, in wonder.

That same winter, again in the middle
of the night, I saw a fat black bear 
sitting on my sister's porch across the street,
eating apples from a wooden box.
He looked at me as I shone my flashlight
at him, reached down, plucked another apple.

During a terrible sleeting winter storm,
I heard him howling his cold and his distress
and wished I could take him a blanket,
find him shelter.

My heart rests among the beasts.
I am companioned by the critters 
- and the forest, the wild shore,
and the ever-changing sky.
Because of them
I know I'm not alone.

From Wild Writing - Day One. Inspired by the poem "How We Are Not Alone" by Maya Stein.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Don't Let Go


The earth said
remember me.
The earth said
don't let go.....*

The whales say the sea is too warm.
The polar bears say there is no ice.
The trees say "we thirst", yet,
some miles away, the highways
are all turning into rivers.

We poets used to write about wonder:
sunrises, sunsets, magical blooms,
and now our poems are full of warnings:
lower emissions! plant more trees!

The news is full of bombs and shattered buildings,
of drought and famine, wildfires and floods,
like the prophecies of end times
have come to pass
and hold us in their grasp.

Yet, out there, and all around,
there is still the wild world, 
lit with radiant glow,
telling us: remember me.
Telling us: don't let go.

for earthweal where we are contemplating the poetry of Jorie Graham, and what our job as poets is during the escalating climate crisis. *The italicized lines are hers.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

First Lines Tell the Tale


Along the shores of the Zambezi, Gaia dreams
the walls of patriarchy are crumbling.
Nothing wants to suffer.
Bedeck the lowing cattle with yellow flowers.
The voice of the wild anthropocene
is heard across the land.

Elephants cry real tears when they are sad.
Forests are peopled with trees.
Listen to their song, and they will teach you
how to be.
(Everything alive just wants to live.)

I am a lover of the blue sky.
(We are all Sky Woman's people.)
Admire the sunflowers, who turn their faces
to the sun. Turn the vase to face the window,
so they don't hurt their necks.

If there be loons here, then they are hiding.
I can't find a loon anywhere
for solace at Loon Lake.

With my soul among lions, I walk
the dusky chambers of my heart.
I run my beads through careworn hands,
each bead a prayer from my weary heart:

May all beings be well.
May all beings be at peace.

The challenge was to take the first line from the first poem of each month in 2022 and create a poem. It is interesting that a theme emerges from this exercise.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Not Time, Yet


For Pup

We were traveling together
when you took the turning
where the Disappeared go,
and are seen no more.
I could not follow. The way was barred.
Still, I continued walking,
carrying your soul with me
in a small wooden box,
hidden under my cape,
held close to my heart.

When I tire, and falter,
am tempted to turn back,
I can hear you thumping inside your box.
You will not let me
abandon the journey.

(Asleep, she found herself
crossing a barren desert.
There was a river ahead,
and she could hear voices, singing,
coming around the bend.
They were coming to get her,
but then she came back into her body.
Not time, yet.)

Death is a river, turbulent, roaring
through time-worn rock-walled chasms
green with weeping.
It dashes our brains out on the rocks
so the eagles may feed,
then settles us, lighter and relieved
of our earthly burden,
in rippled ponds along the shore,
where beaver and wolves
may find us.
I will meet you there
at twilight
on the last day.

At midnight, a ghostly specter
glides mistily along the shore.
She is beckoning,
but I pretend that I am blind.
She is calling.
I pantomime that I am deaf
and cannot hear.
Not time, yet.

These words are a pathway
between the time when you were here
and now.
They are as full of your absence
as my heart.
I am still traveling.
You always did go before me on the path.
I am getting just a little closer.

Not time, yet. Not yet.

I wrote this in 2014. Sharing at earthweal's open link.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Here I Am, Still


They see me hobbling down the street,
tap tap tapping my cane,
just like my grandma did,
when I walked her back to the old folks' home,
that single tear rolling down her cheek,
her life reduced, no longer
to her liking.

I am luckier than her, or braver.
I chose my dream,
then flew by the seat of my pants
to keep it alive.

It cost me, and aged me,
and slowed me down,
yet here I am, still,
in the place of my dreams.

They see me hobbling down the street
- tap tap tap -
and give me that smile
that people give the old,
as if life and dreams are all over
and I am suspended, just waiting
out my days.

Yet, all the time,
I am remembering:
the cottonwoods, the crickets,
the lazy summer bees,
and us making love
on the side of a mountain,
on the soft, brown, dried out
pine needles,
your dark eyes beautiful,
looking down,
the cerulean sky above.

for Shay's word list: after the poem "Wrinkly Lady Dancer" by  Alicia Suskin Ostriker.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Paradox in the Valley of the Broken-Hearted


image from

How to stay balanced in a world
where bombs are falling on the innocent
and, a thousand miles away,
a basket of sweet puppies
are sleeping by the hearth
where two people are sipping tea
and smiling?

How to find reason
in the way governments speak lovely words
in silver tones, about how well
they are governing,  and the deified Economy
that rules us all, while thousands
are homeless, thousands more without
fresh water, and the medical system
is on the brink of collapse?

How to trust leaders
when domestic terrorists
have infiltrated government
and there is no reason in their
fevered fanatical eyes?

I sit under a peaceful sky,
in my comfortable rooms,
in a beautiful place
on Planet Earth,
and all over the world
living beings are struggling to survive
cataclysmic conditions.
I feel like a human sensor,
trembling and attuned
to every garbled frequency.
I register it all -
the beauty and the pain,
the peace and the unwellness
of Mother Earth,
a paradox of pain and pleasure
in the Valley of the Broken-Hearted.

After Above the Paradox Valley by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Decolonizing Our Minds

Image by Longwalker on facebook

Ancestors, you who walked gently
on Mother Earth, in soft moccasins,
please forgive our heavy steps, our boots
that trample tender green and growing things
and never see them wilting underfoot.

My Tla-o-qui-aht neighbours,
can you,
who lived for millennia in harmony
with nature, then watched silently
as we settlers damaged
land and sea and air
in two hundred years,
teach us all you know about how to
be a good creature on this earth?

I believe, out there somewhere,
countering the dark-hearted of humanity,
are the bright hearts of the awakened ones,
the Rainbow Warriors, who have come
to heal and restore to Mother Earth
some of what has been lost.

Ancestors, you tell us
we have come to earth
at this moment in time
to shift the paradigm.
But we are slow
in answering your call.

I raise my eyes to the starry sky that
illuminates our darkening world,
and send a plea: may we
transform our consciousness
and our way of being
from sea to warming, rising sea,

illuminate our vision,
decolonize our minds.
May our light outshine
our darkness
while there's still time.

for my challenge at earthweal: Decolonizing Our Minds

Saturday, January 7, 2023

In the Dark Times, We Light Candles


‘In the dark times
will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.’
~ Bertolt Brecht

In the dark times, we light candles,
place them in the window to guide
lonely wayfarers home. We hum,
as we stir the thick soup, wash
all the pots, set the table for
whoever will come.

We curl up in a chair by the fire,
with soft cozy blankets, and a
glass of red wine. We remember
our grandmother, telling us
to watch for fairies dancing
in the flames, and how, at her house,
it was always peaceful, always summer,
her garden full of sweet pea and lilac,
and the certainty that, one day up ahead,
when we were no longer children,
life could be
just that peaceful,
just that beautiful.
And now,
because she showed us how,
it is.

In the dark times,
we come together, break bread,
share empathy and humanity
and hope.

In the dark times,
we come together
and sing.

In the dark times,
we dream.
We dream of spring.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Remembering How to Sing


Yesterday began with dying camels and starving
polar bears, but just two hours later a blooming
plant popped up in the garden that had never 
been there before: its white curled petals opening 
around its yellow face and, just like that,
my heart turned itself towards spring. The light
is lasting a smidgen longer in the evening,
the sky is a lighter shade of pale.

The apocalypse may be on its way
but it isn't here yet. And it doesn't take much -
the big waves rolling in, the way
the rounded slopes of Wah-nah-jus
circle round the bay, a small bloom
arriving from who-knows-where,
the subtle hint of spring, and my
buoyant heart remembers
how to sing.

 Inspired by Sorrow Is Not My Name by Ross Gay.

Monday, January 2, 2023

The News This Mo(u)rning


BBC photo

He told me hundreds of camels are dying
in the drought near his home village;
he is moved by the faces of the pastoralists
on the evening news,
dragging their carcasses and feeding them
with cartons. He says the government
is trying to plant trees, but there is no rain.

This is our predicament: that those who
have caused the least climate damage
are suffering the most.

Our time will come, we, in our monster
homes, with our gigantic trucks, living large
while the world turns and burns.

I wrote back that in our melting north,
polar bears are starving, too, 
for lack of ice on which to hunt,
until all that is left when they finally,
mercifully die, is their skin.

How does the mind compute such things?
How keep from despair, when the
Talking Heads talk on sonorously
and half-asleep, their eyes fixed
only as far as the next election?

Out my window, at this moment,
all is calm, serene. The waves 
are wild right now at the beach,
the sun is bright. In a world so beautiful,
how can so many be suffering?
What kind of species are we
to have had free choice, and everything 
we needed to survive,
and to have created this?

Jesus wept, the good book says.
I think he must be weeping still. 

Sealegacy/Caters News

For earthweal where we are contemplating Ministering the Future, and turning a radical edge or corner in a poem. Today's email exchange with my young poet friend in Africa sparked this response. Everywhere, the most innocent are suffering the most.