Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Winter Trees

photo by Lori Kerr


In the frozen heart of winter,
stark, straight, tall, enduring,
bare branches reach in supplication
towards the sky.
The Standing People
are showing us
how to pray.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Womyn of the Moon

wallpaperswa.com



We womyn of the moon,
following in the footsteps of  
the shamanic dreamers of the past,
hearts attuned to the sound of the drum
and the voice of the Watcher within,
know that, in every sister's herstory,
is an old wise woman with wrinkled cheeks,
a cackling laugh,
and earth-based knowledge 
of how to Be,
how to be She.


In this gray-cloaked winter of the dream-time,
we must remember to water 
our parched womanly roots,
hold fast to the place in the earth that is ours,
as the winds whip our branches,
and the icy cold seeps at the edges of our being.
There be danger in this  domain,
if we try to stay.




As the days slowly lengthen,
we reverberate with the rhythm of the tides,
those wild winter waves which knock our hearts 
off the shelf of safekeeping,
into the depths, where we rediscover
what we had forgotten
that we already know.




There will come a time, just before spring,
when a woman has to step from 
the shore of the familiar,
into the ocean of womynkind,
open our eyes in the space
between the old world and the new,
the darkness and the light.
There be no old maps to guide you.
You must follow in trust,
with a wild, instinctual, wolfish Knowing,
from which you will emerge,
keen of eye, imbued with wisdom,
to mother the whole world.


I am not too sure where this witchy poem came from, my friends. Am only grateful that my brain is stirring from its long winter nap and coughing forth a few furballs!! I hope you are all enjoying a restful holiday season.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Gallery of Heartbreak IV

CBC photo

Warning: disturbing content

People now call her the Christmas Angel, the six year old girl found naked in the snow five days before Christmas, having been sexually assaulted, beaten and left for dead. She remained unconscious for days, hovering between life and death but, miraculously, opened her eyes on Christmas and asked for Santa Clause.

The little girl was attacked on a reserve in Alberta. People have been holding prayer vigils, and walking together in marches, to honor her, and make the statement that this sort of violence must stop. A 21 year old young man known to the child has been arrested and charged. The community has come together to try to heal, and support the little girl and her family in  recovering from this trauma.

I dont know when my heart broke most, on hearing of her attack, or when her eyes opened, she smiled, and the first thing she asked for was Santa. The innocence of children. The harshness of the world they live in.


News source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/beaten-first-nation-girl-regained-consciousness-on-christmas-1.2884218

Friday, December 26, 2014

Among The Missing

google image


The merry bells, the bells they ring.
The Christmas lights are all agleam
and there's a glow on everything.
Today's joy is tomorrow's dream.


In reverie, sit by the fire.
This time is for remembering
the ones who are no longer here
to share the  joy, the yuletide cheer.


We gather in our lighted house,
admire the beauty of the tree,
the good smells of the Christmas feast,
the laughter, stuff of memory.


Year after year, traditions passed,
the memories forever last:
gifts that bring shrieks of surprise,
joy shining in the children's eyes.

Gather 'round with all most dear.
Remember those no longer here.
The years are going by too fast. 
Christmas cannot forever last.

The elder's eyes already know
how very fast we come and go,
keeps to herself the secret, true,
one day she will be missing, too.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's A Wonderful World



Looking at these glorious images, how can anyone not believe 
it is truly a wonderful world?

Enjoy the wonder, kids!

SONNET TO A STRANGER AT CHRISTMAS



photo credit: jonatkinson.com

[I wrote this poem in 1963, when we were asked to write a sonnet at school. It was December. It appears I have had these conflicting thoughts about Christmas - excess in a world of inequities - since I was young. I was seventeen. What I most wanted to do was go to Africa and care for orphans. I so wish that I had.]

Pure snowflakes fall upon a dust-gray street:
Love's beauty, scattered by a Baby's fingers.
The softened, hov'ring winter darkness lingers:
A gentle life, so sweet to me, so sweet!
Clear, poignant carols echo on the air,
Sung by the pale-lipped children of December.
With breathless joy, always will I remember
Their angel-sounds, so fair to hear, so fair.
The gifts pile high under the Christmas tree.
The gaiety grows greater every day.
Into my dreams, a starved child finds his way:
"A crust of bread for me, a crust for me."
The thought of him remains all season through -
So far away, so little I can do.



Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Night Before Christmas At My House




The stockings aren’t hung.
It should be no surprise.
In today’s economy,
Santa has to downsize.

The Walmart shoppers 
have slowed to a trickle.
If you’re not done by now,
you’re in a real pickle.

Jeff slams in and out
to the front porch to smoke. 
Jon groans:
“Trying to sleep 
in this house is a joke”

In the living room Steph and Gord,
tucked in their bed,
watch dreams of a night’s sleep
die in their head. 

Jeff’s back! reaching for 
the doorknob with glee.
Five dogs raise their heads:
“Oh, it’s time to go pee!”

Walking dogs in the dark,
I fall in the ditch.
This Christmas gig 
can be a real b-tch!

Mother Hubbard arrives
to prepare the big feast.
How’ll she ever turn 
lentils and beans
to Roast Beast?

Old Dog thinks he’s died
and gone straight to Dog Hell,
and his owner suspects
she has gone there as well.


Sixteen humans 
are coming for dinner
and bringing eight dogs.
Someone’s a real winner!

I’m the old woman 
who lives in a shoe.
We’ll have to hang ‘em on pegs
or else go somewhere new.

Two hundred inches 
of rain falling down:
Here’s hoping Santa 
and his reindeer don’t drown.

I can make it till Christmas 
is over, I think,
especially if you pour me 
one more little drink ;)


This was written during Christmas of 2010, my poor old Pupster's last Christmas, when all the kids came home - the last time we were all together in one place, at the same time. I lived in my tiny trailer then, and people were crammed in like sardines. But it was wonderful, full of cackles and hilarity - and an abundance of dogs, just the way we like it!

Reposted for the last Poetry Pantry of December 2014 at Poets United. Happy Holidays, kids. Have a wonderful one, and I'll see you in the new year!!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The First Song

firstpeople.us



Bird woman,
dressed in skins, and pelts,
comes out of her cave,
sits by the fire,
looks up at the stars.
In her heart is a wordless longing,
that she has not yet language for.

Beside her, 
her wolf-pup
lifts his muzzle to the sky
and howls mournfully
at the moon.

The human begins to thump
a steady beat
against her knee.
It grows in intensity and rhythm
until she, too,
tilts her head far back 
and makes guttural keening sounds 

in her throat

that have no interpretation,
yet describe her longing
perfectly.

The first song.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Joy, and a Bag of Rice



Little Kenyan nomad, 
running home through the fields, 
so happy.
It is Christmas, and on Christmas,
that one special day of the year, 
his mother always makes rice.
He bursts in the door.
His mother is cooking vegetables,
as on any other day.
He starts to cry.
"Mama, where is the rice?"

His mother's heart must cry, too,
but outwardly she is calm, serene.
"My son, you know this year
your father has died, 
and so this Christmas there is no rice.
But we are together, 
and we have vegetables, 
and each other."

"Mama, when I grow big, 
I will buy you a whole sack of rice."

"Thank you, my son. I know you will.
With a son such as you, I am already 
a very rich woman."

That little boy studied hard, so hard,
he shone so brightly, 
he was sponsored to go to college.
He struggled long to persevere, 
without money, but without giving up.
Across the miles, I asked him,
"How do you stay motivated to work so hard? 
In my country, kids who have every opportunity,
often have no motivation at all."

He replied, "Escaping Poverty is my motivation. 
There is no other way, and my family has lived 
in the shadows for so long.
I dream big dreams, Koko."

And now it is Christmas once again. 
This year he has the job of his dreams,
where he will make the world a better place.
His light shines so brightly,
his superiors have their eyes on him.
They know this young man
will do big things,
yet keep a humble heart.

This time he goes home carrying 
new shoes for his younger siblings,
a dress for his mama, and a whole sack of rice.
The ululations and tears and celebrating 
will go on for  a long time.
"My siblings' eyes are shining, Koko.
My mother and I were laughing about 
the time I cried because there was no rice."

This year the sun shines brightly.
Younger siblings are in school.
Elder Brother and Younger Brother 
are now working.
Life has finally, after so many years,
begun to ease.

This year, there is rice.
But every Christmas,
there has always been
joy.

for the prompt at Poetry Jam: to write a poem that shares joy. This is a true story or, rather, part of an on-going story that it has been my privilege to watch unfold since 2010.


Bread



My mother, in the final years of her life,
finally in the small farmhouse 
she had dreamed of her whole life,
with a flock of chickens to feed, 
and an old, shabby farmhouse kitchen,
spent a glorious year or two 
kneading dough and baking bread
and cinnamon buns,
that rose on the wings 
of her satisfied dreams
and fed her family.

"How I love it when you roll 
into the driveway!" she'd exclaim.
"You think everything is funny!"
(Everything is!)

She had given up on her dream,
but here it was, unexpectedly:
little hobby farm, with a pond,
a horse in the pasture, 
and deer wandering through.

She cooked up a storm till that last year, 
when her eyesight and her health 
began fading fast 
and she took to her bed.

I found her bread recipe the other day,
written in her by-then huge but still flowing script: Bread. 
And it's a funny thing.
I can measure and mix and knead 

till the chickens come home to roost,
but I can't get that darned bread 

to rise as it did for her,
in that white and brown kitchen on Plested Road,
where dream and reality merged 
for a few too-short, precious, golden years.

for Grace's prompt at dVerse: Bread

Sunday, December 14, 2014

We Walk in Wonder



The Alberni Valley after storm
by The Heart of Vancouver Island


Through the blue skies and the grey
we walk in wonder.
In the valley, on the peaks,
by the sea, along the creeks,
by the river, on its shore
is only wonder.

As the clouds drape  shawls
around the mountains' shoulders,
as the winter morning grey
grows ever colder,
as the slowly drifting clouds
dreamily spin this planet 'round,
within our sight is only wonder
to be found.

When your heart grows faint and weary
in December,
when there is pain in everything
that you remember,
when all that you loved is gone,
and all of life is moving on,
nature's beauty is both solace
and source of wonder.

When your heart is too heavy
with tears to carry,
and the Christmas songs are sounding
just too merry,
lift your eyes up to the hills.
The beauty there is magic, still.
In every instance, if we but look,
we walk in wonder.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Just Before Dawn



The dawn is peeping a red and ribald eye
over the mountain.
No one is awake.
The morning birds will not yet sing.
The sleepy valley is still nestled
in the arms of night.

But out in the meadow,
in the mist rising up from the icy fields,
a young doe is dancing lightly
on her tiny hooves.
An elven chorus, murmurous,
is chanting in the veld,
and the skybirds awaken, 
all a-flutter.
In a feathered heap,
they tumble out of the trees.

To witness this magic,
you must arise
just before dawn,
and disguise yourself
as a shrub.


My attempt to write a poem somewhat in the style of James Wright's poem, Beginning, for Grace's prompt at Real Toads.

Fairy Tales Unglued

Cinderella by 


I so enjoyed Bjorn's response to the Dverse prompt to have a story character come alive in an unexpected place. He had Cinderella encountering Pinnochio. And then Mary responded to that poem, by reporting an overheard drunken conversation, and Gabriella escalated it by having Snow White attempt to blackmail the Fairy Godmother. Here is my furtherance of the fun and games..........

Dear Fairy Godmother,

That Snow White is a total cow.
She is SO not cool
reporting my tryst with the swoony Pinnochio,
who is my True Love 
(forget about the glass slippers)
and who has the best profile in Storyland,
(especially since he shaved his nose).
Plus he has that whole Bad Boy thing going on.
(I overlook his wooden heart.)

At my age, given the crows-feet,
a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do
and Snow White may have ruined
my One Last Chance. 

I am  totally P.O.'ed!
Just sayin'.

Cinderella

Mystical Voyager



Strange beastie,
mystical voyager,
part myth, part corporeal,
creature-between-two-worlds,
both wonderful and strange
you ply the icy perilous waters,
which are about to change
because of human folly,
avaricious and deranged.
Interconnected with your human neighbors,
you swim in total trust.
It is the only home you know,
so swim you must.

The silent watery reaches of your habitat
will soon reverberate
with deafening blasts.
I can envision your terror,
before the first bomb is cast,
can see your pain,
bewilderment, your agonizing death.
No corner of this earth is safe.
Greed stalks our every breath.

I woke this morning
striving for wonder,
and encountered woe.
Beloved species,
I hesitate to say the words,
and yet I feel I am already
watching you go.


A report from SumOfUs.org states: A tiny Arctic community is fighting Big Oil.

Off the coast of Clyde River, Nunavut, unspoiled Arctic waters are home to 90% of the world's narwhals. These unique tusked whales play a crucial role in the aquatic ecosystem, and for thousands of years have been a staple of the local Inuit community. But now their very survival is in danger. 

The Canadian government just granted oil corporations the right to search for drilling sites in the ocean near Clyde River. Offshore drilling is bad enough, but the search is worse – these oil companies will use "seismic testing," setting off huge explosions underwater to try and find oil. 

Like all whales, narwhals use their hearing to communicate and to find their way safely beneath the Arctic ice. The search for oil will deafen, disorient, and kill any narwhals caught in its path. It's up to us to speak up now, and stop this while we still can.



Source: SumOfUs.org

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Riding My Bus of Dreams



If the wet gray skies
are getting you down,
and the rain is trickling
under your coat, down
the back of your neck,
if there is too much
Christmas to buy
and not enough dollars,
if some of your loved ones
are far away,
and too many Christmases
have passed,
with too many faces
no longer around the table,
if love never arrived,
at least not in the form
you had expected it,
take a little time to
Occupy the Blues.

Go ahead.
Feel it all and,
if you're strong enough,
widen your vision
to encompass
all of the unwanted,
abandoned animals
who will spend Christmas
in the SPCA,
or the creatures
who live their whole lives
in cages,
waiting to cross our tables,
or the wild ones displaced
from their habitats,
then picked off when they "encroach"
on "Man's" Territory.

Are you depressed enough yet?

Just watch the news.
I know. I don't do it often,
and each time I do
I remember why.
The humans may be
even worse off
than the animals
in so many places.
And for certain,
the environment
is in complete distress.

But I'm riding my Bus of Dreams
down the gray, rain-drenched streets
through the worst part of town -
where the disenfranchised
eke out their bare existence.
They remind me I have so much
to be grateful for.

I see them carrying
their small packages home
with gladness in their hearts
to make a small Christmas
with their loved ones.
We all dream
the same dreams.
We all love to give.

When my heart aches
for humanity,
for this suffering
and unbalanced planet,
for the 99%,
for the melting at the Poles,

I remember that
even in its distress,
Mother Earth continues
to love us,
to provide for us,
to sustain us.

She wakes up every morning
beautiful.
She presents us
with her best sunrises
and sunsets,
her bluest skies,
her fluffiest clouds,
her necessary rain.

When I see her resilience,
I roll up my sleeves
and get ready to
begin again.

I decide to Re-Occupy Hope.

Non-Human Rights

cognizance media photo of Ta'Kaiya Blaney,
young First Nations environmental activist


The wild things have gathered in council,
a council for all beings,
to confer about the state of things on the land.

Ms Mountain Goat speaks first.
Those who tromp in heavy boots
through our forest
talk about their rights: human rights,
the right to own what can never be owned,
the rights of the multinationals 
to rape and pillage and pay nothing back,
the right to work, the right to hold money 
as their God,
as if they are the only ones who have rights.
What about non-human rights?

The animals all nod and murmur.
Mr Bear moves to the center of the circle.
What about our rights? he asks pleasantly,
dipping his paw into a honeypot, then licking.
I have a harder time each winter 
finding a quiet spot to rest.
The Mrs has a terrible time 
keeping the youngsters safe
Everywhere are the big machines, 
the grappleyarders, destroying our habitat,
and the metal creatures on rubber feet 
that kill so many -human and non-human alike-
on the highways.

Yes! non-human rights! 
how do we make them hear us?
All of the animals are animated, and chattering.

This is when the Standing People,
the Talking Trees, who have been listening, 
finally speak:
Our numbers are diminishing and, 
along with us, our tree wisdom,
and the ecosystems which help all to live.
The oceans are filling with their garbage.
The air is filling with their polluted smoke.
The earth is warming from 
their addiction to fossil fuel.
They do not realize - though it is clear to see -
that they will choke to death, or drown,
 alongside the rest of us.

The critters exchange glances.
Tall Tree has spoken truth.

Who will take this message to their leaders? 
asks Rabbit.

It will be a child, for only a child has eyes 
clear enough to see,  replies Tree.

                             *****          *****          ******

Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motif is human rights. This caused me to think about non-human rights, which are rarely considered.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Bear of My Being

nationalgeographic.com




The great bear of my being
has gone into hibernation
turning its back on the grey skies,
grey rain, grey world, 
yards running with mud, 
ditches and creeks teeming with rushing water.

A great blast is heard from the hills,
where ancient trees are being 
felled and shipped away
at such a great rate 
the wildlife are dispossessed,
drifting into our yards, onto our roads, 
in peril for lack of habitat.



I am helpless to remedy any of it,
beyond sending a prayer of pain and empathy
to a suffering planet and 
the humans and non-humans
who find it increasingly difficult to live
upon its surface.



We are just past the full moon in Gemini 
- the Cold Moon.
The greyscape  hid it from view.
The fog hunkered down over the fields,
mist dripped down the arms of Grandfather Cedar
and tangled in the snarls of Old Man's Beard.
Salal became platters of sparkling dewdrops for fairies,
who do not mind the rain.

And already solstice is on its way.
Slowly the planet is tipping us
ever towards the light and,
with that brightness, the white swan of our being
will rise its arched neck into the hope
of another shimmering spring.
The cycle keeps us moving forward.
The light keeps us looking up.

The news on the television is still winter-grey.
My spirit turns away, seeking, instead,
stories and songs of transcendence.
In the transformation of consciousness,
I place my faltering trust and my diminishing hope
that this planet will awaken in time.
Yet I must believe, in order to live.
May it be world-wide. 
May it be breath-taking.
May it be soon.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

On Raven's Wings





I send my dreams on raven's wings
over the mountains and to the sea.
I send my dreams on raven's wings -
what answer will come back to me?


Through the pass and along the shore,
where my footprints are no more,
into the gold of the setting sun - 
bless the path of this lonely one.


My soul's song rides the Westerly,
atop the wild and white-maned wave,
where once I set my spirit free,
with trusting heart, and mettle brave.


Speak to my spirit that yearns sky-bound,
words that will lift me from the ground.
Skybird, sing me a traveling song.
Sing me back where I belong.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Path of Peace

Kobani in Northern Syria
photo credit: photojournalist Jake Simkin, 
NBC News



The path to peace is strewn with rubble,
kettle boil and cauldron bubble.
I shall not hate, is what he cried
the day bombs fell and his daughters died.

If he can walk the path of peace
when all his world was turned to tears,
I can do no less than he,
to try to shift our spirits free.

The bombs rain down.
The stone walls tremble.

Edges blur, boundaries dissemble.
Suffering brings us to our knees,
heaven indifferent to our pleas.


Prayers and cries rise to the heavens,
who cannot arbitrate our screams.
Angels turn sadly away:
"They created a nightmare of their dreams."

Humans long for peace
as the parched earth burns.
Serene, the pale blue cosmos turns.


Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motif , over at Poets United, is to do with bombs, days of infamy, turning points. My thoughts have run the gamut: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis. But also that turning point, the day the Berlin Wall came down, which I did not think would happen in my lifetime. Which shows that it is possible for a peoples' desire for justice and freedom - for peace -  to change those in power.

President Obama said, in 2013 in Berlin, "No wall can stand against the yearning for justice, the yearnings for freedom, the yearnings for peace that burns in the human heart."

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, author of the book I Shall Not Hate, was the first Palestinian doctor to receive a staff position at an Israeli hospital, where he treated both Israeli and Palestinian patients. When three of his daughters were killed by Israeli tank fire in their home in Gaza, he vowed "I Shall Not Hate". He continued his humanitarian work on both sides of the border. This is the greatness of the human spirit. The same humanity that breeds hatred, extremism and sectarian violence is capable of transcending circumstance and ideology to inhabit higher ground.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Winter

Dawn

I put on the day
like a prayer shawl
and count my beads
of gratitude.

We had our first fall of snow, and everything is so beautiful outside, I can only repeat these words, written a few years back on a similarly snowy morning, to describe the way the beauty makes me feel.



Happy Winter, everyone!



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Radical Gratitude


how do we give back for so much beauty?
sight, and laughter, and love and dreams,
rushing river, burbling streams,
the miracle and mystery,
the beauty and the blight,
the chance to keep trying
to get it right.

give back for it all.
give thanks without ceasing,
even for the unwanted passage
that turns out to be the very portal
your soul has been seeking.

Oracle Owl calls from the forest deep:
don't go back to sleep, don't go back to sleep.


posted for Susan's timely prompt at Mid Week Motif: Gratitude

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dreamweaver

Old Shaman by Marek Hlavaty 
prasart.com

Up in the sky
there is an upside-down world
the mirror opposite of this one.
There, the shamans and dreamweavers
rule by a system of restorative justice.
The old ones make sure
that all the children are fed, and loved,
and told stories, and not one tear falls
that is not comforted.

What the trees breathe out, 
the humans breathe in,
and so trees are considered sacred.
There is no excess, no waste, no More,
in order that all may have Some.

Up in the sky
is a world peopled by my dreams.
On a clear day,
I can almost catch a whiff
of smoke from the pipes of peace.
I hear their drumbeat, always,
in my heart.

For Anthony's prompt at dVerse: to write about a place of our imagination.

A Spine Poem


The searching spirit,
the audacity of hope -
fire in the soul.

Reason for hope,
a return to Love -
paths to peace.

Being peace,
peace is every step -
the open heart.

Compassion in action,
I give you my life -
How can I help?

A spine poem in response to Izy's post at  Real Toads.

Monday, November 24, 2014

ODE TO A HERON

photo by Jon Merk

Graceful heron
swooping across
the evening sky
like a pterodactyl,
Prehistoric bird
perched
on a treetop,
my heart swoops
with you,
then stills,
standing by
the silent pond,
waiting for the night
to settle
around us both
softly
as feathers.

One from the archives, kids, as I am a bit under the weather. In need of some rest, also some inspiration. Someone throw me a prompt, LOL!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In the Bracken

A Port Alberni back yard owl

If ever you would speak with any tree,
come walking in the forest here with me.
I'll show you the wild mushroom  and the root,
but where the ancients gather, set no boot.

If you would speak with nature spirits wild,
you must maintain the heartbeat of a child,
learn riversong and  mountain chasm deep.
You must commune with angels in your sleep.

As you step lightly on the pungent moss,
and feel the leaves the winter wind doth toss,
let your spirit fly away among the trees.
It will return upon the morrow's  breeze.

I go into the forest dark and deep,
every night after I fall asleep,
become a woodland guardian, reborn.
I do not want to leave when it is morn.

Last night my spirit fought as a black wolf,
against four brown wolves on the forest floor,
This told me that a battle lies before,
my spirit having recognized its door.

Come with me. I will show you secret groves,
moss-hung and ancient in this stand of pine.
Deep in the bracken, where the hoarfrost glows,
the Old Ones are singing Home this heart of mine.

One from the archives of late 2012, my friends. Posting it for the Poetry Pantry.