Wednesday, April 26, 2023

When This Is Over


Art work by Bryony Bensley

When we get through this, I want
there to be a shift in the consciousness
of humankind. (Let's put the "kind" back
in humankind.) I want news anchors
to speak truth, with integrity and diplomacy.
I want world leaders to do the same,
to face the huge challenges
our survival as a planet depends upon -
and to make the corporations do their part,
instead of giving them a free pass
to destroy the world, and never pay.

When we get through this, I dream a dream
of the Rainbow Race rolling up our sleeves
and doing the work of recovery and restoration.
I dream we will all shop locally and vote green,
drive less, write our elected representatives
with our concerns, keep our footprints light.
I dream we will all hold
the natural world and its non-human creatures
in our hearts and in our thoughts, in everything we do,
so they may live too.

When we get through this, I hope we will remember
how terrible it was to be so divided, to not trust
those elected to serve, to fear the loss
of democracy, to witness wars being fought
in so many places, afraid
it could even happen here.
I hope we never forget
how many climate refugees there were, how many
homeless - the uncared for mentally ill 
and addicted - who lived their desperation
on the streets, and all the officials did
was take away their tents.

When we get through this, I want us to
lay a bountiful table, and invite everybody in.
Let there be heaps of good, warm bread,
and nourishing soup, and, after all have eaten,
a comfortable place for them to rest.
Let there be no creature on this earth
uncared for and unloved, 
when all of this is over.

Inspired by the title "When We Get Through This" by Maya Stein. May as well dream big, if one is going to dream.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

And Then We Came


Tell the stories of all who have been lost,
the poet said, and so I think of them,
the nameless ones I did not know,
already gone, and the many
who are right now in danger of
passing from the earth: the orca, the rhino,
the mountain gorilla, the red panda.

All their stories, of life and death,
 are much the same:
they lived in a wild
and bountiful garden,
and then we humans came.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

This Is Not the Time

This is not the time to make things pretty,  even though you live in a village full of happy people, close to an old growth forest, with miles of sandy beaches stretching to forever. One could keep on writing happy poems about beauty, if one didn't watch the news, about the poles melting, the ocean and the atmosphere warming too fast, too fast, sea levels rising, rivers flooding, extreme weather events, and the wildfires of summer heading our way. And if one didn't feel the frustration of knowing for 50 years that this would happen and yet, and still, they would rather spend billions on rockets and weapons of war than do the only thing that will save us: curb emissions. They talk about creating some sort of filter in the sky. They would spend money on that, yet say there's no money to do what we can do on earth to stop the rise: plant trees, stop cutting trees, make corporations operate sustainably, clean up their own messes, and pay their share of taxes. If they didn't subsidize industries that have billions in profits and try to convince us that this boosts the economy when what it boosts is greed at the top of the food chain and inflation and desperation at the bottom.


This is not the time to make things pretty. But I could write - have written - a kazillion poems about this, and we could, most of us, agree. But until leaders LEAD, and legislate real change, all we can do  is our small part, which isn't enough, not nearly enough. And buy some fans for summer.


The lead-in line "This is not the time to make things pretty" is taken from Maya Stein's poem of the same title.  I took a different direction from her poem.

Friday, April 21, 2023



I hear them calling me, the ancient trees,
and so I go, stepping into
a world of green,
feeling my heart slow,
knowing I am seen.
Here is beauty, here is peace.
Here is the state of simply Being
with the Standing People 
who keep us all alive.

The wind whispers soft songs
in my ear. I hear the rustling
of small creatures in the bush.
Above, an eagle circles,
his flight like song -
a being who already knows
that he belongs.

Listen, the poet says.
Listen with your heart.
I hear the voiceless ones,
I hear the earth
singing her song of growth
and of re-birth.

Then all thought falls away.
The peacefulness is all.
We breathe together.
May these trees
never fall.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

This Is What the Heart Does

This is what the heart does: it hopes -
that everything will be all right,
no matter how impossible that feels 
right now; that light will banish darkness,
love erase hate; that compassion and insight 
will walk the halls of power with kind
- not killing - eyes.

The heart wants what it wants:
a happy ending. Even better,
a happy beginning, and a smooth road
ahead. My eyes are too old
for fairy tales. It is two days till Earth Day,
and they say they can't plant trees fast enough
to make climate deadlines. They need
thirty extra years that
we don't have. The trees can't
grow fast enough to absorb the carbon.

And I wait to hear - but never hear -
that we need to curb emissions now. Because
that won't bring in enough votes,
even though people and animals
are dying, being displaced, suffering
in floods, and drought, and wildfires.
Even though climate refugees
- with and without fur -
are everywhere, and one day
it will be us.

How is it that every poem I begin
winds up being about earth's struggle
to survive with too many of us on it?
Am I hoping someone will hear
who will raise the alarm in a way
that will galvanize world leaders,
finally, to act?

This is what the heart does:
it hopes. 

This poem was inspired by the title of a poem by Jessica Lee: What the Heart Does. Happy Birthday, Mother Earth. And, hopefully, many more.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023



The actual balloon in this poem.

land of my dreams,
landscape of my heart,
filled with all the wild ones
I adore,

we did not meet in person
this lifetime,
though we would have,
had life been more kind.

But my friend
once sailed across the Serengeti
in a hot air balloon
at dawn.
She said she thought of me, then,
and so, in that sense,
I was there,
gazing down on acacia trees,
zebras, elephants walking
ponderously across the plains,
my ears perked to hear
the call of lions
waking in the morning mist.

Her photos of a giraffe's long
eyelashes, taken close up,
and the elephants beneath
the baobab, struck my heart.
She sent me a box of photos
from that trip, to share
her joy with me.
I opened them with reverence,
saw my beloved Africa,
in image after image,
beauty captured through her eyes,
a dream come true
in the golden amber
of an African afternoon.

Some of these photos of the balloon ride can be seen at Lynette Killam's site, The Imaginative Traveler, here. But if you type Africa into the search bar, there is much, much more. Her other site, Imagination Lane , has some great stuff too. Lynette and I have been friends since our sons were seven months old, in baby buggies.......she is the one who urged - insisted - I start a blog, and gave it its name. I am forever grateful for how that opened my poetic doors, connected me with poets all over the world, and unleashed a virtual storm of poems I otherwise would not have written. What a trip it has been!

Monday, April 17, 2023

In the Season of Waterlogged Cherry Blossoms



The two old trees out my window bloomed,
but days of rain have soaked the white blossoms, 
curled like small fists in the cold.

My sister's dog was sad when we said goodbye.
But "I'll be back!" I said, our rallying cry.

I always arrive with toys. The routine is,
she pokes her head into my cloth bag
and snatches them out herself. I tried
handing her a new toy this time.
She looked at me, until I put it back
in the bag so she could choose it herself.
A small autonomy, honouring 
our long tradition.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

If the Hat Fits.....

If a hat makes the man

and a bonnet the woman,

make mine the beige knitted cap with visor

that i wore in the 80's,

tucking my long hair into it

to hide the dissarray.

I removed it once at the hairdresser's

saying "my hair....needs help",

wild locks falling every which way,

and the girl cracked up.

The cap disappeared suddenly. I mourned.

The kids told me later they threw it up

on top of the shed because

it embarrassed them. (I had to find

other ways.) That cap.....those years.....

my kids still young and laughing.....

I found a hat just like it in old age.

I never wore it.

Its time had passed.

For The Sunday Muse

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Farm Reverie


First, our mother's farm, 

a dream realised. The pond,

a froggy chorus at nightfall,

chickens roosting in the trees,

our mother happily baking bread

and making big Sunday dinners.

Then my sister's, a succession of dogs 

in the yard and horses in the field, 

the arrival of a partner who made 

every inch of house and land 

even better. New horses,

the newest dog, patrol the grounds.

The trees still stand guard 

out the kitchen window

in their accustomed place,

reassuring in a world where

everything has changed.

The hills, the view, the peace

remain the same. So many years,

and still, when family think

of home, somewhere to return to

and gather, this is the place

we call the hub, our various

spokes poking out to

the wider world.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023



A few years ago, Paul Dear and I were paired to collaborate on a poem at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, a most inspiring writing site, where many of us wrote together for years. (I do miss Toads.)  I was remembering that poem today and thought I would post it, in honor of April Poetry Month, along with our discussion of our process in putting it together. Here is the link to the original post.


Into the dark I move.
Arms out, eyes blind for now.
Feeling for the way ahead
with feet and with hands.

Use caution, wayfarer.
This way, there be dragons.
Who sent you journeying?
What is it that you seek?
Do you have a question for
Wild Woman of the woods?

My senses are my caution
and dragons I have met and slayed.
I answered my own call
and so seek only truth.
This question I ask of you.
What is it makes you wild?

It is the song of the sea,
the howl of a wolf, the way a tree
tells herself to me.
It's the beat of the drum,
my heart's answering thrum.
It's the ancestors speaking
inside of me.
How does the land speak to you,
fellow pilgrim?
What secrets whisper to you
on the wind?

This land speaks to me with a voice
older than time itself.
An elemental whisper of the aes sidhe
carries itself within my soul
and sings to me of the temporal nature
of things.
I walk here now in the green.
I will also be gone
and only an echo remain.
What lies beyond oh wild woman?

I have peeked up and over
the brow of the hill
on the way to Eternity.
The ancients, ululating
a welcome song,
beckoned me with gnarled fingers.
I tried not to see.
There was a barren desert beyond,
and a river.
I heard the ferryman paddling
around the bend,
singing as he came for me.
Then I came back into my body.
Not time yet. Not yet.

Then it comes clear, my task
and the source of my beckoning.
I am to walk beyond the veil
into the land of my ancestors.
Into the ferryman's boat must I go
and across the great river,
and you, wild woman of the woods,
you must guide me there.

Death is that river, turbulent,
catching us up and
roaring us through rock-walled chasms,
green with weeping.
It plunges us into the maelstrom,
dashing us onto the rocks
so eagles may feed.

It swirls us 'round, then settles us,
lighter, and relieved of our earthly burden,
in peaceful ponds along the shore,
where coyote and wolf
may find us.

I will meet you there at twilight
on the last day.

Well met it is then and will be on that last day.
I am all swept up in that turbulence now.
Those eddies spin me beyond any idea of retreat.
So it is then that I must loosen this blanket of life,
so that in death I may come to the answer I seek,
that final truth which calls me across the waters,
and it is the knowing that I must die and relinquish
all which bears me forward to face my own face,
born and dead.

Part II

I am dead. It is done.
I have crossed over the water’s threshold.
Life exists only on a distant shore now
and here a dark unknown surrounds me.
My faith was strong enough to leap but
now my heart crumbles and I am alone
with this void, this fear and an echo of my life.
Silent tears call out in vain. Where now?

Traveler, when there is no path,
the Way is the path.
Turn your face towards the void;
seek a glimmer of light.
In trust, we walked our earthly shore,
and now our quest is to discover
something More.

These words torment my mind.
Zen circles that spin me endlessly.
The void is all there is.
How can I face all ways at once?
My faith is lost and with it all trust.
Damned I am to dwell in darkness.
If the way is the path then my path
is to nowhere. I am lost.

Traveler, you are All Soul now.
Spirit sees in all directions
and will find its way.
Listen into the Wind.
Somewhere, there is an opening.
When you find it, you must enter,
for there is no going back.

Then darkness is my opening
and in that I now see the light.
I am made of nothing and of everything.
I am the wind and the space
into which it must blow.
I am the question and the answer.
I am life and death.
That one face, born and dead.


When our names were first paired, I was intrigued. Paul and I didn’t know each other well, and our styles are very different. I expected our exercise would be interesting, but I think we were both somewhat astonished at how easily it came together, and the direction it took. We plunged deep.

The tandem idea was always interesting to me and Sherry sent an email that landed when I was delivering a training program in Kuala Lumpur. Sherry and I had not had much contact other than poem comments and so this was a blind date of sorts. There followed a short email conversation and finally after some gentle nudging I sat down to write when I landed back in the UK. I was jet lagged and unsure about how to proceed so I began where I was. In the dark.

The beginning was open enough that it left me a lot of scope for a reply. And then the poem just took off.

We enjoyed this exercise so much that, once we reached what we thought was the end of the poem, we continued the conversation a bit further in Part II.

Paul: I was happy to begin the tandem poem as I tend to work very often from a place of ‘not knowing’ what is going to come when I write. Beginning felt natural. Then it was really just a statement of where I was in the process. In the Dark.

Sherry: When I received your first stanza, it left me wide open to respond and, instantly, the words began to flow. My Wild Woman persona showed up right on time, and began to speak. I just stepped out of the way.

Paul: Here the door opens to the poem. Now I’m on a journey and am quizzed about my motivation. In response I have to learn more about this Wild Woman. Who she is and what she is made of? Her answers evoke myth in me and ancestral voices. I mention the 'aes sidhe' who I have encountered in Irish mythology (my own heritage). This ancient race and our connection to the Earth are interwoven into my own story and so the idea brews now in my head of the ‘otherside,' the land beneath the sidhe, the otherworld. So I ask that question at the end of the stanza.

Sherry: I am of Irish heritage as well. Your reference to the “ancestral voices” spoke to me. That question was a great hook for me, as I have contemplated death and eternity many times in my work these recent years, when time is ever more finite. It was a pivotal question in the direction the poem took. Wild Woman was in full roar now, and I waited with anticipation to see what your character would say, and how she would respond. For it was clearly Wild Woman at the keyboard, and not me. Smiles.

Paul: It gets interesting here because the response lines up with the feeling that had been evoked in me earlier, and I now see that a threshold is present and must be crossed.

Sherry: Paul, I am curious about your closing line in Part I, the “facing your own face, born and dead”. Can you explain a bit about that?

Paul: Sometimes when I write a line I have no idea what it fully means. It just sounds or feels right. Later meaning may come. With this line that was very much the same. I remember thinking 'what do I really mean here?' Then you actually asked me!

After some thought and a little exploration of a few myths that were brought into a more conscious view, I think that this line for me is looking at the idea of Katabasis.

Born is where I am at this the threshold....Dead is where I must go to find 'that other', be it a person or, as it turns out, an ‘awareness’.

Sherry: It reminds me of the Buddhist teachings about our “original face”, the one we had before we were born. I assume this is the face we reclaim after death, the Soul-face or Being that is our eternal essence, in life and in death, throughout our many lives.

It was with astonishment that I watched this poem become a journey into death and beyond. It was quite magical. It soon seemed necessary to both of us to continue with a Part II. One cannot leave a journey incomplete.

Paul: I agree. Part II wrote itself out of need. The whole process of exploring the unknown only to discover we were looking at life and death was incredible. The writing of the poem mirrored the journey we wrote about. For me, in the context of the final piece, death was a liberation, complete and total, and whilst we talked about a possible part III, a return of some kind, I felt that the final stanza was final and Sherry concurred. There was nowhere to return from...or to.

Monday, April 10, 2023

How to Stay Steady in a Spiralling World


photo by Erin McMullin

Deep breaths.
Take a walk in the forest, to observe
the eternal trees and ponder

Look for the bright, inspiring young,
speaking truth to power, even when
it costs them everything. Recognize
their passionate raised voices
as hope.

Receive the blossoms of spring
as earth's promise that she
will try to live, in spite of
all we have done to harm her.

If all else fails, find a beach 
full of ecstatic, whirling dogs,
and watch joy in action.

Robert Brewer's prompt today was to write a "How to" poem.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Watching the News


I am a quaking aspen, watching the news,
as missiles rain down in Ukraine,  rockets
on Israel, and China starts military drills
as a "stern warning" to Taiwan. 

Is this world peace on its way?

Let me count the ways a world implodes.
I am looking at spring blossoms, smelling
their fragrance, my heart blooming
with gratitude for the beauty of this world.

Do soldiers take a deep breath of spring
between the bombs?

Hope is a dream of ten years from now,
eloquent young black leaders
in the halls of power, rich old white guys
having passed from their posts,
their attempts to end democracy
and exert totalitarian rule

We live in hope.

I took a few of the directives from the NaPoWriMo prompt. You can tell I am watching the news again. Sigh. The two Justins, Jones and Pearson, representatives expelled from Congress by Republicans for demonstrating for gun control, are two of the brightest lights I have heard from lately. I hope one of them (or both!) runs for President one day.

An Aviary, a Dove, Your Eyes


An aviary, a dove,
and your dark eyes,
always lingering on the edge
of a wistful dream.
We wore love as clumsily
as bears or lumberjacks,
stumbling around a bullpen.

The cellists
were playing fiercely,
to encourage us,
but we paid them little heed.
We were too busy
scanning the sky
for attacking owls,
tentative, fearful,
yet radiant,
in our
slow and faltering

for Shay's Word List, inspired by the work of Zachary Schomburg.

Thursday, April 6, 2023



Behind her mask are all the words she cannot say - would not be allowed to say. But her dark eyes speak, of pain, of loneliness, of not belonging. She whispers secrets to the crow who visits every day at noon, for scraps. She befriended him soon after coming to her mother-in-law's house, where she has low status. There is no one else to tell, besides the bird. To him alone, she whispers her dream that one day she'll be free.

Unspoken, all the words
she cannot say. In her hand,
the pretty bird who'll fly away.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Becoming Children of Light


In my dream, an indigenous elder
was speaking to us, telling us
we are all one, all is connected.

There was a baby among us.
The elder showed the baby how 
to arch his arms up over his head,
making a circle. Then he told us
to do the same. We all made circles.
We all were connected. We finally

Then I was at the farm, but the field
was wild and full of animals. 
My sister's dead horse came to the fence
to visit me, and Pup was there,
dull-eyed, and tired of waiting for me
for so long.

In the front yard, a man led
a gigantic kangaroo
on what looked like a dog leash.
It was Kanga, who survived
the wildfires in Australia,
who loved the old woman
who rescued him.

When I woke, I gently re-entered
my current reality. Was it dream or vision?
Vision or dream?

Whatever it was, the message was clear:
we are all connected. We must lift ourselves
beyond the ugly rhetoric and hate
and become children of light
once again.

Monday, April 3, 2023

A Soliloquy on Goodbye


Charlie Brown by Charles Schultz

Life comes at us fast, when we are young:
so many hello's, a cornicopia of people,
events, experiences, emotions, images
flashing past on an accelerated screen.

One begins to sense the built-in parallel goodbyes.
Homes,  loved ones, furry companions,
jobs, towns, dreams - we leave, or they leave us,
a plethora of goodbyes accumulating over time
until loss becomes as familiar as twilight,
blurred with love and tears.

We begin to take our wakings slow, as if to
familiarize ourselves each day with
where we have arrived, the decades
having sped past like a rocking train,
giving one long haunting howl
as it rounds the bend.

Looking back, all of it - all - were gifts:
all the beginnings and small homes and dogs,
children and friends, all the laughter,
the cackling gatherings, the times
that shine golden forever in memory -
so many gifts given, so many received.

for it all.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Listening for Your Howl


A ghost is a being who left behind regrets
and unfinished business.
Or perhaps, like you, it did not want
to leave.

An owl once crossed my path, looking
deeply into my eyes, so close
I could see every feather outlined.
Spirit Messenger from the Otherworld.

In the morning fog, by the river,
your wolfy heart remembered
your wild puppy days with the pack
on the side of Lone Cone.

The wild cows of Opitsaht eat seaweed
during the long winters, and grow thin.
Sometimes a cowbird will settle
on a bony rump, for companionship.

When the veil grows thin between
your world and mine,
I listen for your howl.

~for Pup, as always

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Protect What You Love


A wild love for the world has my heart
leaping and breaking at the same time: lifting
as the blossoms of spring repeat that age-old
miracle again; breaking, because humans are not kind,
and are destroying our home and each other
across the globe.

We have lost our way. Time is short.

I mourn. The work of our time has been
to save the planet from destruction, to love
and protect the other beings who share
this world with us; to learn
how to be a good creature on this earth.

The work of our time is to be kind.

My heart, my two hands, my love
are not enough to fix all that is wrong.
So I put my  love and tears into a poem
and send it off into the world,
to other hearts who also love and grieve
this shimmering, beautiful, conflicted
and suffering world.

NaPoWriMo's prompt today is to take a book title and write a poem. This one came easy as I just bought Joanna Macy's A Wild Love for the World: the Work of Our Time. 

Shared with earthweal's open link