Tuesday, December 31, 2013


South Beach

Roll back those lowering gray 2013 clouds,
my friends,
and make a joyful noise to welcome
the new year in.

Sweep out the old cobwebby, difficult, 
grumbling months,
and set your home to gladness.
It's a brand new year.

What is your brightest dream
for this new chapter
of your life?
Write it down, attach a photo.
Stick it on your fridge.
Then set about making it come true,
as only you can do.

Today I heard a strange-looking crow
make a warble I have never heard
from a crow.
I wondered what new kind of crow
he was trying to be,
what song he was trying out,
and what its message might be.
Perhaps to stop repeating 
the old familiar dusty droning songs
and try out one so new and unthinkable 
that it gives you massive fear and goose bumps.
Then you will know 
that is exactly the song
that you are meant to sing.

Plunge in!
2014 is almost here.
There will be a New Moon.
They say we can set our goals for the year 
on this moon.
I shall be sure to look at it
up there in the quiet winter sky.
I shall picture waves advancing and retreating 
in response to its lunar call.
I will remember the joy I felt when I once lived 
beside the sea,
and set my intention:

Dear Life,
let me have some more years
of sunrises and sunsets
beside the sea
and you wont hear 
another complaint
from me!

2014 is the year it must happen, kids! Send your thoughts into the universe and help me manifest myself back to the shore! 

Whoa! Right after I posted this, I clicked on Kerry's link and she says the Toads challenge tomorrow will be to write about Intention. I already have this ready to link when it posts. Freaky. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bamboo Dreams

Let me move into a bamboo forest.
Make my house of bamboo,
doors and windows open to the sky.
Let there be water trickling nearby,
and bird-song.
May it be always warm,
and may soft summer breezes
tip the tops of the trees
to and fro,
so all thought falls away
and there is only 
a deep green

posted belatedly for Real Toad's Transforming Fridays with Hannah: the Bamboo Forest. Was traveling Friday and am still exhausted. But imagining myself in other landscapes is right up my alley tonight!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ten Thousand Things

One thing we know for sure:
 this world is full of discord,
turbulence, and tribulation.

It does not heal
the wounds of Mother Earth,
to focus on all that tears
and plucks at her fabric.

We don't forget the starving millions,
the guns and bombs,
the lacerated hillsides,
the polluted skies and seas,
our distress but one tear drop
in a sea of global grief.

It is when we stop to marvel at
a certain slant of amber light
upon the trees at four p.m.,
catch our breath at gauzy morning clouds
enfolding the mountainsides,
or we listen to the ceaseless ebb and flow
of the forever tides,
following a lunar cycle as old as time,
that our one teaspoon of joy
is added to the river of blessings
overflowing to us, generously, still,
midst the clamor and the tumult
that is the way of man.

The dazzling display
of the ten thousand things*
is illuminated in golden fire,
as the sun rises and sets,
blessings strewn in our path
as lavishly as stars
flung across the heavens,
each to be noted and savored
through the spilling cornucopia of our days,
unwrapped with gratitude,
treasured, acknowledged,
then folded away,
each nightfall,
in memory,
with love.

*The Ten Thousand Things is the Taoists' way of saying "everything that exists"

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Call of the Drum

                                                 google image

The crone, wrinkled and gnarled,
with her long stringy hair,
is stirring in the forest
in her nest of leaves.

Rabbits and wolf cubs perk their ears
and the bear is arrested mid-swoop,
while fishing in  the river.

She is sounding the drum,
its reverberating thrum
calling the Council of All Beings
to the river's edge.

Her drumbeat is calling me
out of the gray town.
It beckons me deep
into the forest's heart,
where all is green, and silent
and sacred.

I enter the primeval sepulchre
as the world goes still
and falls away.

The way forward is written
within that stillness.

I need but listen closely,
to find my way.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Wishes

Today, kids,  I am making my way down-Island, to spend Christmas week in Victoria with my youngest daughter, Stephanie, her fiancee, Gord,  and my two grand-dogs, Chloe and Sanchez. I will have online access while I'm there, and will try to keep an eye on things. But I may not be back online in any real capacity until I return home on the 28th.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday, with your loved ones, however you observe the season. May the new year bring you all good things, and may we share many wonderful poems in 2014. I thank each of you, from the bottom of my heart, for the important part you have played in my life this year. 

Happy New Year, one and all!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Dogs Must Be Blogged

The Grand-Dogs !!

Lisa's adorable Penny

Smokey, Jon and Zenny's brand new pup

Stephanie's two,
Chloe and Sanchez


.....my sister's dogs......


Lukey as a pup

and my girl........

looking rather melancholic

Not to forget Pup,
looking regal in his Christmas hat
some years ago~
forever missed,
always remembered

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Angel of the Dawn

I looked for gossamer wings
in the dark of night,
but not a one
was within my sight.

But Hope, when I thought
all hope was gone,
returned with the angel
of the dawn.

The coolest thing about Truly Horrible Days, is that they end, and you wake up to a brand new day next morning. I wrote a dirge last night to Shay's prompt at Real Toads: to write about angels. But thought the better of it and woke up with these more hopeful lines in my head this morning. I love that about mornings!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Calling All Angels


There are days and years when one knows
one is being helped and guided.
Then there are days (and sometimes weeks)
when it all slams you upside the head
and all you can manage is a feeble
"help!" directed towards the ceiling.

Hope is the thing that keeps you looking up,
waiting for the shine of gossamer wings
in the lamplight,
against all known information
that tells you what is going on
is unbearably real
and impossibly sad. 
That it is, quite possibly, irrevocable,
and you might need to find strength
you no longer have
to get through
what lies ahead,
and you know now is when
you need your angels.

Yet you also know that
that muffled "Help!" is, somewhere, 
duly heard and noted,
that this week, this month, this difficult winter,
will pass, and spring will come again,
creeping greenly across the land, 
and spilling golden over the mountains,
turning everything now white and gray  
and bare and dead
all new-green-leafed.

It's the shine on those wings,
fluttering up by the ceiling,
that keeps me going
on a day like today,
when, without them, 
what is being borne
is simply  too much
for one small tired human woman
to bear.

And, by now, I know the program:
today will end.
I will go to bed.
And, as always, I will wake up
tomorrow to a brand new day,
the angel of the dawn
having paid me a visit.
And we will 
begin again.

 Fireblossom's prompt at Real Toads: to write about angels who are not Christmas angels, hit a responsive nerve. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pajamas for Christmas

Reese Shelly, age nine,
head of the Pajamas for Christmas Drive,
in Vancouver, B.C.
photo by Mark van Manen, PNG

In Canada, as the Ho Ho Ho season draws ever closer, our news channels tend to bring us Good News Stories, to make us feel better and encourage us to share with those less fortunate. 

Last night, I was so warmed to hear about a young lad, whose family lives in Vancouver, B.C. Reese Shelly is  only nine years old. When he was SIX, Reese began a life of philanthropy. At that time his dad, Todd Shelly, wanted to impress upon his young son that there were other children in the world who didnt have what he had, not even the basics. He wanted to develop compassion in his son, and if that were all of the story, it would be wonderful enough.

But "Not even PAJAMAS?" asked young Reese, incredulous. He decided with the clear wisdom of his six years on the planet, that he would begin to gather pajamas for children who needed them, "so every kid can have pajamas at Christmas." Says Reese, "I needed a little help, so I asked my family and friends". 

Reese is nine now, and has collected and donated a few thousand pairs of pajamas in all sizes, in those three years. Each year the goal gets larger. His father, on the news last night, said, shrugging his shoulders, "This year Reese aims to collect 3000 pairs, so I guess that's what we're doing." The movement has gone national now, so Reese is likely to reach his goal. This is how good ideas spread.

His dad, Todd, offered a 50% discount yesterday in the family restaurant, for diners who donated a pair of pajamas. All pajamas are donated to local charities and bureaus for distribution to under privileged kids, of whom our province has an abundance.

Way to be a human being, Reese. What's that quote? "A little child shall lead them". 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blue Sky Moment

Sunlight pierces the fog at 11 a.m.,
and patches of blue sky appear
above the brittle bare-branched trees -
an interruption midst 
the relentless gray  of December
in this mountain-encircled valley.

A heron graks,
then lifts off
the topmost branch
of Grandmother Cedar.
I watch his huge wings
rise and fall, rise and fall,
as I head toward the house,
(smoke spiraling from the chimney),
with another armload of wood
for the fire.

I wrap amber sunlight and trees
around me like a prayer shawl,
as I enter,
and count my beads
of gratitude.

For Kim's prompt at Verse First: Gifts and Blessings

Sunday, December 15, 2013


The hills and the valleys of Muezo,
land where you walked as a boy,
have gathered you home, now, Madiba.
May your people follow your footsteps,
remembering your name.

Your people lay you to rest
after your long walk to freedom,
rest you deserve,
after the shining vision
that you made
of your time on this earth.
You took the dream in your heart,
nurtured for decades,
and achieved the reality
for your people.

Your dance of joy
danced in my heart,
the day that dream came true.

May the cry of the sacred ibis
and the respectful roar of the lion
sing you to sleep, now, Madiba.
May the voices of your people, singing,
all across the land,
thread through your dreams.

May you know,
at this completion of your journey,
that you did well.
May you hear, where now you have traveled,
"You are my beloved son, 
in whom  I am well pleased".

My friends, as I anticipated the death of Mandela, and always respond to loss with stoicism, at first, I have moved through the days since one of my heroes died, thinking I had absorbed the fact into my being. But hearing the notes of these singers, for the first time I realized that he is gone. And now the tears come, hot and fast, for my Madiba.

posted for Kerry's prompt at Real Toads, to write our thoughts about Mandela, whose loss is freshest for her and her compatriots in South Africa. He is a global hero, but he was a boy and then a man of the people of South Africa, first.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Coming of the Light

photo by the Elk Valley Bear Aware program

The dark hunkers down over the north west,
settling around the ears of
mountain and  forest,
river and swamp,
raccoon and rabbit,
probing  arctic fingers
across the misting field,
horse blowing steam 
over the icy barn bucket.

The gray sky lowers
like a billowing skirt,
till it is
scarcely above our heads,
oppressive and laden
with unspent snow,
erasing all memory
of a horizon.
As the day shortens, 
from morning coffee
to afternoon tea,
night to night flits past -
with just a cameo appearance
made by Day.

The trees, 
draped in their mist-shawls
are waiting.
Bear, curled into the root-bowl
of grandfather cedar,
is dreaming of warmer days,
of fish and berry.
Wolf, fleet, shimmering, stealthy,
seeks his supper in a world
gone silent, still
and sleeping. 

All chilly beings huddle 
into their nests
and coats and blankets,
fix their eyes upon the sky
with patient hope,
as expectant as chickens.

All is suspended, waiting,
through moments frozen in time.

We are, all of us, 
- tree and bear, 
wolf and pond and withering vine  -
just waiting for
the Coming of the Light.

Mary is tending bar today over at dVerse Poets Pub, where her prompt is: the Light. Do check out some of the other links for this prompt, as there are always wonderful responses at dVerse.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Lost Art

google image

Dear Pen,
For years and years,
I wrote my daily life into letters:
to my mother,
to my friends,
to my grandma
and, a week or so later,
through my letter slot
poured letters fat and juicy
in return.

With what delight and anticipation
I opened them,
and relished the lives
penned within.

Now letter writing
is a lost art,
replaced by emails
which, once read,
go into the delete folder,
instantly forgotten,
not cherished, wrapped in ribbon,
saved in keepsake boxes.

Today on the news,
it was announced that soon 
a single stamp
will cost a dollar in Canada.
And home mail delivery will be phased out
and replaced by community lock boxes.

It is the end of an era,
and a sad commentary
on just how effectively 
corporate thinking
has increased the cost of life
for those of us at the bottom
in order to maintain the wealth
of those at the top.

Now we watch
our simple pleasures,
one by one,
fade away
into a past which looks,
in comparison,
ever more golden.

Kim's prompt at Verse First is A Lost Art. I wasnt sure what I would write until I heard the noon news. Sigh. I remember all those letters, a steady stream of them, daily, back and forth to my mother and my friend, also a writer, as we raised our kids together and shared our journey as young moms. I wish I had saved them, now. What a treasure trove they would be! History regained. 

I was not able to manage a rhyme scheme. My head is Jello this week!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Happy Puppy

Smokey is one very cute puppy.
He is bringing his folks
a lot of joy.

I love his heart-shaped face.
In the snow, he pounces,
like a baby wolf.
Coming from the north,
he likely has some  wolf ancestry.

Friday, December 6, 2013


The Elaho
photo by Jon Merk

The earth sings in liquid notes:
roar of waterfall,
trickle of creek,
rush of river,
ebb and flow of the ocean tide.

Let it trickle through your fingers.
It is precious,
the basis of all life.
Thank the water.
Pray to the water.
It hears you.

The earth sings
in rushing wind,
in crackling fire,
in soft breezes,
in thunder, 
in crack of lightning.

Listen with your very being
to the message
coming to you
on the wind.
Listen for direction
in the way that
you must go.

The earth sings
through its creatures:
cry of eagle,
chirp of junco,
caw of raven,
howl of wolf
in the wintery midnight,
roar of lion
on the hot savannah,
snow leopard
on its icy slope.

Listen to their songs and cries.
They speak their own language,
but if we listen,
they can tell us much.

The earth sings
through the Two-Leggeds
who walk this land:
songs of joy and pain,
songs of hope and transformation,
songs of humanity
and transcendence.

When we open our hearts
to these songs,
the entire world
takes wing.

Your song opened our hearts.
Your passing renews our commitment
to your dream.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Owl, Wisdom-Keeper

back yard Port Alberni owl

Sister Owl, Wisdom-Keeper,
sitting in the forest green,
all that we know
and the unseen,
within your cellular memory
live legendary flights
above the nether-world,
bubbling gases,
beneath the starry night.

you swoop across
canyons now turned
to river-beds,
glide atop the valley floor,
once volcano,
long before.

In your mystic gaze
dwell myth and magic,
legend, mystery,
stories of another time
when Owl and Man were free,
an ancient century ago,
now, in reprise :
those memories are still living
somewhere behind your eyes.

Sister Owl,
Friend of the Moon,
you've come too soon;
harbinger of change,
of mysteries beautiful
and strange,
under your folded wing
you hold the key.
Carve the message
you would tell 
into the bark of 
this old tree,
unlock the ancient manuscript
borne upon your beak
to tell me all
that you would have 
me seek.

Then, Oracle, lead me
into the forest's midnight dark,
I'll carry with me your message,
imprinted on the bark.
Open for me
the double-sided gate,
lead me
where shimmering shape-shifters
and silent, padding wolves
in peace 

Tell me, Owl,
what it is that I must do
to be proved worthy,
if it's not too late
to thus fulfill
my fate.

Well, kids, this one took several attempts. Normally owls send me off into flights of rapture. But I am still light-headed and dizzy, (and not in a good way), so it has been hard to get done all that needs to be done. Sigh. But! Tomorrow is another day!

This is posted for Kim's prompt at Verse First: Owls  Do check out the other owlish links - they are a HOO-t (sorry, cant help it!)

p.s. this prompt reminds me of Nikki Scully's quote: "Owls are the doorway into the unknown." I have written of them before, but wanted to post something new for this challenge. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dog Rescue

Meet Smokey, my newest adorable granddog, rescued from a garbage dump in deep freeze, forty degree below, northern Saskatchewan, where he and his litter were thrown away soon after birth. The rescue groups in Regina do amazing work. Smokey has been fostered and cared for since his rescue, so he is happy and trusting and utterly thrilled to have found his forever family.

With the SPCA and all of the rescue groups available, it boggles my mind that people could be so uncaring as to toss out a litter of puppies. God bless the rescuers and the wonderful work they do. This little guy found my son and daughter-in-law's home through Bright Eyes Dog Rescue.

18 year old Yogi, the cat, is not
nearly as thrilled as Jon and Zenny,
about the new addition!

The dogs in the northern community in question are not spayed or neutered, and when the inevitable puppies come, they are unwanted and discarded. As always, there are solutions. But people have to care enough to call for help.

(p.s. dont worry, Grandma has sent a box of puppy-appropriate treats and chew toys for the little guy, who looks a bit daunted at the size of this bone. The box should arrive tomorrow.  And I have banned the pig ear as well. Chemicals, questionable production practices, and a choking/digestion hazard.)

Smokey has a brother still at the rescue who looks exactly like Pup. I am trying to remain practical, difficult where puppies are involved.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

In the Absence of Shoes

google image

Once upon a time,
every time I came in the back door,
a jumble of shoes would greet me,
shucked off by my kids after school,
backpacks dropped in a heap,
escape, escape, 
from the day's confinements.

I used to deplore the jumble,
wondering how on earth 
to make five pairs of shoes 
(one pair each was all I could afford)
look less like a toppled mountain
and more like we lived in 
an orderly establishment.

One Christmas, 
my son wanted Doc Marten boots
which I could not afford, but
I bought them anyway, because
it was Christmas.
New Year's morning I went downstairs to find
ONE boot inside the back door. 
The other had been lost in last night's partying.
Someone had tossed it
out a car window, 
and he had risked frostbite
hopping home with only one boot
through the freezing snow.

Not our finest hour,

Who knew that one day,
I would walk in my door,
shuck off my ONE pair of shoes,
and miss that big heap of tennis shoes,
and all of the bodies they carried around
through those busy happy laughing
messy years?

inspired by the prompt at dVerse: on shoes

In My Shoes

I know about women and shoes,
but I seem to be missing that gene,
so any poem written by me
on that topic
has to be about not-shoes.

What I wear on my feet:
Crocs, for slipping on
to run the dogs in and out
and down the street,
calf-high mud-boots
for heading to the barn in rainy weather,
a battered pair of running shoes with clunky laces,
that have to be wide enough for comfort 
-rather like a flat-bottomed boat-
which I replace when the soles fall off
every three years, give or take,
whether they need it or not.

I have a daughter who wears
a fascinating array of footwear,
including combat boots for Kicking Ass,
cool strappy things for dressing up,
anything from platform heels to fitness shoes,
and all that lies between.

She did not get
her sense of style
from me.

When we go out,
beside her tall, beautiful elegance,
I feel like the frizzy-haired Witch Down the Lane,
in my baggy sweatshirt, cackle,
and only pair of jeans.

Yesterday I met an old hippy over in Coombs.
Our laughing eyes recognized each other.
(It must be something about the Frizzy Hair:) )

He told me he was in Haight Ashbury Back in the Day,
that he wore thigh-high leather boots, with buckles,
in which he promenaded.

Back in the Day I wore polyester
and pushed a buggy with three little kids in it
inside the strait jacket of a conventional marriage
where I didn't fit, 
with my big unwieldy unconventional spirit,
that kept bumping up against
the edges and the confines
I was kept in,
till the madwoman finally
burst out from her prison
and was no longer mad.

In those days, while in desperation
I pushed my buggy,
I watched, with awe and envy,
the benign, coolly-dressed and
totally FREE-spirited hippies
wandering smilingly up and down Fourth Avenue.
I wondered how they had learned
to be so free, to be so much Themselves,
while I still felt such a non-person,
trying on a role that didn't fit.

I just missed that freedom bus by five seconds,
pushing my buggy along a parallel street
just one block down.
When I broke free, I remember pushing
my giggling babies in that same buggy,
as I hippety-hopped down the hill,
laughing and leaping,
heading us all
towards a happier life.

I made up for missing the 60's later,
in coffeehouses in the 80's, and in
the Land of Refugees from the 60's
in Tofino in the 90's.

My spirit never tried to stuff itself back
into that little box again.

The only red shoes that ever spoke to me
were Dorothy's,
on that journey she made
away from and back to herself,
where she found she had always
had the power inside her,
and found her home within,
where she had started out.

I have worn out a lot of running shoes this lifetime,
walking through some of the most beautiful
landscape on the planet.

All I ever needed was a pair that fit me,
that can carry me into the wilderness I love.
A pair I kick off at the door
when I come home tired,
slide back into every time
I'm heading out.

How many more pairs and pathways
are there left me?
There's no knowing,
but there's one thing
that I know for sure
when music  from those years 
calls to my spirit,
I can still kick them off
and dance a lick or two
across my empty room

Shanyn over at dVerse has us writing about shoes tonight. I had already written the above poem in 2011 for Annell Livingston's Red Shoes Project and, since I am very tired, decided to haul it out, dust it off, and post it, as it fits the prompt so nicely.

The photo is four year old Sebastian, trying on his new "finger gloves", which cracked me right up. He is hilarious!

Jasmine is laughing, too!