Saturday, April 22, 2017

Running Free In the Forests of Heaven

Running free
in the forests of Heaven
is how I see you,
tail and ears up
and that old wild gleam
in your eye.
I never tamed you.
I never wanted to.
We both loved the wild,
and I honored it in you.

Those big puppy paws,
I hope they're lolloping along
miles of sandy beaches,
dipping in and out
of the waves,
the way you always did,
impervious to my calls
as you always were,
until you were done,
and then along you'd come,
galloping back
to me.
You'd pick up a piece 
of driftwood
as we left,
and carry it to the car,
for remembering.

Now I am the one
who is remembering.
And one day,
when it's time,
old wilderness pal of mine,
may you come lolloping
back to me
to guide me safely home.

There are only three things
I need to see in Heaven -
the first is you,
and old growth forests,
and the sea,
so we can walk those trails,
hike endless sandy beaches,
and watch the sunset, 
once more,
you and me.

One from 2015, my friends. I cant believe how much I still miss him, six years later.  Shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, wonderful reading every Sunday morning.

Friday, April 21, 2017

No Mouth To Scream

For five decades he has lived,
a disabled non-verbal adult,
at the ministering hands of staff,
in their varying moods of brusqueness,
efficiency, false cheerfulness,
stress, fatigue, or distraction.

They dress him,
shoving brittle arms into sleeves,
feed him, pureed glop,
spoon impatient for his difficult swallow,
bathe him, quickly, as the clock is ticking,
sit him in a wheelchair, park him in a corner.

Day after day, he lives
inside his mind,
unable to express a wish,
hoping the day person will be
gentle, unhurried, patient.
Some days are golden,
when the shiny one comes,
who asks him:
which shirt? this one? or this?
the one who laughs and sometimes dances,
acting silly, like a long-legged stork,
just to make him smile.
Her hands are gentle.
She tells him, one late night shift,
"I see you and you are beautiful",
and watches a single tear
roll down his cheek.

He has no words, but his eyes tell her
he is grateful.
He has no mouth
to release the scream that has
been building for fifty years
at his forced confinement,
the sameness of his days,
living in a world
of few choices,
trapped in a body that doesn't work.

But sometimes the golden girl comes,
and those days shine.

Grace. It is what makes us all
shiny dancers.

True story.  for  Magaly's  prompt at Real Toads: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Crow At Large

Canuck the Crow was helped to live
by the humans of the Lower East Side
when he fell out of his nest
as a baby.

Midst the disenfranchised
and the struggling,
he lives with camaraderie
for his fellow beings,
who share what little they have
with Canuck the Crow.

He  alights on peoples' shoulders,
begs for treats, tilting his head winsomely
and shining his beady eye.
He even rides the Skytrain,
zoom zoom.

One morning, as police were arresting
a young man brandishing a knife,
the knife fell to the sidewalk, with a clatter.
Canuck swooped in,
picked it up with his swift beak
and flew off, partner in crime.
The police gave chase.

Eventually, the news anchor
informed us that evening,
the knife was recovered
and entered into evidence.
The crow was still at large.
Canuck, the newsman added,
with droll face and lopsided grin,
was "known to police."

Canuck and his dad Shawn Bergman.
Shawn is relieved here after Canuck's recovery 
from being knocked out  by a flag at a soccer game,
apparently on purpose.

True story. For Shay's prompt at Real Toads: Crows. Very clever birds. I must say the photographer was as quick as Canuck, to capture this on film. Canuck is a famous denizen of the Lower East Side. As a baby crow, he was helped to live by Shawn's landlord's son. When he was deemed big enough to be released, they set him free, but he returned straight to Shawn's shoulder, and has stuck close by ever since.

His fame spread after the above incident. He has his own facebook page, has been featured in paintings at a Vancouver art show, and has had his own meet and greet in the downtown core.  As of last word, he is still very busy finding objects and schmoozing with folks in the Lower East Side.

Shawn Bergman photo

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Red Tulips On the Altar of the Morning

The gong sounds.
Monks bow their heads
in meditation.
Burgundy-robed nuns
kneel and flatten
in prostrations,
a thousand repetitions
for the good of all beings.
A sherpa places
one slow foot after another,
circling the sacred mountain.

On the other side of the world,
I walk the beach,
breathing in the constant
prayer of the sea,
the promise of the arching sky.
One breath, another breath,
at one with sand and sea,
inhaling the westerly.

I pat and praise
a white wolf dog
with blue eyes.
It is a prayer of love
for his safe passage.
He leans his head on me
in trust.
A message from my boy.

I choose red potted tulips
at the nursery
and carry them home,
whispering thanks
for their beauty.
I place them in
a sheltered corner of my porch,
a prayer of promise
for spring,
for sunny days,
a prayer of gratitude
for being and for beauty.

I watch small hummers
at the feeder,
my heart expanding
with tenderness
for birds and blossoms.

This whole morning
has felt holy,
each new joy unfolding
its own prayer.

for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Holiness / Holy Day

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

May the Patient Live

The Great Bell Chant (The End of Suffering) from R Smittenaar on Vimeo.

our planet is very ill.
It may be terminal
and, sadly, the cancer is us.
Bad cells are trying
to conquer the good cells.
The good cells resist,
but the situation is toxic.

In the end, the cure
for planet and humans
is the same:
good medicine to defeat
the bad cells,
a hopeful heart
and positive mindset,
pure vibrations
to heal the trauma,
and transformation
to a peaceful paradigm.

May peaceful pilgrims prevail.
May we not lose heart.
May the patient live.

I was driving this morning when these thoughts came to me, how alike Mother Earth is to a cancer patient, in the struggle going on right now between dark forces and light. May she - and we - survive towards better years than this.

The voice on this beautiful video is that of Thich Nhat Hanh, and the chant is sung by his brother, Phap Niem.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


I open my window to the music of the spheres:
call of mourning dove, hoot of owl,
fresh new leaves rustling on green willow,
creek trickling over rocks, singing a morning song.

I open my door to the beauty near at hand.
The mountains teach patience.
The river teaches joy.
Trees are the wisdom-keepers.
The ocean sings a song of life
that echoes in our hearts.

I open my soul to the expansiveness of Sky,
the deep mystery of the heavens,
moon and stars and clouds and swirling planets,
each in its perfect place.
As we are, no matter what we face.

It is all here ~
everything we need, for wonder ~
our souls rise up in response,
like candles, catching the flame and flaring,
like hearts, catching the light and sharing,
warm, like the sun coming out,
after a long winter.

Sharing this poem from 2015 with the good folk of Poets United, where you'll find good reading in the Pantry every Sunday morning.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How Kathleen Norris Ruined My Life

My Grandma plied me
with Kathleen Norris novels
when I was a girl,
and full of romantic dreams.
Little Ships, Saturday's Child,
The Heart of Rachael,
I gobbled them all.
In these books,
the heroine was good and true,
and by the end of the tale
had made the right moral choices.
All worked out in the end.

Oh, I believed!

As my Grandma
watched with sorrowful eyes
my bumpy journey of discovery
- and of recovery from
all the disillusionment thereof -
she was known to remark sadly
that she should never have given me
Kathleen Norris books,
because they didn't prepare me well
for real life.

She was right.
But how I loved
the gentle world of Kathleen Norris,
where character always won out in the end,
and the world was clean and kind.

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Books