Saturday, June 28, 2014

Everything I Never Told You

You knew I loved you.
I told you you were
the best dog in the world,
though everyone else thought
you were probably the worst.

You knew that I would miss you.
It's why you tried so hard,
towards the end,
 to stay.
You knew because I told you
--and you really listened--
that when I die,
I wanted you to be the one 
to come and get me.

But what I didnt tell you,
what I couldnt fully understand,
back then,
was just how much,

and for how long,

I really couldnt bear it

when you left.

for Mary's prompt, the title taken from the book Everything I've Never Told You, by Celeste Ng.
Susan and Gabriela have written to  this, as well. Check out dVerse Open Link, to read their poems.

Friday, June 27, 2014

This Poem is the Breath of Dawn

Morning Beach

This poem is the breath of dawn  on a windswept
at the edge of the sea.
This poem is a murrelet on the wing.
This poem is a gray whale, spy-hopping.

This poem is misty with early morning fog.

It drapes shawls over the shoulders of
Grandmother Cedar so she wont be chilled.
This poem loves the morning.
It looks to the sky to see all the colours of the day.
This poem is the breath of dawn on a windswept
morning at the edge of the sea.

This poem is a tiny bird who makes her nest
deep in the forest.
This poem must fly great distances,
out to sea and back again,
in order to find sustenance.
This poem sometimes grows tired,
and in need of rest.
Its perch is precarious,
its nesting sites vanishing
along with the old growth.
This poem is sometimes in need of rescue
and protection.
This poem is a murrelet on the wing.

This poem swooshes up in placid waters,
takes a look around and finds that life is good.
Then this poem does a series of dives and breaches,
just for the sheer joy of it.
This poem is an ancient voice
which sometimes speaks
with an old soul.
This poem is a gray whale, spy-hopping.

This poem is the breath of dawn, on a windswept
at the edge of the sea.
This poem is a murrelet on the wing, heading for home.
This poem is a gray whale, spy-hopping
for the sheer love of living.

This is my attempt at Hannah Gosselin's newly-created  Boomerang Metaphor Poem, which you can read about here. This exciting new form leaves the door wide open to what can be created. I love it!

Ghost Antlers

Ghost antlers, and I see your baleful stare
as you endured the moments 
till the camera clicked
immortalizing your eternal discomfiture.
And I am so sorry, now,
for thus offending your dignity.
So sorry for so many things:
the unthinking months and years
when your presence was taken for granted,
when I forgot how terminal
is loving dogs,
a hopeless condition,
as we cant help falling in love,
even though we know from the outset
it will break our hearts.

I hereby forever remove
those antlers from your head.
In Apologia,
do I send my love to you
out there in the cosmos,
where you wait,
I hope, eternally, 
for me.

for Marian's cool prompt at Real Toads: to write something inspired by the Paul McCartney video Dance Tonight about dancing with ghosts.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Morning

Our new filly, Reba, on the left
On the right, our boy Rowdy, surveying the morning

Summer morning
sweet-scented and blithe with birdsong,
you gladden my heart.

It is now afternoon, but Blogger was misbehaving all morning!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dear Diary

Dear Kitty,

In the attic, looking up 

through the window
at the blue sky and puffy clouds,
I dream of a peaceful tomorrow.
As I write, my sorrows disappear,
and my courage is reborn.

I don't think of all the misery,
but of the beauty that remains.

Look at how a single candle
can both defy and define the darkness.
I wish to be that candle.

Soon the war will end,
and, oh, how I dream of living!

In spite of everything,
I still believe
that people are really

good at heart.

Wait! I hear the siren.
I hold my breath

until it passes. 
But, this time, it is stopping 
at our door.
The heavy boots 
are tromping up the stairway.
My mother is weeping.
I turn to Peter for one last kiss.
I go to stand beside my father.
I watch the door and wait,
our lives suspended.

It is not the beginning of the end,
but the end of the beginning.
     and all I know is
I want to go on living,
even after my death.

love, Anne

for Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motiff: Diary Stories
I chose the best known diary in the world, The Diary of Anne Frank.
The italicized words are Anne's.


Traveler has been traveling alone
for most of the journey.
Times, she sought a companion 
to help ease the passage
through difficult terrain.
But none could stay the course.
Each turned off at the nearest byway.

Traveler grew accustomed
to making her way alone.
A wolf companion stayed  by her side
for fourteen years,
the truest companionship
she had ever known.
His turning was involuntary;
they both mourned greatly.

Solitude was emptier once he had gone.
But in time, Traveler began to realize
she was never truly alone.
All around her was the ghost
of a big black wolf; he walked invisibly
by her side.

There were trees breathing peace to her,
birds on the wing
who companioned her eyes through the heavens,
reminding her to Keep Looking Up;
the moon bathed her in silver
and spread its canopy of stars
for her alone;
there were wind voices singing secret love-songs
just for her, and wave-tops lapping shores 
of forever beaches, where each one knew her name.

Alone is never lonely
as long as you love the wind,
Traveler says now, reflecting.
When you stand in an old growth forest,
when you watch the butterflies flutter by,
when you look into the knowing eye of a small red filly,
you are surrounded
by loving friends.

for Mary's prompt at Poetry Jam: Alone, a topic I must have my Masters in, by now :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blue Fire

when things fall apart,
when the center cannot hold,
when the roof caves in
when the beloved is gone

that is when your soul becomes
blue fire,
when your eyes seek the heavens
because there are more answers there
when you walk hot coals
when your heart digs deep
when you feel you're being honed
from sorrow, flesh and bone

that's when you remember
that once there was a Camelot,
when all was shiny-beautiful,
and young and never-ending
all was grace
everything was shining golden
like the sun
and life and happiness had just begun.

Then, comes the work,
as we begin again.
though we start with empty hands,
our hearts are full,
grateful for everything
that brought us here
and we search our souls
and gather up our strength
until our courage and our vision clears

for Marina's prompt at dVerse: shattering and rebuilding

Felled by fatigue again, kids.........resting and trying to keep up, but far from inspired.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


The Long Lost Terra Cotta Warriors are Called to Battle

for Hannah's prompt at Real Toads: China: Tea Fields, Terra Cotta Warriors,  Pandas,all things Chinese. The Terra Cotta Warriors have always fascinated me, since I read Annie Dillard's description of her visit to see them, in For the Time Being.

Briefly, farmers digging for a well in China in 1974 uncovered a terra cotta face. On further investigation, an entire underground army of life sized terra cotta figures has been discovered, surrounding the tomb of China's first Emperor, Qin She Huang, 260-210 BC, who became Emperor  at the age of thirteen. In 210-209 BC, they were buried with him as a type of funerary art, depicting his living army, each figure individually represented. 

Thousands of army figures,   both cavalry and infantrymen, along with horses and chariots, have been unearthed at a depth of 23 feet, surrounding the burial tomb as far away as a kilometer and a half outwards. It is as if they were placed around the tomb to protect the Emperor in death as their live counterparts did in life. As artisans brush away the surrounding clay, they free the figures, in amazingly pristine condition after more than two thousand years underground.

They swim up out of the earth, clay warriors, 
terra cotta faces peering from red dirt,
faces astonished upon seeing light, the spark,
after centuries of living in the dark.

Terra cotta faces peering from red dirt,
a man, a horse, swim upward through the clay,
After centuries of living in the dark,
emerging as if birthed into the light of day.

A man, a horse, swim upward through the clay,
full chariots, where men and horses ride,
emerging as if birthed into the light of day,
as the artist gently brushes the soft powdery dirt away.

Full chariots, where men and horses ride,
faces astonished upon seeing  light, the spark,
as the artist gently brushes the soft powdery dirt away,
they swim up out of the earth, clay warriors, escaping from the dark.

disclaimer: this is supposed to be a pantoum, but in order to make the last line have some relevance, 
I had to add a phrase. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Beautiful World

for Tony's prompt at dVerse - the repetition of a line in poetry

When sunrise reddens the morning sky,
in a sailor's warning,
do you see the mist wrapping breathtaking shawls
around the shoulders of the shivery hills?
Notice the cedar pointing poky heads through the clouds,
as if they are peering around

to see what kind of day it will be?
Hear the slap of a beaver's tail on the sleepy lagoon?
To creatures both rooted and rootless,
it must seem the most beautiful world.

When you think of red-robed monks,
walking prayerfully in the tracks of the snow leopard,
to hang prayer flags atop the snowy mountain peaks,
can you envision them gazing upwards towards heaven,
where their prayers are ascending,
then straight down to the valley floor,
where they bestow devout blessings?
Do you not agree that
it is a most beautiful world?

When noontime is lazy with the heat,
and bees buzz sleepily 
around the summer gardens,
when you bite into a ripe red strawberry
and juice drips down your chin and you laugh
as you catch the drops,
when the mourning doves call
from the top of the willow,
does it sound like they're singing:
it is the most beautiful world?

When sunset turns the horizon 
into a crimson canopy,
with accents of gold and purple,
to majestically close the curtain
on the dramatics of the day,
when the moon rises up in the indigo sky
and the stars come out winking 
like mysterious mystical messengers,
when the dark hills huddle like a sleepy giant
along the inner harbor,
and the fading song of the whippoorwill
echoes across the inlet,
is the song in your heart the same as sings in mine?
It truly is a most beautiful world!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


On the longest day, small wolf cubs
peek out of the den and wobble down the bank
on their unsteady legs,
to explore the Big World.

Mama watches, lying near on the riverbank,
alert to any danger lurking in the dark green
forest, unseen.

Mother Bear leads her gamboling cubs
into the river itself,
to paw for salmon.
They splash about like bumbling cartoon bears,
making Mother Bear smile.

On the longest day,
I walk by the river
with wolf howls in my heart.
I embrace the light 
that lasts long into evening,
and comes back at dawn 
after a too-short sleep.

Life is a valley we travel,
between light and dark.
We build our lives 
in the hours of daylight,
mourn our losses
when the stars come out.
Our hearts gauge the distance
we have traveled
at every sunset.
Every morning, our eyes go first
to the sky,
to calculate 
the level of the light.

Belatedly, for Susan's prompt at Mid-Week Motiff: Light and Dark

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


The cool thing about being a poet is
a single word, a passing thought,
a wondering,
can suddenly turn into a poem.

It's like, you're sitting at your desk,
sipping tea, so mundane, 
nothing at all going on,
and suddenly someone 
some wings on you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

This Poem is a Steam Train

Our friend, the talented Hannah Gosselin, has been writing a series of poems lately, that has had me really excited. In fact, she has now created a form around her approach, which you can read about on her site, here. The form begins, "This poem is a __" and one proceeds from there. This morning, as I woke up, I had that line in my head and it began to here we go:

This poem is a steam train,
sitting at the station,
belching smoke.
The conductor yells, "All aboooard!"
and we set off.

This poem takes us on a journey.
We open our minds and hearts
to all that will be revealed.
We suspend disbelief and expand our vision
to see out the window
through the poet's eyes
and perspective.

And then, if we're lucky
 and the poet does her job well,
this poem is the train
that takes us home.

Hannah and I will be discussing her new form in a Chat Between Two Poets at Poets United in mid-July. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Hannah's site. She is onto something pretty exciting! 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Aging Heart

I was thinking this morning of that wonderful love poem by D.H.Lawrence, The Elephant Is Slow to Mate, which meant a great deal to me the last time I attempted such, back in 2000. (I must be part elephant, I might manage it by ninety, at the rate I'm going!) I was reflecting on how the solitary and peaceful heart is loathe to trade in its serenity for the roller-coaster ride of love, generally fraught with alternating mania and angst, at least in my admittedly limited experience. So these few lines arrived in time for me to tap them onto the screen. Wild Woman's Advice for the Aging Lovelorn, hee hee.

The aging heart will take its time
in choosing one with whom to rhyme.
In search of comfort and succor,
it finds it needs contentment more.

It loves its slow and steady beat.
When that is threatened, it retreats.
No more a plunging over falls.
It's tired now. It needs four walls.

If you would woo an aging one,
shine strong and steady like the sun.
Be patient. Plant love's little seed.
Grow it with kindness in word and deed.
Maybe, a slow heart
will be freed,
and to the suitor will concede......
if promised a love 
that doesnt bleed.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Connecting the Unconnected

If I had a magic wand,
I'd connect the scruples 
of a Monsanto CEO
with his conscience,
a logging executive
with the state of the ozone,
a canned hunter with the pain 
of the creature he shoots,
and every baby seal  hunter
with the impact of his club.

I'd send every able pair of hands outside
to pick up litter, plant trees and food,
feed the homeless,
and rescue suffering animals.

If I had a magic wand,
I would wave it towards the ocean,
and direct all the ships
to the floating garbage dumps,
mandated to pick up
what debris they could.

I would abolish any thought of coal mining
on the Great Barrier Reef
(because that would be insane!)
prohibit clearcutting, oil sands development,
and fracking, 
and the infamous oil pipeline
would no longer happen.

Emissions from industry would be 
drastically reduced by legislation,
like, yesterday! -
and - novel idea -
the rich would pay more taxes
than the poor.

If my wand was powerful enough,
I would reverse global warming,
stop the rise of water along coastal shores,
and put Band-Aids over
all the owies on earth
so they could heal.

My wand would connect every person's brain
to his heart, and every heart
would feel its connection to the earth
and every other creature.

Soon, we would be a planet of villagers.
Connection would replace disconnection.
The blinders would fall off
and every CEO would directly feel
the consequences of his decisions.

And there would not be 
enough money in the world
to staunch his pain.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vision Quest

My soul goes up into the forest
on a vision quest.
Amongst the breathing trees,
the white owls are speaking,
softly, so as not to be overheard
by the Others:

My child,
you have journeyed far,
and you are tired.
Just a little more,
we promise,
and all will be
as you dreamed.

My soul sits itself down
at the base of a great green cathedral
whose trunk has grown
for almost one thousand years.

My child,
you are weary and heartsore,
and can find no surcease.
Place your hand on my trunk
and I will tell you all I know
about Enduring.

My soul tiptoes up close to
a timid, gentle, startling deer.
She tilts her head, recognizes
that I mean no harm,
and does not turn away.

My child,
you have learned to keep
a distance from the world.
I understand.
My way, too, must be one of caution,
for there are fast unthinking cars and
heavy boots and killing guns
out in the Land from which
you come.

On the shores of my soul,
I hear waves,
forever advancing and retreating,
while I perch in this desert of the heart
as precariously 
as a cactus flower,
afraid to take root for fear
the wound of blooming
will be

Bloom and thorn-
sometimes the messages
are mixed.

My soul emerges from the forest
somewhat comforted
and quieted,
but as directionless
as any traveler
seeking an answer
that is only found


Freckle face, ponytail, pedal pushers,
and a bike that was my steed;
together we rode  along the country miles  to the foothills.
In the trees, I was at home.

Indoors, I dove between the covers of a book -
 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, My Friend Flicka,
Thunderhead - to escape my current reality.

In the house, I grew silent and distant, numb.
Away, I clung to my friends, longed for their lives.
My dreams were  of Normal Life:
picket fences, milk bottles on porches, and peace.

The summer I turned thirteen, my father died.
So that was the end of being a child.

Thirteen lines for Susan's Mid Week Motif : Thirteen

Lost and Found

google image

She misplaced her life
in the lost and found,
took a random turning,
God knows why,
got hopelessly lost,
and no one came to look for her.

Enough laps around the track
- about a million or so -
and she found the opening in the maze 
and clawed her way out,
standing in the light of a new day,
battered, weary, scratched and bleeding,
but with her eyes
firmly fixed
on Hope.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Family History

Grandma Julie - "Ma"

Great-Grandma Julie came from County Cork, 
married her husband,
who was working on laying track  
for the first railroad to cross North America.
There were still ruts in the ground near their house
in northern Montana, that had been 
made by covered wagons,
not too long before.

It was a harsh and make-do life:
travel by horseback, 
even through 30 below snowstorms,
tend the fields with horse and plough,
tend animals, grow gardens, preserve food,
and hope it lasts the winter,
haul water, wash laundry - and oneself -
in tin washtubs with a bar of yellow soap,
build your cabin of logs by hand,
give birth to your babies at home and pray they lived.
Some of them didn't.

My grandma told me stories 
about her mother and father:
how her father doted on my grandma,
who was his youngest child,
and how he sat in his brother's kitchen and cried 
when she left home to marry.

My Grandma - age thirteen - "Floss"

She told me about the night 
she and her mother fled in terror
to the barn,
when Pa got drunk and 
danced with the moonshine jug
in the kitchen,
before firing off random shots 
in the direction of the barn
where they cowered in terror,
till he finally fell asleep.
She could laugh about it by then,
the big man, dancing with the jug.
But my Grandma always hated "the drink" after that.
Still, it got handed down through all the generations,
and is alive and well today.

Or the time when Ma sent Dolly to town 
on Punch to pick up the mail.
The snow was deep and Punch didnt want to go,
rearing and whinnying in his stall.
"He had an instinct," my Grandma told me, darkly.
"I should never have let her take him."
Dolly headed him along the railroad tracks
for easier passage.
The snow started falling thickly,
vision was obscured;
the train whistle blew.
Later, they could see huge leaps
where Punch tried to escape the oncoming train.
They were hit. Dolly survived. Punch did not.

Hard times, those days. Hard times.
The women were made of steel; they had to be.

My mother always called her Grandma Julie
and told how, when the girls were in their teens 
and "Ma" lived with the family, in Saskatoon, 
she taught them all to smoke, 
and they'd line up their butts
on the window ledge and act innocent 
when their mom came in to check on them.

And the time she heard a ruckus upstairs 
and sent their father upstairs 
with the rolled-up Saturday Evening Post 
to "settle down those  girls - they're disturbing Ma".
He came back down, smiling.
"They were having a pillow fight,
standing up on the beds,
and Ma was right in the thick of it!"

My sister still has a small flowered cotton dress 
Grandma Julie wore back in the 30's.
My grandma, when she was in her own last years,
remembered how her mother would ask her 
to do her hair and then say
"Oh I know, no time, no time, no time!"
By then, my grandma understood, in her turn, 
how too busy all of her family always was,
in turn, who had so little time to spare.

We have the Irish in us:
the mischief, the cackle,
the ghosts and goblins,
the hopeless dreams, the unanswered prayers, 
the  resignation to our fate.
We are rife with unnamed longings
and misspent youth.

I look back at the line of strong women,
who walked here before me, with awe.
They lived through unthinkable times.
They rolled up their sleeves;
they did what was to be done: no choice.
Stoic, staunch and with cackles 
edged with hysteria
my foremothers, my clan.

My mother "Renee" and my Grandma

Such a cool prompt today from Grace at dVerse: family history
 I could write a hundred poems!