Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fire and Ice

The worst fire of all,
still troubling my heart, 
your big, vibrant, noisy body
going into the flames,
your spirit's confusion.
Guilt: my decision,
because I needed you with me
and there was no other way.

Ice cold and horrible,
the moment she handed you back to me,
reduced to ashes
in a small take-out box.

I carry you now
forever in my heart,
your thumping tail
causing smiles and tears,
joy and pain.

You always were a spirit
too big to kill.

for Kerry's  prompt at Real Toads:  Fire and Ice. Also to be shared with the Poetry Pantry at
Poets United,   where there is good reading every Sunday morning. When Pup died, almost eight years ago, Annell Livingston wrote a poem about him, titled "A Spirit Too Big To Kill". She got it right.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Remembering Fruit

We picked apples off
the trees of my childhood,
driving into the country
on Sunday afternoons
to see the springtime blossoms.

We chased each other
through the rows,
two small sisters
in Sunday dresses,
reaching up, with delight,
allowed to choose
one firm, fresh apple
from the tree.
Life was simpler then,
and kind.

Now condominiums sprout
where once the orchards bloomed.
One by one, 
the loved old houses 

In the small house
where I raised
my four children,
the back yard was all garden.
In summer, the table groaned
with watermelon, cantelope and honeydew,
grapes, and plums and apricots,
strawberries, luscious red,
juice dripping down our chins.

The house and garden is gone now,
replaced by a monster house,
my children's ghostly laughter
still echoing down the years.

We picked apples off
the trees of my childhood.
Now condominiums sprout
where once the orchards

for Sanaa's prompt at Real Toads:  Of Poems and Fruit

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


My granddog, Chloe,
who cant believe the cupcake
coming at her

The sun comes up every morning,
and the trees unfurl their arms 
and sway in celebration.
The miracle of those big green waves,
rolling in, rolling out,
is the definition of everness.
And we?
Our eyes open, amazed,
at the miracle of
another day of loving.
We look to the sky,
where the great birds are wheeling.
Our hearts swell
in gratitude, in hopefulness,
in reverence,
in one long moment
of “Thank You!”

Each morning,
a celebration.
Each evening,
and rest.

Chloe's sister, Cali, a rescue from
a kill shelter in California, who celebrates
her new life, with gratitude, every day.
As do I.

For Sumana's prompt: Celebration at Midweek Motif.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Emotional Lives of Animals: Upsetting to Animal Lovers

Grieving horse lays his head on the coffin of his
person, emitting cries of distress.

In Chernobyl, right after the meltdown, men with guns were sent into the abandoned villages to shoot all the animals. The horses were crying. They met the eyes of the shooters. One man reported that the message in the horses' eyes was clear: We want to live. He disconnected himself from his brain and emotions, and pulled the trigger.

Everything alive just wants to live.

I can't understand why, with so much evidence clearly present, there are still some unaware humans who think animals can't feel. They feel it all, just as we do: love, joy, devotion, sadness, loneliness, hunger, fear, pain, danger. Heartbreak. Betrayal. Grief. They love their humans, hoping only for their love and care to be returned. It breaks my heart how often their loyalty is returned with cruelty, indifference, even, far too often, abuse.

The whales in the warming seas, the lions in the canned hunting compounds, the wolves and bears stalked by helicopters and men with guns, the starving polar bears on the melting ice, they feel every bit of their fear and struggle to stay alive; they feel the pain of the bullets, as they relinquish their lives. The dogs shivering in the sub-zero cold as they are chained to fences in the biting wind and snow, it feels ridiculous to observe that they feel it and deserve shelter and protection.

The starving polar bear struggling to totter across the ice-free ground in its desperate search for food as he was dying, whose image broke our hearts this week, does not leave my mind. One day, we humans will be staggering across a barren landscape in search of food, ourselves, and then maybe we will understand exactly what we have done to this planet that struggles so hard to stay alive under the assault of human and corporate demands.

58% of the world's animals are gone. A fact too huge to absorb. What we are doing to them now, we are also doing to ourselves. 

We are cutting down the trees that give us the air we breathe. We are either a suicidal species, or one completely disconnected from nature. We do not understand our interdependance.

My heart breaks and breaks. Echoing in my mind, the simple fact: everything alive just wants to live. How is it we have gotten it so wrong?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Distressing to Animal Lovers: the Death March of a Starving Polar Bear

I bear witness
to your suffering.
I do not turn away,
though your dying
breaks my heart.

You are living
what humankind 
has wrought,
and we are not acting
fast enough
to make things right.

So I accompany you
on your slow death march.
I bear witness
to your suffering.
I do not turn away,
though your dying
breaks my heart.

The film crew said they filmed with tears rolling down their faces. There was nothing they could do to intervene. But they filmed in order to bear witness to the catastrophic effects of climate change on wild creatures. It is painful, uncomfortable. We wish we had not seen it. What we can do: 

*bear witness
*raise awareness
*reduce, re-use, recycle
*lower own own emissions
* contact our local, regional and 
national officials insisting  that laws 
need to be enacted NOW to 
address climate change.

It is the least we can do.


photographer Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Cheer

The stockings aren't hung.
It should be no surprise.
In today's economy,
Santa has to down-size.

The Walmart shoppers
have slowed to a trickle.
If you're not done by now,
you're in a real pickle.

Jeff slams in and out

to the front porch to smoke.
Jon groans: "Trying to sleep
in this house is a joke!"

In the living room, Steph and Gord,

tucked in their beds,
watch their dreams of a night's sleep
die in their heads.

Jeff's back! reaching for

the doorknob with glee.
Five dogs raise their heads:
"Oh, it's time to go pee!"

Walking dogs in the dark,

I fall in the ditch.
Sometimes this Christmas gig
can be a real b*tch!

Mother Hubbard arrives
to prepare the big feast.
How’ll she ever turn 
lentils and beans
to Roast Beast?

Old Dog thinks he’s died
and gone straight to Dog Hell,
and his owner suspects
she has gone there as well,

For sixteen humans 
are coming for dinner
and bringing eight dogs.
Someone’s a real winner!

I’m the old woman 
who lives in a shoe.
We’ll have to hang ‘em on pegs
or else go somewhere new.

Two hundred inches 
of rain falling down:
Here’s hoping Santa 
and his reindeer don’t drown.

I can make it 'til Christmas 
is over, I think,
especially if you pour me 
one more little drink ;)

LOL. This is a tongue-in-cheek look at coping with the holidays. 

It is based on an actual Christmas our family had some years back, when there were half as many dogs as people, and I still lived in my sweet little trailer in the country. It was the best Christmas ever!

I don't actually advocate alcohol as a coping mechanism. But one little glass to soften the edges can definitely help. Smiles.

Am sharing this with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United on Sunday. Do come and join us.

Me, Too

Noor Fadel with Jake Taylor,
who intervened in a Skytrain attack in Vancouver

He said,
"Go home to your country",
but this is my country.
He yelled, threatened me,
struck me,
tried to shove my head
in his crotch.
He tried to remove my hijab.
The other passengers
sat in silence.
No one helped
except one young man,
who stood between me 
and the attacker
and told him to leave.
My protector."

"What does it mean 
to be a Canadian?
It's not just by
how you look."

On December 6, on a Skytrain in Vancouver, B.C., an eighteen year old girl was threatened, struck and sexually assaulted by a 46 year old man, while a car full of passengers sat in silence. Only one young man came to stand between her and the assailant, after she was struck, telling him to "get the f off". Thankfully, Noor was able to take photos with her phone and the man was apprehended, arrested and charged. As appalling to me as the assault is the car full of people sitting in silence. "It is a dangerous world for a girl child in a world of men," says Alice Walker in The Color Purple. I am proud of the young man who intervened. Good for him.

for my prompt at Real Toads: Me, too, the Silence Breakers. So many stories. So much darkness. But thankfully, also a lot of light.