Thursday, May 30, 2013

Crone Crunchy

There is a flock of mourning doves
living in our yard - so lovely

When one grows older,
and is still breathing,
every day
is a good day!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

No Goodbyes

I always knew your leaving
would bring heartache.
I grieved two years
before you even died.
I didnt half know
the abyss
you'd leave behind you,
or that I'd never
find a way
to say 

I miss you
every day
and every moment.
It makes me cry,
still, when I say your name.
Forever and forever
I will miss you,
and I refuse
to ever
say the word

The prompt at Poetry Jam this week is Goodbye. This popped into my head in response. Of course it made me cry. Over at Cressida's blog, she wrote about another big black dog. Her poem, too, made me cry, so my eyes are awash this morning, at the thought of those big, devoted and departed hearts.

Wild Woman On Freedom

Crone with Cane, Pointing the Way

As you know,
Wild Woman has
quite a lot to say
about freedom.
Likely because she had to 
claw her way out of bondage
more than once
in order to find it.

She'll spare you the details:
the abuse,
the alcoholic conman
who burned down her store,
the emotional attraction
to emotionally unavailable men.

Suffice it to say,
Wild Woman's spirit
has always retreated
and walled itself off
during trauma,
thus permitting
her naturally optimistic nature,
(and her cackle),
to surface and resurface
after each
devastating debacle.

They sang "Freedom's 
just another word
for nothing left to lose"
and they were right
about the "nothing".
But the regaining
of solitude,
and peace,
and no more drama
is a freedom
beyond price.

is Wild Woman's
pearl of pearls.

At Poets United's Verse First today, Kim has set us another inspiring prompt : to say what freedom means to us. Toni Morrison's quote is given: "the function of freedom is to free someone else." This must be why Wild Woman writes : having been through the fire, she hopes to help her younger sisters make their own escapes.


Chopping the carrots,
laughing and chatting with
my new best friend,
I suddenly realized :
I am standing beside
a man,
and, for the first time, ever,
I feel safe.

At Real Toads, Mama Zen would like us to think of the safest place we've ever been, and write about it in 53 words or less. My mind zipped right to this moment. 

After walking through the Siberian wasteland of the heart, which had been  traumatized and then abused for three decades, I had walked in the door of the coffeehouse and found Home. 

Brock Tully (now a sought after motivational speaker and founder of the World Kindness movement in Vancouver, B.C.), and the wonderful alternative folk who frequented Brock and Friends, accepted me with warmth. They loved me gently until I was ready to love myself. My life turned onto a kinder, gentler path because of them. It was one of the most significant turnings of my life. My most cherished friends date from those days in the early 80's, when I finally found the members of my tribe.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Loving the World

Kids, I am sheer exhaustion from head to toe right now, and was wondering what to share with you, but not a Thought would Think. Came across this wonderful poem by Wendell Berry, and decided to post it for you till the sludge lifts in my brain.

Love This Miraculous World

Our understandable wish
to preserve the planet
must somehow be 
to the scale of our
Love is never abstract.
It does not adhere 
to the universe
or the planet
or the nation
or the institution
or the profession,
but to the singular
sparrows of the street,
the lilies of the field,
"the least of these
my brethren".
Love this miraculous world
that we did not make,
that is a gift to us.

-Wendell Berry

Have a great day, kids!

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Windigo Wind

*Windigo, Who Punishes Excess

A Windigo wind blows across the land,
warning us that we have been taking
more than we need,
and putting nothing back.
It is trying to tell us
we need to go back
to the Old Times,
when man and nature
lived in harmony,
and no action was taken
without consideration for 
the seventh generation.

A big black wolf is wandering
through my dreams and through my heart,
wolf spirit,
Windigo of the wolf clan,
howling a lament
at the destruction
of his habitat,
the starvation of his young,
the extinction
of his tribe.

I am swimming a wide river,
farther than I have
the strength to go,
when, under me,
lifts the body of a great turtle
who supports me to
the farther shore.

I am lost at sea in a thick fog
and cannot find home
when a pod of killer whales,
sensing my distress telepathically,
encircles my boat
and guides me to shore,
to my own dock,
then glides silently
into the night
and away.

Nature tries to help us.
Creatures show us the way.
But in our noise and clamor,
in the tumult of our souls,
we cannot hear them.

The forest is deep and dark,
and there are spirits here.
I look, and look again,
and all the trees are rearranged.
Shapeshifters, shadows,
flit from tree to tree, 
and a mournful  Windigo wind
sings through the branches.

Owl, Oracle, Guardian,
protect me as I go.

* In the film connected to the picture, The Great Wind, Windigo, punishes a young man for his greed, for wanting more than he needs. Wikipedia describes a Windigo as a legend of the Algonquin people, a cannabalistic spirit that can possess humans in times of famine and is to be guarded against. 

The event with the killer whales really happened to a woman I met once who lives among the whales in Simoon Sound. Alexandra Morton has dedicated her life to the well being of the whales and, more recently,  to raising the alarm about the endangered salmon habitat in her area.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

With Elephants


This delightful poem, With Elephants by   Bruce Moody,  came to my inbox this morning from Poem for the Day by Larry Robinson, who collects and shares wonderful poems with his mailing list. Checking out the poet, I discovered an intriguing person who wrote a memoir about homelessness titled Will Work for Food or Money.

I adore elephants, and this description made my heart leap with delight. Thought you would enjoy it. A nice change from tiresome old Crone Crunchies !

With Elephants

With elephants everything

A cascade of cliff
on four limber pillars.

A fog of stone
always slowly
moving west.

A strolling Niagara, yes.

Wearing a wardrobe
of loose-fitting determination,
she looms
her great sweet

You have felt their stone-tough,

It snouts around like the foot of a snail.
until it clamps the morsel of crackerjack,
which it,
like an undersea thing,
and confidently
and insouciantly
and speedily
into its heart-shaped maw.

Bad for the tusks?

Well, elephant dentists and nutritionists say
Elephants must eat
for their health and satisfaction,
every day
of popcorn
a silo.

So who am I to lecture an elephant –
vegan as she is –
about weight-loss?

Elephants remember
to diet on whole savannahs
and toss their massy heads about,
making gales with their ears

and, with their Cyrano noses,
announce ––
stand back! ––


- Bruce Moody

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wild Woman Tells All

Wild Woman, Indicating the Direction

Listen up, kids, because
Wild Woman has a few nuggets 
of hard-won wisdom to share.
Call 'em Crone Crunchies,
because you can put toppings on them,
and try to make them sweeter,
but in the end,
you're still eating what's underneath:
good for you, if not especially tasty.

First, you will look all over:
another book, another path,
a different place,
a different life,
tried on like your Great Grandma's old hat,
beautiful in its day,
but bearing no resemblance
to the life you will eventually
call your own.

You will look to person after person
to be that Other who will magically
make you whole,
then find out it is
An Inside Job.
Sorry, for that is the hardest truth I know.

Also difficult,
but necessary, 
is looking Within
and discovering that,
contrary to all your misgivings,
you are not more horrible or less deserving
than any other human.
You'll do, in a pinch.

You will give of yourself till you are
stripped bare,
yet it will never ever
seem to be
Enough is what, eventually,
you will discover 
you are left with,
after you stop 
all the Looking 
and the Doing,
and you down-size on 
the Reclamation Projects,
for there clearly isn't enough time
to save the world,
or anyone, really, but, perhaps, yourself.
Enough is what's left
after you
strip away what doesn't serve you,
sit on whichever porch
you've landed up on,
and just stare at the sky
and listen to the birds.

After all that striving and searching,
isn't it a bummer to discover
that it's just that easy?

I always look forward to Wednesday, because Kim's prompts at Poets United's Verse First are always so wonderful. Today Kim wants us to tell the wild truth. So as usual, I just started tapping on the keys, to find out what I am thinking. Do check out Verse First. (I am eager to see what everyone else knows. Maybe we can combine the knowledge and start a movement!)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sitting On a Porch Swing

Great-grandson Damian, born June 12, 2006, 
with his buddy Lukey

There is a woman sitting on a porch swing.
She is rocking
to ease
the hard little kernel of pain
she has always carried
under her valiant smile,
the strain of sadness underlying
the positive talk,
the unrelenting hope,
the dismayed recognition
at the way it has all turned out
so far from the once upon a time visions
of long ago,
for so long dreaming one day it would all be
so much better.

She is rocking upon the tide of all those dreams:
the one she made come true -
the ten years out of sixty when she lived her own life-
and the ones she finally gave up on
She is rocking upon the tide of What Is
having long ago learned to find happiness
within its framework.

She is rocking under a blue sky
full of birdsong, squirrel chatter
and the call of the raven
She is rocking under
lowering storm clouds
of smokey gray,
thunder rumbling,
splitting across the sky,
the fresh scent of rain as it splatters
against the tin roof.
She is rocking under the night sky,
and star dreaming
She is rocking under the
full round grandmother moon
and is feeling the presence of crones
on the night-time air:
strong resolute women who do
what is put before them
because no one else will
and there is no choice
when someone has to
feed the children

She is rocking her way
to the end of her life
letting go of the past,
letting go of all fractious and
inharmonious bodies,
distancing herself from all the
crisis and clamour and youthful drama
her age has no energy for,
gathering her limited energy, conserving,
for the needs of the present day,
letting go of the dreams once dreamed
and the years that cannot come again,
leting go of Home and making a home where she is,
trying to be grateful for struggle
Because It Could Always Be Worse,
(and often is!)

She is trying to cling to the vanishing life that is hers
under the claims and demands that would gobble it all
and then burp unperturbed at its ending
having eaten its fill.

She is longing for long white empty beaches
and the roar of the waves,
the cry of the gulls, the eagle soaring wind-swept skies,
the picky-toeing progress of the blue heron,
serene at the inlet's edge
and no humans anywhere within sight or hearing
but her.
She is longing for her last years to be her own
something of her own choosing
having only chosen once - maybe twice -
in her entire life of responsibility
for herself
All the rest was for others,
the pitfall of those who take seriously
the role of mother.

While rocking, she achieves the state of No Thought,
that Nirvana the sages and mystics seek through practice
is effortless for her
for she is too exhausted to think
Inner peace disguised as exhaustion
or vice versa
She rocks and thoughts flit
like the little birds in the hedgerow
and fly fast away
She rocks and promises herself
that one day at a time
is all she has to manage
The rest will take care of itself
She prays for relief
that some of the burdens be lifted
But she doesnt believe enough
they ever will

One day she will rise wraith-like
from all the burdens that claim her
and will fly to a farther shore.
She would rather stay here
for she really likes the scenery
on planet earth
But she likes it best without people
all their egoes and clamour
and inflated self-worth

On her porch swing she mutters oaths and incantations:
sometimes "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" when she remembers
something incredibly oafish she once said
sometimes "Shift....shift.....shift....." as she tries to add
her small push to the collective consciousness

Somewhere monks bow to the tone of a fulsome bell
Somewhere nomads hunger for food and justice
Somewhere ignorant armies clash and thunder
Somewhere butterflies follow their migration of pure wonder
Somewhere a whale gives a mighty blow,
then dives, then breaches
and always always always
her heart trods
those long and empty beaches
On her porch swing she is with them all,
all but the fighting.
She has no fight in her,
her striving is for surviving

Today her first great grandchild has come to planet earth
and all the hope she has blesses this birth.

One from the archives, kids,
linked to Real Toads for Open Link Monday

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Seven Women


In a round, they spoke their pain:
childhood sexual abuse,
the voices inside her head,
molestation, rape, violence,
the "disappeared" women
of the streets
who vanish, 
nameless and invisible,
the woman whose seven babies died,
one after the other,
the woman who thought she was well
because she "got on with it",
without ever grieving 
what had been done to her.

Seven women,
their stories all true, heart-rending,
and spoken with strength.

Powerful pain
and powerful women,
to have survived it all
and kept on walking.

At the end,
I realized
you could take any seven women,
and hear the same stories,
the identical pain.

And yet, we rise.
Again and again,
generation after generation,
we go on loving.
We rise.

Last night I attended a play about women's stories, spoken by seven women, the stories all true. My daughter, Lisa,  was one of the actresses, and made me proud. At the end, we stood, to honor their voices and validate women's experiences. What's that quote? "It isn't safe to be a girl child in a world full of men." Alice Walker, The Color Purple. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Over at dVerse

Kelvin, over at dVerse, recently received a horribly racist and ugly comment about Asians. After reading his post, I am moved to write about my very lovely daughter, Zenny, a beautiful and golden-hearted girl from the Phillipines, whom my son was incredibly lucky to marry in 2000. She is as much a daughter to me as my other two girls.

Canada is a highly multicultural society, and we are proud of living together with respect to "differences", knowing that the underlying sameness is simply this: we are all human beings.

Kelvin asked us to write something on the topic of Asians. I know there are many other great responses to this prompt, so do click over to dVerse and take a look, to support people who are trying to rise above the true ugliness of racial slurs, one of the most offensive things I can personally think of.

In her life,
she has only ever been
good and kind,  
generous and giving, and sweet.
She hurts because she lives 
so far from home,
hurts because her mother's life 
is still so hard,
hurts because
so few of her simple dreams 
ever came true.

But this girl is as strong 
as the coconut tree,
and as sweet as the mangoes
that grow so plentifully back home.
Her smile is as beautiful
as the morning sun, rising.
Her eyes are as clear and honest
as the night sky.

Her heart belongs to the ocean,
the forest, and its wild creatures,
but she lives, now, on the prairie,
twice displaced from her ocean home.
Yet she is cheerful, caring,
hard-working and willing,
and always upbeat. 

Anyone who says an entire
race of people
is (fill-in-the-blank)
offends me in my soul.
They are missing
a vital piece of inner information:
we are, each one of us,
just human beings,
trying to make our way.

"Forgive them, 
for they know not 
what they do."
But let's hope, 
one day, soon,
they get a clue.

Friday, May 17, 2013

That's How Wild Woman Rolls

Wild Woman drives
a spiffy '92 blue Toyota Corolla wagon
with 414,448 kilometres on it,
and that's a lot of

It has more rust holes
than an old milking pail
that has been at the landfill
since 1902.
It has so many dents that,
when a woman backed into it 
at high speed
at a gas station,
Wild Woman just said,
"No worries,"
and drove away, grateful
the woman had hit
the rear, 
rather than the driver's,

Blue visited the shop today,
because things got so evil
under the hood
that a vital component
completely disappeared,
without explanation.

Mechanics surveyed
Wild Woman's
general deshabille
and lack of chic.
(Wild Woman and her true blue car
have both passed 
their Best Before dates, clearly.)

They appraised, with grave concern,
 the lumpy dented car
with its jaunty "I Love Tofino" bumper sticker,
and gently suggested that
a coolant flush
"was recommended,
but not essential,
in the general scheme of things,
like if food requirements, for example,
were truly pressing."

They asked if it had air conditioning.

 "No, I’m just grateful it still RUNS."

They laugh.

But Toyotas always do. 

No matter what
is Missing
or Less Than Perfect,
whenever Wild Woman turns the key,
it starts. 
Wild Woman will likely
still be driving it
for another five years.
The body may rust off,
but Blue will still be 
chugging happily along.

Just like me, 
Wild Woman realizes.
She identifies 
with her old car.
She loves its staunch brave heart,
its Can Do attitude.

It will take some serious Doing
to keep starting
longer than her
Toyota does.

Wild Woman is up
for the task.

I was thrilled, today, to realize that the mechanic assumed by my attire and wild hair, that I LIVED in Tofino. Made my day! My work here is done. Cackle.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Child of the Universe

"You are a child of the universe. 
No less than the moon and the stars,
you have a right to be here."

When I first read those lines, at twenty-seven,
I wept. It was the beginning of my journey
into Selfhood. I had not known, before,
that I had a right to be here.

As a child of the universe,
I sought love,
and found pain and betrayal.
As a child of the universe,
I journeyed across the desert
and fell in love with the sea.
As a child of the universe,
I trusted,
and learned the only one 
I ever had to trust
was me.

As a child of the universe,
trekking decade by decade
through the glorious landscape
of this infinitely beautiful world,
I grew whole, and old,
and Souled.

posted for Kim Nelson's Verse First prompt at Poets United : A Place In the Universe

Mother Earth

Mother Earth
by Caitlin Taylor

Mother Earth,
you are so giving.
Though chainsaws 
and grappleyarders
massacre your hillsides,
still trees unfurl their leaves,
and buds bestow the beauty 
of their blooming.

Though factories pump 
offal into the air
and all along your shores,
you lavish us, even so,
with streams and rivers, 
waterfalls and lakes,
and your everness of waves pound
as surely onto the coastline
as if nothing has changed
in a million years.

Though fracking cleaves your innards,
and they're messing
with your very atmosphere,
still your big old smiling sun
comes yawning up behind the mountains
every morning,
and a blue sky unfurls the gift
of a brand new day.

How do you stay so beautiful,
when angry little pustules of war 
are breaking out all over the planet,
bombs exploding, the madness 
of nuclear "testing" shaking 
your very foundation?

And still you smile on us
your beautiful Earth Mother smile.
You array a visual feast for us
in every corner of the landscape.
You color your mountains,
decorate them with clouds,
drape misty shawls
along their shoulders.
You people the planet
with beautiful fur beings,
creatures that fly and swim,
to delight our eyes and
warm our hearts,
to help us strive.
You give us sunset,
night after night,
so we can dream. 

Forgive us for being
acting-out adolescents,
not yet wise enough to understand
the largesse of your offering.

May we grow up fast,
so we can be 
good sons and daughters
to you,
care for you as tenderly
as you deserve.

Mother Earth,
how do you remain
so patient?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day, Old and New

My Mom, always a beauty

This week, Poets United's Poetry Pantry is all about Mothers - a celebration of the nurturing spirit of women. I plan to pour myself a coffee, Sunday morning, and peruse all of the offerings. Do check out the Pantry, as there will be some wonderful reading in there Sunday and Monday.

Some of us have children of our own, some of us are loving aunts, and many of us love whatever children the universe sends our way. I raised four children as a single mom, one of the hardest paths in the world, but I wouldn't trade the journey for anything. Then came the grandchildren, four more amazing individuals , here because their mom is here, and because I was here, and because my mother was here.

For a dozen years, I have provided respite care for foster parents, and have loved a stream of little voyagers from rocky paths, many of them with special needs, all of them from fractured families, having already experienced loss and heartache in their short lives. They come to me for peace and warmth and laughter, a time out of time.  I have a sunny little four year old with me this weekend, while his foster mom takes a break. 

I am reflecting much on the nurturing character of women, so hard-wired are we to care for those around us. I wrote a poem for my mom when I was 16 and read it aloud at a school event where she was sitting in the audience. I decided to post that one today. I wrote another poem after her death, and will post that as well - full circle, as these cycles go. My mom and my grandma have been gone for a long time, but they are both strongly within me, and within my daughters and my daughter's daughter: one long line of strong, original, cackling women.

Happy Mother's Day

age 16, 1962

A feeling unexpressed in words
lives in my heart for Mother;
a thought too deep, a turning home
unfelt for any other.

Since time began our two lives ran
parallel paths together;
the years have bound our hearts around
unchanged by any weather.

Protection, shelter, in my need -
a refuge when I sought it.
I picked a flower one baby hour:
love blossomed where I brought it.

A song sang through my infancy:
her voice soothed all my fears,
and silent sympathy washed away
the ache of hidden tears.

I failed when I met life. I tried again.
Mother believed in me.
Too much, she believed, and I tried to be true
to Mother's deep faith in me.

I was launched into life with a dream and a prayer,
adrift on a stormy sea:
but e'er the ebb tide I'll have gained the far side-
her love having sheltered me.

Two weeks after my mother's death in 1994, I was driving towards her home in Port Alberni, just on the outskirts, entering the town. I was thinking of my mom when, in slow motion, as if time had stopped and we were caught fast in that stationary moment, an owl flew slowly across my windshield, so closely I could see every feather, defined. As she flew, she turned her head and our eyes locked together as she slowly flew into the forest. I then remembered I was driving the car,  time started up again, and I drove on. I can see that owl still, remember how everything stood still for those few moments.

I wrote this poem several years later.

The Owl Is the Doorway Into the Unknown

[The title quote is from The Golden Cauldron by Nicki Scully]
September 13, 1999

I sit beside my mother's bed
as she lies dying.
Our eyes meet: all the words we cannot say,
all the missed connections,
in this lifetime,
it has always been
this way.

I release the ways
we never got it right;
forgive, no need to hold the anger tight.
Just "I love you"
and her spirit
flies away,
out of the room
into the starry night.

Weeks later,
I am driving
towards her home
when, in slow motion,
across my windshield
a gray owl,
feathered being,
infinitely wise,
as she passes looking
deep into
my eyes.

Time is suspended
on this point
of traveling.
Somehow I feel
a message has been
and, somewhere in my spirit sore,
I know all is understood
and I believe.

Owl, swooping sideways
into the forest green,
bird between two worlds,
all that we know and the unseen,
harbinger of change,
of mysteries beautiful and strange,
as our eyes meet
I know an Oracle
has been.

Wise watcher in the night,
friend of the moon,
fly after she
who left my world
too soon.

Fly, messenger
of my belated transformation;
and give my love to my mother
in the Spirit Nation.

After School Radio Requests

In the late 40's radio was It.
My dad told me a little man lived 
in the round lit up globe 
and that he was the one talking,
and, four years old, oh yes,
I believed.

The highlight of afternoons 
at my grandma's
was rocking back and forth, 
the rocker pulled out 
into the middle of the room,
while I listened to Maggie Muggins 
and Mr McGarrity.
The show always ended with
"And we don't know what 
will happen tomorrow."
In my world, neither did I.
Me and Maggie Muggins were soul sisters.

Pennies From Heaven, Sunny Side of the Street,
Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe,
and, at twelve, freckle-faced 
and falling all over my feet,
I began to dream.

At thirteen, the sound of Brenda Lee 
on the radio gave me an electric shock
as I recognized we sang in the same range.
All through my teens, my long-suffering family
listened to me rockin' out with Brenda,
wailing and howling with all the angst
of life's uninitiated,
dreaming that someday somehow my clumsy psyche
would at some point, magically,
achieve some kind of grace.

Teen years were sock hops to the radio
during school lunch hour,
and after school request programs.
We dropped our requests into a little box
at the bottom of the stairs at the radio station -
walking, as kids were rarely driven 
anywhere back then -
and they would be read on the air 
from 4 to 5 p.m.:
"Please play Run Around Sue for......well, 
you know who you are."

The 60's was driving around in souped up cars
that are now classic antiques,
boys in duck tails (the hair style of the day),
girls in bouffant "Do's" that got all disarranged
what with all the necking.
In the background or, perhaps, the foreground,
the radio played all the songs of love and heartbreak:
Cold, Cold Heart, Who's Sorry Now?
Your Cheatin' Heart. 
(It should have been a clue 
that love songs were always about heartbreak.
Yet all we longed for was Love, capital L.)
Misty. Chances Are. Blue Velvet.
Soft and dreamy. Girls mooney-eyed, 
lying on their beds dreaming of.........
whatever it would take for their lives to begin.

Beam me up, Mr Radio Man.
Would you like to run that program by me
all over again?
I'd do a lot less agonizing and a lot more dancing.

At Real Toads, the fair Maid Marian set us a simple, intriguing challenge: to discuss the impact of radio on our lives. The radio has been the sound track of my life. In a big way, especially in those pre-tv days when I was a kid.