Tuesday, November 13, 2012


for Scott

The Earth pulls back now,
braces against the shake and rattle of limbs
 when leaves gather thick along the fences
and salmon with their cold fungal
sores drift spent in the sheltered gullies

Know that life lets go before renewal,
feeds itself on the grey days and heaves
the splendid memories, always the cycle
of things spinning in your eyes

You are the closest to the restoration,
arriving in the world when Spring’s promise
was asleep in the brooding woods

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Gentle Rain

the rain settles like hands
upon you, cold fingers
remembering your face

there is no one in the street
but the washed few who think
that it is for them

there are small voices in the rain,
no one talks, and you can think
without the urgent sun

and the melancholy drift of it,
the grey and insipid pouring
that allows you to shrink back

we can rest there,
a moments withdrawal
from the world of face-time

look at the solitary crows
and how the rain boils
off their ungodly capes

they cackle with their jaunty hops,
pleased, i would say, to be so ridiculous
in the carnival of wet and shivering

but not too much of it
under the dripping leaves
listening to the drizzle and sizzle

i once sat in the woods as a boy
when a thrush told me stories
with its rusty-hinge song

and when it rains now
and the sky falls black and brooding,
i take his hand and wait for the music

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Scorched Earth

the scorched Earth
and the rivers run dry,
my tears are salted stains
and still I hope as flesh clings to bone

so I look for the aspens crowded gold
in the high coulees - there is peace
in their trembling songs

it is my imperative, as necessary
as anything worth living for,
to understand their language

what can I say to the ravagers
among us, the man in the suit
with his wealth and swagger?

he does not believe in Life, does not see
what is vanishing - that what is seared
will burn him too

the future has been written, some say that
Crimes Against the Environment
will see his name soaked in oil

what will he tell his children
when the fires come over the hill?

Friday, September 21, 2012


a clarion revelation
and cranes arrive stitched
to the dome of the world,
soaring over our urgency,
our condemnation, our waste

what are they thinking
when the thermals choke them
with indifference?

there is no greater loneliness
that I can think of - not to have them,
spring and fall,
not to see them as etchings
of millenia passing by

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The End of Summer

the grasshoppers are full of summer life

how suddenly
they give up
their limbs
to the hard beaks
of sparrows
who hastily
carry them away
like pale cigars

the starlings hunt them too

up in the green pyramidals,
stabbed to death
with able chisels

all these deaths
and no one weeps,
no mournful regrets or tributes

we save that
for our own kind it seems

why is that we deny
the many signs
of our own mortality
leaping willingly
across the sun baked lawns?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Day of My Return

Do you know what the sea has done to me?
Some investment that I made, a promise to return

So many things have happened since then,
a life moving like a riddle and the small discoveries
only revealed looking back
That summer when I splashed in the salted pools
and plundered the beaches with pail and shovel,
bursting colours in a child's hands
My mother lost me one day so that
I would remember

Do you know what the sea has done to me?
A love of what is real, the tactile and the tasted

I knew to spit out the salt and bury my legs
in the wet density of endless sand.There are more stars
in the heavens, Carl Sagan once said
It is new every day, that is something,
life eager to begin again with its eternal blessing,
the briny organic and the table is set

Do you know what the sea has done to me?
The shattering of light on the black water

Precious stones without the hard matter,
how the dying sun pours its copper and gold
then flings it all against the sky
There is always passing-by gulls,
boats going here and there, countless epiphanies
when you can't see the bottom

Do you know what the sea had done to me?
Showing me the otter in Oak Bay

Its lifted head wanting me to see the glossy
stretch of him, as fluid as any stream
And the driftwood heaved and alone
has a memory of wooded hills and storms
I watched children poke a jellyfish
along the tideline, and the curious crows
not too far away knew better

Do you know what the sea has done to me?
It wanted me to go away so that I would love it more

Sunday, August 5, 2012


a community in the tule
and rank grass
where the wetted spring
heaved you out

you inched up a stalk
to split and shiver,
concealed from the world
to dry your gauzy wings

and when you paused
to show me your
cherry eyes and perfection
you did not mind my scrutiny

you must have felt my shadow,
overheard a father tell his son
about the truth
and seamless beauty of unity

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Great Bear Rainforest

The sparrows in the garden
lift the day with their stories,
a poetic rising of the sun

And aspens in the chalky groves
speak to us with the slightest breeze,
a community of a thousand years

The rainforest drinks from the clouds
and the white bear sleeps in the shadows,
a visitor to our oldest dreams

Stones along the ancient shores
have a song of heavy notes,
an enduring murmur in the cool waters

A salted pool pulses like a beating heart
and children answer with their fingers,
a vital cleansing in the shells and shimmer

There is only the expression of the One Life
trusting the voices who know,
patient for our blessings and remembering

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


there is the innocence of love,
white as a sheet pulled
from a sun-kissed line

and shades of misunderstanding
that begins as a bruise
then runs crimson from the tongue

know that what is true
has held every error that ever was
and released them like doves

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Evening Grosbeak

you fell from the trees like ash,
tumbled down in your dappled suit
and knocked at my door

I heard your cheery petition,
smacking that beak like a castanet
and all of your fellows near
with their yellow caps tilted
to show me that one hungry eye

you will ruin me with another bag of seeds,
hefting it out there in an unseasonable rain,
that dripping down my neck while you wait

the sparrows told me
that you are only passing through,
filling up for a flight north

shouldn't you have gone by now?

and they say that you have a reputation
for such things,
ransacking feeders up and down the valley

I wonder if you are alright,
that life is good and your undulating flight
will be there tomorrow

never mind about the seeds,
I have seen how the sun catches your girl
in the morning, a black white whir across the yard

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Super Moon

I know its fat face, as round as my father's pancakes
bubbling with craters, open wounds

We all go a little nuts with it looming over
the rooftops working its ancient spells,

A woman knows such things when the tide
pulls her away from the shore

And men, we keep it deep down
until it loses its fullness

No one sees us shaving the ungodly hairs
that grew in the night

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Yellow Bell

There you are hanging your demure yellow head
pushing through the snow and so eager for spring,
a lily of the arid relics of the Earth

I rested on my knees to capture you,
the moment the sun found your muted bell,
but no toll rang for me

And then a breeze whispered in my ear,
said that its music was not a sound
but the rising of my own presence

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Last Polar Bear

            The bear came out of a rocky swale and drudged to the top of an ancient beach terrace and stopped and swung her great head back to the sea - the argent polish of it, shapeless, a vast water without ice, the last of the drifting packs ruined by the sun. A strong breeze kept the flies from her eyes and riffled the yellowing fur along her spine. The wind had not changed it seemed – it pushed and shoved the short grasses and willows for millennia. But there was more to the wind now; it carried the heat of the land, the rising thermals that found the arctic barrens senseless and impotent to change the course of a melting world.

A distant madness was a memory of the Earth and she was part of the earth and part of the memory and it was the memories of her kind that kept her alive and moved her ahead of death. It walked in her shadow and gnawed at her belly, a presence without conscious intention but something out of necessity and perfection in the barrens. But now it was more than the passing of flesh and the redistribution of energy - it would be annihilation and a journey into irretrievable silence, into the collective memory. All was wrong in an interrupted evolution, but still she endured with the mortal fuse of her lineage belonging only to her.
For days she had been at sea in search of the ice. The seals would be there near their breathing holes. She would smell their breath. But there was no ice and there were no seals. And still she swam on, the black pads of her feet pulling her deeper into her memory, on toward the constant sun until her insulating fat was depleted and she had to turn back to the pebbled shore. There she scavenged the rotting carcass of a young whale, but the nimble foxes had picked it clean and the blubber bled rancid out into the gravel and she licked and chewed what was left with her old teeth until her gums were split and bloodied. It was not enough.
She had fasted over the winter and into the spring, and now in the long summer starvation forced her out over the land. She had to turn away from the sea and the memories of fatted cubs that were but a dream. There in the den beneath her feet lay their bones, dying as they were born, never seeing the breadth of the sky or knowing the spring march out across the ice. She lowered her muzzle and remembered coaxing the still shapes with her tongue, their muted moans and then silence. It was long ago but time was not of her making. Then the bear raised her head and bellowed to the ends of the world, to the things of creation and destruction.
She turned inland and moved through the thickening willows and browsed on sedges and grasses. She flushed a lark from its nest and at once devoured the clutch of still warm eggs. They would not sustain her but momentarily appeased an urgency that grew increasingly dire. She had to feed well her shrinking bulk. And then a memory of a time when food could be found that did not come from the land, a costly time when the Takers came to the north in their numbers, desperate for things deep in the earth. There came a great thaw and then an unacquainted silence, gone was the music of life, vanished were the great bird migrations. Trees crept up into the barrens from the south and snow fell heavy and wet and collapsed the many dens and lemmings suffocated by the score in their lanes and tunnels. And the bears gathered hungry when the first spring arrived without ice.
And then the Takers were gone and with them the Givers, taken from their tilting shelters and famine. The Givers were the People and they hunted the bear as the bear hunted the seal. And the Givers prayed for the bear and they prayed for the land and now belonged to the memory of Bear and the oneness of all things. There was no memory of Takers with such reverence. They used up the Earth and discarded their food. She would go there, to the incongruent structures long abandoned now.
In the distance shapes moved in uncommon waves and the bear lumbered on with a singular loneliness. There were no other beating hearts in the consciousness of white bears that shared the Bear Soul - there was only her own flagging heart in all that space. And in the afternoon she overheated and stopped to rest on a hummock. She sprawled and the bones of her shoulders pushed against her hide and all about her was the land and a sky with a sun that burned and a wind indifferent to things it touched. It cooled her for but a moment and then the heat returned, weakened her. She wanted to sleep. She dropped her head on a foreleg and closed her eyes – a fitful slumber, but she dreamed.
She dreamed of ice and blue pools and seals unaware of her crouch and the mate who gave her the cubs asleep in their tomb, and she dreamed of a place, a gathering of every bear that ever lived, a land of ice and snow that had no beginning and no end. Then she opened her eyes and the shimmering abated and there in the distance, where the Takers drove down the devices of their taking, was a depression in the land and a pond that would cool her.
She laboured to her feet and set out down the slope through arctic poppies thick and yellow, a sea of suns waving out across the plain. She ran now, desperate for relief from a heat she did not know. She would die without the cool waters of the barrens. And the poppies ended suddenly near the pond as if a line had been drawn and the water was dark and only its coolness occupied her. There was nothing else now, just the murky seepage from the peatlands and restoration. Then all at once her eyes stung and her nostrils burned of something foul and hot, not at all a cooling liberation but a savage betrayal of life. She could not stop her still great weight and all was slick and she swung to turn away but she floundered and fell back on her flank and the pond leapt upon her and she lunged to be free of it, heaved with all her will until she stood trembling at the lifeless margins.
Something unloosened by the Takers and she licked at her paws and limbs, contorted to rid herself of the poison. And now a fire in her throat and the bear tossed her head then rolled about on the bare earth and into the poppies, maddening to be rid of the dripping blackness that assaulted her. She regained her feet and staggered and choked and moved away from the pond, from death. She was already dead, but in her brain there remained a primal resolve to survive, to exist another day. And in her misery, she knew where to go. She had to return to the sea.
She moved away, heavy, her head low and her tongue frothed and lolling from her grim mouth. On she went following her steps back to the sea with the fire deep inside her now, burning her alive, into the early evening with the sun sliding low across the horizon. There was only the movement of her body, the contaminated fulfillment of the white bear. And the sea was near but she could not smell it and she could not see. The fire was in her lungs as she gained the terrace. The sea petitioned her, stronger now, and she kept on toward what she knew. There was no deception there in the water. The ice was no more but the sea would receive her.
She stood on the beach, confused and dying, swaying above her failing legs. There was nothing now but to surrender to something more. She moved out into the water, deeper and deeper. It was cold – how the extremes of the world found her unprepared. And out into the water. There was no buoyancy left in her. She could not swim. There was no searching for a memory. She sank, disappeared, a sheen above her in the amber night. Then a last breath as she drank of the sea one last time.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Breathing Winter

it is so still, so cold
you whisper the sounds
of breathing

you look long into the empty
sky filled with the chilled sighs
of star gazers

you wonder what it all means,
why there are heavy hands in a world
so willing to love you

and the sky that sits on the horizon
does so gently, to please you,
does that every day until you

remember that the coyote
standing on the ice, stands there for you
and a future that will love him too

Monday, January 23, 2012


they settle over the mud flats
like Concords,
bellies pink in the afterglow
and the day surrenders
to the inaccessible nights

i hear the soft bugle of mates
acquaint the young in grey flannel
with a world made for them,
a singular devotion to an unknown faith

they tilt wings chosen by angels
and drop their black paddle feet
to the salted beds of resurrection,
the cradle of a just sea

then the hush of divine stillness
as they rest illumined and infinite
under a moon of countless winters

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Blooming Hour

for Mark -

a tree comes to its treeness
and a star borrows its sparkle
from the sun for you to imagine

flowers willingly unfold their petals
when the life in them finds
their blooming hour

and the initiate becomes a shepherd
when he opens his hand to the Earth
when he is called forth

you have the sight to know the unity
in duality and feel the agony
beneath your feet

know that the world
gave you a song,
its melodies written only for you

on the day providence sat with you
by the river and you tasted the silt
from a thousand streams

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Requiem for a Desert

the sun is on the plain
and nothing walks upon it

grasses shiver and the voles sleep,
vipers rest in their cold coils

there is nothing that lives
that does not cast down its bones

there are thorns for the sufferer,
a moment in the farthest reaches of a man

where the sweep of a prairie can carry him back
a thousand years

he feels the dust between his fingers
and tears in his eyes when the wind finds him alone

it will bloom in the spring, things close to the ground,
life tugging, coaxing it for another year

a desert dies in the winter
but it is not death

there are men who do not see its life,
who will tear it down in an hour

an ungodly demolition for a bottle of wine