Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Dizzy Paradelle

Who is the poet writing the poem?
Who is the poet writing the poem?
Who is the dreamer, who never wakes?
Who is the dreamer who never wakes?
The poet who is writing the poem
never wakes the dreamer.

Who is the watcher, the one who knows
Who is the watcher, the one who knows
who lives behind the purple prose?
who lives behind the purple prose?
The watcher is the one who knows
who lives behind the purple prose.

The poet who is writing the poem
is the dreamer, who never wakes,
is the watcher, the one who knows
who lives behind the purple prose.

a paradelle for Brian at dVerse. I am just about dizzy enough today to manage this form, a poem that goes in circles. It was kinda fun. Check out the links. Pub opens at 3 p.m.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In Memory of Iqbal

from the "Me to We" files

Picture one small boy, 
sold by his parents 
at age four for $16,
chained to a loom
fourteen hours a day
from age four to ten,
in order to "repay the debt".
Picture him escaping, 
being recaptured,
hung upside down for punishment,
then chained back to his loom.

Iqbal was heroic.
He escaped again,
his activism and speaking out
saving thousands of other children 
from his fate.

He lost his life at twelve,
they say for
speaking about the rights of children
to have a childhood.

Iqbal's life and death
sparked the heart of a boy his age
across the sea,
who began the movement called
From Me to We.

And we'll remember you, Iqbal,
for eternity.

Free the Children was begun by young Canadian Craig Kielburger when he was twelve, after reading about Iqbal in the newspaper. Craig began a movement against child slavery called Free the Children with eleven of his middle school friends. Craig is a young man now, and he and his brother run the international organization and continue their work, which includes hosting an annual televised marathon to inspire other young people to join the movement. It is called From "Me" to "We".

The story of Iqbal can be read here.

for Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motif: Boycott

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ordinary Is as Ordinary Does

The Bread Making Bowl , 
round and tan colored,
sits on top of the fridge.
No one bakes bread here any more,
so instead it gathers odds and ends of miscellany
that cant find another spot to live.

I remember my mother's hands,
forming the dough into a round,
then plopping it onto the bread board, covered with flour,
kneading, shaping, working the dough,
smiling with satisfaction,
then back into the bowl it went, 
covered with a cloth, to rise.

An ordinary weekly event,
one that gave her great pleasure
in her later years.


I wonder how old
the Palestinian is
who remembers a time
when he last spent
an ordinary day.


I wonder is there is
an Israeli Jew alive
who remembers a time
before war and death and sorrow.


In my world,
an ordinary day
is one of my
greatest pleasures.

To the suffering of the world,
my prayer:
may the bombs cease.
May you learn 
the extraordinary joys 
of an ordinary day.


for Poetry Jam, where the prompt is Something Ordinary. Which puts me in mind of the quote by  Einstein:   There are two ways to live. One, as if nothing is a miracle. The other, as if everything is a miracle. I favor the latter view. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Ms Jasmine, praying for a breeze,
in my old front yard. Pup lurks behind the bush,
which is now quite huge and lush.
Jas is nine today. Those nine years went fast.

The grass, crisp and brown, dreams of rain.
Trees, bees, birds, frogs, wait,
suspended in a miasma of wavery, hot, 
swooning parched-ness.
Dogs lie upside-down,
hoping for a stray breeze,
but the air is unmoving, unmotivated,
has taken up residence in the hammock
and cannot be budged.

The day is loathe to quicken; 
the hands on the clock
tick desultorily; minutes later, 
you hear a faint, fatigued tock.

Everything that lives is exhausted
and hiding in whatever shade it can find.
I actually saw someone fry an egg 
on a sidewalk once.
He didn't eat it.

Once, when I was five, we traveled 
down the coast  to San Francisco.
Stopped for ice cream at a wayside store 
and I was mortified because my parents 
had stripped me to my underpants for coolness 
and made me go inside the store that way.
Even ice cream was not worth the shame.

We drove a short ways till people passed us,
shouting and pointing:
"your car is on fire!"
and we all got out. 
Dad poured the iced lemonade on it
to douse the flames.

When we hit the city, dad was flummoxed 
by the rushing eight lane traffic, 
zooming in every possible direction.
Opening the map, stopped at an off-ramp, 
stressed, impeding traffic,
he was chagrined when someone shouted
"why dont you build a garage around it?"
He never got over that.

Dog days of summer. 
Early mornings smelling
just as they did in childhood.
I remember the smell 
of Grandma's canvas hammock,
and how I'd curl up in it and read and read,
the smell and feel of bathing suits,
plucked, still-damp,
off the line,
for the next swim.

I remember
the time I swam during a thunderstorm,
the sky gunmetal gray,
the waves all mine,
lake-scent and willow-whisper
engraved on my heart.

for Victoria's prompt at dVerse : the dog days of summer.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Poems from the Past

July 22, 1999

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.

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


July 9, 1999

Song of the frogs
in the fading light
soft fade the hills
in the falling night
God touching earth
with a gentle might
and all is beauty
within my sight

soft falls the light
on garden walls
a rose-hued mountain
as day's curtain falls
a froggy symphony
serenades the night sky
and grateful, grateful, grateful

Two poems from my last summer on the West Coast - Port Albion, a small community in a tucked-away, undeveloped area, half an hour from Tofino. I lived in a teeny basement "suite", on a pond, and Pup spent his days blissfully roaming. He even gave loud backtalk to a black bear, who swatted its paws at him, which didnt deter him from getting right in the bear's face with Attitude. Pup never backed down. Alpha to the last moment of his life.

Every late afternoon the sky, the mountain I lived beside, and the pond below, turned this most glorious shade of rose.  One night I was standing by the pond when a heron flew right above my head. And every night, the frogs sang to me. It was heaven. Late that same fall, I moved here to Port. Sigh. Pup mourned, as did I, the loss of our wilderness Eden. He would sit at the window, looking out at the city streets. Anyone who thinks dogs dont grieve, check out these photos:

"Where did my wilderness go?"
I felt - and feel - the same way.

This is posted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry. Happy Weekend to all!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Son of Heaven

The Tianzi Mountains (Son of Heaven)
photo credit:

Mist curls on the Tianzi Mountains.
In the siheyuan,
Rice Mother gives First Son
the choicest morsels.

Son of Heaven.

The Tianzi Mountains were named after a farmer who led a farmers' revolt and named himself Tianzi, a name for Emperor, (Son of Heaven).

A siheyuan is a courtyard surrounded by buildings on all four sides. The doorway above indicates this siheyuan belongs to a lower middle class family.
source: by SnowyOwls

Zhangjiajie in Spring

Zhangjiajie in Autumn

Zhangjiajie in Winter

for Hannah's prompt at Real Toads for Transforming Fridays : the Tianzi Mountains


This poem is white lightning
in a gunmetal sky, 
striking a lone twisted pine
on cracked parched earth,
the tree briefly aflame, 
then ashes.

This poem is a small autistic boy
with no speech, a big will,
an aging grandmother,
and Tomorrow looming.

This poem is an old woman
pondering two unrelated thoughts,
primed at a faltering pump, 
and glistening with life's tears,
because the story 
in all three stanzas 
is the same.

for dverse where Claudia  encourages us to use strong metaphors without employing "like" or "as". I chose Hannah's boomerang metaphor form as the easiest way to do this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tofino Time

My beloved Pup at Wickaninnish

One looks back, down all those shambling, lost,
 bewildered, laughing, hilarious years,
at a kaleidoscope of memories, 
shining more golden, now,
for being past,
all jumbled and amazing,
the journey we took before we realized
we were following songlines laid down
in the long-ago.

We walked in wonder through it all,
visited by angels and by demons.
In time, we understood the demons 
were angels in disguise
for all we learned, how much we grew,
because of them.

Time now moves, sometimes, like a beautiful dream,
memories close, the years 
all the more dear for being gone.
I just learned I now belong to a demographic
called the Grey Tsunami, not the first time
I have been called a force of nature.

Boomers all, we sandbag the shore before us
pushing it  out, out and away, 
trying to avoid the inevitable,
the fact one day it will swoop back in
and carry us away.

The kaleidoscope turns and turns,
memories pop out,
I laugh, I cry.
Shining brightest are the years
when I lived my dream
on Tofino Time.

for Mary's prompt at dVerse where she is tending bar today, our topic: time or clocks. Of which, mine is ticking far too fast for comfort.

Fallen Heroes

google image

When heroes raised so high
fall off their pedestals,
the disappointment
runs deep.

When one barters his soul
to keep the glory,
the price is too high
to be paid.

-for Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motif: the Tour de France which, to me, for so many years, always meant Lance Armstrong. Sigh.

Monday, July 21, 2014


child of an anti-war activist in Palestine

Weep like a Palestinian, 
as the bombs rain down
and the structure crumbles.
Weep like the small child 
sitting beside his wounded mother,
his two years having been spent in terror,
knowing no safe place,
all life in peril.

Weep for the displaced and the hated
who, when they find a homeland,
hate and displace their neighbors, in turn.
Weep because Otherness is all that is seen,
and not our shared humanity,
our shared longing for peace,
for life.

Weep, for the turning of the centuries, 
hate upon hate,war upon war,
as humans, unawakened, 
come from fear and hate and power,
and never seem to find another way
to live on this land together.

Weep, because this earth was given to us
as a gift, to live on in harmony,
nature and every living creature,
and look what humanity has wrought:
a fallen, clamoring, toxic, warring  Eden.

Weep for the angels that fall 
from the sky in planes,
in a world where geniuses 
discovered how to fly,
then other minds 
devised their deadly rockets.

Weep for the beauty of this world,
for hearts yearning for peace
in the midst of war,
and for the proven folly
of ever thinking
anything but further hatred 
can ever be won
with bombs. 

Weep because,
wherever God lives,
He must be weeping too,
at the slaughtering of his children
of every color, race and faith.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

This Poem Travels in a Circle

This poem is a cool gray summer morning 
in the country.
This poem is a wish, a wistfulness,  and a wondering.
This poem will not travel far from its doorway today.

In this poem, the grass has not yet burned away, 
and the horses are grazing peacefully,
whickering from time to time, and swishing their tails.
On the porch, the chimes sound like Tibetan singing bowls,
transporting the poet to the Himalayas,
right out of this dusty little mill town 
where somehow she has become stranded.
Still, there is much to be said
for a cool gray summer morning in the country.

In this poem, the poet's heart is trembling on the brink
of accepting a compromise she does not wish to make,
whose cost is too dear.
She longs for what is not, struggles with the  acceptance of what is.
She wonders what the lesson is, and is puzzled: 
haven't there already been enough lessons?
This poem is doing a lot of wondering.

Today, the poet will stay home.
She may even stay in her pajamas.
She will make her way between her desk
and her couch, as she so loves to do.
She will connect with her online friends,
and then disconnect by plugging in a movie,
and escape to someone else's reality.
This poem will travel full circuit
from worldview to living room and back again.
This poem will writhe and complain and mutter
and, in the end, find its way home.

This poem is willing to find the contentment
of a cool gray summer morning in the country.
This poem does a lot of wondering, but has enough philosophy 
to come to grips with What Is and find the good in it.
This poem thinks it is staying home,
but has actually traveled a very long way
without ever walking through the door.

Hannah's challenge at Real Toads is to try out her new Boomerang Metaphor form which I love to bits! This time i just played with it a little, and enjoyed its possibilities. I love this form, Hannah, and especially love the poems you have written in it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Another I, Another You

It's Fireblossom Friday at Real Toads and Shay has devised the most intriguing prompt: looking back, at possible parallel paths one might have taken, what might your life have looked like if you had made one different choice? There was one definitive moment in my life, with the one man I truly loved, where I walked away instead of staying. That is my biggest What If.........I put my children first, which felt like the choice I had to make. But I have been mostly alone since then, never found another I felt the same about.

What if, Brother Dreamer,
I had followed my heart and stayed,
instead of leaving?
Might we have made it 
through those years
of clamoring teens,
who turned our tables upside down
with their restive and resistant spirits,
that blew apart our dreams?

I walk back through that door
on Richter Street,
and find you in the greenhouse,
where we would always meet.
A small bird flies across the room 
and lights in perfect trust
upon your hand,
you turn that slow smile on me,
without words, 
we understand.

Our hair is silvery now,
and our eyes meet
with that deep recognition,
soul to soul,
that I felt the first time
 I ever saw 
your face,
as if I knew you from
another time, another place,
and finding you again
was this life's grace.

We two are loners
and, when loners love,
the love goes deep.
You had awoken me
from my long sleep,
but happiness, this life,
has never long been mine
to keep.

You opened the door 
of the dove's cage 
on that last day.
Out she flew, 
upwards and away.
Out I flew, too,
though I longed for you
to say the only words
that could make me stay.
And while my heart, 
all these long years,
stayed true,
I had to learn the route
of the lonelier path,
of living
without you.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poets - This Way

Poem of Love by

The fountain of creativity
slows to a trickle
without community.

Poems lay fallow in neglected notebooks.
The pen was capped,
until the blogosphere curtains parted
and a sign indicated
"Poets - This Way".

Up and down the blogroll I galloped,
famished, delighted,
gobbling morsels of wit and wonder
that made me smile,
then sent me back to the barn
to ponder, and put pen to paper
once again.

Tentatively, I offered two or three
and, amazingly, some of you came to read,
and leave encouraging comments.


Instead of sitting in a book, unread,
my words were being absorbed and understood
by new close friends from far away,
who came back the next day
just to see what I might say.

The fountain was replenished.
The poems queue in my brain.
And 'thank you' is not nearly big enough to say
for the gift of writing you all have given me
simply from knowing
that you are reading
on any given day. 

-for the three year celebration of dVerse, a poets pub staffed by poets with big hearts, who speak with encouraging words. And to thank all of my readers, who gift me more than you will ever know, simply by reading, and appreciating, sharing and understanding.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Snake in the Grass

Snake, slithering greenly through the grass,
keep to your route and let me pass.
Slithering makes my hackles rise.
You've snuck a wee mouse as your prize.
Into the deadened pond you go,
your journey calculated, slow.
I fear that some dark night we'll meet,
and you'll slither over my bare feet.

for Susan's Mid-Week Motif: celebrating world snake day

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Not Time Yet

Stamp Falls in spring

We were traveling together
when you took the turning
where the Disappeared go,
and are seen no more.
I could not follow. The way was barred.
Still, I continued walking,
carrying your soul with me
in a small wooden box,
hidden under my cape,
held close to my heart.

When I tire, and falter, 
am tempted to turn back,
I can hear you thumping inside your box.
You will not let me 
abandon the journey.

(Asleep, she found herself 
crossing a barren desert.
There was a river ahead,
and she could hear voices, singing,
coming around the bend.
They were coming to get her,
but then she came back into her body.
Not time, yet.)

Death is a river, turbulent, roaring
through time-worn rock-walled chasms
green with weeping.
It dashes our brains out on the rocks
so the eagles may feed,
then settles us, lighter and relieved 
of our earthly burden,
in rippled ponds along the shore,
where beaver and wolves
may find us.
I will meet you there
at twilight
on the last day.

At midnight, a ghostly specter
glides mistily along the shore.
She is beckoning,
but I pretend that I am blind.
She is calling.
I pantomime that I am deaf
and cannot hear.
Not time, yet.

These words are a pathway
between the time when you were here
and now.
They are as full of your absence
as my heart. 
I am still traveling.
You always did go before me on the path.
I am getting just a little closer.
Not time, yet. Not yet.

for Grace's prompt at Real Toads:  to take inspiration from the work of El Salvador poet Claribel Alegria, who was planning a trip with her husband when he died. She still made the journey, "traveling with his soul". I took that as my jumping off point. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Big Black Dog

He was  Goofypup 
when he was little,
Mr Dog, and venerable,
in his old age.
And all the years between
he kept me laughing,
companioned me 
through the best
and the worst years of my life,
loved me well and truly,
and left a huge
hole in the world
when he left,
that beautiful
big black dog.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Solitary Heart

free stock image from

I wandered half my life asleep
dreaming of one whose love would sweep
me off my feet,
though the key to my heart was buried 
plenty deep.
He never came. I never made
the leap.
I learned to reap
the joy of solitude
so sweet.
The key to my heart,
to myself
I'll keep.

Has been a day of Trauma by Dentists, so just this quick snippet in response to Susan's post at Mid-Week Motiff: The Key.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Severely disabled, bed-bound, 
with no eyes, non-verbal,
locked in his silent inner world,
he is rolled on his wheeled cart,
by his caregiver, 
down to the quay, by the water.
As the wind off the water, salted and tangy,
kicks up a gust and whooshes across his face,
his expression turns blissful.

I have read that eagles, too injured to return to the wild,
kept in cages and compounds in a wildlife refuge,
respond similarly when the winds blow strong.
When the winds off the desert gust and billow,
in their pens and cages 
the eagles all close their eyes. 
They face into the wind
and, together, lift their wings
to ride the currents,
in those moments 
remembering freedom.

So with us, when the temptress wind
blows across the landlocked desert of our hearts,
we close our eyes,
along with the eagles,
and long to fly.

Friday, July 4, 2014


Spirit Walkers
lovers of the land
walking on Mother Earth with reverence
in harmony with all that is
wisdom-keepers, holding the ancient ways
of those who lived in harmony with nature
for ten thousand years

incomprehensible to them
when the ghost-walkers arrived
taking life from the earth without regard
giving nothing back,
no limits to greed and destruction,
banning prayer, prohibiting language,
trying to eradicate a culture
the word we  are  too guilty to speak: genocide
the social structure we are 
too embarrassed to recognize: apartheid

driven from the beloved homeland
they watered the Trail of Tears
with their sorrow, their blood, their bones
Those who survived bequeathed a strong spirit
to those who followed after,
though it took a hundred years for despair to abate
enough for the warrior spirit
to arise

Now watch those Rainbow Warriors, rising
strong in spirit, in culture
listen to the beating of the drums
rallying, vibrating across this land
hear their songs, see their dances
hear them speaking, strong in their message:
We are awake.
We are Idle No More.

The spirits from the ancestors
who walked that Trail of Tears
are standing with the warriors
and are clamoring to be heard:

You have lived wantonly on Mother Earth,
reaping destruction, without thought
for the seven generations ahead.
Awaken! Bring your souls out of hiding.
Ready your hands and hearts to till and replant,
mend and restore the Earth Mother.
Repair the devastation,
before we all are lost.