Tuesday, December 29, 2015

THE SINGING KITES OF WAT OPOT

link to the book here


Khleng ek - the singing kite -
flies the heavens
in gratitude for harvest.
It sings its prayers to the God of the Wind,
for dispersing the clouds and bringing the sun,
so the rice grew well.

Below, the orphans of Wat Opot
know joy,
watching Brother Kite carry their dreams
and prayers
to the heavens, where all their parents live.

In long gone days, the old kite masters
could fashion kites that sang in seven tones,
a glorious symphony
heard below, especially in darkness,
when the heat and clamor of the day was done.
The orphans' kites sing in three tones,
sometimes five,
a miracle of small hearts
that try to hold big dreams
against the certain knowledge
of all that took their families
away.


Some time back, I read In a Rocket Made of Ice, by Gail Gutradt, about the AIDS-impacted (and many HIV-positive) orphans of Wat Opot, in Cambodia. The orphanage, which now houses many orphans, and offers medical and supportive care to nearby villagers, as well as programs for the children, was begun by Wayne Matthysse, a former Marine corp medic in Vietnam. When he saw the need and responded, he had only fifty dollars in his pocket.

Now, he says he still has only fifty dollars in his pocket, but the work they are doing there, the lives they are helping, sustaining and, often times, honoring at their closing, is phenomenal.Gail has spent much time there among the children, and relays the children's stories so beautifully, that at each's chapter's closing, my heart felt a regretful ping. I grieved at the end of this journey among the children, upon closing the last page.

It is not the sadness of their plight, but the joy with which they live, that holds great lessons for the rest of us.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Radiance

tree-health.com


Angels always dazzle.
Watching the heavens,
sad fools will awaken
from their dark dreamlike dance,
and remember only radiance.

I found this  loitering in my draft file. Sitting in the glow of my daughter's Christmas tree, the world does seem to be bathed in radiance this morning. I hope your holidays have been sprinkled with magic dust, as have mine.  And here comes a brand new year, full of hope and possibility! Yay!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gone Carolling!

batemancatholic.org

I'm off to Victoria, my friends, to spend Christmas with my youngest, Stephanie, her husband, Gord, and their two  dogs. I am taking a stocking of toys and treats for the puppies , of course, as they expect it of me. Smiles. I won't have computer access until I return home Boxing Day evening, so I will catch up with you then. I hope you all enjoy whatever celebration you may be observing. As winter solstice has occurred, I know we all will be celebrating the gradual returning of the light as we turn, once again, towards another spring. On-going miracles!

Happy holidays, along with my thanks for another year of sharing and appreciating poetry. Bless each of you who takes the time to read my words. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that you do. And may you all be visited by Christmas angels, as i have been this week. Blessings abound!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

When the World Was Young

Wolf
photo by Deborah Steel



In the lifetime before the lifetime before this one,
and again the lifetime before that,
I danced under the blue sky at the sundance,
when I and the world were young.

The beat of the drum sang in my blood
and my feet moved in joy,
      and I danced
          and I danced
as if it would last forever,
when I and the world were young.

The Old Ones smiled on me
with kind eyes, but with sadness, too,
for their dreams foresaw suffering
for the people.

Over in the meadow, grey wolves flitted
in and out among the Standing People, 
paws prancing high,
and the backs of the buffalo carpeted the earth
in the days when I and the world were young.

And now I live again in an alien skin,
in a world grown cold.
The buffalo are gone and all that moves
is made of metal.
And I am an Old One with kind, sad eyes,
watching the young dance in a world gone mad,
and the ancient spirits are crying still,
remembering the days of dancing under the sun
when they and I and the world were young.

Two nights ago I attended young Sebastian's Christmas concert. I have been babysitting him since he was two and he is now a big boy of six. He attends a First Nations school outside of town, where the curriculum instills pride in culture, teaching language, respect of the old ceremonies, and the songs and dances of the Nuu chah nulth people. 

So the concert was a wonder: two hours of song and dance in full hereditary costume. The last dance was named Everything Is One, (what happens to one, happens to all).  As the drums beat, children of all ages twirled and swooped and dove, dressed as hummingbird, eagle, heron. Children wore the pelts of bear, cougar, wolf, and they danced a long, joyous dance of interconnection with all of Mother Earth.

I was, in a word, in heaven. And I knew, as I have always known, that in another lifetime, I was one of the people, for the drum quickens in my blood like a homecoming, and I feel more at home among First Nations than among my own culture. I always have. 

We came out to thick, fat snowflakes falling, the children running with joy, faces upturned to catch the flakes upon their tongues. For them, hope is alive,  and joy is catching snowflakes. For them, the world is still young.


posted for Kerry's prompt at Real Toads: Going Back in Time, and for Poets United's Poetry Pantry.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Grand Design

Tree of Life in Chinese mythology
rationalfaiths.com\TreeofLife

In the breathtaking design of the universe,
God's hand can be seen:
in the intricacies of the tiniest cell,
in how the pattern of the placenta,
womb and portal,
  echoes the trunk and root systems
of the Tree of Life,
in the way the planets and stars 
align in the sky,
moon and sun traveling in tandem,
to provide us with warmth and light
and seasons.

It is impossible to look at the intricate design
of a flower, the amazing colours of
the creatures of the sea,
to see the design in everything,
how everything is linked,
and not see the Hand of God
in every blessed thing.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Design


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

We Are Not Well



In the Sangwa, the elephant family 
moves serenely across the floodplains,
rumbling contentedly to each other, 
grazing overhanging branches,
stopping occasionally to reach their trunks 
into wells they've dug to access the water there.

Suddenly, they all turn, 
trunks raised high like periscopes, sniffing danger.

As the thwack-thwack-thwack of the helicopter 
clears the nearby ridge,
the big grey beasts begin to run and scream in fear.
The shots ring out.
It is a government sponsored cull,
warfare on elephant families,
large and small mothers, grandmothers, babies
running, falling, dying in great pain,
lifeblood seeping into the hot sand.

And thwack-thwack-thwack, 
the noisy machine lifts up and away,
work done for the day, ledgers ticked off, 
numbers counted and recorded:

Say the names: Jabula. Miss Piggy.
Friday. Mufambo. 250 beings in all.

a "necessary cull" for some misguided reason,
by those who don't allow themselves 
to think or feel the genocide. 
Those who do not stand 
and watch the traumatized survivors, 
standing over the bodies of their slain family,
trunks whiffing in distress over 
the eyes, the ears, the orifices, 
trying to sniff if any life is left.
Who do not return to watch them 
standing for days over the bodies, mourning.
Who do not see them finally walking away, 
with the shooting etched forever in their memories,
stark and bloody as any mass shooting always is,
to be as grievously mourned.

In Shona, there is a ritual greeting, when you meet:
"How are you?"
"I am well."
"I am well if you are well, so we are well."
Things are not well in the land of dying elephants,
so we are not well.

I just finished reading Katy Payne's Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants, about her years of research, tracking and coming to know well groups of elephants in the Shona. Katy was studying their infrasonic communication over distances. In this book, the reader comes to know the elephants well,  along with Katy, so when a bureaucracy-ordered culling occurs, "to protect habitat",  towards the end of the book, it is almost as devastating to the reader as it was to the writer. 

Katy discusses how, due to poaching, the elephant population diminished from 1.3 million to 500,000, as of the writing of this book, back in 1998.  

Wikipedia states there were between three and five million African elephants as recently as the 1930's and 1940's - the population was halved between 1980 and 1990, due to trophy hunting and poaching. It is now estimated to be somewhere between 400,000 and 600,000, but only 20% of elephant range is protected.  

Central Africa  lost 64% of its elephant population in just three years, 100,000 being lost to poaching between 2010 and 2012, according to a study  reported by National Geographic, stating one in every twelve elephants was killed by poachers. The relentless poaching threatens the survival of elephants in Africa. Elephants are also endangered through habitat loss, having lost over 50% of their range.

A Great Elephant Census is currently underway to estimate population, but it is clear elephants are under threat of extinction. Thankfully, four countries - Botswana, Namibia, Gabon and Uganda, are acting as safe haven for elephants, according to the Great Elephant Census.

Because of a mix of human desperation, poverty and greed, elephants are as desperate these days as any other refugee, fleeing terror, seeking safety for their families.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Grain of Sand


sand grains multiplied 110 - 250 times
photo copyright Dr. Gary Greenberg

Each grain of sand unique,
we walk, unaware, on jeweled beauty.
If a lowly sand-grain 
harbours such loveliness,
how much more, the human eye,
the human smile,
the human heart?

for Kerry's prompt at Real Toads: In a Grain of Sand ~ Micro Poetry

Saturday, December 12, 2015

THE DOGS OF HEAVEN

The Black Dog of Joy

The dogs of Heaven
are running through my dreams,
all the loved little creatures
that blessed my life.
Their paws,
a trail of footprints
'cross my heart,
their happy eyes remembering
all we shared
"until we part."

At the front of the pack
runs fast a big, black wolf,
his eyes aglow with joy 
of release and no more pain.
To see such joy 
within his eyes so plain,
I'd set him free
one hundred times
again
and yet
again.


A poem from 2011, posted for this week's Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where there is good reading every Sunday morning. I miss that big old laughing black dog so much.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Earth and Sky



Water comes first, then we follow,
gasp in a big breath of air, and then we cry.
Thus we are introduced to the world
as it always was and always will be.
Water: essential, blessed,
part of our beings from our very first day.

Through the Sacred Medicine Wheel I journeyed,
dipped my toes in a magical sea,
soul thrumming with the song of the waves.
My sign, my element, my spirit's home:
Mother Ocean.

Above, the sky, the air, the vast expanse,
curving over all
the great blue bowl of aether,
underfoot, the earth, brown and humble
and mothering.

I bow to you, Sky, I sing with you, Wind,
I dance in the rain, laughing
at the great clap of thunder,
feel the rushing whoosh of wind on my face,
raindrops falling on my spirit,
cleansing me anew,
healing the riven places, washing
all negative energy away.

When I am clean, 
when the Great Bowl Above grows dark,
I creep homeward, 
settle beside a crackling fire,
remember the winking stars, 
the great wheeling seabirds,
wonder at the beauty gracing this span of time 
that is still mine.

To the earth I bow, in gratitude, 
in homecoming. 
It waits to receive me
when that final moment comes,
when I will become one
with All That Is.

First, there was water,
at the end
only earth and sky.

for Hannah's Transforming with Nature's Wonders at Real Toads: to write about the elements.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Blue

The Farm
photo by Lori Kerr

Winter blues out my window,
fresh morning breaking,
doves at the feeder,
horses in the lean-to.
The colour blue wraps my winter world,
weaves through my winter heart,
peeks through my winter sky.
Blue.
The colour of goodbye.



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"We Do Not Want to Die in Silence"

demoncracynow.org photo

Once again, we, 
first peoples of the land and waters,
we, who have so much to teach 
about living in harmony with Mother Earth,
have our voices silenced.

Hear us.
We speak to your minds and hearts,
out of love for the earth.
We do not want to die in silence.

Indigenous people protested in a canoe flotilla a day after a draft agreement was reached in Paris for what is hoped to be a global accord to curb carbon emissions. Indigenous spokesperson Clayton Thomas-Muller explained his people are very concerned that, in the draft agreement, the voice of indigenous people has been annexed, set aside. Reference to indigenous rights and human rights has been removed from the draft agreement, "for discussion later".

"We want our rights included in the final agreement. We ... demonstrate our commitment to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth," said Mr. Thomas-Muller. "We're...asserting our territorial jurisdiction and sovereignty as indigenous peoples."

Indigenous people have been protesting oil drilling on aboriginal land, and raising their voices seeking protection of the waters.

They, who have lived in harmony with Mother Earth for thousands of years, have so much to teach us. Their voices should be heard first of all. That their valuable voice and input is being set aside greatly concerns me. 

a link to the video of the canoe flotilla demonstration can be found here

Friday, December 4, 2015

RAVEN'S GIFT


allaboutbirds.org

Raven travels the Blue Road
to bring Wild Woman a gift.

You carry a message of trust,
says Raven,
light for the darkness of our times.
There is magic in the void,
creative forces swirling in the cosmos.
Reach up, and grab yourself a fistful of hope.
Scatter the news that all is far from lost,
that for every troubled soul, 
there are one thousand more
dreaming only of peace,
of justice.

Continue affirming
that being more, not having more, 
is where peace lies.

Raven hopped onto the hood 
of Wild Woman's car just yesterday morning.
She gifted him with crumbled biscuit,
and he flew, swift, away,
bread in his beak, and happy.

A gift for a gift.

One from 2014, my friends. Just because. This day has brought gifts, wanted to give one in return.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

When I Dance

unknown - via pinterest


When I dance,
I am light as a feather.
I am Song, I am Grace
mixed together.
Those boys down there
can jeer and stare,
and say rude things
and look askance.
I do not even hear them
when I dance.

I give them not a solitary glance.
I take my stance,
enter deep trance,
my heart suffused with fine romance,
for every heart must have its chance,
and I am light and beautiful,
especially when I dance.

for Words Count with Mama Zen over at Real Toads ~
to write a poem with an emphasis on eckphrasis.
I exceeded the word count by sixteen words.
My bad! I did not want to remove the hope, LOL.



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Message From the Universe




"I feel I am meant to give you a message," 
she said, walking up to me, smiling.

I had never seen her before.
But my ears perked up.
I am always alert for messages.

"In a dream, I saw you walking on a beach
with a little black puppy.
And there was a wolf somewhere, watching,
in the trees.
Does this make any sense to you?"

"Oh, yes! This is the dream of my life,
and your message gives me hope
that it will come true.
And yes, I know the wolf,
who is watching."

We smile. She walks away.
Now, here I am,
walking on the beach with a little black puppy.
I smile over towards the trees,
where I know a big black wolf
has his eyes on me.

for Grace's prompt at dVerse: Secrets of the Universe, to write about everyday life with a note of wonder, or the mystical. Some of this poem is true - the message part - the ending is my fantasy, LOL. Great prompt, Grace!


TREE



Wild Woman has the opposite of vitality.
Her life force has been ground down
to powder
by the whirlygigs and bumper-car 
collisions of others.

Even a tree gets tired,
sometimes, of holding up its branches,
eternally entreating the heavens,
tired of supporting the weight
of those who shelter in its branches.

She walks into the forest 
to commune with her sisters.
Deep peace.
She breathes. She listens. She absorbs.
Along with the raindrops,
balm sluices through her being.
Distress lifts off and flutters away.
When she emerges, 
there will still be problems,
clamorous voices, and disharmony.
But there will also be
replenishment, steadfastness, 
renewed strength.

She returns home
and lifts up her branches
once more.
Even a tree gets tired sometimes,
of bearing arms.
But its trunk holds fast
to the end.


for Susan's timely topic at Midweek Motif: Energy/Vitality.  I had little yesterday, when I penned this. But a day spent in my fleecy pj's, putting up my tiny tree, greatly improved the situation. Smiles.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

WILD WOMAN DOES BATTLE



Wild Woman arrives at a hobble
to do serious battle with  the Iris Bed.

"Oh, woe is I!" she mutters,
at the shocking sight.

The tangle of weeds is higher
than  the fair Iris's head.
Errant fattened Dangerously Prickly
blackberry vines and assorted mayhem
proclaim Serious Neglect
has long overtaken the hidden blooms.

And, most frightening of all,      
the Fair Iris is having the life
choked out of her
by the hideous, tightly twining Horrible Ivy,
whose death grip around Iris's throat
is so tight Iris can only utter
a faint, desperate "gleep, gleep",
which Wild Woman translates  as

"Hurry! Hurry!"

Wild Woman hoves to: At great personal risk,
she steps bravely into the tangled thorny patch.
She clips, she mutters, she heaves.

A satisfying pile of debris forms a mountain
of limp, expired weeds
and thorny vanquished branches
behind her.

But! when she is done,
the Fair Iris stands proud and tall,
evidence of Persevering Midst Completely
Untenable Conditions.


She takes her first deep breaths.
She sways and preens.
She is Free At Last!
Liberation has likely never
felt so sweet.



And Wild Woman? Her back
fairly shrieking in protest,
smilingly  hobbles away.

a poem from 2011, my friends, posted for Real Toads' Tuesday Platform.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Hush

Coyote - en.wikipedia.org



The sunny blue sky
and the forest trails beckon
but hush!
there are creatures in the bush.

Raven's on the wing
and Coyote softly sings
so hush!
what message do they bring?

Pheasant's overhead
and there's frost on the mead-
ow, hush!
there are footprints in the snow.

We pause to listen well,
ancient voices cast their spell
we hush,
to hear the Old Ones whisper low.

Driving through brilliant sunlight yesterday, these lines came to me, as Raven and Pheasant in turn crossed my windshield, Small Squirrel skittered away, and  thick frost glittered in the meadow. A light dusting of snow has made Mount Arrowsmith beautiful. Everyone in town was full of smiles, in the most welcome sunshine.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

THE LIGHTER SIDE OF DREAD



I'm gonna rap until I'm dead,
Fred,
all the words inside my head,
bled,
till the last rhythmic word is said,
hoping I can keep the thread.
Losing words is what I dread.

Gonna line the words up neat,
tweet,
to the old familiar beat,
street,
count the toes upon my feet,
then apply a little heat,
to make the endings sound real sweet.

But I wonder, when I'm old-
-er - if I may be so bold,
sir,
if my poems are crap,
and you see my brain is zapped,
will you tell me truly,
not  embarrass me unduly?
Ask me for a little rap.
I'll try to keep some words on tap.

LOL. For Fireblossom Friday's prompt at Real Toads: Dread. I tried to go for lightness, there being more than enough of the other kind. Thanks to Shay for the improved title.


I Look For You

photo by Lisa Melanie


Fog drifts across the forest,
shrouding the world in winter freeze.
I look for you,
shape-shifting among the trees.

A bear came to the back fence,
seeking apples this wintry morn.
The tree had none to give,
and he wandered off, forlorn.

A lone rabbit huddles 
where once summer seeds were sown.
Her mate has disappeared;
  winter she will pass alone. 

Three fat dogs lie on the frosty lawn.
My heart is always keening
for the one that's gone.
The fog and missing you
an ache that can't be eased,
I look for you,
shape-shifting among the trees.

for Pup, ever and always

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

SURVIVAL

CBC.CA 
UN Relief Agency for Palestine photo

Can you imagine fleeing your home
with the clothes on your back, 
carrying your baby, toddlers clinging to your skirt,
all of you crying, terrified, desperate?



express.co.uk

Can you imagine boarding 
an overloaded boat full of desperate people
setting forth on the ocean, seeking refuge,
and by some miracle, arriving on land alive?



theguardian.com

Can you imagine your new home is a tent,
with winter coming,
and wondering how you will keep your children
warm and fed and alive?




huffingtonpost.com


If you can, as I can,
let us open the doors of our hearts,
let us open our wallets,
donate to help those not yet safe,
welcome those who will soon newly arrive,
help them finally feel the time of survival has passed.
The time for living is now.


grimsbytelegraph.co.uk

Statistics:
There are now 60 million refugees world wide. Half of them are children.

Since war began in Syria in 2011, more than 11 million have died or been forced from their homes. That is half the population.

3.1 million Iraquis have been displaced.

In the Congo, 6 million have been killed, 4 million displaced.

In Gaza, 100,000 have been displaced, and 80% of the population needs external assistance.

In South Sudan,  1.6 million have been displaced, 755,000 have left the country.

The list goes on. But it is in one terrified, desperate face, that we see the whole story.


evergreendigest.org

Thankfully, midst the terror and devastation, there are many stories of people rising in response ~ to help, to rescue, to reassure, to welcome the suffering. This keeps me going. In the worst of times, the best of what it is to be human shines forth to illuminate the darkness and keep us from despair. Here is one video I saw on facebook that moved me greatly.  One small group of smiling humans. Bless them.





source of statistics:  https://www.mercycorps.org/articles/its-not-just-syria-refugee-crisis-60-million-and-growing

for Susan's Midweek Motif at Poets United on Wednesday: Survival

Monday, November 23, 2015

We Still Dream of Peace

all-free-download.com


I remember a time when we thought
we would change the world,
and we almost did:
the civil rights movement,
the women's movement,
Kent State,
Viet Nam:
"Hell no, we wont go",
flowers in gun barrels,
Make Love, Not War,
and
Give Peace a Chance.

Empowerment,
liberation,
joy
were in the air.

Hippies ambled, smiling,
up and down Fourth Avenue.
Haight-Ashbury was where it was at;
hair, beards, dresses all were long
and almost......almost
came the revolution.

Until they began
silencing the world-changers,
the visionaries, with bullets:
Gandhi,
Martin Luther King,
 young civil rights activists,
J.F.K.,
Bobby Kennedy,
John Lennon.

We gave up then,
retreating, shell-shocked,
into our solitary caves,
to mourn our young slain heroes.

The Establishment was
-and still is-
loathe to give up
its rapacious way of being.
The Military-Industrial Complex
won that round.

We Baby Boomers
felt our hope leap up again
when Barak Obama reminded us
what it is to dream,
just how badly
we all wanted change,
and, once again,
 what it is to have a leader
you can believe in.

One still has to hope
that if seven billion consciousnesses
could somehow unite
at the same moment in time,
that better world we long for
might yet arrive.

All these years and
so many heartbreaks later,
we still tear up
when we hear Imagine.
We still all dream
of peace.

I read a wonderful poem at ManicDDaily about the November 22 anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, which I remember well. I remember sitting, a few days later, in my classroom, watching the funeral on television and how John-John broke all our hearts with his three-year-old salute to his father. I dug around in drafts and found this, written likely on the anniversary a couple of years back, and dusted it off.

I am happy to see, especially with Craig and Mark Kielburger's We Day and Free the Children movement, that there are many young people still dreaming of changing the world - and working hard towards that end.