Friday, October 20, 2017

SHINRIN - YOKU


Picture collage by The Unknown Gnome



I walk under soft, dark greenness.
Peace falls on me like rain,
The fiddlehead fern of my being
slows,
softens,
opens,
gently unfurls.

I breathe in cedar,
moss,
fungi,
spores
that my Inner Old One
remembers
from centuries past.

Shapeshifters
dance
among the trees, unseen,
but felt,
perhaps in the dust motes swirling
in patches of golden sunlight
filtered through ancient cedar.

Somewhere,
an owl utters
a sleepy "who-hoo?"
Somewhere, a black wolf
watches
through the veil,
his eyes speaking
our language without words.
I feel them
in my soul.


Shinrin-Yoku: the Japanese art of forest bathing.

This poem is from spring 2016 and is shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. Come join us for some fine reading with your morning coffee.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wild Beach




Wild waves at the beach today.
Glorious.



The beach was closed, so we stood 
at the end of the path at the north end.




Some waves came right up to the edge of the path. 
People who ignored the Beach Closed sign
had to do some fast footwork 
to keep from being caught in the tide.






No surfing possible today.


A little glimpse of blue sky and sun.


This is how good my zoom is.
I was at NORTH Chestermans.
These big waves were on the other side of the tombolo
that goes out to Frank's Island,
a long walk down the beach.

I can hardly believe the people are even visible.




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

He Who Walks Among the Stars




From up here,
the world looks new,
peaceful, beautiful,
undamaged.

Down below live
people with holes in their hearts,
toxicity on their brains,
struggle on their paths.
They are longing for
wholeness and healing,
even if they don't know.
Down below,
looking up and dreaming,
live people
with the ability to
make the whole world new,
if they but choose.

One walks among them who shows
that it is possible to reach out
and do good
even in the midst of
one's own struggle.

He is a man
on his journey,
He Who Walks Among the Stars,
who told of one small boy's death
and woke his country up.
The chief thanked him for
"taking the time to care
about our people."

That is how we will remember him,
a man with time to love one small boy,
and, through him, a whole people,
before he took his
walk among the stars.


I wrote this one year ago, when Gord Downie, leader of the Tragically Hip, on his journey through brain cancer,  completed his farewell tour across Canada.   One of his most important works was a short film called The Secret Path, a true story about a twelve year old boy who died while escaping from residential school in 1966. Last December, First Nations chiefs and communities gathered to honour him, with an eagle feather, a blanket, and the gift of his native name, Man Who Walks Among the Stars. Gord cried throughout the ceremony, calling it the best day of his life.

The link on Gord's name will take you to the moving video of the ceremony.

Gord Downie died last night, age 53, after a heroic year. His message: that it is long past time for Canadians to address reconciliation with the First Nations people of Canada. I agree. The country mourns his loss.


Darkness and Light



In such global darkness,
we have to trust that
there will still
be light

that the sun will come out
after rain

the moon and stars
will follow day

that peace will reign again
one day.

There is 
no other way to live

than with hope and faith
and trust.

We continue to believe
because
we must.



for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Dark Moon / New Moon


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

MARIGOLDS


Yellow and burnt orange
marigolds,
row on row,
spilled over the garden fence,
at my little house
full of children
in Kelowna,
long ago.

Backpacks,
and shoes
just inside the door,
made  a hill
so steep.
I never thought
one day I'd miss
that messy heap.

We thought
those days
would for forever last,
but life has a way
of going by
too fast.

Bikes and hikes
and flying kites,
our snug little home
full of music and laughter,
together we made
memories
that would last
forever after.

The kitchen was the colour 
of marigolds.
I remember
breakfasts and suppers,
and morning songs,
my heart full of joy,
and marigolds cascading
over the garden fence
each September.


For the prompt at dVerse: to write about an aspect of fall.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Animal Spirits



After an oil spill,
the mist above the inlet
is filled with the spirits
of all of the animals
who have died
in the spill.

Orca-, eagle-, heron-spirits,
hover over the ocean.
They rest in trees
along the shore.

They carry a message
for the people of the earth:
Wake up.
Wake up to
Mother Earth's cries.
Heal her wounds.

After the wildfires,
the smoldering, parched earth
releases the spirits
of all the animals
who were burned
in the flames.

They remain near
the black, dead land,
near the horses' bones,
near the burning hooves,
near the deer, and rabbits,
and wolves,
near the lives
they loved and lost.

They carry a message
for the people of the earth:
Wake up.
Wake up to
Mother Earth's cries.
Heal her wounds.

After flood waters recede,
and all of the bodies
of drowned creatures
are bagged and carried away,
the spirits of that place
sit vigil near the watery graves,
praying we humans
will awaken to our mandate:
to replenish and heal
Mother Earth.

They carry a message
for the people of the earth:
Wake up.
Wake up to Mother Earth's cries,
her distress.
Awaken to all
you can be,
all you can do,
to heal the Earth Mother,
the only home 
of all creatures.


The idea for this poem came from reading Into Great Silence : A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas by Eva Saulitis. Eva spent twenty years among the orcas of Prince William Sound, both before and after the oil spill. The animals she grew to know like her family are now vanishing due to the after-effects of the oil spill, the intrusion of human development into their wild habitat,  and the warming seas of climate change.




Thursday, October 12, 2017

When a Thousand Women Gather......




When a thousand women gather,
you can feel the power,
the joy, the deep, sweet Knowing,
looking into each other's eyes:
I see you.
You are beautiful.
Together, we are strong.

When a thousand women gather,
saying Enough! War is not the way to peace.
Enough! You will not have
our sons and daughters;
Enough! Life, earth, air, water
are more important and necessary
than money,
then Change begins.

All over the world,
women are planting trees,
because we need to breathe.
In response to the clearcut mountains
that filled the wallets
of the multinationals,
a billion seedlings are
going into the ground,
to green the barren deserts
and heal the earth, the air,
and our breaking hearts.

All over the world,
women are rising up,
doing what they can
for the earth and each other.
Yes, we can!

And now we join hands
across oceans, across sky,
across all man-made boundaries,
to birth a new way of being
with Mother Earth,
that is a very Old way of being,
understood by all aboriginal peoples.

When a thousand women gather,
the Divine Feminine is unleashed,
in all her power*.


On October 19 at 11 a.m. Pacific time, (2 p.m. EST, and 7 p.m. UK) the Call to Dream Ceremony will be held, online, in an effort to empower women to feel strong and hopeful in the face of climate change. It is sponsored by the Tree Sisters, whose goal is to plant a billion trees worldwide, in an effort to heal Mother Earth. The first goal was a million trees, and the response has been so strong, it is now a billion.

Time to rise in sisterhood. The male model of leadership has failed. Capitalism, based on the Myth of More, is destroying the earth and is untenable for all but the wealthy. Time to listen to the earth, to work with Her. Time to dream a better dream.

The launch is the beginning of a seven week  journey of collective discovery. Clare Dubois is putting out the call to all women to 1) plant trees worldwide and 2) unite in an attempt to birth a shift in  consciousness to a nature-based consciousness, to counter the aggressive momentum that is now going on in the world. I'm in. You can hear Clare talk about this here.

*In Tibetan myth, when a thousand women gather, the sacred feminine is birthed through their collective energy.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Once In Autumn


“Choose the least important day in your life. 
It will be important enough.” 


Once in autumn.....
Nekiah hand-stitched every leaf,
with unerring eye,
making Tree Spirit costumes
for you and your friend,
Isaac Blue Sky.

We didn't know, 
back then,
just how precious
were those fleeting days
of grace,
how quickly life
was flying by,
too fast the pace.

First, you grew.
Too soon,
before I was ready,
before you were, too,
you were out of the nest
and away;
for your heartbreaks
my heart, too, would pay,
you, so young and heedless 
and rash,
my hair slowly turning
the color of 
silvery ash.

Too soon,
Nekiah was gone.
It was cancer.
Isaac Blue Sky's life 
was forever
fractured.

Those innocent faces 
up there,
those round trusting eyes
that enraptured,
those smiles that had 
not yet known pain........
remind me that once,
once in autumn,
we all lived precious days
that will not,
              will not ever
                            come again.





for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Autumn. I re-worked an old poem from 2010, for this prompt, as autumn always reminds me of those fleeting, precious days. Ouch. A pang in my heart.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Boat Trip Through Clayoquot Sound


Yesterday, my friend Chris invited me along on a trip to 
her floathouse, a short boat-ride from Tofino.
This is the harbour, before we set out.



Lone Cone, wearing a cloud like a toque.
The small native village of Opitsaht
can be seen along the shore.


We were briefly in the pathway of a floatplane,
trying to take off. Oops!


The Tofino shoreline as we sped away.



A cute off the grid cabin


Beauty, beauty, beauty.....


Lone Cone from another perspective


A heron on the mudflats


The trees look so alive, and fully themselves,
when they are safe from human interference.


Many choose to live off the grid


The Camel


An oyster  farm



Reflections




Such a peaceful little home this is.


Chris's greenhouse.


Heading home past the hazy mountains.
A wonderful day!




Hope

Mother Earth
by Caitlin Taylor 2008



Hope is the belief
that light can dispel darkness,
love can overcome hate,
there are more good people
than evil in the world.
It is understanding
that social justice is
both possible and necessary,
(and long over-due),
that most people are kind,
and want to live in peace.
Hope is hands held out
to help each other
in times of crisis,
proving this is possible, also,
in ordinary times.

Hope is turning off the news,
the angry, divisive rhetoric,
the deranged killings,
and going out into the village
to smile at people, pat the dogs,
raise our eyes to the skies,
the mountains and the sea,
and giving thanks.

Hope is cherishing each golden day
in belief they will continue,
just in case they don't.

Mostly, hope wears the faces
of the children of tomorrow,
of the planet and all of its creatures,
who are asking for
their own time in the sun.


At Toads, Sanaa asked for some hope this morning. This is what popped out.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Wolf

 source: Wolf Howling


Along a forest trail,
we met,
wolf and old woman.

Our eyes locked.
He took a step back,
assessing.

"Don't worry," I said.
"I love you.
I won't hurt you."

I backed slowly,
turned away,
retreated from
his habitat.

At a bend in the trail,
I looked back.
He was still watching me.
His eyes were sad,
for all the embattled wolves
and humans
of the world,
for the friendship
there could be,
among the species,
not possible
until humankind
awakens.


I walked a forest trail this morning, and these lines popped into my head. A friend once met a young cougar on the trail. It meowed at her. True story.

Orca


Photo by Karoline Cullen - Orca Network


She is grieving.
The loss of her child
is something no mother
should have to bear.

The water is dark and surging.
It takes strength to push through
the waves,
to believe in a horizon unseen.

She gives a keening whine,
then blows, then dives,
her fluke arching
black against the sky.

Slowly, she makes
her lonely way
back to her pod,
her calf no longer
beside her.


I am reading a wonderful book about a young woman who spent twenty years watching the whales in Prince William Sound, both before and after the oil spill. The pods she followed are now vanishing. So much grief in this world. The book is Into Great Silence by Eva Saulitis.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

A TERRIBLE BEAUTY

Great-granddaughter Lunabella,
at the beginning of her journey


[*title taken from W.B.Yeats]


Where has it all gone,
scattered like pebbles
from a toddler's pail,
profligate,
as if there will always be More,
until, suddenly, there isn't?

Look back, look back,
down all of those sun-dappled years,
to the very beginning,
all fragrant with apple blossoms -
the dark and the light,
the bitter and the sweet,
such a terrible beauty*,
that catches at the throat,
mixed, as it is, in the
crust of parched earth,
slaked by a madman's draught
at the very last moment
before expiring.

The dying's last request
is always for water,
my grandmother's long white finger
pointing at the glass
when no more was she
able to speak.
And water,
that single tear
rolling down her cheek,
as she said goodbye to it all
and began that slow slow walk
across the mountains of the moon.

The older one grows,
the heavier that backpack of grief,
an endless well
we can draw from at random:

a paean of gratitude with its counterpoint of pain,
(so beautiful! so beautiful!),
a lament that catches in the back of the throat,
joy that aches, stirred like a slurry,
prickling, like cactus,
a lump of regret
that can never be swallowed,
as the hot tears roll down one's cheeks
because it is too soon,
too soon,
to be faced with leaving.

Too fast it all goes.
Towards the end, one’s life
begins to gallop like a willow-whipped horse,
frothing and frantic to escape the lash,
hooves relentlessly pounding, pounding,
carrying us off, all unwilling,
with still so much to do,
doomed riders
in a race to the unknown,
on which we wager
the biggest long-shot of our lives:
that somehow
we will still continue on
after death.

My worn old kit bag of memories
is filled to the brim with all I was given:
more laughter than tears,
more challenge than ease,
song and story and a high, hopeful heart,
an optimism I hold like a mantra,
refusing to surrender in the face of all that is daunting,
and more gratitude than can be put into words
for this magical realm,
where a leaf is a miracle
and a red fox sheer brilliance,
where the owl calls from the forest
in her quavery voice,
beckoning us in with her feathery wing,
where the grey wolf howls through our very souls,
where loneliness and fullness
compete for the same square inch
of living space in the hearts of the solitary,
and where daybreak and hellfire
alike streak the sky
with a Van Gogh's palette of vermilion and indigo,
whose silvery stars set us dreaming
into the soft sighing dark
of that welcoming Night.

* from W.B. Yeats

A poem from 2012, since I am pondering and processing death this week, with the passing of a dear friend. Apologies for its length. It was the only poem that spoke to me, for sharing with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

STALKING THE SUNSET




We walk the fine edge,
between this world and the next,
trying to heal our pain, 

recover from our illnesses,
adjusting to the decline of the body
that has transported us so far.

You have fought a long battle, 
old pal of mine.
I am sensing your grasp on life 
slowly slipping away.
Your eyes are on the eagle, 
flying free of his fetters.
You are communing with deer 
in your garden.
The orcas pass by, 
your mind engraving
the vision and the joy.
Your heart is loving and mourning 
this beautiful earth
you are slowly leaving.
We are never ready to let go
of the beauty we have loved so well.

For 37 years, you have always been there:
at the other end of the telephone,
through my joys and sorrows,
on the other side of my screen,
sharing all I was learning.
We have witnessed, 
encouraged and supported
each other's journey,
collaborated on songs,
shared our love of the wild,
and music,
and sunsets.

You have been my friend, my mentor,
my guide, my guru.
You have shown me the way,
walking your pilgrim's path of the soul,
listening to your inner guides.

You can never really be gone from me.

On the other side, for you,
there will be a radiance:
your face shining as it did 
in coffeehouse days,
when candles flickered on you, 
smiling in the glow,
singing Gentle Jonathan 
and Forever Young.

I will see you forever
strumming your guitar, 
singing your songs
of trees and rivers 
and eagles in flight.

On the other side: 
Manders, curled,
purring on your chest -
and no more tumors,
shortness of breath,
fatigue and diminishing health.
Just an expansion of the soul
which has grown too large
for your chest to contain,
and needs more room 
in which to grow.

In memory, you will always be
on stage at Brock and Friends,
or, later, stalking the sunset,
camera in hand, 
at Chestermans Beach.

It is in sunsets I will 
forever see you,
old friend of mine.

Always remember, 
on the other side of sunset
comes the dawn.
That is where I'll find you,
once you're gone.



                                                  


My friend from coffeehouse days, Matthew, departed this life night before last.  He passed peacefully, and was ready to go. He was always attuned to Spirit. He did walking meditations, where he said "I love you" to every rock, and dog, and tree he passed, and he told me that after a few minutes everything started loving him back. He was always Spirit-led and so I know he trustingly followed into the spirit world.

He was my friend, mentor, guru, supporter and guide. He knew me when, when I was just awakening, recovering from trauma. The coffeehouse in the 80's was filled with souls living gently on the earth. I walked in the door and I was home. They watered my parched roots, and gave me space, and acceptance, till my petals slowly unfurled. I have such gratitude for the gift the coffeehouse, and those gentle people, were for me. Matthew was one of the special people in my life. I sent him the above poem when his health began to fail. I wanted him to know what he meant to me, and he told me my poem moved him. 

I will miss him. And I will be forever grateful for having had such a friend.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Animals

photo by Stephanie Oien
taken from her balcony

They live in families,
like us.
They feel happiness, love, fear,
loyalty, devotion, pleasure,
heat and cold,
hunger, pain, distress,
like us.




They help each other,
protect each other,
sacrifice for each other,
grieve for each other,
like us.



To my heart's distress,
so many of them
are treated cruelly,
as if they are.......
not like us.


for Susan's prompt  at Midweek Motif: Animals. I have written so many poems about animals through the years. But if I had to distill my thoughts about them in a nutshell, it is the fact that so many of them suffer terribly at the hands of humans that weighs on my heart the most. We, as human beings, should long since have demanded that all animals, especially those in "factory farms",  be treated humanely during their lives - and their deaths. At the very least. 

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
Mahatma Gandhi

In North America, we are not doing very well.




Saturday, September 30, 2017

These Days.......



These days
I often find
my thoughts
returning
to dusty mesas
dotted with dry scrub
along the arroyo
through dry, sandy gorges
you once told me
was a river long ago

In reverie
I circle sleepy rooftops
finding yours
where we made love
one afternoon
your face so dark and beautiful
above me
those summer days
that ended
way too soon

Those days
you were an eagle
soaring / captive
caught somewhere
between the earth
and sky
while I caught my breath
and emptied out my being
into the wonder
of becoming
you and I

Now my spirit
sometimes walks
on summer mornings
- dew-fresh scent
of tall marsh grasses,
willow trees,
fresh lake ripples
lapping gently
on the shore -
the scent of
all the mornings
I remember
and I long to walk
beside the lake
once more

In memory
you turn
your slow smile
on me
always a bird
alighting on your hand
I hear again the coo
of doves at daybreak
and somewhere -
another time,
another land -
"Blackbird" is singing
in the dark of night
while two lonely seekers
try to hold their pain
at bay
by clinging
to each other
way too tight
unable to find words
to make it right
and somehow
lose their way

The dove
lost its mate
and flew
but keeps on
circling
     circling
back to you
never very far
from where you are
if you
but knew

Through all
those years
I saw your beauty
plain
and now I am
remembering
remembering
again

The single step
that started
my long journey
the thousand miles
it took
to bring me home
All I was
searching for
I found
within me
forever now
without the need
to roam

I have one more 
hug
to give you
in this lifetime
one more time 
to see
the smile start
in your eyes
If we never
meet again
know I have
loved you
as no other
all the seasons
of our lives


For the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. I wrote this poem in 1994, remembering a man I loved in 1980's Kelowna. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Dog of Joy

[This morning, watching another black dog at the beach,I was reminded of my big black dog of joy, who cracked me up every day of our life together for fourteen years.]

My eyes went right to him,
a black lab mix,
whose people were ignoring him.
No matter.
He knew how to have fun
all by himself.

He was pouncing on the sand,
leaping from side to side,
a loopy grin on his face.
Then he would dig, furiously,
for a few moments,
and return to his 
side-to-side dance.
He was digging up
a buried stick,
with the most intense delight.

He made me laugh,
and remember.
I fed him a cookie,
and his nose snuffled 
into my pocket.
He wanted the second one, too,
which I was happy
to give.

It was small payment
for a moment of joy,
this morning on the beach,
in the amber September sun.


for Karin's prompt at Real Toads: Thinking of the Little Things: to write about a small moment, one of those moments that remind us how good life is, no matter what the larger world happens to be doing.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Rising Above




Rising up,
rising above -
hope soaring on eagle wings -
we dwell on the threshold
of a dream -
a world at peace.

Rising above the talk
of division,
we meditate upon
the fact that
all of our cells
in this old world
- human, plant, animal -
creatures of air and earth
and sea -
are connected.

Rising above the rhetoric
of war, we ponder:
how can we bomb
other mothers and fathers, 
sisters and brothers,
aunts, uncles, grandparents,
and babies with eyes 
still full of wonder?

Everything alive
just wants
to live.

Time to rise up, 
young men and women.
Time to take to the streets.
Time to rise up
                     rise up
                              rise up
and march to a
different beat.

"Ain't gonna study war 
no more."*
Time to play
the pipes of peace.

Time to right this tilting world
of pain and sorrow
and make it ready
for the children
of tomorrow.


for Sumana's  Midweek Motif prompt at Poets United: Rising Above

*an old African American spiritual, dating from the civil war. If only world leaders studied peace as much as they have studied war. Or spent  money on caring for the planet and its people instead of the instruments of war.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sailing On



The sun goes up,
the sun goes down,
and this ship of fools keeps
sailing, sailing on,
as if there will always be
a tomorrow.
While Rocket Man and Loco Man
toss insults and puff their chests,
we wake surprised
to find ourselves
still alive
with every dawn.

The earth quakes,
the earth shakes,
while water
covers the ground
with death.
The wildfires burn on,
as do the fossil fuels
that feed their every breath.

We are a blue and green
spaceship
sailing through a
universe of sky.
From out there,
we look so peaceful
but, to a trained and closer eye,
we are sailing towards disaster,
too half-asleep
to even question
why.


for Kim's prompt at Real Toads: Boats.