Category Archives: Social Issues

There is One Human Race: Only One

WE ARE CREATING WHAT IT IS TO BE HUMAN

Roughly forty-five years ago science confronted itself with the fact that there is one human race—not a group of separate human races. In mainstream society this conclusion seems never to have been widely known, or was simply ignored. In the last twenty years or more there has developed a haggle of confusion, as the term “race” has been used to refer to differences in ethnicity, religion, nationality, and customs, as well as mistakenly to divide humans on the basis of physical appearance. In 1972 Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin showed that the greatest genetic variations were within so-called “racial” groups, not between them. He asserted there is no genetic evidence to classify humans into “racial” categories (PBS Interview). In discussing Lewontin, Dorothy Roberts, in her book Fatal Invention, states that there is no such thing as a set of genes that “…belongs exclusively to one group and not another.” The notion of different “races” is a social construct—one that appears to have helped lead us into a societal quagmire. Alan Templeton, Ph.D. did DNA research and came up with the same conclusion. Robert W. Sussman Ph.D. Anthropology, stated that the “folk concept” of race in America “…is so strong it is difficult to make people see otherwise.” (EurekAlert: Global Source for Science News, Oct. 7, 1998.)


Back in the 1960’s when I studied anthropology, humans were classified as Mongoliod, Caucasoid, and Negroid. In more recent decades I have been amazed at the added categories of various skin tones and ethnicities—the expelling of peoples formerly under a given group (or mixed) and into groups such as Hispanic, East Indian, Semitic, Arabian. It must have been about eight years ago now that CBC Radio announced that there are no separate “races” of human beings. We all are part of one human race/species. And yet on both CBC Radio and TV ever since then, and media in general, we hear the terms “race, racism, racial.” This seems to be a social denial of genetic reality, of the fact that we all belong to one genetic family. Habit can be hard to break, but in many instances it has been broken: the planets orbit our sun, the father’s sperm determines the sex of the child, not the mother’s egg. Women are humans equal to men; and gender is flexible. It has been shown that all human females came from the same original mother, all men from the same first father. Of course most of us do not want to ignore or be disrespectful of a people’s sociocultural identity, yet we can do this without the notion of “racial” differences.

The danger of maintaining the false idea that genetically there are different groups, is of course that in some people this can lead to a basis of fear, misunderstanding and/or hatred. The idea of “the other” can have a harsh hold in some situations. If we look at resentment, fear and hatred shown by some people today in some countries, there are economic, territorial, and cultural differences that lie behind the fear and hatred. There are Earth changes underneath some of the huge migrations, as well as political strife, economic inequality, war, and rape an murder. These things have nothing to do with genetic variations among humans.

Slavery is another reality which has nothing to do with genetic variations, but with the ability of one group to exploit another group. Historically slavery came out of conquest and had nothing to do with perceived differences. It is a human “owning” another human. In the slave trade of Blacks from Africa the color of the Africans’ skin was used to propagate the myth that somehow these people were less than human, so it was all right to treat them inhumanely and to “own” them. The slave traders made a profit by labeling a group of people in a way that stuck, among some, up to this day. Many people have been killed, buildings burned, people treated like so much dirt, in the aftermath of the slave traders’ myths. Today we have human slavery, human trafficking, child slavery, child and adult sex slavery. The word “slave” comes from the Slavic tribal people captured by Germans and sold to Arabs in the Middle Ages. “Race” seems to have come into prominence with the founding of the United States of America. The privileged males of European ancestry doing this work needed to promote their value of equality, but not have it impinge on the economic system which was dependent upon slavery. To justify slavery they labeled the Black slaves as inferior; women of course were also considered inferior, yet in a different category.

Another instance of the false concept of “race” being used to harm people is that of the US government’s theft of land from indigenous populations. Also the same applies to the acquisition of Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. The idea of “race” was attached to the superiority and even responsibility for actions of the dominant group. Mexicans were classified as “white” (Caucasian?) until in 1930 lobbyists were able to have them classified separately so as to justify discrimination against them.

Our bodies are the same colors, except for the less than 1.6 percent which makes up the epidermis, where skin-color develops. When we look at discrimination, violence against a group of people, distribution of wealth and social services–if we leave the idea of separate “races” out of the matter, society may more quickly get to the enormous challenges of creating equality. We live in societies rife with discrimination, oppression, hatred, fear, violence, and unrepentant wrongdoing. All people in a democracy must have equal opportunity—for education, housing, healthcare, a safe home in which to grow up, clean water, safety, and the right to justice, and to protest unjust actions against them. So long as ideas of inherent differences among groups persist it will be very hard to attain such equality.

What would be a viable pathway to making constructive change here? It would seem that before society tackles the injustices, inequality, the fear and hatred, it could try eliminating the words denoting different “races.” This might over time change consciousness around this misconception. Some years ago I eliminated the “race” words from my vocabulary except when talking about the use of such words. I instead use terms such as “xenophobia, bigotry, discrimination, intolerance,” or “hatred.” If the proper terminology were to be emphasized, e.g. terms of ethnicity, nationality, faith, culture, religion, etc. then these attitudes can be examined at a level conducive to more profound results. If humanity is to move toward a sense of our common human-ness, we need to stop using the “race” nomenclature. There could be a shift in the perception and understanding of those once identified as biologically different. Is that not the crux of the matter? If we view people with certain differences, or perceived differences, as the other, that can set up a possibility for envy, threat, fear, dislike, disrespect, even conflict that leads to war. We live in a time when viewing our human group as a unity–a great family that must unite to face global challenges–is of utmost importance.

If they are not directly taught, hatred and fear are indirectly taught by the behaviors of those who are role models. If we do not have hatred and fear of other people, then we tend to focus on the commonalities of us all as human, with many more things shared than not. When our hearts open to another’s reality, then what can result is compassion. Even studies of human behavior (and what does that tell us, that it needs to be proven?!) show that really what brings happiness to us humans is to give to others. We are now challenged to define, in this moment, what it is to be human; let us not ignore this great opportunity.

What is it to be human? We are one species, one family faced with the challenge and opportunity to do the best we can for the present and future of this living planet Gaia and all that makes up Her realm. It is up to us to create a living, changing consciousness of what is human-ness, and how that will set our path as a species. We can define being human as realizing the interbeing of all; in this we cherish and marvel at ALL and keep our hearts in line with what it means to be part of such a miracle, for the brief moment that we share here, interwoven.

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After Orlando: Murder, Mental Health, Gun Laws

On June 12th, 2016, in Orlando Florida, 49 people were murdered at a gay nightclub/center—mostly young, mostly gay, many Puerto Rican. Fifty-three people were injured, six of them critically. The man who killed them, 29 year old Omar Mateen, somehow got into the nightclub with an AR-15 assault rifle and assault pistol. The carnage and horror were extreme. People witnessed others dying right next to them; their trauma will be felt for years. The families of the dead and the injured were also of course traumatized, as were GLBT people everywhere in the world, and most everyone else.

Mateen, who had apparently been planning this atrocity for some time, was certainly mentally deranged. And his former wife alleged he was mentally ill and had been mentally and physically abusive to her. His wife at the time of the massacre had known of his plans and tried to dissuade him from them; it could be that she did not report to authorities because of fear of reprisal from Mateen. At this time we do not know this. Whether Mateen was harboring secret bi-sexual tendencies we do not know. He had visited the Pulse on occasion. Was this to gain a clearer picture of what it might be like to act on his (supposed) fantasies, or was it to search out the security situation at the club and become a familiar face to people there? The answers do not really impinge on the suffering of those left behind.

If he was not interested in being with men in a sexual way, then it would seem he put a lot of effort in learning about the place of the killings. Some of the most dedicated homophobes have been people struggling with their own gay desires; his father said Mateen had been very angry, disturbed, at seeing two men kissing. This kind of response can come because of learned disgust, hatred; it can also happen when we see our secret desires acted out by others. And if Mateen was identifying with very conservative Muslim ideas, he most likely had a deep inner conflict going on. His father stated, after the killings, that it had been wrong for Omar to do what he did, as it is for “God” to “punish.” From this statement it seems Omar may have been raised with the idea it was not OK to be gay. Another fact is that just days before, he had tried to contact the owner of another gay night spot in Orlando…was he having doubts about the location of the mayhem?

Mass murder/suicide (by one’s own means or by Police and security personnel) seems to be a feature of these times, sadly. Suicidal thoughts certainly can alternate or accompany homicidal ones. As we know, some killers seek fame, albeit postmortem fame. This certainly can explain Omar’s references to ISIL (he used “ISIS”), expecting perhaps they would ally with his act, or even just that the media would connect the two, giving a measure of glory. There has been a lot of mention in the media about young men, some women, especially, in North America and Europe, some in rather fundamentalist groups (or identifying with these) who are lost souls, without community support, who identify with ideas on the internet…ideas which seem to lift them up to some great sense of self, as well as to a sense of belonging. Mateen may not have belonged anywhere, but he perhaps had fantasies of been accepted by ISIL.

Forty-seven years ago on my 25th birthday the Stonewall uprising took place in New York City. The gay men and transgendered folks there had been behind the gay curtain for too long and rose up for freedom. This gave heart and courage to the greater LGBT community. It gave rise to Gay Pride. In the 1980’s and for years after these communities and their friends and supporters somehow got through the devastation of AIDS. Gays were accused of causing the wrath of “god” and bringing this (punishment again) upon themselves. They were shunned by many. And they and their friends and families suffered years of heartbreak and grieving for those who died. The medical system took its time to deal with this health crisis, adding to the sense of betrayal. In 1969 here in Canada Pierre Trudeau introduced legislation which passed, ridding the law making homosexuality illegal. Ontario in 1977 was the first province to include gays and Lesbians in the Human rights Code, giving them protection from discrimination in housing, public accommodation, and employment. In 1999 gay couples in Canada gained the same legal standing as those in common law marriages. Finally in 2005 Canada made gay marriage legal. And in the US gay marriage was legalized in 2015.

Who makes a record of the measure such trauma as the Orlando event leaves upon us, our communities, our nations, and our world? We have thousands of years of history in which accumulated trauma has passed to us from generations of our ancestors. And in recent times, from civil wars to international wars, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Nazi concentration camps and atrocities, have added much weight onto the mound we already bear. There are places in our world in which we have witnessed genocide, use of chemical weapons, drone killings, child soldiers, mass rape of women and children, enslavement of same.

We all live, also, with the certain knowledge that at any moment a nuclear mistake, or war, or insane person could trigger the end of our world in probably less than an hour. How’s that for trauma? We all experience the extinction of species, of ecosystems, of traditional ways of life, and the lessening availability of wholesome food. There is also the possibility of nuclear power plant disasters at any time. There are disastrous floods, droughts, hurricanes, snow storm. Inside us, whether consciously or not, we all carry these horrendous realities with us, daily. They beat in our heartbeats, change our nervous systems. They creep into our nights, in sleeplessness and in dreams. They are at the bottom of our individual, community, and national and international decisions.

The great psychiatrist R.D. Laing viewed mental illness, including schizophrenia, as a natural part of the social matrix; society creates its own responses to itself, and these invariably show up in some of its members. In North American society today we have poverty, homelessness, isolation, suicide including suicide of children. We have materialism, the knowledge there will be no future, or a future very different from what we may have expected or hoped. We have drug and alcohol addiction, depression, murders, mass murders, more and more people with PTSD. PTSD itself is part of that reflection of society, as it is not an abnormal, but a normal human response to trauma. So mental health issues, and suicide, violence, are warning signs about the health of society. How we respond to these warning signs is of crucial importance.

Despite years of public demands, the US Congress has refused to put more restrictive gun controls in place. This may change a bit now after what happened in Orlando, with some Republicans recognizing the need for changes. The National Rifle Association has appeared to hold sway in the past, and one of their strategies has been the cry of the “Second Amendment” defending the right of individuals to bear arms. The background of the US second Amendment to the Constitution reaches back hundreds of years in English precedents relating to the powers of the King/Queen and royal army versus the militia of those who may need forcefully to oppose the royals. The main concern of the founders of the Second Amendment was that the people, or the states would have no way to defend themselves from a tyrannical government—unless they were able to form a militia. In those times it was understood that a community could not form a militia unless individual members of the community were able to bear arms (I guess they were not thinking of storing the arms in one place). Of course now the US has a military force that no city or state or group of states could adequately fight, so the whole point of the Second Amendment could now be said to be moot.

According to the Small Arms Survey, figures for 2007 and 2011 are given below for number of guns owned per 100 residents.

For 2007:

US                          rank #1                       112.6 guns

Canada                 rank #12                      30.8

UK                         rank #82                        6.6

For 2011:

US                          rank #1                         88.8 guns

Canada                          #9                          31

UK                                #88                            6

I do not know what would explain the discrepancy in the number of guns in the US between the two years shown. Ironically I write this on a day that a female member of Parliament in the UK, Jo Cox, was murdered. It is thought this resulted from the killer disagreeing with her political ideas. In Canada guns which are prohibited are assault weapons and sawed-off rifles and shotguns. Handguns are usually classified as restricted, and rifles and shotguns are usually non-restricted. In order to purchase a gun one must have a license and go through a screening process. The person must take a safety course and have a criminal record check done; then there is a waiting period. To purchase a gun in a store in the US a check is done and the purchase can be made within minutes. To circumvent the check, one can buy a gun at a gun show or buy from a friend.

Intentional homicides by country, per 100,000 population.

                   2011                    2012                   2013

US                  5                           5                          4

Canada          2                          2                          1

UK                   1                           1                          1

Some years ago CBC reported on a study which showed that in the US over the time of growing up, children witnessed an average of 18,000 murders on TV or in movies. There is a media culture message that murder is a regular way of dealing with things or persons who get in our way. What kind of social norm is this?! As Marian Anderson so beautifully sang in the song from South Pacific, “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear…you’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate; you’ve got to be carefully taught.”

We humans know so much and care about so much. Our ships have sailed not only around the world but to the Moon and out to other planets. We have invented the bomb that can put an end the world as we have known it, built the electric car, built robots, studied genes, and many other wondrous and scary things. We have produced great streams of spirituality, great artists—Shakespeare, Beethoven, Mozart, Georgia O’Keeffe, Joan Baez, Tracy Chapman, Gary Snyder, Miriam Makeba, and on and on. We built the Pyramids and beautiful temples, invented myriad musical instruments, wrote comedies, developed geometry and calculus, learned how to resolve conflict non-violently. Our venerated persons include Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, the Dali Lama, Malala Yousafzai, Leymah Gbowee, Pope Francis, and many others.

Can we gain the wisdom and strength of purpose to change direction at this critical our species on this planet? Can we face these things directly–violence, violence as war, mental health problems, inequality, our destruction of the air, land, oceans, with the honesty that comes through facing the imbalances in many of our societies? Shall we read the meaning of the realities and take responsibility? Then we might come together so that all these forms of violence are discarded. What shall we create to deal with this Gordian knot of complex puzzles that make up our own current situation? This is the question. Let us share it, ingest it, digest it, dream about it, dance it, sing it, and shower each other with the light that comes.

Sources:

How American Gun Deaths Compare to Canada’s.” National Observer, Dec. 4, 2015.

Laing, R.D., The Politics of Experience. Pantheon Books, Random House, NY. 1967.

The History of the Second Amendment.” David E. Vandercoy, Valparaiso Univ.   Law Review, #28. 1007-1039 (1994).

You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught.” Rodgers and Hammerstein.

http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/research

SPEAK FOR SALMON

SPEAK FOR SALMON

POEMS BY CANDACE E. HOLT

 

Copyright by Candace E. Holt, 2015
Nelson, BC, Canada

_____________________________

INDEX

Love Has no Body                                         p. 1
I am the Question
Mother of Wave                                                  2
I Am…I Am Not
Skeletons                                                              3
Echoes                                                                   4
By Water                                                               5
Salmon Biting                                                     6
Fear
Picking Princes in September
Nimpo Lake                                                         7
Breaking Confines                                             8
Flayed
January                                                                  9
Medicine waters                                                10
Snow Fog
Nicaragua, 1985                                                  11
From Mars
To Hide Unborn                                                 12
Solstice Dervish                                                13
Everybody’s Waiting                                       14
Savour of Honey                                                15
Wa-na-chee                                                       16
Ghosts Walk In                                                  17
Her Eye                                                                 18
Sands
Latest Word
We at the Millennium                                     19
Ancient Singing                                                20
Tipi                                                                        21
Koolaree
Wind Music                                                        22
Haiku
Watery Reaches                                                23
Bear Salmon Forest Bear                               24
Aurora Borealis
Vaya, Wind Spirit, Deep in-Breath            25

She Ponders                                                       26
Revolving
Moreso Morel                                                    27
Creek Dreams                                                   28
Centers                                                               29
Mandolin
The Woods
Reunion                                                              30
Birds                                                                    31
Speak for Salmon
Omnipoesie                                                      32
Nothing Mine                                                  33
Bestow Blessings
Mandolin and Moon                                      34
This Exquisite Raga
Jacket                                                                 35
Fearless Queen
We Are all Sentenced to Life                      36
Slow Red Sun                                                   37
Problem Solving
Response-Ability                                           38
Stonewall                                                          39
Turtle Island Peoples
Jewel of the Rockies                                      40
Music and Wondering                                   41
Laughter of Beings
Like Marsyas                                                   42
One Song                                                          43
Note by author                                               44

________________________________
LOVE HAS NO BODY

I have learned that
Love has no body;
That rain is a caress;
That pebbles embrace
one another;

I have learned that
Inside pain is a pearl of wisdom
Waiting for the shell which hides it
To be opened;
That reality is not subject
to intellect,
That music is the True Language;

My heart yearns for more lessons.

I AM THE QUESTION

I am the question
I am the answer
I am the seeker
I am the sought
I am the pain
I am the solace
I am the hunger
I am the nourishment
I am the confusion
I am the certainty
I am the misguided
I am the great guide
I am the question

To which answers
Heart’s golden Truth.

-1-

_____________________________

MOTHER OF WAVE

Mother of wave
Sea of Poseidon
Oyster catcher’s catch call
–all –all –all –all –all
–all –all

Friends three please take me
On these sands, as I am
I am I am
am-i amie
amies

Rock of Posiedon I draw your marks in sand
I feel your rock-rooted back
Rise up through earth
Sturdy guard of the shore
Protecting
Claiming

We, daughters of the Mother,
Dance
beside the gulls
the eagle
cormorant

We make our fire, cook mussels with rice
Sit in our sweat lodge
Surf pound sun
Water wood
Huge land world sea
Here I am; take me
This life my offering.

I AM…I AM NOT

I am milking white moon everything
Glowing gold and green
Late afternoon motions of my hands
Milking emptying
Two goat spouts

-2-

_____________________________

Put my nose to her side
Scent her fine goat hair
Yet I am not there

I am starving
I am overfilled
Milked out
The dry udder slowly fills
My entrails, my weight have been removed
My mouth, filled with chatter
Finds no tongue to speak

I am not here
I am not milking
No green no moon
Only absorption
Inside a song I am living

I am Motion of Moon turning
Of Earth revolving splash-painting
This afternoon
I am Motion of two hands pumping
With this Song I am living.

SKELETONS

Seas filled with sunken ships
Skeletons on her bottom depths

And leaky barrels of radiation
Plastic, dark petroleum trails,
Fish and whale-killing nets

As sea life withers and dies
As the salt levels slide
As the sea levels rise
Jellyfish rule

Coral reefs disappear
In this ageless Sea Mother’s realm
Always, always our sustenance
Our beauteous inspiration

-3-

____________________________

Bride of the moon
Muse for poets, for sailors
Vast, powerful dispenser
Of life, of death

She with her blue green foam
The very signature of
Planet Gaia
Becomes the repository
Of unspeakable garbage
Swill of human folly.

ECHOES

Her voice gurgles up from the stream
She has passed through concentric circles
Varied shades of twilight
From womb’s center
Aligning all things perfectly
As from the pearl of coyote’s howl;

Struggle wrote the lines of her face
The sad stories of her songs
Unyielding rhythm of her strumming;

Her eyes are deep wondering pools,
She tears out her heart
Leaving a hole big enough for
Her chest to be a mandolin gourd
She stretches leather over her chest
And fits strings between forehead and belly,
She becomes walking music
Strumming, singing
Dancing for the moon, for children;

When she comes to understand
The liquid motion of trees
Earth’s changing hues and shifting sounds
She wanders through translucent realms
Until there is no more reason
For her music

-4-

______________________________

For it is the soft drumming of steady rain
It is the rushing creek waters
It is itself the whispering pine breeze
She melts into these things
They gently sweep away her smiling mouth,
Her knowing ancient eyes,
Leave her sounds echoing
Echoing.

BY WATER

One moment outside the flow of time
We lay by rippling clear water
Warm in August sun

My hand on my belly
Our fingers entwined
My mind says “this may never happen again”
Tugs against ticking seconds

You were in a body then
Now you are memory
Imagined in my imaginary eyes

One of those moments that stills time
Now you are…
Are not…
I see sparkles of blue light
Dancing

Now you….

-5-

____________________________

SALMON BITING

Always
Heed
The primal longing
of your heart

Allow it to be the
Ultimate guide
As it draws you, entices you —
You the fish, biting

Then gloriously reeled in…in
To Truth’s dazzling Light.

FEAR

Fear is the clutching enemy within
Who creates all outside “enemies”
She lurks underneath violence
Hatred, dominance, greed,
War, oppression, abuse;

When we push aside her many grasping
Arms and breathe right through
Her stranglehold, she transforms
Into what she truly aspires:
True Power which respects, befriends,
Loves, listens, honors, equalizes.

PICKING PRINCES IN SEPTEMBER

Dying thistles, grasses, weeds rise
To varying heights above the carpet
Summer has laid down
Colors hinting autumn yet still alive
take me into their textured mysteries

I tread softly over sacred ground
with a mushroom bag
bulging with princes and boletus

-6-

_____________________________

Songs enter me when I drift here
into the grasses—grey clouds
their colors and motions;

You return to say
“goodbye” for the hundredth time
soft rain rhythms
penetrate my recorder
Rain music echoes through the hills

I see you across the stream
listening
And sense there is something of me
you always will cherish.

NIMPO LAKE

Tall pine sentinels rise up
Glowing in twilight along the lake;
We encamp in the Chevy pick-up
Not longing for sleep,
But enraptured by the loons
Their haunting cries encircle us
As time stops inside the primal calling–
Straining to name a forgotten secret:
That language I could dedicate myself
To deciphering;

Comes morning
Across calm waters
A trumpeter swan raises its
Cloud-white bulk
In majestic flight.

-7-

____________________________

BREAKING CONFINES

The I within me
Is knocking furiously
At the iron bars
Which enclose Her

My fear is
Soon she will erupt
Out of her stifling prison
To mold me into
What inevitably I must become:
The servant of Her wisdom
Walking Her determined relentless path,
One who lives Her Life.

FLAYED

The night the executioner comes
I stand ready
His gleaming eyes, his ominous chin
Point for me to come

Moonlight glances off his knife
His laugh tempts me
Trembling toward Charon’s water
I offer my throat

He comes at me slowly
Aiming at the collar bone
Cuts clean and quickly through the skin
Slits down my front all the way
Then gently peels off
My soft warm flesh

Naked I look night in the face
With demons crouching:
Gruesome eyes witness my flaying
Then dismembering,
Soon I catch their laughter

-8-

____________________________

Each stroke of the blade shakes me
Further and further back—
Beyond flesh and muscle
Beyond even bones
To the primal substance
Untouched

I stand, an empty skeleton
On which to hang hopes–
Love, dreams, colors, music
Teeming warm lifeblood

Free to become
And so I sing, I dream;
The executioner has done well
I am newborn in this death/life.

JANUARY

In between sun and Earth—Kouhoutek,
Bright Star some say is the messiah;
Chinook comes and turns snow to flood,
Steals winter away
Sliver of waning moon brings dawn

All night a rushing new stream
Sounds outside
We are between two washed-out roads
There is only the back way to town

A stubble of green barley pops out
In the field–strange sight in January;
Deer come by at evening

The two-room school closes
Folks walk in shirt sleeves
To view the wash-out, a chasm,
This road-breaker
Where the way suddenly stops.

-9-

___________________________

MEDICINE WATERS

Now I have laid bare,
Taken your medicine
In the white foam
Of your thundering river
Now I have become You
Now I have been blessed
Now replenished I go

Into the unknown
On my way home
On my way home.

SNOW FOG

We are always travelling through fog
On the brink of another unknown realm
Like Buddhist monks on high trails
Made immortal by the skilled Hiroshige

Only the initiated can hear
The voices of silence

Now winter holds the brink
Freezing the stream
In quiet stillness
Sleeping through ’til spring’s arrival

I stand cold spellbound in winter fog
Filled by
Silent semblance of a woodcut in twilight snow
Framed by square barn doorway
The dog and the bundled-up woman
Chase one last sheep inside
Ready for icy night
In a barn with soft hay

A finely tuned ear can hear
The music of snow fog.

-10-

____________________________

NICARAGUA, 1985

You return and lay the Truth
Out to me
As I knew you would
I knew you would

You shall return if we spill more blood
You will stay—even to death
Until our fathers, mothers,
Sisters and brothers see it is
Ourselves we murder
There are no foreigners,

You will stay, as you must
While my tears keep you
Wrapped in my heart
Tears of joy, of celebration, of life.

FROM MARS

Always I wanted to journey in space
To look at Earth from out there,
See the moon, the half-earth,
Quarter earth and full earth
Resplendent in blues

Four Mars-years now I am here
On this red planet
Never to go back
I volunteered for this
Experiment in the unknown

And now no trees, no rich
Earth smells, no roaring ocean
My biorhythms are all off
No streams no grasses
No chirpy bird songs
No hand to hold in mine

O, to taste a ripe tomato
Bite into crisp cucumber
Savour a fresh raspberry!

-11-

___________________________

It is like this to the end
No laughter with old friends
No holding my grandchildren
With such delight in my heart

Just revolving with this
Sphere of rock and dust
While this longing
Consumes me, dooms me.

TO HIDE UNBORN

This moon dreamed in me
Not just any moon
But this one wrapped in spirit
Of lofty cedars, salmon fishers,
And Totem-Spirits, Bear
Eagle, Raven, Killer Whale

This moon wants to jump out of me
Onto the waiting water color pad
Only my cowardice holds it trapped inside
Where it is safe
Not in danger of losing its essence

Dare I let it into these doubting
Hands while now I am sure
Of its vitality, its poignancy?
Must there be such risk in art
That the painter be paralysed
And the world wait forever for creation?

I set out the water, brushes, paint
In readiness for the birthing,
To allow others’ eyes to know this moonbeing
Swallowed inside me which grows
Too sharp-horned, too bright and full
To hide unborn.

-12-

____________________________

SOLSTICE DERVISH

December full moon bids me numb-struck
From the sleeping room
To yowl with a half-coyote dog nearly smothering me
We dance a swoon-song of moon-glow
Powerful phantoms call our wild steps
Over the snow field
Sacred harvest field of summer
That stretches forever into reaches of fog fingers
Hugely grasping with hidden strength—
One must be drunk to catch it!
The unsung song forces itself up
Through my bulging lungs
Pure and out through infinite night

Notes sustained,
My arms praise smiling Rhea
With swirling steps swiftly backward finding
Footprints I do not know I’d made
In obedience to the cosmic dancer,
My swaying limbs learn new motion
As the universe sings with my cry
Throbbing into my spellbound dance

Earth-spanning fog chorus answers
With long exalted notes
Surpassing those they echo

Sustained
Is my power
The music, the movement
I sing ecstasy—shrill secrets to deserving ears
Of deer
Coyote
Raven
Squirrel

-13-

_______________________________

No humans in range to hear
My voice spins all Earth as I too
Begin revolving, unthinking dervish
Coyotes join in, the coyote dog
Running to me in recognition

Such power moves in the night
As winter steals me into the Mystery.

EVERYBODY’S WAITING
(For Kathleen)

Everybody’s waiting in faded guerrilla denims
Incense-scented candle-lit apartments
For the Revolution
Because
We are too cowardly
To make it happen
Have not studied enough to know
It’s made without bayonets, secret hide-outs
Glory or high reward

Nor how it gnaws at our better parts
Demands our loves, our homes, our sweat,
The dreams to which we cling;

Revolution is mundane—forces sacrifice—
Is humble enough to talk with wielders of power
Silent enough to listen
She humiliates without mercy,
She is hunger
She is pathos
Irony
She is the blood, the bones, the marrow
She makes mush of the weak
While she hones the strong.

-14-

____________________________

SAVOUR OF HONEY

The old familiar flavour melts on my tongue
I scrape the insides of the metal extractor
After removing the wax cappings and turning
The honey-filled frames ‘round and ‘round

Fresh honey runs a deep dark gold
Thick and out from the spout
I don’t bother to strain it
Leaving bits of wax, pollen, maybe
Royal jelly, propolis

Umm, umm
And buzz the bees humm, humm

Bees are dying
Leaving crops unpollinated
Is it cell phone towers?
We do know it is big agriculture
Fields of pesticides, greenhouses
Neoxins

Shall we not then eat?
Will the savouring of honey disappear?
Is our human population
Selecting our demise by exterminating
Our great winged friend?

I lick my sticky fingers
Sticky with the sacred food
Food of the gods
Gods of Paradise:
Our long-loved home.

-15-

____________________________

WA-NA-CHEE

A Princess, daughter of the Moon, was wooed by the old Sun. Not wishing her beautiful daughter to take up with such an old man, the Moon disappeared to lay plans against them. Sun wove a magnificent rainbow robe for the Princess, who one day came down to the sea to meet him. As he took her away to his home in the sky Moon reappeared. When the Sun saw her he hurled a flash of lightning down to Earth: the Princess. There the cast-out maiden dwells in the cliffs and hangs her rainbow out over the mountains. Sometimes she (the Wenatchee River) can be heard singing.

Folded buckskin hills under soft grey clouds
Rise suddenly above wet orchard grass;
Scent of cider rises from rotting summer apples,

Follow the rugged hills west to clouds gathering where
Your Moon-Daughter Princess
Throws her rainbow robe over the roaring river
WA-NA-CHEE
Singing rarely now
But for a few Old Ones
WA-NA-CHEE
Robe of many hues

Sweaty plaid flannel, grizzled hair
Tired bright eyes stare
From spray-dusted Gringo and Chicano faces
Pickers of the snipped-off rainbow:
Golden to red “delicious”
AP-PLE CAPI-TAL
of the WORLD

Wait! Until Chavez comes North Wait
Wait! Until your orchards wilt under
death-dealing draught

“Irrigation” a word on farmers’ tongues
Apple a Columbia River dream come true
Praised be Grand Coulee!
Glory to DDT!
WA-NA-CHEE
many-hued robe
River ripples below
A singing lovelorn Princess keeps to her cliffs

-16-

___________________________

Migrants leave your streets, follow the Columbia
North to Okanagan then South again
Gringo and Chicano, no property taxes
just a body token to life
Ride, ride, by the train industry’s madness railed
to haul the harvest
to haul the harvest
A rain-chilled migrant ingests river shadow night
Breathing the cidery sage breeze
Half wishing the rain would leave;
A picture carves itself painfully into her heart
Of someone’s tears but she can’t make out
whose, or for what they are shed.

GHOSTS WALK IN

Ghosts walk in
The more years I gather
The more ghosts hang out
In the back room and wait
To walk in here

Faces in familiar places
Pleading, accusing,
Asking impossible questions

And so this being is not just I
But a melding of many
Each within our interconnecting circles
And all these circles within
Bigger circles

C’mon, ghosts
Let us dance under the stars
And let our laughter
Our tears, write new constellations
In the swirling dome of sky

And may those stars bejewel
The nets of our circles,
Shimmering always, always.

-17-

___________________________

HER EYE

The Divine Mother
Settles her eye
Within our hearts
For one lifetime–

Then with our last breath
Takes our hand of light
To lead us Home.

SANDS

Fragments of myself are
Forever dancing before your image:
Doing Tai Chi on the cold sand
Before the roaring ocean,

Ocean of my heart that flowed
With primal blood
Stilled in silence
Upon the flat expanse
Of shining grey beach;
Fragments of myself forever dance
Beside your tears—

The sun that never stops setting
Rests like a promise upon the sea
Like the jewel you are to me.

LATEST WORD

Scientists now tell us
We are either right after the moment
Our Fate decided our escape
From total (self) destruction,

Hallelujah!

-18-

__________________________

Or, that we are right before that moment
And shall inevitably destruct–
This being more likely the case

Erase “Hallelujah,”

Do we welcome the necessary ruin
Of ruin?

WE AT THE MILLENNIUM

              I

Man’s fall is the fall of all and it is
No joyride

Basking in October sun I soak up warm rads
In a climate formed by imbalanced design
Global Matricide
We witness otherworldly sunsets
With a metallic dusty glow

Friends eaten by cancers–
An in-law and his brother abide in
Bodies broken by bomb tests long ago

What chance for homo sapiens?
This perfect spherical jewel, heavenly home
Will spin on quite regularly without us

She may need to shed her skin
Shake off the dirt as does a dog
To rid itself of pesky fleas
Calm fire stirs inside me
Tempered passion and erotic potency
I must take stock of my contribution
To this mess and reinvent myself

Calm fire my strength and my breath
I can wend my way through tangled jungles
Survive the rains of ruin
Death is only death
My spark burns on.

-19-

___________________________

II

Shake Dance

Shaking the fleas:
Pesty life-threatening toxic waste,
Then must Gaia dancing, shaking
Herself back to life,
Shake off this arrogant species,
Root of the affliction?

Do we get thrown off this
Great and little-honoured timeless Home
With cries of anguish?

Or do we sail out into the void
Philosophically…eternally singing
Praising, loving
Throwing out glorious harmonies
To bounce forever around the universe
One lost echo
Of all these aeons here?

ANCIENT SINGING

I hear ancient singing
My heart reaches to meet it
To follow
Down to the deep
of Being
where that timeless
Voice calls us home,
In the midst of whatever holds us–

Home inside the kernel
Of knowing
The sheath of Compassion
The end of longing.

-20-

___________________________

TIPI

Under these tall poles
Sun rays break between shadows
The ball of moon sails
Over the pines and larch
Stalks of whiskery mullein
Shine straight-arrowed in dawn
My legs drip dew as I walk
To spread my pad and do
Asanas to the rising sun

A novice reaching for her Kali
Trying to focus all these things

Into the circle
The bursting pod
The rippling water.

KOOLAREE

Bronze glow of lowering sun
Heralds summer’s decline,
Hummingbirds have departed,
I carry my packs to load on the pier
And await the boat’s crossing to a place
That is in my heart

Koolaree
What a world of a word
An essence beyond description!

The swift boat jogs us over the waves
To my heart’s destination–
This well of sweetest wine

Where we dance cry laugh and sing
With our friends of the Friend
And we turn until there is no
Reality except our enchantment
Beneath these towering firs
Beside this lapping water
Under the moon, the glimmering stars
All we know is this blessing;
-21-

___________________________

Dry leaves fall dancing with the breeze,
Bears fill themselves for winter
Loons cry, night creatures scramble,
We breathe in scents of moist forest,
Water, seaweed, moss, burning wood,
This, our hearts’ home, we celebrate,
This, our caravan, supplies the food
Of our souls,

In our wonder, over and over
‘The lathing lustre’ leaves us
‘Seven times still more blessed.’

WIND MUSIC

If my being were as a tree
I should become wind music
Playing through my waiting leaves

I would be past worrying about peace
Rooted in a more firm reality

My endless habitat of sky and earth
Would feed my soul
Would fill me with green dreams
Slowly climbing, silently teaching.

HAIKU

In a hug with you:

The nicest place I have been

These many long moons.

-22-

____________________________

WATERY REACHES

Where the continent drops off fishing boats
And freighters move in their watery world
Gull cries punctuate a liquid atmosphere
The locals accept sopping wet
With the same calm as merely grey;
A pastor says there is too much time here
Folks have money for drugs and booze;

I sit in the room as deep mourning
Settles perceptibly in the air,
In predawn dark on Sunday
Two hung-over youths pulled out in a canoe
And drowned
A third hastily dove into chilled waters
Alone survived

Over and over he replays the delicate moment
Balanced between life and death
The heavy body sinking from his reach
Pulling him down
Now his world swims with monsters
Only tears, forgiveness and release
Can begin to dissipate;
I study these things
At the end of the highway
Edge of the ocean
Where drunks dance dizzily along Main Street
And eagles cry sailing from mountain heights
With eyes sharper than fish hooks,
Sure of the mark.

-23-

___________________________

BEAR SALMON FOREST BEAR

British Columbia coast rainforest–
Last inhabited pristine ecosystem
On Earth…

Towering giant trees
Green, green, rise up
From mossy wet forest floor
This living paradise the bears’ home
Bear hunts salmon, picks at the heads
Deposits remains in the woods
Salmon fertilize the trees
A singing forest grows, and grows

Rainforest breathes out oxygen
That Life may be sustained
Forest makes the bears’ home;

Water, Fire, Air, Earth, in turn
The Elements take thousands
Of years to compose the poem
That is the rainforest;

It can take just one misstep
To begin its destruction.

AURORA BOREALIS

Great Northern Light curtains
Glow a vast red and emerald
So bright the remote suspension
Seems close enough to reach up and touch;
Frozen in a split second,
A colossal roller coaster’s
Path looms across the heavens;

These mammoth curtains drape
The gods’ echo chamber:
Moving lights that glint on Earth’s silent face

-24-

____________________________

Across these rolling folds frosty-bearded heroes
Signal with huge rams’ horns
Bellowing down the lengths
Ringing around these bejewelled celestial veils,
To define this Arctic night.

VAYA, WIND SPIRIT, DEEP IN-BREATH

I am Vaya, Wind Spirit
Deep in-breath; I blow from
Smokey slave factories, through
Depleted uranium fields,
Through cities of relentless factories;
I disseminate CO2, radiation, lead, smog,
Desert sands, silicone–
A virtual churning breathy soup of destruction
Around this blue globe;

How I long to gaze again as I freely travel
Upon thriving birds, plants,
Frogs and fish…upon lost jungles
Uprooted rain forests, extinct animals,
And if you hear me howl and moan
It is my deep mourning
My unbearable grief;

And if you hear me whistling
You know I am calling out
To the impulse of LIFE,
Renewal, Healing,
Which is greater than this pitiful bent
Of decimation, this race to oblivion;

I am Vaya
I am everywhere
I see all, let me tell my story;
I shall come in your dreams–
Soft whistling out-breath.

-25-

____________________________

SHE PONDERS

Days roll out into long hours
Spent waiting
Sitting out by the cherry tree
Watching the crippled raven
Grab for a bite of lunch scraps
Yet mainly she ponders
Thinking on the hardest things
Old ghosts newly risen up;

She sits in the sun overrun,
Shaken over again by
Terrors of thirty years before
The rape, the horror
Forced at knife point
Pregnancy
Unmanageable decisions,

She stares at the hills, squints in the sun
It has been like this since
The unknown daughter sought her out
From thousands of miles away
After years added to silent years
Wondering who is her mother

She wonders who the daughter is
Whether she ought to know
Whether she can afford to care.

REVOLVING

One by one stars come
Onto night’s empty stage
Displaying their silent constancy;

Through all the wounds
The rough tumbles that bruise
They alone are my companions,
To them I repeat my battle sores
Through each struggle and
At each milestone
They have guarded over me,
Listened to my tales
-26-

____________________________

I ask them questions of ages past
They speak to me
Of lost secrets, great things,
Powerful and terrible things
So that I translate their silences
Into sagas rich with agony and triumph

They slowly circle
Saying the greatest poem I’ve ever heard
Putting me eventually to sleep
My soul at rest
Inside the palm of night,
Their revolving wheel
Names each of the deities
Ever to look down upon Earth.

MORESO MOREL

I am queen of May
Regal in my blending
I take on the exact appearance
according to the situation
Of leaf
bearded moss
fir cone
Or the end of a stick
golden larch needles

Yet ah! I am
Much more glorious
Than any of these:
Firm, rich, succulent
To the tune of many gold pieces
I am an expensive woman
Skilled in the arts
Of pleasing

-27-

____________________________

Come to me in May
If I choose you
You shall have me
You shall hear me calling
To you, and the leaf
will transform
the fir cone suddenly become
the orb of moss subtly retrace
My seductive velvet folds
Ah, l’arome!

CREEK DREAMS

Home, a feeling that wraps me ’round
Waking from dreams of Stranger Creek
–tributary of the River Subconscious–
In those elusive realms I visit
the friendly warmth of a forest lodge
or the last human habitat before
A beckoning range of luminous mountains
Where I attain irresistible heights
Or become lost searching out those peaks

This Creek wanders through a green valley
In my universe of sleep;
inviting houses ring with music,
merriment, hauntingly familiar
It skirts an orchard on the ridge;

Dancing cool shadows at sundown
hint promise of magic,
a scent of wild strawberries
and cottonwood beckons me

That subconscious stream deep beneath
Feeding springs into the Creek
Is the major vein of my reality–
becoming my conscious life
the source of blood pumping through
This heart whose dwelling is no place
but a misty network of dreams
This soul seeking Stranger Creek
Seeking Home.

-28-

____________________________

CENTERS

How many times have I held you?
Not enough
How many tears have rolled onto your cheeks
From my eyes?
Not enough
What have I given in return for your love?
Not enough

Night’s dark caress grows pale
I watch the last star fade
Yet still it is there
Like the center of your heart
Pinpointed to the centre of mine
From fifteen hundred miles
Down the Rockies.

MANDOLIN

As he plucked that sweet mandolin
His smile was that of an angel
Sending heavenly strains

As I strum this little mandolin
I smile
I am where he stood
Inside that opening to bliss.

THE WOODS

Up we ride in the truck with chainsaws
In our woollen jackets, boots,
Work gloves, snug caps

A cloudy day, no deer hunters,
We scout out the dead larch, fir,
Standing or fallen,

-29-

__________________________

We step beneath trees
On soft uneven ground
Covered with a stunning carpet
Of bright golden needles

We scent the rich earth,
Mushroom smells, pine
And fir needles, tree bark, all
Enter our lungs along with
Invigorating crisp fall air;

Then the chainsaw noise
Suddenly blurts out
I watch the trees tremble
Altogether at this vibration
Encroaching on their regal realm,

Interrupting the usual dance to their own music
Music that vibrates in all creatures and forms
We may not hear, yet can feel;

These great green spires
Keep trembling as I realize
The extent of our trespass,
In awe and humility.

REUNION

We can hear the ocean
Blow in through the leaves here
Feel it brush against
These stolid brick halls of learning
Tickling Herodotus’s beard
Making Socrates blink

It creates tremors in the
Leaves of the book of history

The expanse of this place
Which nurtured my young mind
Challenges my life to answer
Challenges my soul to rise

-30-

__________________________

We can taste the Pacific breeze
Crossing over expansive green lowlands
And see it in the rhododendrons
So lush and pregnant;

That salt breeze whips around Earth
And reaches the eager young
To tease them
Into godliness.

BIRDS

The birds don’t care
And neither do I
(I like to pretend)

If we are fools and failures
If we are weak
Or are mistaken

The birds don’t care…

Yet ah, what a far cry from birds
Are we.

SPEAK FOR SALMON

It is for us now to speak for salmon
For us to speak for whales
For old growth forests, rain forests,
Estuaries, herons, frogs,
Coral reefs, elephants, gorillas;

It is for us to speak for oceans
For rivers, lakes, streams,
For grizzlies, caribou,
Glaciers, the arctic seas,
Born and unborn children;

-31-

__________________________

It is for us to speak for salmon
To be the voice of silent ones
For even dangers that threaten
Us and them are not recognized
As the scream they are–
The scream for alarm,
For profound re-connection;

It is for us to speak for salmon
With voices numbering so many,
Thundering endlessly,
Voices reaching all ears.

OMNIPOESIE

I love the tongue of this land
That sings so well of its spirit:
Bella Coola, Klickitat
Mukilteo, Shuswap
Kamiah, Wenatchee, Kittitas Tum-Tum
Ohanapecosh, Tahola
Chinook, Wapato
Moclips, Osoyoos, Umtanum

Names that bounce right up from
Earth Herself
And leave bubbles dancing ’round my heart
Nakusp, Okanagan
Bella Bella, Dosewallips
Kitsap, Wallowa
Tatoosh, Walla Walla
Chelan, Hamma Hamma

When I die, O Spirit, let me go beyond
With such magic ringing in my being
Kleena Kleene, Kootenay
Tillamook, Skeena
Humptulips, Yakama,
Kokanee, Quallicum
My very bones must beat time
Against the rocks along rivers from which
These sounds have sprung
Again and again
And again.
-32-

___________________________

NOTHING MINE

These beautiful big visions
In my looking-forward
Seem to fall apart
Or hurt someone;
In some other world
Would it be easier?

I dreamed of you and me
In my sacred place
The sun stood still
Then you fell into the stream
Your foot caught on a rock
You screamed at a snake
As it swallowed its prey

In like manner wise old Hecate
Thinks she knows better
When she dumps my dreams
Into garbage pits
Leaving me watching
A fading paradise with
Throat-choking sobs.

BESTOW BLESSINGS

When our hearts bestow blessings
On anyone
no matter how ruthless
or contemptible their deeds

Then we know at least
How to find the Light
In which to bathe ourselves.

-33-

____________________________

MANDOLIN AND MOON

Out with mandolin
To moonlight and white gelding
Even more than the goats
He is stilled by music

My heart lets go into
The vast night’s warmth
His equine nostrils quiver
Taking it all in
His tan ears–velvet receptors–
but shadows in the night

He responds to sound as no other
My song becomes his song–
A ritual between us
marks the stillness
that is moved into place
By strings struck far among
The thousands of stars
Shimmering into their frequencies
The music, the stars harmonize with
A soft breeze singing through the grass.

THIS EXQUISITE RAGA

The Universe expands
and expands
As it creates itself
In this beginning note
Of the most glorious Alleluia
This exquisite raga

Powerful enough to
balloon galaxies
into infinity

To birth millions of stars
And set them spinning–

Such is one single breath
Of Allah.
-34-

___________________________

JACKET

I know a woman from South Africa–
Stephen Biko had been her friend
He left his jacket for her

Before they put him in prison
He said leave this country–
They were coming too close–
The jacket came with her

Once she said put it on;
There I was in Biko’s jacket
Miles away from Africa
Years away from Biko

Did it give me any of his bravery?
No, yet perhaps imparted
A nudge toward courage.

FEARLESS QUEEN

Big Cat
Slunk through silently in the night
Pressing pads into snow along the creek;
Now we notice after a couple days
Awe strikes us
Her world has touched ours unseen

Breathlessly I imagine her motions:
Lithe snow dancer
Fearless Queen of the north
Moonstruck and inspired
Noble queen commanding her ground
Even near our dwellings;

Then in the local paper:
Female cougar
Nine feet long
Shot and killed near summit…
Something sinks heavy within
As though I knew her, I cry.

-35-

____________________________

WE ARE ARE SENTENCED TO LIFE

Ghosts of your ancestors hover over miles
Of lava beds spreading their rough fingers
Along the wide river
Wolf, eagle, raven, bear roam freely here
Under mountains rising from thick foggy mists;
Oolichan, salmon, halibut hang drying, smoking
Giant wooden drums announce
The gathering time;

Gitwunsilkh: as a child
You patiently taught me to spell
Gitwunsilkh, no road to it:
Just a foot bridge then
You smiled and kidded brave in your sadness,
Missing your mother, family,
You tried to put it all together again;

Now inside, maybe you remember the breach
Or as you say, you were too drunk,
The city can eat a Northern girl
And spit her out like a thick salmon bone;
Do they let you visit your child?
Have your hopes broken in pieces?
Do you try to hang yourself?

In your dreams your ancestors bring messages,
I recall you laughing, walking in the sun,
On the wind I whisper to you:
Never lose the reverberation of that ancient drum,
Never lose the mystery of the wolf’s howl,
Look into your heart and find true freedom,
Then dwell there
Always.

-36-

____________________________

SLOW RED SUN

So expectant at seventeen we sit
On sand at the edge of the continent
As if all the unanswered challenges of a world
Are pushing at us from inland
As if the next crucial step will somehow
Set a design for our futures

We watch the slow red ball of sun drown
Into a chilly gray unending ocean

Along the shore I search for fishing ropes
And glass floats from Japan–
Some token drifted in from another shore

My findings are dark silver tongues of the sea
Lapping at twilight tinged by
The scent of driftwood smoke, taste of salt
Salt in our clothes, our hair

I hear the gulls’ taunting cries
On the edge of this vast Turtle Island
Yet my ears stay tuned to the hope
That a whisper of wind
Might reveal everything.

PROBLEM SOLVING

Yes, hello…is this the
Solar System Retail Warehouse?
Okay, good; we have a bit of a problem
Here at Orbit Earth One, Earth Two,
Earth Three and Earth Four;

Well, you see it’s been a long time,
And now we need at least one more Earth
Our resources are dwindling again
And our populations rather bursting…

Hmm,…is that how it is then?
So, you are telling me we have to wait
Five thousand Earth years just to request?
No more Earths now in the Warehouse?
-37-

___________________________

What can you advise us to do?
Wait!…Don’t quit the connection!
I am the official representative
Of Earths Incorporated!…

Hey…this is a real problem! Wait!

RESPONSE- ABILITY

Light cascades through us
Until we know not our bounds
Into us
Out from us
Into us
Out from us

Light that erases form
And creates Love
Within the use of power
Forming each breath

It is for us women
To form the peace
It is for women
To align with Earth vibrations

It is for women
To renew, to give, rebirth
To cast out grim design which
Seeks to hide the light,
The eternal re-configuring dance,
The sacred,
From life.

-38-

____________________________

STONEWALL

As Earth turned ’round
To my twenty-fifth birthday
I lay asleep over two thousand
Miles from New York City

Where my brothers rose up
To defy the police batons
To challenge hundreds of years
Of being defined as less than human
As not worthy to BE

They screamed, bellowed out
The anger, pain, humiliation
Of thousands over centuries

Now I thank them: they loosened
The hinges to this mighty door
We are breaking down.

TURTLE ISLAND PEOPLES

Year after year with tears
My spirit honours your wisdom
Your tender caring
For this Home, this Turtle Island

When I canoe on the lake
When I pick huckleberries
When I feel the drum beating
And hear the heart song
When the eagle flies overhead–
Yet there is no going back
Your ways always here to teach us
How to live on this vast island

Turtle Island waits patiently
There is no going back,
For the Way to break through,
For the sacred Mother Earth
Again to be our guidance

-39-

___________________________

I stand on your cliffs
Imagining the smoke rising
The drumming, the singing,
Scent of sweetgrass and sage,
Seeing the community of plants
Animals, water, Earth and
Two-leggeds come together
Once again in harmony;
This the only solace for my heart.

JEWEL OF THE ROCKIES

Under this vast clear sky
Hiking past the turquoise lake
We keep up the pace–sun now sets
My gear sinks heavy on my back
Each forced step brings me closer
To a spot to make camp, eat, rest

The scent of alpine spruce
Enfolds us in its heady aliveness
Sounds accompany: a creek, squirrels,
Wing-flap of birds

The mountain rises up high above
Pulling at my neck to turn,
As dusk approaches Moon
Reflects in a small diamond
From snow atop the peak

This is cloud-maker-mountain
Huge silent sentinel
Overpowering, magnificent
Crowned with such a diamond;
In this moment, just this moment
I am witness to
This jewel atop the Rockies.

-40-

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MUSIC AND WONDERING

So I acquire the Koln album
Carry it in the rain
A bit chilled, I play your music
Loving to lie back
Warm with many blankets
Thinking of the place we were
When you massaged my head;
Content to be there
Anytime;

Rain and tears: heaven’s and mine
Music and wondering
What your silences are saying;
Are we telling each other
Some things are too sad?

You asked why beautiful flowers
Make you cry;
I think I know why.

LAUGHTER OF BEINGS

Suddenly, unexpectedly comes the gift
Out the window two sibling black bear cubs
black as coal—playing, roughhousing

In their own world, their moment
I can almost hear them laughing
Wrapped around each other
In blissful wrestling abandon

I can almost hear them laughing
As bubbles of light form
To dance around my heart.

-41-

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LIKE MARSYAS

My skin untanned shall hang above the river
From a slender limb of the sacred pine
The death tree–
While the river yet sings my song

My soul untamed will secretly swim
Those river depths
Lost in obscure meanderings;
In death still feeling the muse-ik
My senses under rippling waters
Shall interpret eternity
Through the instant’s lost motion
And I shall render the mundane
Eternally sacred
For river journeyers of another age

Let them close their eyes
Hearing
Song of the unfathomed

My dead skin rattle in the wind

Leaves rustling.

-42-

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ONE SONG

I dreamed I died
And fell inside
The sound of spellbinding song
Which long ago
Issued from Earth

Inside each chord
I moved along
Speeding from this blue globe
Out from the sun
Past planets, to infinity

The song held me
Inside its mystery as if
A door opened
To all I ever sought,
To all ever invoked
In the pure desert chant
The nasal Bushman melody
Magical Indian raga
The drum song of Africa
The bold vowels haunting
North American plains

Earth song
Infinity’s song
Our song
One song.

-43-

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Note from author.

This collection of poems represents work done over a period of  over forty years, not in any particular order. Some of the poems reflect experiences of my life in NE Washington State, the mid-coast of British Columbia, and here in SW British Columbia. A few relate to my studies of natural catastrophes in ancient times, and the outfall from those, which I think is a big part of the reason we humans find ourselves at this juncture today, as we face many connected challenges for the future of life on this planet.

CH, 2015

-44-

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