Thursday, April 30, 2015

Final Words

Lisa Barnes photo

On this, the very last day
of interacting with the world,
I need to say, to Mother Nature:
you have been the most wonderful lover.
I will miss feeling the touch 
of your wind on my face,
miss hearing the song of the river,
miss watching the silver dance 
of sunlight on ocean waves.
Thank you for the beauty
with which you have blessed my life.
I will have my caregivers
park me at the window
in my easy chair, so I can still watch 
your unfolding wonders
through the glass.

for Izy's prompt at Real Toads on this last day of poetry month: our final words before losing all communication with the outer world. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Snapping Dragons in Early May


Outside the castle
on a day as bright as May
a little snapping dragon
toddled my way.

"How do?" I smiled
as I tipped my hat.
And that is all
there was
to that.

Magaly over at Real Toads wanted a plant named after an animal (is a dragon an animal?) and she wanted it short, which suits my available brain cells perfectly. Do go check out the Toads. They have been writing like maniacs all month.

Poetic Justice

When the last bird and human have breathed 
their last gasp,
when the turgid, oil-polluted waters 
grow still and stagnant,
when the last whale has beached, 
died in agony, and decayed,
and not one cricket chirps, not one worm burrows,
when the last fish flops limply at the edge of 
a lake filled with plastic,
when all the plankton in the boiling sea is gone,
when dead cars litter the landscape
and dead air lies like a haze on the horizon,
when nothing moves but an angry hot dry wind
in the few dead brittle ghost trees that still remain
when radioactivity is the only activity left,
then Earth will receive her poetic justice
and begin, slowly, to heal.
One year far in the future, one tiny green sprout
will burst through the earth's surface
and our Mother will slowly begin
to live again.

For Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motif: Justice or Poetic Justice

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Where I Come From

364 Christleton

I come from apple orchards and and sweet-scented blossoms, from sweet pea and lilac, a canvas hammock slung under a weeping willow, wet bathing suits hung on the line, that dont have time to dry out before the next swim. I come from lake-scent and marsh grasses, the smell of summer mornings taking me back fifty years to a little cottage on Christleton Avenue. I come from brown hills covered with wild yellow daisies, the smell of sage, songs about tumbling tumbleweed. I come from weeping willow and poplar, and the gentle lapping of baby waves against the shore, from bullrushes and horsetail, that I tried to pick apart when I was not as tall as the green stalks. I come from bike rides past old country farms, as evening falls,  the meadowlark singing its melodic song from the pasture.

I come from a cackling grandma and a twinkling grandpa, shiny dimes tucked into a tiny white envelope, to buy a popsicle and some dubble bubble. I come from a small sleepy orchard town surrounded by mountains, the Big Blue Hills of my childhood, and a lake down the street where the best day was finding a log to bounce up and down  on, when the waves began to dance. 

I come from family visits where the stove never grew cold, pancakes the size of skillets, with brown sugar on top, and strawberry shortcake served to the menfolk in serving bowls, with cackles and great hoots of laughter, Grandpa thumping the salt and pepper shakers, which were never in the right place. 

The Marrs ~ My mother in the middle, back row
Uncle Don, who just passed, on the left, back row

I come from a line of strong women and gallant, devoted men, all the beautiful aunts and uncles with the trademark round Marr eyes, so impossibly glamorous to we freckled awkward children, as the ice tinkled in the glasses, and the stories and laughter filled the happy hours. I come from a little house on Christleton Avenue, that spawned generations of cacklers, and launched us all like little bouncing ships, that came and went from its shores, through the busy years, until, one by one, they came no more.

I come from dates in two-tone '55 Chevys, with guys with slicked back duck tails, who showed up smelling of talcum powder and leather upholstery. We would troll up one side of Bernard Avenue, through City Park, and down the other side, seeing and being seen, then do it all again. 

I come from rose-scent and whisperings on soft summer evenings, in a small town full of rose and lilac dreams, from  all the sad songs of broken promises and heartbreak, whose words would become a prophecy: Blue Velvet, Mr Lonely,  Cryin' Over You, a love of dancing in a girl who rarely got to dance once she was grown, a lover of song who slowly, over the years, forgot to sing.

When I go back to that town, I visit all the beautiful loved ones in the cemetery on the hill., where this week we will lay one more gently down, to join his parents and siblings in Heaven.

I took my flock of ducklings back to this town to nest when they and the world were young and, when the fledglings had flown, I gathered the wind under my wings and made a prodigious leap across the desert, over the mountains, to the edge of the western sea, where the waves had long  been calling me. 

And now I come from ocean roar and pounding waves, galloping into shore like white-maned horses, from sea and sky and scudding clouds, cry of the gull, wing of the eagle, small darting sandpipers, long-legged heron, long sandy beaches stretching to forever, and always and forever, forever and always, the song of the sea, waves advancing and retreating on the shores of my heart.

I am old-growth forest and morning fog, and the moo of the foghorn at Lennard Light, sunrises and sunsets, and the long lope of wolves along the shore as the dusk purples the sand and we take one last lingering look, then turn towards home.


for Mary's wonderful prompt at dVerse: to write a poem full of color and sense memory about Where I Come From, the things that shaped me. Interesting, given I returned to my hometown this weekend. Friday night, .there I was , with family, in my home town, in a springtime full of blossoms, listening to the songs of my youth. Wow. My uncle who just passed away , was the last living sibling of my mother. Thankfully his wife, our aunt, is still with us. The original Marr family is now reunited in heaven. 

For Fellow Beings in Nepal

We gaze upon you with sober hearts,
since we all are mortal, 
perched on the edge of 
our own tectonic plates,
looking into a future
all unknown
that we cannot foresee.

May all beings find refuge.
May all return to stillness,
security and peace.

I am back, kids, exhausted. The earthquake in Nepal is sobering. Tonight between 6 and 6:30 p.m. daylight saving time, the Power Path School of Shamanism is leading a meditation and invites us to rattle our rattles, drum our drums, light incense and sage and candles, and to envision, under the Himalayas, a grounding and steadying of the land, a return to stillness. 

Day 28

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Kelowna Bound

My sister and I are hitting the road this morning to make a quick road trip to Kelowna, home town of our childhood,  to see our aunt, and cousins. Our uncle passed away last evening, and we are going to be there with the family at this sad time. This is the last of my mother's siblings left alive; it is the end of an era. We so admired this glamorous group of relatives, back in their glory days. They seemed impossibly beautiful and sophisticated to our gaggle of gawky kids. A golden time that shines in memory,  more brightly the older we get.

As I will be without computer access until Monday night, I include two Crone Crunchies, to cover Day 25 and Day 26 of the poem a day for April. I hope to write a poem while I am away, to post Monday night.


He talked in riddles
that could only be deciphered
with the key of love.


Village Wedding Feast by Bruegel


The woman in the dream looked like
a painting by Bruegel: rotund, a long dress, 
a white, full-bibbed apron,
plain flushed face, thick arms.
She spoke truth when she said,
"There is the potential for joy.
You just have to follow
the right dream."


Days 25 and 26, kids.  I will be back Monday night and will catch up with you all then.  Take care, my friends.

Friday, April 24, 2015


I follow the popcorn trail.
At the base of an old growth tree,
under a tilted toadstool
there's a message just  for me:
Follow the mossy footprints,
wish on your wishing star
and you'll wind up at the sea,
because it isn't very far.

One step for integrity, 
another step for joy,
two steps for compassion,
'cause we always need some more.
Take one step for courage,
perhaps the very first,
and if you use them all,
you will undo the curse.

The goblins all are grumbling.
They try to run away.
You have displayed the qualities
that hold them all at bay.
I wish you joy and happiness,
and that you always care,
for when you follow the popcorn trail
you'll find love waiting there.

for Ella's prompt at Real Toads: Go Grimm 

A Little Pool of Grace

Wild Woman's pet raven is looking at her
through her pince-nez.
Sp(b)eaking in her gravelly voice.
she croaks,
"My dear tired friend,
do try to stop
pushing the river.
to the water's flow,
and soon you may find yourself
in a little pool of grace."

Day 24

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ode to McLaughlin Ridge

McLaughlin Ridge, formerly a popular
forested area for hikers,  and a home for wildlife
Not technically a clearcut because 
of the few remaining trees- 
the "wildlife corridor", perhaps?

[photo by T.J. Watt]

Green glen, treed cathedral,
reverent ancient cedar world
there through antiquity
until, in only half a century,
we gobbled you up,
pulped you into toilet paper and phone books,
chipped you into sawdust,
loaded you onto ships
or trucked you away.

Now, no more trails,
no more beds for slumbering deer,
no more hideaway for wintering bears.
The wolves grow thin.

As your woodland creatures are flushed,
dazed and hungry, down your slopes,
onto "our" roads and into "our" yards,
their distress only increases:
terrorized and hit by speeding cars,
shot for "intruding" into "our" space.
So unfair when we have so savagely intruded
into yours.
No  asking for permission,
no thought to your - or our - survival,
very soon,
when we are left living on a moonscape,
rainforest turned thirsty desert,
we will begin to feel
what you feel , now, at the disappearance
of all you held most dear.


In the Vancouver Sun yesterday, via Facebook, I came across the startling information that not only does Island Timberlands own large tracts of Port Alberni's surrounding forest,  it also "owns" our area's watershed!!! And while, as a rainforest,   we normally receive 8.9 metres (not inches, metres) of rainfall a year,  we are expected to run short of water this year by June. Last year we ran short in August. Our aquefier water level this spring is the lowest in 30 years. 

Two main causes: one, the minimal amount of snowpack on the mountains here this winter, due to global warming, so the recharging of domestic water supply is impacted. Second, as  the article by Stephen Hume  explains, is  the effect of clearcutting around and above the watershed. Conclusions reached by many experts and expressed by our MLA Scott Fraser is that cutblocks above our water source should never have been logged, and that Port Alberni should own its own watershed.

250,000 hectares of forest, 75,000 of which surround our town, all formerly Crown land, were ceded as private forest to Island Timberlands by the provincial government. Thus no logging restrictions or standards apply.

Meanwhile logging has accelerated, since the price of timber is up. 60 percent of our old growth has been logged. The article states Port Alberni can "kiss its water quality goodbye" if logging of old growth on the steep slopes above the water system continues. As it will. Such lack of foresight is mind-boggling. A wanton disregard for the continuation of life, monetary profit being the deciding factor. Profit for a few at the expense of the many.

Day 23.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


The middle of the Rocky Mountains
photo by Jon Merk

A Flawless Magician set the mountains all in place
set sun and moon and stars up in the sky
to keep us dreaming on the how and why
in our eternal quest to see His face.

On earth, the beauty of the sea and land
was painted by a Master Artist's Hand
in Mysteries too deep to understand,
its smallest cell and pattern 
most magnificently planned.

No matter how we might abuse His gift,
between humans and nature, such a rift,
nature shines her brightest beauty nonetheless,
her bounty spilling onto us, to bless

When God made earth, He gave His very best,
scattered a universe of stars o'er all the rest.

for Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motif: Earth Day or Earthiness, and for Elizabeth's prompt at Soul's Music : Earth Day Challenge. Happy Earth Day, to our beautiful Mother Earth, who keeps sharing her goodies, even when we don't take good care of them. Day 22.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Weightiness of a Name

In wonderland and dreaming,
in both English and Urdu,
they tell me my name is
the rich claret of fortified wine,
seasoned with age, aging with seasons.
For certain, I am fortified,
and well seasoned.
In France, I'd be Cheri, or dear,
but I choose deer, from the white meadow,
who wandered hesitantly 
across our lawn last night,
too young to be alone,
but alone nonetheless.

In Gaelic, close to home, I am O'Searraigh,
a name meaning foal,
(the foal that died, 
the new foal that did not come).
Google says "She Knows"
and somewhere within, I Know,
but the knowing doesn't prevent me
from making stupid choices.

Google says I am spiritually intense,
that I can sting and charm,
not, likely, in the same moment.
This, too, must be true,
judging by the arched, significant looks 
those around me often exchange
thinking that I don't see.

The Sherry I can bear, as I don't mind 
a little nip of a chilly evening.
But my given name was painful in grade school,
where I was called Sheryl the Barrel,
an epithet, coupled with my freckles and limp hair,
that would have done my self-esteem little good,
had I possessed any.

My married name has brought me bad karma,
and I psychically resist ever saying it out loud.
I refuse it.
This is the year when my given names, 
legal and married,
will finally be hacked away, 
like shackles around my spirit,
and Sherry Marr will fly free 
of her albatross
at long freaking last.

LOL. Bjorn's prompt at Real Toads, to create a poem from the meaning of one's name, belatedly appealed to me. Not deathless poesy, but some words to qualify as fulfilling Day 21 .


Speak to me
in the language of flowers:
sensitive to the nuances
of soil, moisture,
climatic fluctuation
and response.

Look beneath my surface,
for what is there,
waiting to be discovered.
Part the fulsome greenery,
and find the bud
in the place
I keep most hidden.

The blooms of our two lives
are heavy-laden,
heads tipped and toppling,
nodding in the breeze.
From underneath
their most precarious weight,
our hands emerge,
as tentative
as leaves.

Speak to me
in the language of flowers,
if you care to understand,
and perhaps,
my heart
will find an answer

This was written in 2013 for a prompt by Kerry at Real Toads. Re-posted today for the Toads' Tuesday Platform.

This Is What Desperation Looks Like

This what desperation looks like:
too many people on too small a boat
in the middle of the ocean,
one refugee, with his story, at a time -
grandpas, babies, children, young people -
fleeing war, poverty, persecution,
gunfire, bombs, machetes, 
starvation, rape  -
fleeing all the killing -
over-loaded boats tipping, sinking,
their scant hope for survival
drowning in the waves.

And but for 
an accident of geography,
each of their stories
could be ours.

Prayers for the desperate, 
that they may find safety.
Prayers for those disappeared 
beneath the waves,
that they now know peace.
Prayers for the international community's leaders,
that they may provide urgent humanitarian aid, 
no longer participate in 
the politics of war.

Images on the tv screen are so compelling, refugees fleeing from Libya - people so desperate they  prefer the serious risk of drowning in flight to the terrors of staying where life is untenable. May the world ACT. Day 21.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Landays in a Time of War

Your unmanned drones make a living hell
of days and nights in my beautiful besieged country

Women tell each other secret poems
to make sense of the nightmare of oppression we live 

Not enough tents for those war displaces
The horizon is littered with the broken-hearted

photos by Seamus Murphy, from A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan

Landays: the secret poetry of Pashtun women, on the border of Afghanistan, by which they respond with sometimes ribald humor, sometimes love, grief and separation, to the harshness of their lives.

The first line of each couplet is 9 syllables, the second thirteen


Day 20

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Half My Heart

The River by Lisa Barnes

There's a new moon made of glass
hanging over the mountain,
and an alabaster shawl
draped along its slopes.
Nine swans huddle at the river's edge
and my solitary heart
is floating in the mist
along its shore.

I have lived in this valley
for fifteen years,
with only half my heart,
and I am still just a visitor here,
perched, like Raven,
on the topmost branch
of the jagged scrag,
gauging the horizon,
gathering my wings
in readiness
to fly.

for Karin's prompt at Real Toads: halves, by half, halvsies. Day 19.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Roses by Plum Bridge

The Buddha land where once
we dreamed our dreams
by the light of the candles
is abandoned now.
The dreamers have all gone.
A crumbling wall reveals
dead leaves scattered across the floor
where once we ate, and laughed
and believed in a beautiful tomorrow.

War has touched the village
which is now full of ghosts and whispers.
But three roses still bloom by Plum Bridge,
in memory of those days
that will live forever in memory
until my last breath.

I am reading Thich Nhat Hanh's Fragrant Palm Leaves, his memories of a golden time spent in community at Phuong Boi in Vietnam in the 1960's, before war caused him to flee and live forever in exile from the place he so loved.

Day 18

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Terzanelle

My eldest daughter, Lisa

When springtime's heat descends upon the land,
the dust motes swirl, as all is basked in sun,
the trees drink deep, and every leaf is fanned.

Warmth and beauty, bright the river runs;
as if the cold of winter never was,
the dust motes swirl, and all is basked in sun.       

Hummingbirds whirr and sun-dazed bumbles buzz,
blue jays bomb the feeders, flowers bend and sway,
as if the cold of winter never was.     

We waited long grey months for such a day
to escape our winter houses, greet the sky,
as blue jays bomb the feeders, the flowers bend and sway.

Above, a blueness, in our hearts a wondering sigh,
such magic has arrived to paint the land,
lure us from our winter houses, to greet the sky. 
Our spirits stretch their wings, our cramped souls pray,
and warmth and joy is all we understand,    
for magic has arrived to paint the land.
The trees drink deep, and every leaf is fanned.

A Terzanelle, a combination of villanelle and terza rima, as explained at NaPoWriMo. Lines and rhymes are chained throughout the poem, so that the middle line of each triplet is repeated as the last line of the following triplet (or, for the last triplet, in the concluding quatrain). It looked daunting, so I attempted it as an exercise.

Day 17

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Death's Feathery Wing

When death comes and brushes 
your family
with its feathery wing,
let the tree of your being
sink its roots deeply into the earth,
the better to keep your balance
as the winds of grief move 
through your soul.

But allow your leaves and branches
to remain supple and bending,
so they dance in the breezes of
the present moment without breaking.
May their willowy waltz 
brighten the eyes
of your loved one, letting him know
that, even in pain and tears, 
you will be all right,
still living in the love song
that is this life's gift to you.

Be still and listen for the flutter 
of angel wings close by,
as all those you and your departing one 
have ever loved and lost
bend near to gather 
your dear one Home.

Day 16

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

On Sow's Ears and Silk Purses

print available at

"You cant make a silk purse out of a sow's ear,"
my grandma would opine.
So was I a fool for trying?
So many ears, so little time!


"If wishes were horses, 
then beggars would ride,"
when I wished out loud
Grandma would chide.
But life without dreams
I could not abide.
How is it I wound up
always a bridesmaid
and never a bride,
with a '92 Toyota for my ride?


They thought I was an imbecile.
I dare not ask if they think so still,
especially as the years go on,
and more of my brain cells are gone.


google image - photographer unknown

"Look at those old fools," scoffs callow youth, 
his  baggy pants slung below his bum.
"They're ancient. They dont see the truth,
they must not know they look so dumb."

I chide him, "Look through kinder eyes,"
(It will take him decades to grow wise),
impart my lesson, dutiful:
"Love at any age is beautiful."

(and this part isnt foolishness!)

some random  thoughts for  Susan's Mid Week Motif: Foolishness

As it turns out, this might also qualify for Hedgewitch's prompt at Real Toads: Folly

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Traveler, Do You Have a Dream?

do you have
a dream
long for?

Do you have
a dream
you have set aside,
you may have missed your chance,
and it can
never be?

Fly up!
that dream
your heartland.

The bird
no limits
when she's
the sky.

for Mary's prompt : It's Time! at Poetry Jam. This is Poetry Jam's last post. Thank you, to Mary and all who participated at Poetry Jam. It has always been a wonderful site to visit. It will be missed.

Day 14!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sister of My Heart

Dear sister of my heart,
When we learned nushu
in the time of foot-binding,
we vowed to be laotong forever,
and so I write to tell you
that my smallest son has died,
and the heart has gone out of my husband.

Write back to me,
before the first snows of winter.
Speak to me what is in your heart,
that I may be able
to go on living.

"We tell each other stories in order to live". Joan Didion

for Susie's prompt at Real Toads, to write a poem inspired by one of Didion's quotes.

* Nushu is the secret language women in the Hunan province of China developed, in order to communicate with each other - a written language no men could read

*laotong - a relationship of sworn sisters,  providing lifelong support to women, whose lives were circumscribed in those times within their traditional roles. Source: The Guardian

Dont miss Susie's poem, The Price of Poetry, about the secret women poets of Afghanistan. It is amazing, as is the background article about what girls and women go through to write their poetry, an outlet forbidden to them in their country. They write at risk of their lives.