Tuesday, April 23, 2019


These are dry messy spring days.
Wind throws last year's leaves
into all the corners of the yard;
tugs at the fingertips of haskap and ash
coaxing them out of winter's sleep.
Poplar gets ready to throw seeds
and stickies all around the yard.

Iris and tulip spears piercing through old growth
to begin again.
I look at all the dry, lifeless looking brown
and wonder
how things can spring to life and color.
And they always do.

Mystery of harsh prairie where
the earth bursts open when
the winter loosens its hold.
Spring clouds wander the skies like
maverick squadrons
throwing rain and wind and
occasional hail onto the
waking land
not ready to settle into warm or
soaking rain.

Monday, April 22, 2019

resurrection hangover

So would you feel lighter or heavier?
Body slowed to a stop, blood ceased pumping;
pierced so that blood runs down, muscles flaccid.
When heart surges to life again, like a Gforce spin
the weight of the world falling behind,
lungs re-inflate with a sharp intake of breath,
spirit once more is knit to this body.

Our bodies -
not just shells that are thrown away
fading back into dust.
Resurrection implies at least some sense of
   bringing forward something of what we have been
      utterly renewed
but known.

A robin is singing her joy to the neighborhood.
Plastic bag remnant of Easter egg hunts floats through the yard on the air currents, catches
high on willow branches and
then continues into the neighbor's.

A pair of jays land in the poplar and the robin's joy turns territorial.

Sun shines warm on my face,
wind tugs at the pages of my journal.
Yesterday's laughter catches in corners
and branches of my yard.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Week 7. John 12 ... also Holy Week up till Saturday

on the ground
bottle of nard poured on the ground
spilling over his dusty feet
silken hair brushes beloved feet
giving up your life will save it

palm branches thrown on the ground
the healer was coming their way
a young donkey carried him there
the whole world has gone after him

kernel of wheat falls to the ground
dying it produces many
a man who grips his life will lose
giving up your life will save it

scent of nard poured on the ground
spilling over his dusty feet
silken hair brushing beloved feet
scandalous, mute adoration

was he funny, or smart, was he strong?
belov'd friend of Jesus who died
silent at the grave and meal
two vibrant sisters served
and spoke and poured nard
Lazarus watched

silent ones
when silent ones are healed
mutely grasping for his hem
sisters calling, debating, weeping
friends load him onto a stretcher
rip the roof off to lower him in

Jesus, you hear the silent ones
all our griefs and pains you bear
you walk among us
bidding us come
you are making all things new

bunch'a haynakus
rose up
from the dead

was reclining
at the table

is not
what Lazarus saw

did not
say a word

looked her
in the eye

were drawn
to the man

death before
eating this meal

will cease
in the morning

asleep never
feels like this

day never
dawns like this

kind of
coffee is needed

grounds for
believing in him

right now
resurrection and life

reversing expectations, Jesus
breathed our air with our lungs and called a dead man to life

reversing expectations, Jesus
ate in the company of the resurrected man

undoing expectations, Mary
poured nard over his feet, drowning all rational thought
...poured nard over his feet, captivating every guest
...poured nard over his feet, drowning all other senses

What song?
What song shall I sing, all has fallen still?
Yesterday's vibrant music fades away
overwhelmed by whips and cries far too shrill,
and friendships - pieces of silver betray.

What song shall I sing, now darkness has slipped
into daylight and the earth is shaken
holy of holies, the curtain is ripped,
echoes o'er every hill - I AM forsaken.

What song shall I sing as they take him down -
he whose voice shook the grave loose, now silenced.
Nicodemus, come sing in this darkness.
Lazarus, what do you know of his grave?

As Mary walks weeping I catch the scent
of nard poured out in worship prescient.

Son of Man lifted
light of the world is snuffed out
black hole drowns all light

Son of Man lifted
light of the world is snuffed out
all of us drawn in

wrestling with this hour
he prayed, Father glorify
Father responded

this voice was for us
we heard thunder and angels
Father responding

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Week 6. John 11

Monday's Quatern
Oh I'm going to wake him up!
This Lazarus is sleeping sound.
His sisters called out - come to us,
but I'm just stay'n till morning comes.

They picked up stones to silence me
but oh I'm going to wake him up.
Walk by night, you're sure to fall,
so walk when y'see the light of day.

"If you had come all would be well.
You are the one we've waited for."
So I'm going to wake him up.
Watch for glory when you move the stone.

Oh watch for glory, won't you move that stone!
The dead man came a'walkin' out.
So watch when you see the light of day.
Oh I'm going to wake him up. 

Wednesday Nonets
If you had been here he would be well
strong friendships forged over the years
everyone gathered to watch
the women meet their friend
rational Martha
Mary falling
at his feet

everyone was thinking the same thing
if he had come when he was called
Lazarus would still be here
laughter instead of this
sorrow and wailing
now he is here
the tomb waits
death staggers

will not
end in death

met him
as he came

fell down
at his feet

stumbled out
of the grave

Thursday's Landays
trying to keep the lid on heresy
when it looks like calling Lazarus from four days gone

panic in all the upper chambers
as the structures slowly but surely begin crumbling

even the rocks and stones will cry out
testifying to life rather than holding death hostage

Friday's Sonnet
Shall I compare you to one of the chiefs?
Like Mistawasis who searched for bison
as numbers plummetted without relief
travelling far to search the horizon.

Metaphors fail if we push them too far.
We forget when they are so familiar
like shepherd, like bread, or like morning star.
Searching this prairie land... like a river.

You pulled one of us out from death's reaches
summoning Lazarus back from his sleep
like a river breaking in spring breaches
its banks, boundaries and channels. You weep

with us in chaos, and steadily breathe
our names in the silence, our lives redeem.

Saturday Haiku  
shadow and broken
glass as well as the crocus
collage on the banks

glimpse of a black hole
lit by event horizon
light disappearing

expanding reveals
ever more hospitable
creator of stars

voice of one calling
make way in the wilderness
pathway from the grave

resurrection life
we would live if you were here
called back into light

Thursday, April 11, 2019

becoming a crocus hunter

I have learned that when the snow is almost gone on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, and the air is still chilled by night frosts, this is the time to go crocus hunting.  Along the arches of grass beside the Meewasin trail, where prairie grass merges with juniper and low scrub along the edge of the escarpment, just before the land drops to the river valley.  We go walking off the trails, bending low, careful where we step, searching.

My favorite moment is the first sighting of the light purple peeking through the dry grass.  Once I've caught sight of one, they pop into view all along the brow of the hill.  Light purple stars, clumped with fuzzy nubs that are not yet open.  They hide in the brown junipers that are creeping toward the escarpment.  They stand exposed on some creature's footpaths among the dry grass.  They sprout beside a nighttime celebration's broken glass, and underfoot in the scrubby brush of the dog park.

I have never see them unless I am hunting for them. And had no idea how to look for them - or even that there was a point to looking for them -  before my friend took me on a walk last year, looking for crocuses.

If I want a really good picture, I have to kneel,
bend, or lay down on the grass, to get the camera close enough for a good shot, and if possible with some kind of backlight with sun rising or setting.  Because just a shot of the grass from where I stand shows just grassland.

The pelicans should arrive any time now.  We saw the first robins, watched the sea gulls on the patches of sand in the low river bed, caught a hawk playing on the breeze just under the light afternoon moon, watched crows gallivanting on the air currents.

We sat on the grass for a while, then turned back into the breeze along the trail to our home.
A successful crocus hunt.       

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Week 5. John 10

written the week of April 1-6
Monday's Quatern
they thought he was keeping them in suspense
some game of blind man's bluff or hide and seek
tired of parables and Sabbath tricks
they asked him if he would speak a plainer truth

he spoke of thieves of robbers and shepherds
they thought he was keeping them in suspense
he kept piling image upon image
miracles were the plain language he spoke

he spoke of his gift of eternal life
gift to his sheep - gift through bread and water
they thought he was keeping them in suspense
but there were no words sufficient for this

so he knows his sheep and his sheep know him
he's a good shepherd and gate for his sheep
he lay down his life to take it again
they thought he was keeping them in suspense

Wednesday's Nonet
stumbeling through doorways and gateways
distantly hearing my name called
thirsty - so thirsty and dry
that voice sounds like water
like feasting, like rain
sun on my face
beckons me

going back
to the beginning

back to
where it started

Thursday's Landay
the religious leaders wrestling with Jesus' teachings and healings
is he enemy or messiah
spits on the dirt beneath our feet and blind eyes open

is he enemy or messiah
says he comes from the Father, does everything he's told

then is the father good or evil
challenging all we have built for the sake of the blind

a thief, hired hand or good shepherd
who is he? who is following him and who runs away?

Friday's Sonnet
You tell stories of thieves, robbers and sheep,
gatekeepers, hired men, good shepherds and life;
walk among us with compassion, and weep
with us in sorrow, yet stir up this strife.

Draw lines in the sand, irrevocably
shifting the paces we stand.  Now we see
frustration replacing complacency.
Who are you, where do you come from? And he

walks on the sand , singing creation's song
singing of treasure, of shepherds and seed
melodies echo until I am drawn
to watch him, to ask if he is indeed

the one we have waited for since time began
and earth began spinning at the touch of his hand.

Saturday's Haikus
We've been looking for crocus this week...just beginning to emerge.
hidden dusty mauve
dry grasses camouflaging 
emerging crocus

crocus make no splash
among the sage and grasses
burst with silent glee

bison in the hills
look for fresh sage and grasses
unearthing crocus

shepherd on the hills
safely may the sheep forage
he is trustworthy

Sheep photos by Randy while in NZ

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Week 4. John 9

written during the week of March 25-30

Monday's Quatern
This man does not keep the Sabbath.
He finds a man who was born blind,
spits on the ground and creates mud.
...works with dirt just like his Father.

A prophet or a sinnerman,
this man who does not keep the Sabbath?
Spit and polish, mud and water.
Do you want to hear it again?

I washed and now my eyes can see.
Does the work of his Father, but
this man does not keep the Sabbath.
Do you want to follow him too?

Echoes of his creative power;
his fingers shape mud to find life.
This is good, so very good but
this man does not keep the Sabbath.

Tuesday's Nonet
he's never seen the light of morning
noonday sun falls hot on his back
ev'ning fades without notice
sounds and smells and flavors
color all his days
till this day mud

Wednesday's Haynaku
mud mask
wash in Siloam
accuse him
send him away

Thursday’s Landays
sharp longing wraps around my will pow’r
imprisons my better judgement and leaves agony

despair idles beneath the surface
coursing through a vacuum of boredom to wreck havock

sight unleashes the joy and the fear
we struggle to understand how it is possible

where is the man who gave you your sight?
while you were blind, we knew how to see; now are we blind?

suddenly things have become unclear
sight comes to one born blind, and so we must throw him out

Friday’s Sonnet
Shall I compare thee to new morning light
spilling o’er the horizon, shimmering;
awakening the birds, ready for flight,
casting long shadows, darkness bewild’ring.

We call it the breaking of a new day.
But it is night that is broken at dawn.
The slow spinning of earth’s orb will betray
night’s long hold – even in Saskatchewan.

Work, for the night most surely is coming.
While you are here, night is taken aback.
Wash mud in Siloam, heart beats drumming;
eyes have been opened, light shines through the crack.

Thin light of morning awakens my soul
awakens hope that all will be made whole.

Saturday Haiku
slowly receding
snow abandons ground and green
plants emerge ready

cloudy grey stillness
dead branches litter my yard
thrown down in winter

blue jay calls from high
screeching his warning or joy
morning calls forth songs

Friday, March 29, 2019

Week 3. John 8

Written during the week of March 18-23

Monday’s Quatern:
Come into the temple at dawn
find the illusive rogue teacher
Paparoa in the morning
who sits down and begins to speak
words richocheting thru the crowds

Pharisees and teachers of law
come into the temple at dawn
seeking the troubling rogue teacher,
woman in tow for his judgement.

Gathers crowds and writes in the sand,
infuriating leaders who
come into the temple at dawn
stones in hand, overwhelmed by fear.

I hold my breath watching him stand,
navigating their challenges.
Testifies, sent by his Father
come into the temple at dawn.

Tuesday’s Nonet
it began innocently enough
changed water to wine at Cana
fed five thousand on a hill
but he says I am bread
he says I am light
he says “I AM”

Wednesday’s Haynaku
am light
for the world
time has
not yet come

never will
walk in darkness

am not
of this world

Thursday’s Landay
discovered and dragged from deception
in dawn’s breaking light she was damned alone before them

bitterness rising within her breast
biting her lip till she tasted blood of the broken

his silence pushed her beyond the fear
accusations fading to a silent scratching in the sand

shuddering, blood pounding in her ears
waiting for judgement to rain down on her betrayal

still the silent scratching in the sand
whispering through the dust rather than gathering stones

Friday’s Sonnet
Shall I compare thee to a brilliant light,
A light so full that it casts no shadow
Nor shall I find darkness, though it be night.
(And still, what shall I do with my sorrow?)

“Where do you come from? Where are you going?
These are the questions no one is asking.
These are the things they think they are knowing.
If not Galilee, what needs unmasking?

His light casts their certainty into shade.
So, swiftly they turn to frame light as dark.
“Not from Father, but from demons you wade.”
Cornering, fighting his words till they spark

within them a rage and they reach for stone.
He slips into shadows ‘ere one is thrown.

Saturday haiku
temperature rising
water is not yet running
spring is breaking thru

temperature rising
gathered people now turning
kingdom breaking through

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Week 2. John 7

Little Levi and big sister Elena break into the writing like spring ...
written during the week of March 11-16.

Monday Nonets
Brothers knew him well but did not know
this one thing, from the beginning
He was one of them, yet not.
So familiar was he
that they scorned his claim
to be water
for all time

Levi curls forward tight to return
to his accustomed position
undisturbed by hungry cold.
Eyes tightly shut he wills
himself back to sleep
Elena kiss
Mama kiss

Tuesday Quatern
“This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.”
The wedding wine was running out
His mother knew some hidden pow’r
And called him out before his time

Now sarcastic brothers taunt him
“This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.”
Like them, but strangely unlike;
Didn’t give them what they wanted.

He has stirred up things around him
Something has shifted in this town
“This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.”
Anger growing, wonder spreading.

Accept healing-not the healer.
Accept the food – but at what cost?
Slipping in and out of trouble
This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.

Wednesday Haynaku
is of
the utmost importance

Thursday Landays
Wind blasts snow across icy dirt roads
Little Elena stands on the ice looking for deer

Morning snowflakes drift past the windows
Levi opens new eyes to Sapton’s bright winter’s light

Pines and aspen, birch and ivy vines
Still wave, still stand as buffer to the winter’s sharp sting

… and back to John 7
Jewish religious festivals merge
Into sound and color and all saturated senses

But not this feast of tabernacles
Jesus of nowhere walking free as though nothing mattered

Friday’s Sonnet
You fall asleep and leave me unattached.
So silently I slip on coat and boots
and walk into the forest paths unmatched
by summer’s warm beckoning leaves and fruits.

Papery bark peels and curls from birches
Red willow dances with spruce and aspen.
Chickadee, red pole and nut hatch perches
on winter’s silent sleep, stillness grasping.

Yet cold is cracking, winter losing hold,
rivers slowly rising in the sunshine.
The turning moment may not be so bold
as those who, well fed, still asked for a sign.

Nicodemus stands by.  Now Galilee
links him by day to his sanctuary.

Saturday Haiku
five thin birches grow
around one decaying stump
round dance from their roots

Friday, March 8, 2019

comfort shaken by bread

March 8 Sonnet
Shall I compare thee to my daily bread?
How can that be, for you are friend, father.
Stone oven bakeries by flames are fed,
my kitchen’s loaves of wheat and oats offer

no small promise of sustenance rising.
Bread in our home, or to the ground falling-
while Israel wander’d, recognizing
not you in the feeding, in the watching.

And standing there like teacher, brother, friend;
you also walk on water, multiply
the smallest gift and laws of nature bend.
Comfort shaken by bread, we stumble by.

Safe little baby, all swaddled and warm…
this Christ of the mountain takes me by storm.

bread and fire

Bread and fire spread on the mountainside
Bread in our mouths and fire in our hearts, so we ran from him

Landay is a couplet, or running couplets with a 9/13 rhythm.  I fell in love with this form - it invites you to speak with an edge of grief, or anger, or displacement.  Used by many women in regions where I have not walked, have not lived, to speak of things I have not experienced.  Found myself taking the perspective of those who walked away from Jesus in these difficult conversations.

broken and shared on the mountain

from john 6

Broken and shared on the mountain,
the boy’s bread and fish did not end
till all who were foll’wing feasted.
a boy’s 5 loaves and 3 fishes.

Hungry and thirsty they listened,
Broken and shared on the mountain
was bread unexpectedly giv’n,
words unexpectedly bitter.

Manna supplied in the desert
like Jesus supplying their need.
Broken and shared on the mountain
-they could not face this allusion.

Many then fled from the spectre
of Joseph’s son somehow their food.
Finally even the 12 left him
broken and shared on the mountain.

(from Wednesday)
4 verses, 4 lines, each line 8 beats 
the first line slips down a line each verse till it is the last line in the final verse 
no rhyme schemes

Friday, March 1, 2019


Shall I compare thee to a winter’s moon?
You hold more warmth in morning’s dawning light.
Cold, still, the air that wraps life in her womb
and winter’s grip through endless months holds tight.

So short; the sun’s swift journey ‘cross the sky
leaves long and darkened edges to our day.
To sleep succumb, and hibernating cry
we - eyes downcast – forget horizon’s way

of playing with our light at morn and eves. 
Late sun casts cool pink carpet as she breaks
and breaks and breaks and circling, dawn retrieves.
But long before, the winter’s moon awakes;

companion trails through cold night wanderings,
holds sunlight trapped, then fades in the offerings.


Getting ready to write poetry for this next season.  I stumbled into this practice last year as I started into the gospel of John, wrestling with the reality of the infinite God becoming finite, the Creator taking the form of his creation. So I decided to severely limit the form of my writing.  A very small way to experience succumbing to the limit of form.

I thought I would post more of them last year, but found the process far too raw ... exposed wrestlings and "accidental" or form-driven phrases that surprised me.

This poem is anchored in the sight of the winter moon that hovers and shines over the western horizon just before the sun rises.  Or as it rises on a cold dark evening and shines across the south Saskatchewan river along the Meewasin trail. Short days mean that the moon has more time.  Its cold white reflected light reveals the night in a completely different way than the obliteration of the yellow sun.

Also - it is a brash riff from the sonnet master, Shakespeare.  Why follow only a definition of a sonnet when you can improv off a sonnet with long life?
So.  There are many variations of a sonnet - it has had centuries in which to morph.  This follows a form like Shakespeare's:
14 lines
each line has 10 beats
beats are in iambic pentameter
rhyming scheme is ABAB CDCD  EFEF  GG

So.rigid.  "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"