Tag Archives: poetry

Listening In Winter


So let this winter
of listening
be enough
for the new life
I must call my own.


I went to the bookstore today, it has a Starbucks in it with a fireplace and I love to browse, maybe buy something or not and sit and have a coffee. I spent a good amount of time there before Christmas. Books are my favourite gift to give and I love to choose wisely and that means lots of looking and reading. I know that bookstores are probably bleeding red ink and have to diversify to stay afloat. The atmosphere had definitely changed. Christmas was gone, winter was gone and we had moved on to fitness, resolutions including a whole display on changing your life through you name it: mindfulness, meditation, yoga,  the slow movement, etc etc.,  oh, and don’t forget your Fitbit.

Pink was the colour, spring and valentines day. Healthy eating and cleanses. The mindfulness colouring books were all flowery now, winter animals were gone.

I am still stuck on sleeping in, warm beds with flannel sheets, fireplaces and good stews with lots of root vegetables. Hell there is 3 feet of snow outside.

Why does it have to be shunted off so quickly. Why can’t we just relax?  This is our time for reflection, our time to  hibernate, renew.

We are all so hep to start a new year, a new regime, find a new us. Don’t we know that:

What we strive for
in perfection
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
we desire,


The Winter of Listening
by David Whyte

No one but me by the fire,
my hands burning
red in the palms while
the night wind carries
everything away outside.

All this petty worry
while the great cloak
of the sky grows dark
and intense
round every living thing.

What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.

What we strive for
in perfection
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
we desire,

what disturbs
and then nourishes
has everything
we need.

What we hate
in ourselves
is what we cannot know
in ourselves but
what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.

Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.

Even with the summer
so far off
I feel it grown in me
now and ready
to arrive in the world.

All those years
listening to those
who had
nothing to say.

All those years
how everything
has its own voice
to make
itself heard.

All those years
how easily
you can belong
to everything
simply by listening.

And the slow
of remembering
how everything
is born from
an opposite
and miraculous

Silence and winter
has led me to that

So let this winter
of listening
be enough
for the new life
I must call my own.


autumn trees

And fall is here. That season between the bounty and light of summer when everything changes in preparation for the winter sleep. There are still warm sunny days, only shorter and nights are cooler and longer. The sky is bluer, the colours bright with the hues of autumn. Oranges, yellows, reds, amethyst, and gold. We have abandoned our frilly pinks and opulent purples of summer. Time for boots and warm sweaters, tea, good books in front of a fire and contemplation. Soon nature will be stripped almost bare. Time to slow down.

“O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost —
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.”

Robert Frost


Poetry Is The Evidence of Life

It’s the Spice.

“Poetry, whose material is language, is perhaps the most human and least worldly of the arts, the one in which the end product remains closest to the thought that inspired it.”

Hannah Arendt

A German Jewish philosopher, certainly not without controversy. A product of Germany during WWII striving to understand evil. I haven’t thought about her in over 40 years. I first studied her in a university class.  A CBC Radio show on the drive home brought her back.  I am not sure if I really understand her work but, I heard the above quote and it really stuck.

It’s interesting to look at great thinkers and philosophers positions on  “poetry”

“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.”

  – Plato

“Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular.”

– Aristotle

Or to look at an existential poet from Germany.

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke


Or to look at the poet “lover” from my teenage years. He was never far from my side.

From Spice Box of Earth (still kept in my bedside table)

Spice Box of Earth

Summer Haiku


and a deeper silence

when the crickets


I can’t imagine my life without  the ability to experience emotion through poetry, to feel my experiences through poetry and to find the truth in history through poetry.






When it’s the anniversary of the loss of a loved one I can feel quite melancholy. There always seems to be something that reminds me whether it is a date, a season, a quick memory of good times. This weekend was the second year anniversary of one of my dogs deaths. Noel, was a wonderful dog who lived a very good and happy life. She wasn’t my first loss or is my last. I have written frequently on my dogs and other animals and my relationships with them.

A good friend has just gone into hospice. His time left here is measured  in days.  I will support him with love on his journey. I will miss him from my life. But, I ask myself why it is I miss my animals more?

John Berger, in About Looking, wrote: “With their parallel lives, animals offer man a companionship different from any offered by human exchange. Different because it is a companionship offered to the loneliness of man as a species.”

From this blog post I read today about the relationship of a man with his pigs it offers a beautiful reflection of companionship.




I think Mary Oliver sums it up in this poem from Dog Songs.

How It Is With Us, And How It Is With Them

We become religious,

then we turn from it,

then we are in need and maybe we turn back.

We turn to making money,

then we turn to the moral life,

then we think about money again.

We meet wonderful people, but lose them

in our busyness.

We’re, as the saying goes, all over the place.

Steadfastness, it seems,

is more about dogs than about us.

One of the reasons we love them so much.





Cherry Blossoms“when cherry blossoms
no regrets”



Art courtesy of Kay Bingham Elementary School

When we listen to the Vancouver news and events on tv now, it is all about cherry blossoms. I miss them, the predictor of spring on the west coast. There is even a Haiku Invitational Contest.

In Japan they watch the ‘cherry blossom” front that moves from the south (Okinawa) starting in January and reaches Tokyo in late March. It’s like a weather report.

Cherry blossoms are richly symbolic with words like ephemeral, transient, metaphorical: blossom, beauty, death.  Cherry blossoms are the subject of so many poems.  My favourite is haiku.

“in my province

grass blooms too…

cherry blossoms”


No better way for children to be introduced to poetry. A new book this year by one of my favourite children’s authors, Jon Muth. An Easter present for my grandson.

Hi, Koo

A Bunch of the Boys

A bunch of the boys

Had the whooping-cough  at the Puppy Dog Saloon

The kid that handled the music box

Was playing his Sunday School tune.





If you are a fan of Robert W. Service you will see this as somewhat of a mashup of The Shooting of Dan McGrew. My dad knew loads of poetry and was very willing to share with us as kids. He liked to switch it up when we were little. He mesmerized us with voice tone, action and antics. This is how children learn and how they acquire a love for the spoken word. A trip to Yukon is definitely on my bucket list! I still have my kids copies of The Shooting of Dan McGrew and the Cremation of Sam McGee illustrated by artist Ted Harrison and will read them to my grandchildren.

As I got older I found a well-worn copy of Songs of the Sourdough on the bookshelf and to this day I can pretty much recite every single poem in it. My favourite is My Madonna.

My dad loved to read. His favourite author was Thomas Hardy. I still enjoy him today as well. When my dad was in a really good mood, probably after a drink or two, he would quote this poem below.  Said he learned it from his father. My mom would get all flustered; telling him not to be teaching us things like that. I had forgotten all about it until I found a copy in her things . I tried to google it and couldn’t find it anywhere. Funny how as a kid I only remember the prayer and miracle part and I’ve never been afraid of hermits!

Moral is read to kids, read with passion.

Don’t think  reading this one to the grand kids will be an option.

hermit3 001

The Hermit

A hermit once lived in a beautiful dell
There’s no legend or moral in the story I tell
For our Squire’s son said he knew him quite well
The hermit

He lived all alone in a cave by the lake
Libations of herbs for his health he would take
And nothing but fish would this good man partake
On Fridays

To inquisitive mortals his portals he closed
Once a year he bathed his body and clothes
How the lake ever stood it the Lord only knows
And he would not tell

One day as he arose all dripping and wet
To his horrified vision two fair maidens he met
And as not being a hardened sinner as yet
He blushed

He grabbed for his hat, which lay on the beach
To cover up all its wide brim would reach
And he yelled to the girls with a horrified screech
Go away

But the girls only laughed at his pitiful plight
And begged him to show them the wonderful sight
But he held to the hat with all of his might
To hide it

Just then along came a wandering gnat
Which made him forget just what he was at
He hit at the insect and let go of the hat
Oh horrors

And now I come to the thread of my tale
The hermit turned red and then he turned pale
He offered a prayer for prayers never fail
So it’s said

Of the truth of this story there’s no doubt at all
The Lord heard his prayer and he answered his call
Though he let go of the hat, the hat did not fall
That’s the miracle