Friday, June 30, 2023

When Women Had Wings


Far back, in the time
when women had wings,
my foremothers flew.
They sat in council, governing,
around the communal fire.
Their eyes flashed; their utterances
were wise, and respected.
In those times, the waters ran clear,
and the land was bountiful.

In the crooning of the wind,
I hear the names this life has given me:
Walks Far Woman,
Woman Who Talks to Trees,
In Love With the Sea Woman, and
Daughter of the Sky.

Part of me has not yet
fully landed in this place.
My DNA still remembers
we come from particles of stars.
Our collective memory recalls those times,
when women had wings,
and our foremothers flew,
when living with the land
is what we knew.

A poem from 2014. I was reminded of it while reading If Women Rose Up Rooted by Sharon Blackie. Here is a quote:

"If women remember that once upon a time we sang with the tongues of seals and flew with the wings
of swans, that we forged our own paths through the dark forest while creating a community of its many inhabitants, then we will rise up rooted, like trees.........then women might indeed save, not only ourselves, but the world."

Time for women to rise up. Time for the walls of misguided patriarchy to crumble. For the sake of the children and all earthlings.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Waking Up Screaming


At first I thought I didn't know noir
having more of a blanc mange kind of heart,
but then I remembered I lived it once,
with an alcoholic con man
who burned down my store, which was 
also where I and my children lived.
We lost every stick we owned
in a single night.

He drank with criminals
and gangsters. I remember
one face, out the car window,
see it still, the dead steely eyes,
the jowls, the hard stare,
as money passed between them
for some malfeasance he wished
me to be an accessory to,
to cover his butt.

Noir: the day we were camping
poor, with the kids: no proper
warm camping equipment,
just a sagging tent that fell
on top of us when it rained,
the three year old slithering out
the tent flap, once,
in his sleep.
Note: Noir can be so cold.

He was angry because he hadn't
had a drink for too long, and
his life was shit. That night
malevolent forces attacked me in the tent.
The bedding puffed up, then pressed down,
hard, on me. I screamed and fought it off.

We got out and sat watching the dregs
of the campfire, and the dregs of my hope,
though there was more noir
to live before we were done.
But after I cast the darkness off,
there was blue sky again,
and a cute little house we rented
from my mother. There was a garden,
and leggy children laughing in the sun.

I wanted a song with every colour but black,
turned my face to the sky like a sunflower,
and never looked back.

for Desperate Poets: I Wake Up Screaming

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Distraught Sister Moon


Distraught Sister Moon,
I see you up there, pacing around,
wringing your hands,
"what to do,
what to do,
what to do?"

Down below, all hell is breaking loose:
bombings, shootings, drought,
famines, floods, melting icebergs,
forest fires,
wildlife fleeing in terror,
no where to hide,
dangerous people with bad hair
behaving badly.

I see you trying to efface your fullness
quickly, perhaps thinking
if you lessen your roundness
the populace can return to calm
under a slice of moon.

But when were we last calm?

By your light, madmen and prophets collide.
By your light, poets seek truth and beauty.
By your light, we dream of a better world.

You have stopped pacing.
You like where this is going.
Okay, hear this:
By the Light of Your Silvery Moon,
on earth
(perhaps in vain)
we dream,
we dream,
we dream
of peace.

One from 2018 which fits the times we live in. In 2018, the person with bad hair behaving badly is obviously He Who Shall Not Be Named. LOL. Sharing with Desperate Poets open link.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Things That Keep Us Awake at Night


With all of the natural world standing by,
waiting for we dullards to discover
wind, solar, ocean and geothermal energy,
present  in abundance
to power and cool the earth,
someone has had the bright idea
to give the ocean antacid
to slow climate change by helping it
take in more C02 and reduce acidity -
sort of like giving the sea a TUMS?
The "studies" will take five years, so the ocean
will have heartburn until then -
along with all of us.

You can't make this stuff up.

They plan to thin what forests remain after
all the burning, so fewer will burn next year.
Sort of like cutting off one's leg, so we don't break it.
(Or cutting off one's air,
'cause we don't need it.)
They increase the budget for firefighting for next year,
resigned that a hotter world is inevitable;
woe is me, nothing can be done.

In Canada, Elizabeth May of the Green party
is the lone voice crying in the wilderness.
No other dare utter the fatal words: reduce emissions.
No other speaks of stopping subsidies
to rich corporations,
or asking them to pay their share, and clean up
lands they have destroyed.

We are not as far from kings and serfs
as we might like to think.

We live in growing awareness
and ever-decreasing hope.
They are feasting royally in the castle;
outside its walls,
we hunger, we thirst, we rave, we burn.

Add AI to the mix and we are in danger
of being taken over by machines
who can out-think and out-pace
our bemused and lumbering gait.

If humanity survives what is to come,
future scientists will look back at us, agog.
"They had all the science, all the information,
yet they carried on a path the earth could not sustain."
Shaking their heads, as we do about the fiddling
while Rome burned. Exactly like that.

It will be a while before that happens, though.
First the cataclysm, and whatever remains.
Apartment buildings will be the morrow's caves,
covered in dusty, crackly ivy. Skinny dogs will skulk
across the barren wastelands.
The green world will have
gone all brown and brittle.
We will have learned the hard way
that water is more necessary than oil,
the whole while it is
going going gone.

for Desperate Poets: a poetry slam addressing AI and other things that keep us awake at night. 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

When I Come Back, I Will Be Grief


The Cameron Lake fire
outside Port Alberni, B.C.
Jacob Laxen photo

We start out whole,
losing pieces of ourselves 
along the way,
and then reclaiming them. 
That is the journey.
I am collecting the last few bits,
before I fly into the light.
I pick them up:
ah, there you are!
and add them to my pack.

When I return,
I will change my shape.
I will be cattails, 
standing dry, bent and broken
at the edge of the dried-up pond.
I will be wolf-pup, 
peering fearfully from my den,
knowing, to survive,
I must elude
Earth’s biggest enemy:
the predatory Two-Leggeds,
and they are

I fear
I will find a planet burning,
from Big Oil,
humans and animals 
on the run.
I will be Tree,
gasping for air,
a sudden irradiation
as the orange tongues
lick greedily at my corpse.
I will be deer,
fleeing the flaming forests.

I will be mother orca, holding 
my dead newborn calf 
above the water
for seventeen days, grieving,
unable to let her go,
saying to the humans:

See! See what you have done!

I will be grief itself,
watching the world I love
burning itself up. 

As I am now.
As I am now.


One from 2018, shared with Desperate Poets. And now the world is burning close to home;
I am already grieving. Due to the Cameron Lake fire, the only highway in to Port and the west coast has been closed for two weeks and is not expected to open until mid-July. Supplies are being convoyed through a rough back logging road. The apocalypse edges ever nearer.

Monday, June 12, 2023

On Gratitude and Grace


When everything I loved was gone,
and bitter words hurled at me in the taking,
I was left with the blue sky,
with the green shawl of the forest
draped across my shattered soul: with soft moss,
thick trunks, each old tree's beating heart.

When there was nothing left to gather,
there was grace: no possessions,
I was forced to
dig down deep to find something
to offer others, and discovered
I had love
to give away.

When there is nothing left to say,
at the end of all the losing 
- all the gathering, all the grace -
looking back at all that
I have loved so well, the glorious
years that fortified my soul,
there is only this: I have loved this world
completely, with my full
and ever-faithful
blue-sky heart, which beats
one note unstintingly,
with my spirit's call
to all the gods and angels:

 I'm so grateful
for it all.

For Paul Dear's wonderful challenge at Desperate Poets: where we are pondering wrestling with angels, grace and gratitude. And grit!

Friday, June 9, 2023

The Dreamtime



connecting with the dreamtime
tapping into the deepest well
of our collective memories

with eyes closed, I call up
the Ancestor Beings,
here when this world
began, with its
mountains and rivers
and trees,
its air and fire
and water

when their work was
complete, they
traveled back
into the earth
and slept

sometimes their spirits
stayed behind
in rocks or trees,
and these became
sacred places

Today we're in
the Dreaming -
in the Now-
the only time
the aborigines

Feel the spirits
of the Ancestors,
as you chant
to the beat
of the drum

Look quickly
across the campfire
and you might catch
their shadows,
see their kind

Hear them say:
"Right now one
of your eyes
is sleeping,
but one of them
is awake.

When you see
with both eyes,
we will awaken
from our dreaming
to join you,
and the world
will be made new"

We need those new eyes desperately.

From 2013. Inspired by Julian Lennon's wonderful documentary Whaledreamers, a wonderful film about a gathering of aboriginal elders from all over the world, who came together at ancient headlands above the sea in Australia, where in old times, the aborigines would sing out to call in the whales, and they would come. They gathered in this spot, to perform that ceremony and, breathtakingly, in response to their eerie song, the whales came. It was uplifting, mysterious and utterly wonderful.

Random thoughts about the aborigines, the deep pain of the elders who mourn all that has been lost to their culture, and the mysterious Dreamtime, informed this poem. Tofino is situated on ley lines, and is a power spot, much like Uluru. Ancient energies are aswirl here, in this place guarded by the Nuu chah nulth people.

Monday, June 5, 2023

How to Make Them Stay


My wild mind clawed its way out of the desert,
across the mountains to the western sea,
plunged itself into old growth forest,
saturated my heart with starfish and eagles
and herons and grinning joyous beach dogs,
plunged into the surf, discovered - breathlessly -
bioluminescence, fell in love with mountain,
sea and sky. This place was the entire answer
to my soul's question: why?

My wild spirit first had to flee abuse,
oppression, patriarchy, everything
that set itself to limit the expansion of my soul.
I found my wild heart's home in the green places,
with the wild ones. There is a certain landscape
that called to me, wherein I finally
grew whole.

Green fire! I find it among the ancient trees,
fierce love, as I try to save those who are left.
A wolf howl in my heart that grieves
all that is passing away; a faint hope,
flickering, that I can find a way
to make them stay.

I wrote this after I walked through Tonquin forest, half of it laid waste, the heavy equipment roaring so loud, past their depradations along the trail to the beach, where there is peace and calm still, and a diminished habitat for the wild creatures. Tofino Natural Heritage is doing all we can to try to save what is left.

Sharing with Desperate Poets, where we are contemplating our wild minds and spirits. 

Sunday, June 4, 2023

On Puppies and Their People


facebook image
no copyright infringement intended

Today's sermon is a blue-eyed wolf dog
who needs to run, but is never let off his leash
because his owner has not trained him,
and is afraid he won't come back;
I long to snap the chain and let his long legs lope
along the shore, and through the forest. 
Wild things need to run.

Today's sermon is a confused black puppy,
eight weeks old, who sits down because 
his owner is training him too much
and he doesn't know what he is supposed to do.
"No touch, no eye contact," the fool man says.
"It teaches the puppy to be calm."
(It teaches the puppy to be depressed,
quelling that puppy joy that
being a puppy is all about.
I want to abduct the puppy.)

Today's sermon is puppies found abandoned
in dumps, in frozen wastelands, inside tires
and dumpsters; it is the one survivor puppy
found with his litter frozen dead beside him.
Today's sermon is humans who lack humanity,
who think animals don't matter.

Today's sermon is rescued dogs
who approach, with fear and trembling,
but who learn, over time, 
that humans can also be kind.

Today's sermon is well-loved dogs
with happy grins, loping along the shore,
and chasing each other in joyous circles.
In a perfect world, every dog
would have a life like that.

I'm dragging grace around
like a rusty wagon,
pretending it's whole,
the poet says.
I'm old. I know some things.
I know what makes children and animals
feel safe and happy.
My penance for living this long
is to watch the heedless young
who think they know more than they know:
yet don't understand how fragile
small and helpless beings are.
I watch them learning everything
it took me so long to learn,
watch them breaking hearts,
including their own.

I'm dragging grace around
like a rusty wagon,
pretending it's whole.
My heart has dents and bruises
on it; such grace as can be found
hasn't got a lot to say.
What good does all this Knowing do,
when only old people, babies and dogs
can hear its sorrowful song?

A poem from 2021. Inspired by "Today's Sermon" by Cheryl Dumesnil, and Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. The italicized words are Cheryl Dumesnil's.

Will share this with Desperate Poets open link.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

A Sip of Rain


Canadian Geographic photo

Waking to grey sky, tiptoing out to check 
on my petunias, I discover the first tiny drops
of precipitation we have had in a very long time.
Just a sip, a taste,
to make my petunias happy,
but not enough to slake the thirst
of the dying hedge.

The grass has been yellow and crunchy for two weeks
and it is only June. The rhodos are struggling;
the rainforest has no rain. I can almost hear roots
calling desperately for water. We are already
in stage two restrictions here. But who
will watch to see if the million tourists take
fast showers? 

Across Canada, 200 wildfires burn. Towns
are evacuated, homes are lost, men struggle
in the heat to douse the flames. The wild ones
flee in terror in a world on fire.

And no leader speaks of the urgent need
to lower emissions. As if this summer is
an aberration, instead of a look at
what's to come, as summers get hotter
and hotter
every year.

Friday, June 2, 2023



The Black Dog of Joy

"We're in this together, the wild, the domestic, the wormy, the laughing ones and the weepers, black dogs and Buddhas....all of us dancing in the stream of everything."
from Trauma Farm by Brian Brett

I am a small inconsequential speck in the vastness of the universe. I am united with every single other organism on the planet. I am insignificant, and a part of Everything, in the selfsame moment, which keeps me humble, and feeling connected to the All That Is, at one and the same time. I gaze at the mystery of the night sky and I know, somewhere up there, is my path Home, through the clouds into another world, where I will journey one day. The mourning dove sings to me in the evening, and the hummingbirds dive-bomb the feeder as twilight falls. In the morning, the horse's whicker in the fields and the blue jay's call at the seed stump serenade my waking, and I step out to breathe in lake-scent and willow, which brings me full circle, from my earliest rememberings to Now, and I am, in fast-forward, that round-eyed child and this faded-eyed crone, and every age in between. Tell me that Heaven will be as beautiful as this planet and I will set aside all fear. Tell me there will be an ocean, and ancient cedar, and dogs. Yes, let there be dogs and I will not fight those final breaths. A neurosurgeon, a scientist who had no faith in anything unproven, died to the world for seven days, and when he finally woke, he said he had visited heaven. What made my heart leap is that he saw dogs there, leaping and running joyously with the people. I always believed dogs would be there, but now I know it. I will see my boy again. That big black wolf will run joyously to meet me and we will tumble together with the force of our reunion, as he used to throw himself upon me after every absence. And then we will point our noses towards the nearest sea, and walk again, as we did for so I have not been able to do since he's been gone. "Black dogs and Buddhas"........yes, that will be my heaven and, meanwhile, the thought of it comforts my sojourn here, the thought of all that joy, just waiting for me up ahead, in a country I have not yet walked through, yet feel I know so well, so often have I read stories brought back by those who have briefly left this world, and then returned. For me, Heaven is a big black laughing dog.


I just finished reading  Trauma Farm, whose wonderful quote inspired my prose poem. And then began Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey Into the Afterlife, by Eben Alexander, M.D., whose tale of seeing dogs joyously leaping in the heavenly realms made my heart go pitter-pat.

Written in 2013, shared with Desperate Poets Open Link