Tuesday, September 26, 2023



Renee Baker Carruthers
1918 - 1994

She had a heroic heart; she made
the hero's journey: forged in 
love and courage, honed by
loss and pain - forever hopeful.

"When times get tough,
we circle the wagons," she always said,
and of tough times
there were plenty.

She was always there, to support,
to encourage, to help. 
She bought my children and me
our little house,
so we could have a safe place
to live, somewhere
to plant our
wobbly roots, the home
in which my children grew
and then, too fast,
from which they flew.

They remember her pulling up
out front in her black LTD.
They'd spill out the door 
- one two three four -
to unload the groceries and produce
and goodies
piled in the trunk - a largesse
we only experienced
at those times.

Now that I am so
old and tired, I imagine
how tired she must have been,
doing all that helping
after so many hard years
of her own,
being there for my kids 
in their unhappy times,
when she should have
finally been less burdened.

"Too soon old, too late smart,"
my dad always said, and he was right.
How is it mothers never
get the thanks they deserve
until it is too late
for them to hear?

for Sumana's prompt at What's Going On? Mother.

Monday, September 25, 2023



Tahlequah, the orca who carried her dead calf
on her nose for 17 days, grieving, in 2018.
In 2020, she gave birth to another calf,
which survived. The warming ocean and declining
food sources are endangering the small orca
population off Vancouver Island.

After an oil spill, the mist above the inlet
is filled with the spirits of all of the animals
who have died.

Orca-, eagle-, heron-spirits,
hover over the ocean. They rest in trees
along the shore.

They carry a message for the people
of the earth: Wake up. Wake up to
Mother Earth's cries.
Heal her wounds.

After the wildfires,
the smoldering, parched earth
releases the spirits of all the animals
immolated in the flames.

They remain near the black, dead land,
near the horses' bones, the smoldering hooves,
near the deer, and rabbits, and wolves,
near the lives they loved and lost.

They hover near kangaroo bodies
caught in wire fencing,
swallowed by the flames.

After flood waters recede,
after the fires are subdued,
and all of the bodies
of drowned and incinerated creatures
have returned to the earth,
the spirits of that place
sit vigil near the watery
or smoking graves,
praying we humans will awaken
to our mandate: to restore
Mother Earth to wholeness.

They carry a message for the people
of the earth: Wake up. Wake up to
Mother Earth's distress.
Awaken to all you can be,
all you can do,
to heal the Earth Mother,
the only home of
 All Our Relations.

The idea for this poem came from reading Into Great Silence : A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas by Eva Saulitis. Eva spent twenty years among the orcas of Prince William Sound, both before and after the oil spill. The animals she grew to know like her family are now vanishing due to the after-effects of the oil spill, the intrusion of human development into their wild habitat, and the warming seas of climate change.

I think the spirits of the wild must hover around the scenes of devastation, in mourning. I hate to contemplate their terror, fleeing flames and floods, and enduring famine. 

Shared with Rajani's Climate Series. Come join this important discussion.

A Geography of Hearts


District of Tofino photo

He sits, peaceful, unhurried,
humble, wise, arranging his medicine
on the prayer cloth.

Carefully, he places them:
the rock, the antler,
the abalone shell, the sage,
the eagle wing, the tobacco,
and the pipe.

We sit in a circle, silent,
stillness deep within.
Thoughts are suspended.
Waiting is what is happening.

Then, around the circle he walks,
holding the abalone shell,
using the eagle wing
-the entire wing of an eagle -
to blow the sage-smoke
over us.

Each in turn bathes in the smoke,
lifting it to our faces, over our heads,
down our arms and legs, over our shoulders,
to cleanse our spirits.

The medicine man returns to his prayer cloth.
Sitting, slowly, he fits the pipe together,
tamps the tobacco down,
lights the pipe and draws.
He points the stem of the pipe
and breathes a stream of smoke
Above towards the sun,
Below towards the earth,
in each of The Four Directions.

The pipe passes. One by one,
we breathe in the sacred smoke
and pass it on.

When it has passed full circle
he dismantles it, puts his medicine away:
the rock, the antler, the abalone shell, the sage,
the eagle wing, the tobacco,
and the pipe.

Then he brings out the drum.
Its beat reverberates through my
innermost being and I am
spiritually filled.

My soul is Rainbow now -
it is many nations, for in all my lifetimes
I have been many people,
and in this lifetime I understand
that geography of hearts.

I am connected forever
to that day, to that circle
to that sacred place,
and to the larger circle
of humankind that we all are.

The medicine man is singing, now,
each word a prayer and a blessing
to fortify our hearts.

When he brings out the feather,
he tells us: "Times are going to
get hard. Remember, your greatest pain
is your strongest medicine."

He looks straight into my eyes.
He knows.
Message received.

And yet...now, years later,
though we were warned,
we did not act in time, and:
the world has turned mute
we cannot hear
the whales crying
we no longer see
the birds flying
we no longer speak
words of peace, "Are they slowly dying?"

When the message is as clear to us
as it once was to oracles and seers,
how do we forge the path of change,
come together in our geography of hearts,
speak the Earth Mother's pain
loud enough to heal our world again?

for Brendan's challenge at Desperate Poets: Desperate Oracles

The first oracle is a medicine man who performed a pipe ceremony at the native treatment centre I worked at for eight and a half years on Meares Island (Wah-nah-juss) in the 90's, when there was still so much hope. The italicized words are the second oracle: I opened Ingrid Wilson's Anthropocene Hymnal at random and my finger found these words, in the poem "Silent Sky" by Ivor Steven. How much has changed. I see it here in fewer seabirds, in less birdsong, in fewer bees, in hungry bears and wolves, in dying salmon, in dying rainforests, in drought and wildfires. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023


Cox Bay, Tofino
Warren Rudd photo

Take this beautiful morning,
this September 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,
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.
Step out into your front yard.
Lift your 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,
into your very being.
Let it sing.

for Mary's prompt at What's Going On? - Take This Poem, inspired by the poem of that title by Elizabeth Willis.

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Perspicacious Quest

[image from google: QUIXOTE.tv.zazzle.com]

I mount my horse backward,
from the wrong side,
my cape tangling in the reins.
The horse is blind.
Desperate, but well-intentioned,
I slap its flank and wait
to see where we will go ~
who, up ahead, needs saving,
or who might just save me.

It appears the entire world has gone mad;
whole towns are drowning far from shore.
Super Heroes are in short supply, so
Ordinary Heroes are stepping up.

Turn around, turn around,
the horse whispers. 
An eye for an eye has made
the whole world blind.

Facing forward, now, we plod,
on our perspicacious quest:
for leaders who understand how to lead,
for those in power to wield it well,
for the common folk to raise their voices
to a shout, for us all to understand
Mother Earth is trying to teach a world
full of imbeciles how to live.

On my quest, I have seen wonders: swans
at the edge of a misty river, hills purpling
in the falling dusk, the sun rising over
a sleepy inlet - beauty enough
to break my heart for all 
we are losing.

I pen my desperate poem, my song
echoing across the dimensions 
seeking help.
Its beat is weakening, but persistent,
a note of hope, faint, yet refusing
to give up.
I fling off my cape; it lands
on a grinning, big black wolf, who says,
while fastening its button under
his whiskery chin:

"Follow me. The ride will be wild,
and it will bring you joy and pain.
The world 
will save itself or not."
Oh yes! For, in a heartbeat,
in spite of all the pain,
I would do it all

Well of course it is a wolf who arrives to rescue the rescuer. 

For Brendan's challenge at Desperate Poets: Super Heroes.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Writing It Real


"It doesn't have to be beautiful," she says.
"It just has to be real."
Our pens move across the page,
listing everything that is in our minds,
the pain that is in our hearts:
wildfires, hurricanes, storm surges
that wash six thousand people away,
earthquakes, floods, war, devastation
of every kind.

I can't hold the suffering 
of the non-human beings
of the world in my mind
for long. It hurts too much.

"It doesn't have to be beautiful," she says.
I nod. It won't be.
These days, life is as real
as it gets.

Day Five of Wild Writing.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Why We Tell Stories


We tell stories to re-visit the past,
that halcyon time in Grandma's cottage,
my safe place in the world,
yard full of hollyhocks, weeping willow,
and a routine I could depend on
in a world I did not understand.
In my heart, now, I drift in dream
under the Tree of Remembrance,
in a time long gone,
but always golden,
never forgotten.

Summing up, we recollect old loves, old mistakes;
(cringing, we brush them off, brush them off,
send them to live under the Tree of Forgetfulness.)
Only the one dark-eyed beauty remains,
his blackbird heart, his faltering flight,
like a bird with one wing, longing for,
yet fearing, too, the sky.

I once placed my requests
in the Restaurant of Mistaken Orders.
They came back very different from
what I longed for, and yet, they turned out
to be exactly what I had not known I needed,
pointing me down a path I didn't think
I had the courage to follow, towards more
than I had ever dared to dream.

We tell stories, we write poems:

     to remember
           to remember
                 to remember

Day Four of Wild Writing. Inspired by the poem "Why We Tell Stories" by Lisel Mueller, and by the fact that there is actually a restaurant in Japan called The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders, where all the staff has dementia, and the orders get garbled, but always turn out to be wonderful. I love that!

Thursday, September 14, 2023



It's Thursday. This is what I know:
the sun is shining down on a perfect
West Coast September morning.
I raise my face and my smile to greet it,
and totter into town at a snail's pace.
Each time I make this walk, it feels like
I go more slowly. And yet
happiness curls in my heart like a swirl of cream
into coffee. How I love this village,
the people, the beauty, my life here!

This morning at the CoOp my bill came to 1955 -
"A good year" I joked to the man at the till.
"It was before my time," he smiled back.
It got me remembering.

My sister was born that year, and I was nine.
Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of the bus
and Martin Luther King Jr. started a movement.
Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden were playing
at the Paramount, but I was too young to go.
Eisenhower was President of the USA. He suffered a coronary
that year. Being President is a hard job.
It is much harder now that
the opposition is a cult,
enamored of a gangster oligarch
who holds them all in thrall.

In 1955, my uncle drove a two-tone cream
and salmon coloured convertible, with fins.
Kelowna was a sleepy little town then,
full of apple orchards. Grandma fixed my hair in a pony tail
to "expose your noble brow".
I clawed my bangs back down
as soon as she was out of sight.
In my t-shirt and pedal pushers
I spent summer afternoons
reading in my grandma's hammock
under the weeping willow.
I could smell the pinks.
All my life I have searched for pinks
and never found them.

In 1955, I never would have dreamed I'd see
the world in the shape it is now.
The bill for capitalism is coming due
and the poor are paying the price.

But 1955 was a very good year.
There was an innocence then
that is sheer nostalgia now.
It was a time of dreams and hope.
I wish those for the children of today
who are viewng a topsy turvy world
on their little screens.

Wild Writing Day Three

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Because It Was Summer


Christine Lowther photo

The poems didnt get written
because it was summer,
and the beach beckoned,
the waves singing their siren song.

The poems didnt get written
because I sat out front in the sun,
sipping coffee, chatting with neighbours
and counting clouds,
because I spent a week at the farm,
communing with flowers
and horses and dogs.

The poems didnt get written
because my daughter was in crisis,
and I needed to be near the phone
till she got back on her feet;
...because my soul was weary
and it needed rest, to carry
the weight of the wildfires burning,
the floods and hurricanes happening
everywhere, the holding in my heart
of all that suffering, and I had to
stand on guard for Mother Earth.

Now it is autumn. The rains
are finally here, blessing the parched earth,
and winter is on its way.
The poems will get written now.

Day Two of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023


Kelowna wildfire 2023

It is a sad story.

They clearcut the forests that cool the planet. This summer, in drought, wildfires raged everywhere, burning what was left. Only mature trees store carbon. This means the world will get hotter, burn longer. 

Our leaders are addicted to capitalism. No one dares talk about lowering emissions now, and 2035 and 2050 are too far away.

They are still logging. The fires are still burning. We are running out of water.

Mother Earth is struggling. Yet she still graces us with sunrises, sunsets, puppies, beauty enough to break our hearts, knowing how badly we have treated her.

She says, “To be pretty for you I have dropped two seeds of turnsole in the dark of both eyes.” 

So pretty! Like weary sunflowers, turning our faces to the sky, we send out a plea to Whoever Is Listening:

Please send help.


for Sanaa at dVerse:  a story in 144 words including the italicized line.

Italicized line is from the poem “Garden.” by Isabel Duarte Gray.



The weather's fine, unless you live
where wildfires burn: the flames chasing
frantic humans across the land, the animals
living and dying a terror they can never understand.
It's fine unless you live where storms and floods
are washing you away
from the place you dreamed
you would forever stay.

It got too hot for the crops this year
that shrivelled in the field; not enough grain
for humans, hay for horses, a poor yield.
Rivers and lakes are drying up
from too much heat.
We turn our eyes away;
we keep on keeping on,
on trepidatious feet.

We are still moving forward,
because that is what we do,
adjusting to rapid change,
so scary and so new.
Between the news reports,
that pierce our hearts and make us cry
lie the moments of our lives:
the sweet, slow waking, on a West Coast
September morning, to blue sky,
the waves calling me forth
with their forever siren song.
The tiniest wildflowers
poking from rocky cliffs are whispering:
sometimes you have to just hold on.

There is an apple orchard in my heart,
incongruously, as I live beside the sea.
My childhood resides there, underneath
the blossoms, full of dreams
that did not include all I have come to see,
or how this long, surprising journey
has fashioned me.

It is the sacred glimmers that draw me forth:
sunrises, sunsets, and the shimmering sea,
forests of ancient cedar, dusk and dawn,
the way each early morning smiles "trek on!"

These sacred glimmers are still shining here
as we hobnob our hectic way along,
still flying, driving, consuming desperately,
humming our frantic, existential song,
 an earthly species that does not understand
that we belong.

I am nearing the end of the journey
at the end of the road,
with gratitude for every incandescent
glimmer life bestowed.
I would like my casket woven of seagrass
so that I can all the more quickly pass
into the welcoming, mothering,
nurturing earth, the better to have
a swift transition,
and a swift rebirth.

For my prompt on Wednesday at  What's Going On?  - How's the weather? 

It has been a mixed bag this past summer, where wildfires raged all across Canada and the entire North West Territories. Evacuating towns from the remote north was a logistical nightmare. The graphs show wildfire levels are off the charts. The rainforest I live in has been in drought since February; it has never been so dry. We received 75% less rain than normal this year.

On August 21, California, already fighting a wildfire, was slammed with a hurricane which caused massive flooding, landslides and crumbling roads. AND there was an earthquake the same day. Hurricanes everywhere wreaking havoc, and 2035 and 2050 are far too far away as targets for lowering emissions.

Mother Earth is struggling, and the weather is how she makes it known. May humankind hear her desperate cries. As for me, I don't think I want a re-birth into a burning world. I just needed that line to end the poem. LOL.



Christine Lowther photo

Here I am, 
sitting at my desk
in front of the window
on a rainy Tuesday, so grateful
the rain has finally come.
Everything green is thirsting,
leaves turning their faces up 
to catch every drop, flowers
drooping, waterlogged; soon,
they will drop all their petals
as summer drifts away.

I see the slugs are back:
trying to make a home in the lily fronds.
I move them off and bring the plants
into the lobby, hoping they will last.

The wind chimes out my bedroom window
sound like church bells, deep and resonant,
the breeze moving them gently to and fro.

In spite of the fact that the earth is spinning
wildly on its axis these days, and all manner
of mayhem is occurring all over the globe,
that on my street, they are felling trees,
habitat for owls, woodpeckers and Stellar jays,
in spite of the fact
heavy equipment is biting hungry chunks
out of the neighbourhood,
and I am hearing the whine of chainsaws,
the thump of trees hitting the earth,
all day long
- in the season of wildfire and drought,
when we have never needed trees more - 

I have to report 
(things having gotten so dire)
that I have learned to appreciate
an ordinary day when no crisis
is occurring: grateful for each breath
of rain-freshened air.
We have come to the time of
"at least": (there is no flood, storm, fire
or earthquake here, we still have homes,
and, thankfully, don't know what's coming).
We accept with pleasure
this rain-soaked, autumn-kissed day,
this grey sky we have 
waited for all summer.

Yesterday was blue.
Today there is 
a misty seascape
in my heart.

Day One of Wild Writing: the italicized lines are taken from Christopher Wiseman's poem "Calgary 2 A.M."

Monday, September 11, 2023



The sea is blue today.
Oh, I remember Blue,
those years of suffering through
what can diplomatically
be described as ill-advised
and dangerous liaisons,

from which I emerged 
into the journey of the self.

What a pilgrimage it has been,
from suffering to the last quarter-century
of solitude and peace,
days rolling past
like the eternal waves:
beauty, benevolence and bliss
not even memory can alter.
I flick flashbacks away
like mosquitoes  of no consequence,
mere stumbling blocks
encountered early
on the path.

No more weird rendezvous,
since the last ridiculous farce
with a wannabe Sir Lancelot,
tilting his sword at all
the pretty ladies, then
I was done.

"We are the daughters
of the witches you did not burn,"
said someone somewhere,
and I resonate. Deep roots
in Mother Earth, eyes on blue sky,
sunny days and some kind and gentle folk
all healed me, made me whole.

Dangerous encounters
made later solitude so sweet:
peaceful days, restful nights,
no more suffering
at the hands of desperados
who passed through my life
like wrecking balls, then,
mercifully, were gone.

Well. I tap the keys and never know what will emerge. This is a sorry tale, from which I emerged with gratitude for the years that followed. My best life companion: a hilarious big black wolf, who showed me how love was supposed to be done.

for Desperate Poets: Illicit Encounters. 

Friday, September 8, 2023



"The page is a road that glows
in the setting light."
Joy Sullivan

Even sitting still, we're travelling:
even in these small cozy rooms, the horizon
draws me ever forward. My dreams,
though I feel as settled as a woodchuck
in this place, are all of searching
for a new home. I avert my eyes
from the message in this dream:
this may be the last home I live in,
so will the address of the next
be other-worldly?

Perhaps each poem
is a small journey
into the unknown.
Where do these words come from,
as I tap the keys?

Always, dreaming,
there is the ocean,
and an old house perched
on a hill. Sometimes I return
to the same house, on the same promontory,
and recognize it with delight
as the place I have always
been yearning for.

Once, I dreamed I was moving in
with my mother, who had been dead
for a year. Sometimes, I am reunited
with a lover, only this time, nobody leaves
and there is joy.
Sometimes a weary black wolf
with white whiskers
let's me know
he is still waiting.

Even sitting still, we're travelling.
In dreams, sometimes,
perhaps we're
finally coming home.

Sharing this with Desperate Poets open link

Monday, September 4, 2023

On Unreliable Narrators in the Blogosphere


I have always been
desperately different;
this is not news. In my youth,
it caused me angst and consternation.
In old age,
it becomes a source of satisfaction:
I yam what I yam.

I once was home support
for a sweet little lady with dementia,
whose favourite phrase was
"Thank you, God, for giving me
a brain". She kept losing things,
like keys, and blaming other people,
like the much younger dog walker,
but with loving asides, like "the man
is in another world, the poor bugger,
I won't ask anything of him again,"
and "Do you think he's getting copies made?
Do you think he has designs on me?
Because I love the man for his kindness,
but I have no thought of anything with him,
his wife can rest easy."
Her life ended sadly,
in her cluttered little house,
her anxious great dane
by her side.

Maybe we are all, in the end,
unreliable narrators, with our shiny poems
presenting our most wishful selves,
thousands of poems we hope
will live on after we're gone,
that most likely will end up
in a landfill. Or, in my case,
washed out to sea in a tsunami.
(All that work! to produce so many books
that no one wants to keep.)

Maybe we are not as inadequate
as we secretly feel. Maybe we are not
as composed as the exteriors we present
to the world. Possibly we are all,
in the end, unreliable narrators,
just doing the best we can.

Well. I am not sure if this is what Shay is looking for at Desperate Poets' Desperately Different prompt. I tend to just start typing and see where it takes me. This is what happened. 

Saturday, September 2, 2023

What's Going On?


I turn on the news
and it's really bad,
so much suffering
it makes me sad

but hey hey
hope's the only answer

There's still so much beauty,
all I've got to say ~
so much to be grateful for
every day

so hey hey
I just keep believing

The grass is dry and yellow,
as the wildfires burn,
and what will we do
when it comes our turn?

praying hey hey
bless the beasts and the children

So I walk in the forest,
 I pray at the shore,
and Mother Earth's beauty
I could not love more

so hey hey
love's the only answer
~ for what's going on,
it takes us all to answer

for Susan's prompt at our new site:  What's Going On?  

I wrote to the beat of the prompt song. And I am trying to hold onto hope, even though humanity is heading in the wrong direction at breakneck speed. My poems (and optimism) have changed so much since 2016. But we can't give up. Gotta keep believing.

Protect What You Love