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!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Grateful? - Let Me Count the Ways

Mount Arrowsmith
as seen from the Quay photo

Driving to the mall, I thrill at the way
the clouds shroud the mountaintops, 
layer upon layer, as if someone
has draped them artfully
in angel hair,
the occasional cedar 
pointing pokey spriggy fingers skyward
through the gaps.

I smile at smashed pumpkins alongside the road,
memories of Hallowe'en such a short time ago,
and now I'm Christmas shopping.

Raven flies low across my windshield.
Lead me, Raven.
Keep me Looking Up.

Christmas music and goodwill
in all the shops - it isn't Count-Down yet,
we are all still full of cheer.
A pensioner - ahem, another pensioner and I
(I keep forgetting)
exchange smiles in the line-up.
"Just shopping for the kids," she beams
as she stacks chocolate and small Yuletide treats
upon the counter and counts her bills and coins.
"Thank heavens for the Dollar Store!"

In one of the Only Two Possible stores
in which to find a real gift
in this gray little town,
I find The Perfect Thing for my daughter,
and all of my stern admonitions
(repeated yearly) about how this year 
Christmas will be Very Small 
go right out the window,
and I escape to my car 
clutching the package, smiling.

I mail off a Welcome to the Family box
for our newest puppy,
a huggable furry teddy bear 
just born to be loved,
rescued from a garbage dump 
in northern Saskatchewan
in minus 40 degree weather,
now destined to be loved and spoiled
for the rest of his life, 
and wish I could be there
to share the joy
when it is opened.
Christmas is not Christmas
without small kids
and puppies.

I narrowly avoid being T-boned as I pull out
from the Purolator lot, vision obscured 
by the Purolator truck, muttering
"I can't see! can't see!" then "Oops!"
Close one. But not this time.

Heading home, by now the blue blue hills
are more exposed,
wearing their clouds like a fluffy shawl,
draped low on their shoulders.
Beauty. Always. Everywhere.

Four dogs and two horses to greet me,
barks and whuffs,
as I pull in, Christmas lights 
winking from the windows.

And it may not be my dream,
it may not be the beach,
but it's what I've got,
right now
and, for today, it is
Enough. photo-Arrowsmith

posted for Laurie's prompt at Poetry Jam : to write a poem about things one is grateful for without using the words thankful or grateful.

and for Kim's prompt at Verse First : to take a walk, and Walk in Gratitude. I took a drive in between the walking :-)

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends south of the border. And Happy Being Alive to my friends everywhere else!

"Walks Far Woman" *

it feels like
I've spent
all of my life
walking towards

for Kerry's prompt at Toads: to write in black and white.

* reference to the Blackfoot woman of that name,  who lived during the last decade of Indian dominion in North America. Her life has been portrayed in book and film as representative of that time in history. An amazing story.

Monday, November 25, 2013

La Loba II

Granddog Penny Joy on Grandma's couch

La Loba,
in your dark cave,
under the full moon,
Sing as you gather the bones 
of my brothers, my sisters.

Sing as you lay them down
on the ground.
Place them end to end,
tenderly, carefully,
piece by piece, 
until they are whole.
Then breathe life into them 
and watch them leap up,
joyous-eyed, tails arcing,
 teeth snapping and smiling,
around the fire.

as they take my heart with them
and run away,
beautiful, laughing and free,
into the welcoming
midnight forest.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Drones

A child looks up,
begins to run:
the drones are coming,

raining bombs
on the undefended
in the name of

Forgive the villagers
for not appreciating
the "help,"
for they lose sight
of how this will ever
their basic human rights.

Peasants bombarded
under a morning sky,
just another slice of
a toxic political pie.

Amidst the rubble,
in a dented kettle,
Grandma brews a cup of tea
to comfort those 
who have survived
the bombs of the Free.
She has seen it all before,
and it  makes her spirit sore.

No making sense
of insanity;
she doesn't even try,
for next week
more bombs will fall
from this same sky.

AP photo

In the soldier's hearts,
outside the compound,
enraged by the death
of their very own,
the flame of hatred
and revenge
is sown.

There is no chance
this anger
will  find any
With bombs
there is no way to
forge a lasting peace.

[At a recent conference of international countries, the legality of unmanned U.S. drone vehicle strikes was questioned. Venezuela called drones "flagrantly illegal" and said that, by its accounting, only about 10% of casualities were "targeted individuals". "This is like a collective punishment," Venezuela's representative said.]

posted for Susie's challenge at Real Toads: to write a protest poem. I always can find a lot of things to protest. Drones are the latest unfathomable atrocity to come to my attention. I so relate to the ancient grandmas over there, trying to keep the children alive in the rubble.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Further on Foxes

Some incredible fox hunting footage and info from Discovery.

Red Beach

via photobucket

the birds singing to the emptiness of her soul
red blooms like the bleeding of her heart
home of the cranes, repository of her dreams

posted for Hannah's Transforming Friday prompt at Real Toads: Red Beach, Panjin, China, a marvellous sea of colour every autumn. I have not even attempted to count syllables, or adhere to any form, just transcribed what came. But Hannah says we can do that!!!! Wikipedia says this area is home to the cranes along with hundreds of other bird species. Wow. Bucket list.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I am an earthling:
feet in the mud
eyes on the clouds
head full of stars,
my heart held hostage
by the mountaintop's rosy hue at 4:15
just after the sun sinks low behind the hills.

I am an earthling:
I seek out water in its many forms,
from creek to river,
great lakes that mirror the unfolding skies,
my heart  pulled at
by the moon
and all the ocean tides.

I am your earthling, Gaia:
hold me on your mossy verdant lap,
fold me with branches,
toss me in your playful windrifts,
fill my heart with wildwood peace
and the morning canticle 
of one thousand wildbirds, singing.

And I will sleep tonight,
in my dreams, their voices, ringing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The End of a Dream

Someone nailed the coffin lid on my heart's desire,
leaving me standing in a place 
where I have never been before ~ 
a place without a dream.

Which way, now, Raven?
Point your broken wing,
and I'll recalibrate my inner GPS.

Kim's Verse First prompt this week  is to go to a place where you have never been before and write a poem of seven lines. I pondered, for I have written poems in my mind even while walking through the forest,  racing like a lunatic back to the car to transcribe them before they slipped away. Where to go? Up in the hayloft? Swinging upside down like a bat? Another ride atop the Golden Dog? And then I knew. 

This week, I close the chapter on my Book of Dreams and return to a reality that is so much less  that I am hard-pressed to absorb the finality, and turn my compass in another direction. 

But I will. That's what Wild Women do.

What Does the Fox Say? photo

Though my tail is aloft,
my balance is off.
Let me wrap myself in it,
and curl up in
a wooded hollow.
Then I will
begin again.

*Like a cat's, the fox's thick tail aids its balance, but it has other uses as well. A fox uses its tail (or "brush") as a warm cover in cold weather and as a signal flag to communicate with other foxes. National Geographic

National Geographic photo by Joel Sartore

for Toads, where Mama Zen wants to know what the fox says in 43 words or less, for Words Count. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Doris Lessing

I just read that you have died.
How can that be?

Only yesterday, 
I was a young, sad, 
hurt and hurting woman,
who read your books
to find inspiration and hope,
a blueprint
out of the labyrinth 
in  which I was entrapped,
onto the solitary pilgrimage
my soul needed
to undertake,
to be
all that I needed to be.

I did not find you until the '70's,
but devouring your words
showed me a direction
that my soul could take
out of bondage.

The chapter where the women danced
and the men adored them,
so foreign to my own
inadequate sense of being,
my own experience,
yet it gave me
a direction
in which to go.

And one day it happened:
I had finally become 
the woman dancing,
while the men drummed, and adored.

All of the heroines,
all of the oracles and spokeswomen,
all of the herstorians of our time
are aging, dying.

I, too, am aging, dying.

Writing furiously until the last moment,
to make up for all the years
I didnt have time, 
because everyone else's needs
came first.

Your death
is a passage
into that Otherworld
that I hope will be
all this world was not,
that I hope will be
the Divine Feminine.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Becoming Tea

There are no accidents. I happened upon the delightful volume of poems Reduced to Joy by Mark Nepo, (author of  the New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening), and smiled with delight at this wonderful poem.

Coming Out

While there is much to do
we are not here to do.

Under the want to problem-solve
is the need to being-solve.

Often, with full being
the problem goes away.

The seed being-solves its
darkness by blooming.

The heart being-solves its loneliness
by loving whatever it meets.

The tea being-solves the water
by becoming tea.

Thanks, Mark. I so needed that!

Friday, November 15, 2013

These Days

Sproat Lake in February

At Real Toads, Shay has asked us, for Fireblossom Friday, to post a poem from our archives that we are extra fond of,  or think we wrote especially well. I have a handful of poems I  consider favourites. 

But I picked this one, written in the early 1980's, because it is one Shay once said she really liked, and so I believe it may have a bit more impact, and be technically a better write, than some of my others.

These days
I often find
my thoughts
to dusty mesas
dotted with dry scrub
along the arroyo
through dry, sandy gorges
you once told me
was a river long ago

In reverie
I circle sleepy rooftops
finding yours
where we made love
one afternoon
your face so dark and beautiful
above me
those summer days
that ended
way too soon

Those days
you were an eagle
caught somewhere
between the earth
and sky
while I caught my breath
and emptied out my being
into the wonder
of becoming
you and I

Now my spirit
sometimes walks
on summer mornings
-dew-fresh scent
of tall marsh grasses,
willow trees,
fresh lake ripples
lapping gently
on the shore-
the scent of
all the mornings
I remember
and I long to walk
beside the lake
once more

In memory
you turn
your slow smile
on me
always a bird
alighting on your hand
I hear again the coo
of doves at daybreak
and somewhere -
another time,
another land -
"Blackbird" is singing
in the dark of night
while two lonely seekers
try to hold their pain
at bay
by clinging
to each other
way too tight
unable to find words
to make it right
and somehow
lose their way

The dove
lost its mate
and flew
but keeps on
back to you
never very far
from where you are
if you
but knew

Through all
those years
I saw your beauty
and now I am

The single step
that started
my long journey
the thousand miles
it took
to bring me home
all I was
searching for
I found
within me
forever now
without the need
to roam

I have one more
to give you
in this lifetime
one more time
to see
the smile start
in your eyes
if we never
meet again
know I have
loved you
as no other
all the seasons
of our lives

Sigh. Still true. I wrote this in the 90's, in Tofino, about the one man in my life I truly loved. We were together in Kelowna in the early 80's. It is a lake town, too, as is my current town of Port Alberni, pictured above. 

Kids, my two weeks away from home are coming to an end on Monday, thankfully. It has been difficult only having two hours a day around noon at the computer. I am ridonkulously behind. But will do my best this weekend, and life will return to what passes for normal next week.


Kids, here is some incredible footage to bring your heart pure joy, this blustery gray November morning, with the first chill of snow off the mountains in the air. Some young folks at set up cameras near Bella Bella, in the Great Bear Rainforest, and captured  wonderful glimpses of wolves at work and play. This last wilderness area is at risk, not just from extensive logging, already decimating the ancient forest, but from the proposed oil pipeline. These wolves may be enjoying the last months of such free and joyous living, before Mankind moves in, as he does so destructively everywhere he goes.

The camera is down now, but you can visit their site and click on the links, to investigate further. I certainly will be. I saw them on the news last night, on CBC. It was the first I heard of them. I only wish I had been following along the entire time. Maybe next spring! Below, there is a short clip of the wolves fishing. 

Of course, I see my wolf-Pup in there - he was of the forest clan, and lived off the sea as a wee pup before he came to me. He always loved the water, and wild salmon was, hands down, his favorite food. The last meal of his life was salmon, for which I was grateful, after.

I see Pup's body language in these young pups, the hunched back and the loping. Such beautiful intelligent creatures.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

American Sentences from Canada

Midnight crescent moon on navy sky, clouds scudding past, battleship gray.

Afghan vets' Antarctic trek : wounded warriors walking to inspire.

Call to Tofino: question asked, hopes suspended, dreams arising.

Oldster falls over fat golden dog:  plethora of quaking fat rolls.

Pondering the imponderables, one must  surrender self to trust.

at dVerse, the challenge (and challenge it is!) is to write American sentences, a form created by Ginsberg, each line having seventeen syllables. My "lines" dont fit all in one line on my template - but each one is seventeen syllables:)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Ordinary Day

In the Land of the Over-Burdened,
an Ordinary Day is my Happily-Ever-After.
On an Ordinary Day, 
the sun grabs his hat and cane
and does a soft-shoe shuffle
across the sky,
just to make sure we notice.

In the Land of the Ordinary,
nothing ever happens.
I wake up, peaceful.
I survey the morning.
I make my tea.
All the hours ahead are mine.
No one needs me,
has a crisis,
needs a counseling session 
by phone.

Those days dont happen 
often enough
but, when they do,
the Ordinary Day
is my Land of Oz.

Last night at the end of a day 
too busy to do much 
gazing at the sky,
I did. 
Gathering an armload of wood 
to make a fire,
I stopped to gaze
at the crescent moon,
silvery against a navy blue sky 
full of storm-scudded clouds,
dark upon dark.
The space around the moon 
was clear which,
in that moment,
cleared an equal space 
around my heart,
proving an ordinary moment 
in an ordinary day
can turn extraordinary, 
just that quickly,
for those who have the eyes
~ and the willingness ~
to keep on looking up.

posted for Kim's prompt at Verse First: to write about the ordinary

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Raven, by Sue Coleman

lift me up on your black wing,
because I'm floundering here,
in this boggy morass
of Must-Do's.

I want to soar mountaintops, 
swoop over rivers,
sit in the crook of the tallest cedar 
on the planet
and survey the morning.

Send me a great gray space
with nothing in it,
that I might contemplate vastness,
letting go of the particular.

Invite me with your bent wing,
and I will follow.
Send me your gobble-cry
and I will sing it back to you,
as you ride the thermals,
I, land-locked,
and envious
of your
lack of tethers.

Lift me up on your black wing
and take me home,
where the winter waves
pound against the dunes,
where I can plant my feet
on the sandy shore,
and be homesick
no more.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Home Truth

The Real Work

What I would say in one sentence is that, for Americans, the real work is becoming native to North America. The real work is becoming native in your heart, coming to understand we really live here, that this is really the continent we're on and that our loyalties are here, to these mountains and rivers, to these plant zones, to these creatures. The real work involves developing a loyalty that goes back before the formation of any nation state, back billions of years and thousands of years into the future. The real work is accepting citizenship in the continent itself. 

              - Gary Snyder

On the same day I read these words, I read a letter to the editor in our local paper which was not a joke,  seriously suggesting, in order to "prevent damage to cars by wild animals getting in 'our' way on the highways" that they - (a representative number, I surmise, perhaps two of each?) - be HERDED INTO ONE of the national parks and that it then BE FENCED. Only one park. That would solve a lot of problems. Leave the other national parks for people?????

You cannot make this stuff up! Human consciousness has SUCH a long way to go! Sigh.

When Women Are Warriors

This morning, kids, I attended a global crafts fair at our community centre, full of the most wonderful articles made by people in the developing world. The money for the items purchased goes directly to the people who made them, which makes me feel very good. No middle man exploiting the impoverished. I could have bought the entire stock were I able, as the energy, the messages, the awareness in that room was so wonderful. LOVED it! I could have moved right in, been bundled up with the leftovers, and sent with them back to Africa! If only.

I was unable to resist a couple of treats, and I bought my Christmas cards there - cards with a beautiful message. YAY! 

I am still away from home, and can only access a computer for a couple of hours a day. The panic is building as I cannot possibly keep up. Nine days to go before life is restored to what passes for normal, on any given day. This morning I began my day by falling over a fat golden lab, to our mutual consternation. "Wild Woman rides again!" Hee hee. (No dogs were injured in the performance of that feat. Thankfully. A vet bill would have wiped out my earnings.) 

This message was in a poster from the crafts fair, which fell upon my eyes and now is waiting for a spot on my almost-covered walls. Here it is, for your delectation:


When women are warriors
they still make dinner
and try to explain the world
to their mothers
and their daughters.

When women are warriors
they go on being grandmothers
whispering warrior words and singing
ancient songs about love
and justice.

When women are warriors
they plant gardens and walk
the stone beaches, gathering driftwood
and watching sails on the horizon.
They brew tea for friends
and gather in small groups
for silence.

When women are warriors
they still think of themselves 
as girls, before they knew
they needed to be warriors.

I googled J. Jefferson, trying to find more luck. Will keep looking.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Googling Sherry

Another attempt at for Sam's prompt at dVerse. This time I typed in my name. I took away what seemed irrelevant and added in only what appears in brackets. A hoot.

sherry is not always sweet
sherry is an expert in use of the barrel 
         to teach a dog whoa and to encourage style
sherry is flexible as hell
sherry is back in town
sherry is made from the sun
sherry is ready to drink

sherry is to taken slowly
sherry is a trailblazing entrepreneur
(dont believe everything you read!)

sherry is a mysterious sweet beverage sipped 
             only by stuffy ascot (??)
sherry is experienced at drafting 
              premarital agreements
(at least I would be NEXT time!)

sherry is mysteriously lifted away
sherry is so fino do not dismiss all sherries 
              as sweet nothings
sherry is unable to stand for long periods of time 
              meaning that she needs
to find a job where she can work sitting down

sherry is full bodied
sherry is no shy wallflower
sherry is also a realist
sherry is now being more respectful 
              to her parents (who are dead)

sherry is not new to the entertainment industry
sherry is a certified professional demonstrator
sherry is dedicated to educating women about 
             managing and investing their money 
             (since she has none)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wild Woman, Googled

At dVerse, the inimitable Sam Peralta has introduced us to Googlism poetry - whereby you go to , type in a short phrase, and create a poem by selecting from among the phrases that pop up, and embellishing them as needed.

I first typed in "Wild Woman knows" and Google sorrowfully informed me "Sorry, Google does not know what Wild Woman knows". (My secrets are safe!)

Then I typed in "Wild Woman", with better results. This was a total hoot. Thanks, Sam. Check out the links at dVerse, as there are bound to be some great responses. Do not miss Brian's, which is hilarious!
The Google lines are in italics

Wild Woman lives life to the full, 
Wild Woman is so hard to tame.
She is the untamed  within us all,
and she refuses to be blamed.

Wild Woman
 thunders in the face of injustice,
Wild Woman is of her own mold.
Wild Woman is proud to be a vision holder.
Wild Woman's truth cannot be bought or sold.

Many have tried to tame her, 
and just as many failed.
She goes her own way, happily,
and refuses to be jailed.

Wild Woman knows what she knows,
and it doesnt get any easier as she grows.

Wild Woman is fundamental in our 
connection to the divine.
Wild Woman is the source of the feminine.
Wild Woman, thankfully, has retained her spine,
(if not the sum totality of her mind!)

Wild Woman is an endangered specie.
Wild Woman is the essence of my soul.
Come together, help us save her wildness,
which we must preserve 
to keep the Feminine whole.

Alas, Wild Woman is also very tired,
prone to dizzyness, while bonded to her couch,
betimes found mumbling incantations in a corner,
fending off the housepets while in a feral crouch

Wild Woman knows what she knows,
and it doesnt get any easier, as she grows.

Wild Woman is going into the woods.
Perhaps a vision quest will hone her skills.
She'll speak with oracles and owls,
come home replenished,
take up her calling
as wildish women always will.

Wild Woman knows what she knows.
And she needs a dose of wildness
by day's close.