Vancouver Island

Is it the robins, whose morning song, so sharp and crisp awakens me in this enchanted place or the warble of Juncos, whose hooded black faces delight me as they forage between the dried, curled aftermath of a cold winter, now pushed aside by new life sprouting.  The absence of rain drops on tin roof offer promise that the sun might appear today, the buds on the oak trees as anxious as I for the warmth.  I raise the window shades to reveal the lush green of Douglas firs, the walls that divide us from our neighbours, nomads like us in this quest to commune with a simpler way of life.  We are metal boxes tucked within green pockets, quiet souls hushed by the grandeur of the forest we currently call home, reticent to disturb the wildlife that also grazes here – squirrel, fox, and rumours of cougars. Occasionally bear.  We are skirted on one side by marsh, a lush welcoming for geese and goldeneyes, and on the other by ocean, where seagulls and terns claim driftwood as perches.  It is the raven who is master of this land, their large black wings casting shadows, their thrumming call, sometimes belligerent, sometimes like a purr, a reminder that this is their land, that the totem poles that dot the island are a testament to their place, their royalty. Offshore, seals roam in masses encouraged by the schools of trout and halibut, and soon the salmon runs.  Orcas gather in semi-circular formation, readying the hunt.  Spring is a time of proliferation – abundance after the winter chill.

arise, old woman
nature evokes new rhythm –
spirit wants to dance.

(Day 12 of NaPoWriMo invites us to write a haibun.)

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Shoebox Dreams

A simple shoebox, repurposed
with plastered images of dreams –
paper affirmations of aspirations –
shelved and forgotten, its contents

snapshots, faded and torn, remnants
of another time, a different future –
captured when potential was prime
and possibility untainted by illness

this one was retirement – a supposed
celebration – but note how the colour
has drained, the cracks obliterating
pride of accomplishment; and notice

how this one crumbles to the touch –
the fragments dissipating even as
my life has dissipated, the image
lost before memory resurfaces, so

much loss when circumstance dictates
direction, overpowers will, and plans
like snowflakes, vanish in the heat
of reality – pain and insult burning

but wait – this one looks promising –
the edges only slightly torn, the image
discernible – could it be that there is
hope yet – a future author I might be?

That’s the thing about times to come,
we fill them with imaginings, and pray,
our hope, like balloons set free in a sea
of unforeseen challenges, and seldom

does the end result reflect projected
plotting, and yet, there is power in
the dreaming, and so I’ll replace the old
with new photographs to store away.

(Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge asks us to consider future.)

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A Bee’s Perspective

A bee, caught
in a violent draught,
collides with woman

her body a salty
concrete wall
of frenzy, she is rigid,
obsessed, unspoken rage

emanating from her pores –
a gale force spiral, woman-made
vortex threatening the sanctity
of her contrived domesticity

Normally, she would swat at him –
is aware of the potential for venom
delivered via puncture – cannot pull
herself out of the vacuum of fixation

eyes riveted, hands locked on video
controls, breath shallow, heart pounding
a rabid diatribe of self – loathing:

useless woman,
irresponsible,
neglectful,
unworthy,
guilty,
fat

with each beat the tempest grows
perceptibly, the bee breaks free,
encircles the figure of a lone man
bent over a fragrant cup of brew,
is dismissed by a distracted swat

lazily careens upward, buzzing
past a sleeping child, and settling
on a sweet sticky cheek, startling
its owner, who lashes out then rises

unsteady legs toddling in search
of Momma! , the whine a catalyst,
piercing his mother’s mania –
her instincts now cat-like, body

pouncing past the insolent insect,
arms reaching towards pudgy limbs
thrusting forward into loosely
attached guard rails, now plunging

the bee surveilles the scene –
a final circuitous flight before
finding escape, the drone of his wings
a testament to the glory of being a bee.

(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem which exemplifies simultaneity.  A Bee’s Perspective first appeared in May, 2017.)

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Talk To Me Of Horses

Talk to me of horses,
the young man says,
thin locks of blonde matted
on a sweaty brow, flashes of blue
that fade as eyes succumb
to weariness, the constant
whoosh, whoosh of respirator.

Talk to me of horses;
the world is losing its grip
and I have no cares for

the weather or car mechanics,
but I dream of horses
and I am feeling so emotional,
help me understand.

So I come to his bedside,
wait for moments of lucidity
ponder the implications
of his questions, wrestle with
my own inadequacies –
I am merely student here.

And we discuss horses –
the power of their bodies,
their beauty and grace,
their relationship to people –
decide they are ferrymen
transporting souls across worlds –
an explanation that satisfies, then

I am seeing things, he strains
embarrassed even in these final hours
to describe what seems inconceivable –
between sleep and awake – figures grey

and frightening that hover
over my bed like body snatchers…

A chills runs over me, as if icy
fingers have caressed my skin,
and I shudder despite myself,
scramble to maintain calm,
wonder aloud if it is not just fear
projecting grey into light –
clouding his vision.

My timing is off the next day,
arrive too late to see him pass,
find his mother waiting to receive me,
with a message from her son, my kin,
says that it makes no sense to her,
but he assured her I’d understand.

“You were right about the visions,”
he’d said; “there was nothing to fear.”

I smile through my sorrow –
ever the teacher that one,
now dead at twenty-one –

“Oh, and one more thing – could you
talk to me of horses.”

(Today’s prompt for NaPoWriMo is to write about the mysterious and magical.  This poem is dedicated to my cousin Tyler, whose aspirations were to be a physicist, but for whom life had another fate.  He taught me so much.)

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A Flower Knows

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt challenges us to move beyond our comfort zone.  It involves selecting a photograph, and then finding a poem in a language we do not speak, and writing a ‘translation’ assuming the poem is about the photograph we chose.

The photograph is from my own collection.  The poem is from a Norwegian poet, Gro Dahle (selected randomly).  Here is the original:

Det er ikke alltid
like lett å være pave
sier paven
Han gjemmer seg under bordet
og roper hunden til seg
Der sitter han til det er mørkt
og alle har sluttet å lete
Når alt er stille
i Vatikanet
kryper han fram
fra under duken
og gir hunden
rent vann i skålen
Så spiser han bokstavskjeks
ved vinduet

 ***

Here is my ‘translation’, which is in essence is only a mirroring of the structure, as I do not speak Norwegian:

There is life here
even as a flower wilts

while wilting
has surrendered self to rebirth
is not burdened by self
there is no room for ego here
nor does merit hold space
death is stillness
finality
has no expectation
is mere passage
a silent pause
before the next breath
that violent push to blossom
live again.  
 

(Aside:  I went back after writing this to see the actual translation of the original, which of course, has nothing to do with my imaginary concoction.  I discovered a delightful poem, that intrigued me to read more.  To see the original and its translation visit:  http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poem/item/22704/auto/0/It-isnt-always)

Thank you to Maureen Thorson for hosting and providing such interesting prompts.

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On Nature

How is it that a tree can stir my soul, so?
Yet, set amongst the Douglas firs –
an orchestra of giants, the reassurance
of green towering and proud – the music
of my soul is nothing less than symphonic.

How is it that the sky can speak to me?
No words to convey its vastness, yet,
it breathes new life into empty spaces,
whispers promises, ignites a hope
synonymous only with its expanse.

How is it that a body of water – be it
serene, flowing, or turbulent, can tug
at the corners of my emotional well,
create a longing for the unknowable,
toss me from my bed of complacency?

And how does a single flower, growing
wild, crack this shell of indifference –
the determination to blossom despite
harshness of surroundings – instill such
inspiration, motivate me to rejoice?

(Day four of the NaPoWriMo challenges us to use nouns in our writing.  The suggested essay is a good read, so you might want to check it out. )

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Life Chapters

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a poem of lists, based on fictitious names.  I always thought I could write a memoir, with each chapter being a play on the name of the streets I’ve lived on:

Dawn: Life Begins
Kings way: Patriarchy Established
Towering Heights:  The Rise Before the Fall
Wake – Elle:  Feminism is Born
Black Acres:  The Dark Years
Berkshire:  A Male Chauvinist Pig
Springbank:  Hope
William:  A New Ruler
Topping:  The Final Straw
Wonderland:  Like Alice
Beached Wood:  Pregnancy
Hardsley:  Still Pregnant
Highview:  Scrambling for Perspective
Deck Her:  Perspective is Obvious
Bricks n Ham:  Hard Life
Baseline:  A Bottom to Build From
Griffin:  Chasing a Myth
Crestly:  Climbing
Mark Us:  Noteworthy
Iron Wood:  Gaining
Boler:  Hats Off to Progress

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A Poem in Three Voices

Page three! Father would say
whenever she opened mouth
to speak – inevitable tale waiting

I just want you to hear me,
I remember feeling, to know
that my words have meaning

You get all your needs met;
it’s why I work so hard, now
don’t bother me, get along…
 

She learned to hold things in,
to refrain from long passages,
practiced needing no one.

Dear diary, why does everyone
hate me? What have I done,
and why do I feel so alone …?

You hide away in that room
of yours, ignoring your mother
and me; what’s wrong with you?

 She shrugs, picks up her purse
and heads out the door, school
is almost finished, then freedom.

Left home today; so happy to be
away; hope my roommates like
me, hope I don’t ruin it for us.
 

Just called to see if you’re okay,
your mother and I worry; let
us know if you need anything…

But she’d stop needing long ago –
shut down in the formative years,
when rejection defined esteem.

(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem in three voices.)

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