I Cannot Raise the Gun…

I cannot raise the gun with you. I cannot shoot down the wicked. There, they stamp, tall busts bellowing, a holler against some imagined injustice. Yet, I cannot raise the gun with you. I cannot shoot them down. Like splintered roots, the weeds, they rise, they rise. For every fallen, five rise. 

Have you seen the blood upon me? 

My face is torn open. I’ve the skull inside, the flesh giving way to its hardness. Inside, I’m alive & dying. My eyes have seen the lamp shade skins of the dead. I’ve seen that the hatchet can dive in & yet Death, that fickle friend, may leave you crawling to the grave. I’ve seen such spitting hate, spewing as the bath bares the soul to Sheol. 

My skin, every so slightly raised to golden from the sun, warm & beckoning, but never dark enough, it glows. Ghostly. Or ghastly. All in stunned aching silence but for this: let them scream. 

Let them raise their anger. Let them spit. Let them holler. 

…and this, the forest of me, does not hear. 

Inside, peace came washing over me. Inside, the young girl, brown & curled hair, & lips whispering in prayer, I heard none of it. My ears have refused to hear. Inside, the young girl, pale & blonde, grabbed the other’s hand, and we walked, souls as they are, complex & intwined, we are one little girl, & neither of us will listen. 

…and when you raise the gun I will ask why—fortitude is a passive courage, despite the possibility of rage. Rage leads to rage. I must resist the hunger & the pain, the cold. Against that, what is there to oppose? 

You raise the gun. The shot, I did not hear, but felt. It lays, lodged in my chest & I’m asking, what of my silence has offended you? Was my refusal to feed this fire your fuel? Fight your evil! Fight it then! Watch, as it consumes your heart & soul. Watch as it creeps from the justice within you to become the administer of what you hate. Watch as you shoot down, bleed out, fall, & rot all the heathens as the emerge, one by one, millions upon millions. How heavy the toil, the toll, the tumult. Fight it and become it. 

I sank…my lips still so silent, but for the gasp of surprise. My eyes, they will stay locked, and they will haunt you. I promise. You will see them when you die. 

We’ve Woven


the way we’ve woven
moonlight into madness just to taste
the terror & the dream

your little laugh-line lingers
there, upon your cheek, a kiss
of who you are underneath
the worry, beyond the reaches of
regret
how heavy life is, i know, i know
its baskets of burdens piled high
like unopened gifts begging
to be unwrapped & examined, joyously?

so often it must be, that you’ll sit,
amidst the gifts sobbing, leaving them unopened
their heaviness being postponed
but still, i can feel it, that weight,
as can you.

i weave with this moonlight
something light, a certain, madness, a terrifying madness, of
lightness, & some unknown, yet dear, dream

Lost In Translation

here i am, lost in
the murmuring translations upon these prairies—
the hard english glazed in sharp french, a drizzled bitter of
distain & broken tongues & backs
there, fresh off history’s bloom
raw with rape-red & bruise-blue
a meandering river of tears
that tinkle with light that scorches unending

there, the tangy berries of despair unleash themselves against hearts
that wander the rolling—what was it you’ve been looking for?

all the shadows crawl free across the scarred landscape, downs & meadows, rigor mortis trees with sharp nails stretching high against my prairie sky, drawing the blood from the sunrise, in long, flowing ribbons

…and then the storm, heavy & booming, drumroll upon drumroll, that can never wash
everything clean

i sit there, smoke of muskets & the sharp sound of both the arrow & the plunging thud of axes, digging deep, swift to the grey
drawing forth vast oceans of blood & misery & turmoil, i feel the women, pushing forth spawn after spawn on the land—
these aching children full of rage

there, the ground, hungry again after the digestion of so much gluttonous misery, it’s howling,
tongue lolling out, dry but salivating
you, your perfect face, shining in the rise of the sun, small lines, fresh sun-scorch, a small streak of dirt where all tragedy lies, just under the temple, deep inside the brain, heart pounding—there,
in the hardened earth, you feel deep below, the mantle crack, the core, swell to tide, all the fires burning, all of history repeating
there, i, small & silent, so trembling in imperfections i glow white & crimson, i sit so quiet, watching the quaking prairie storm

the low growl inside me rises, gutteral, small flecks of timid
falling way to force until it is strong, sure, loudening against time’s awkward push upon me
i’ve a small scar, one deep but small on the outside, tingling with a dulled memory of this excrutiating pain, & now its aching, both to be left & to be touched, these bruises & their oxymoronic pleadings
the silver line tingles in the last rays before the clouds & there it is, glowering in sad silence

the starlings, rise & fall, sacred tribal dances upon the sky—warm, mixing with the cool

i hear the grass shiver, scratching upon the bare of my leg as if a child, begging, UP!

but all must face the wind & become either tame, or so very very wild

Brown Sugar Charlotte 

So, for a week now we’ve been getting to know this little pup. She’s an American Cocker Spaniel & she’s lovely & so very trainable. She’s got striking geeen eyes & she made last week’s terrible decision to put Nysa down more bearable. She didn’t ease the difficulty of the matter but she did prevent us all from feeling dreadfully mopey. Even Roxy lightened up from what is an obvious missing of her life long friend. I’ve never seen a dog miss another dog before. It’s truly heart breaking. Charlotte has already adapted into our lives & I’m certain that after all the things people say about getting or not getting another dog while going through the death phase of an old dog’s life that getting her was the right decision for our family. We can go out and leave Roxy & know she’s not alone. The kids couldn’t help but play with her & laugh despite missing Nysa. We had heard not to make this decision while being so emotional, but we knew we couldn’t leave Roxy without a dog partner. She’s half cocker spaniel & very attached to her people & was very attached to Nysa. I can’t imagine leaving her alone those days where everyone is busy & gone for the day. That would be torture for a dog like her. So, getting her another dog was an emotional decision at an emotional time. But, that didn’t make it a bad decision.

So glad we found a great breeder who breeds responsibly & cares about the welfare of her pups. She’s not registered which makes her less inbred & less likely to develop the health complaints of the breed & her moms (it was a double litter, two moms one stud, both litters raised as one large 15 group with both mothers mothering) were so lovely in disposition that we look forward to having a dog from really good parents. We are on the list for one of next year’s litter too because Roxy will be nine this winter. Knowing how quickly an old dog’s health can decline, we want to make sure we get a bud for Charlotte before Roxy gets too old. 

(Her mom is the brown & white)

You know, as a child, tho I loved my family dog, I would have said I was a ‘cat person.’ I snuggled the cats & loved being in the wood shed watching the kittens play. But the dogs we had were farm dogs; Coon Hounds & an Airdale Terrier. The hounds were obviously hunting dogs. They had their dog houses & were chained, simply because they could truly run away if they got onto a scent. Dash (Treetop Dasher) our most memorable hound, was more like a pet but other than him, the other hounds were working dogs, and some not recommended for kids to be too close to as they were somewhat unpredictable. Jake, the terrier, was a typical terrier. Messy, scruffy, sweet in temperament, but not a cuddly companion dog. He was a rodent hunter for the most part, patrolled the property with enough gusto we felt safe. 

So, having Nysa & Roxy has been my first experience with companion dogs. I didn’t much understand the relationship between people & dogs in that way until recently. Dogs are ridiculously loyal. I always liked the aloofness of cats. That cats require a relationship that can be quite complex & if they decide they don’t like you, oh well, your loss. They just didn’t care. But cats always liked me & I understood their tempered affections. But dogs, my goodness, they have a neediness. But alongside that, comes a loyalty & a trust. If you love a dog, they will LOVE you. They will be happy to see you every moment of their life. When you take them for their final walk to the vet, they will be happy you loved them till that last moment, & that’s all they’ll ever have asked of you. That you be there. You don’t have to do much else for them but be there. That’s a truly stunning gift worth the work of them. 

After all these years, turns out, I’m a dog person. 

And I have learned: Always trust a dog that doesn’t trust a person. Never trust a person that a dog doesn’t trust. Whichever way you want to remember that. 

Nysa seemed to know when I needed her at my feet. How, I’ll never know. But a dog that’s in tune with you is so cool. It is a magical friendship. 

The Long Read…

Once, many years ago, I learned to read. Like most children of North America, I learned at school. I recall my Gr.1 teacher painstakingly pulling a classroom of reluctant emergent readers through various tales of “Mr. Mugs” like it was slew-water, each child dreading their turn to read aloud before all the other dreading emergents. 

Reading became a sport. Skill & desire to participate were closely linked & some of us, tho perhaps not pre-school readers, had extensive home libraries where we had poured over books on long lazy afternoons. Our home library had been carefully stocked by my mother. We were nearly banned from consuming tv and so, books were our thing. Everything from picture books, large illustrated collections of fairy tales, bible based books for children & adults, comics—some my dad’s in German, some classic Disney & such—one memorable one was an illustrated version of The Hobbit, but we also had encyclopedias & science & nature books on so many subjects I simply could not get bored. “Reading” to me in preschool life had been a slow, leisurely consumption of information & imagination. 

Then, “Mr. Mugs” wrecked it all. Reading became, as stated, a sport. Competitive relays & speed & written reports & never a quest for genuine adventure. It was forced upon us all. 

I believe I retained some of my early joy of reading, finding treasure in Beverly Cleary & a plethora of horse novellas in the mid elementary grades. I discovered I preferred adventurous animal fictions & discovered Richard Adams, at my mother’s suggestion, and then moved in to Tad Williams, & that genre carried me into high school. High school became the ultimate attempt to turn love of literature to hate. Tho I loved most novels we were assigned, historical fiction beginning to really emerge as the perfect marrying of adventure & history education to spark my interest, for the most part, they take the driest, most detestable forms of reading, throw it at you, impose a deadline & report upon you, & expect you to enjoy it. Few if any do. 

Most develop a keen & awkward hate for Shakespeare & for poetry, for short story & certainly for writing about literature. School takes the pure adventure out of reading, stripping it down to the bones & leaving it unsalted. 

After high school, I began the classic adult life of the uneducated. Life gets hard quick & reading usually gets set to the side. Between 3am feedings & laundry, brains just don’t function so well, let alone eyes for words on a page. Over the years my reading consumption has been mostly spiritual in nature with the odd splurge on something fictional. 

I say splurge because it has been. I pick up a book, and in three days it must be done, at the cost to nearly everything in my life—the house is a mess, the suppers are barely made, kids are left to veg on tv—all while I binge on a book, or heaven help me, sometimes a trilogy. This has been how I’ve consumed literature for years—a guilty pleasure squeezed into a life overflowing. I’ve not had the leisure of slowly consuming a book. If it gets put down, that’s it. Game over. The book hits the shelf & isn’t likely to be picked up again. Life gets too busy & frankly, I lose interest. 

The first book I recall meandering through, perhaps ever, was The First Men in the Moon, H.G. Wells, just a few years ago. I slowly read it, pondering his writing, his skill at taking what little he must have known of the moon, and braiding this beautiful sci-fi from that knowledge. The characters were lovely & the adventure was so very real. It was a classic & instead of rushing it, I savoured it. 

Now, I’m working on book 3 in an eight book series, the writing having spanned from the early nineties until just three years ago. It is historical fiction with just enough sex I don’t care to recommend it—to each their own. But it is the long read. It changes times from the 1700’s to the 1900’s, the details can be cumbersome, quite unlike popular fiction these days which tends to be more like you’re watching a movie than reading a book, so it takes some amount of digestion & processing. I think I’ve gotten lazy. I’m more used to the easier reads now. But, because of the length of the novels, plus the amount of them, I find myself unhurried & able to set it down, days at a time, and return to continue the journey of these characters. 

It just dawned on me, that perhaps after a life time of school-taught reading style of binge consumption & hurriedness, this is how reading is meant to be. How nice. To just take your time, & read. 

The Harder Days…

So among the thing seldom spoken of among pet owners are the days when you’re kind of just waiting for the inevitable. 


We’ve had Nysa (Nee-sa) for over a decade. She’s such a lovely dispositioned dog. We got her from a rescue society & to my surprise she has been the best dog I’ve had. She’s been my companion everyday, guardian to my kids, and a faithful watch in the night. 

The last few months she’s really slowed. She’s begun to seem disoriented and often, I will wonder if she’s dead on her dog bed as she stares at nothing, barely moving. This week I’ve begun to find blood on the floor, assuming it’s from her mouth, and she’s been throwing up water. Otherwise, she seems okay, tho she sometimes opts to be let out the door rather than going through the dog door. 

This morning, she’s super not herself. She’s been like this before, but not with fresh blood on the floor. She’s bleeding from somewhere tho I can’t find where & it isn’t obvious now. I would guess cancer. She’s lathargic & I’m feeling quite weepy about the whole thing because tho I’ve grumped about her hair overload, I know it’s getting time to take her in.

Funny how tragic these things feel. I kind of feel broken hearted because I know I have to make the call, probably in the very near future, unless she just passes away in her sleep. Which is what I want. No one wants to make that call. 


Her & Spitfire have always had the most special of relationships. Probably because Spitfire is her baby. Until these two, I’d never experienced how a dog can just love a child. X & Roxy have this same closeness.  Dogs & their children, so sweet. 

She mothered a litter of abandoned kittens & certainly mothered Roxy. 

These last days are just so hard to watch. I’m sad to know our days left with such a lovely creature are almost done. 

Sculptor 

So, among the things as a mother I have grown to love, are these little treasures my children make me. My youngest & only son is now in his first year at school & has begun bringing home sculpted treasures for me. I hate to say it because all my children are very artistic, but he is my favourite sculptor. His are the most colourful & the most divergent from the plan they are given. 


His dinosaur, even his sister had to admit, kicked the butt of the one she did in Kindergarten. 

That all being said, these precious momentos of my kids when they are/were little grow more precious as they get older. I’m sure parents the world over have things the little hands of the children made that they treasure, and look back on in fondness. I am no different. These all sit, proudly displayed to remind me, this is the best job I could ever have been privileged with. These kids are my everything. 

Rückenfigur

It is, from behind I approach

The crumbled walls of the silent Abbey—

Do you see it’s coming death?
The crosses & graves strewn about, gaping raw & emptied of their clutch-treasured bones

I hear the heaving oaks, creaking with abandon, disintegrating, where once, the mourning masses stumbled in their tears, in their agonies, praying to their silent gods & idols, mumbling little prayers while the Devil looked on, lighting candles, the flickering flames of every soul he’s savoured. 

I look from behind the moment when silence grips the Abbey, the echo of the forest smooth like water over the rocks & I’m not lonely—there the heavens lay, a wide wide sky, the clouds roiling, the sun lilting, everything capsizing & burbling up, history to future, future to eternity, where all the birds & souls belong, like orchestral notes making a whole. 

This, the crumbled Rückenfigur, of what once was the darkness of time & gods, unseen & black as agony. 

***   
(The much adored, Casper David Friedrich’s The Abbey in the Oakwood, probably best known for The Wanderer Above the Sea Fog, but really all his work appeals to the Romantics as we wonder what the story of his painting is.) 


Gradient Shifts

i feel the tonal greys, the gradient shifts
the cool of how snow falls
& misinterprets the rocks
into staggered abstract masterpieces
how blood can slow, running veins
with a slither more than
a rage
how the trees hold tight
the buds of spring awaiting
a grey that bubbles up into
a slatey blue, that bursts
open into indigos & fine wines
a sunrise that tips open
cycling in phases of green
ripping the buds from the clutch
of the greedy grey
& suddenly we’re all flying
& suddenly we’re all dreaming
& i’m just broken
& i’m just fine
& i’m just hovering in the warm
& i’m just a bird
& i’ve just got this sky
& i’m just enraptured with a sunset
& that is just
the smallest, most whispered
of gradient shifts
& night falls & falls