Archives for April 2018

They Tell Me Not to Write About Things Like This

My bedside altar

My bedside altar

I’m aware.
Eyes not open.
No movement, body frozen,
but aware.
I am heavy. Not dead, but…
Why should I open my eyes on this world?
Why should I wake up, get up, do… anything,
but sleep.

I doze and then…
My eyelids flutter open.
An image, there, in my head
superimposed on my bedside altar.
(A paper pop-up Durga forms the background of my altar.
Kuan Yin , Jesus , the little Finnish Witch ,
the crow, and the beaded turtle
all sit in front to either side
where I can see them when I open my eyes.)
I close my eyes.
Still there.
There was no picture in the article,
but I can see her.
An eight-year-old Muslim girl.
Kidnapped. Raped. Bludgeoned to death by
two policemen and the caretaker of a Hindu temple.
Raped, beaten to death in the temple.

To try to scare her community off their land.
This innocent was tortured and killed for a piece of land.

my head, my heart, my gut screams at Durga.

“I fight the demons,” she cried back.
“The men who did this see the people who get in the way of their greed
and call them demons.
They pray to me to fight them.
But their greed is the demon!

Kuan Yin, trapped in her tree trunk murmurs,
“I hear her cries. I listen, but I am bound here,
bound in the trunk of this tree
or in the helplessness of my womanhood.”
(Downstairs, Kuan Yin rides a dragon.

I turn to Jesus.
“I’m bound, too,” he says.
“Bound in the convoluted misuse of my life –
and the things I said, and the things I didn’t say
that are written in my name.
I can’t protect this child.”

I yell, but he just shakes his head.

And the Finnish witch?
“I’m small.
They’ll kill me, too.
After all, I’m a witch.”

Then the crow, front and center on the altar,
caws loudly and turns his beady eyes on me,
boring into me.

“I spit on the humans,” he shrieks.
“They kill each other and kill each other some more,
murdering children everywhere…
What’s new about Hindus killing Muslims when in Yemen Muslims kill Muslims,
and Americans help them?
When Muslims kill Christians and Christians kill even more Muslims,
(just as they killed indigenous peoples all over the earth,)
when one tribal group kills the members of another tribal group…”

(“And all of them call the people they’re killing, Demons,” murmured Durga.)

“When Buddhists kill the Rohingya,” continued the crow,
his wings lifting menacingly.
“Nazis kill Jews, and Israelis kill Palestinians,
And men everywhere kill women…”

CAW, CAW, CAW! He screeches.

“But the worse,” he paces back and forth in front of me,
“the worse is how they increase and increase,
creeping out and out upon the land,
stealing the livelihood of the wild things, killing the wild things,
millions of wild things,
and nothing, nothing,
not even the killing of each other,
stops them.

He pauses and preens his feathers…
Preening until his heart stops beating so fiercely in his chest.

Then, staring coldly into my eyes,
he continues

“But I survive.
I have learned to live among you,
and I will outlive you all.

I sigh and grope my way out of bed.

The beaded turtle, just moves,
step by step,
slowly on.

Was that a hopeful ending? I think so. I did, after all, get out of bed. I wrote it down, and posted it in hopes that the message – Durga’s message – “Greed is the Demon” – would go somewhere. Like the turtle, I’m moving slowly, step by step…

Greed keeps humans from the Dance of Life. That’s the message in The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet as well. The end is hopeful, too, — more hopeful than just getting out of bed — albeit known to be temporary. Humanity can come back to the dance, and stay there if the activists don’t let their guard down. Well, that’s hopeful… if exhausting.

You can take a break and read an enticing suspenseful metaphysical fantasy! The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet can be ordered in paperback from any independent bookstore and bought online as either a paperback or an ebook at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Howling in the Night, an Eerie Wonder

170px-HowlsnowWouldn’t you like to leap, and spin around and over your friends, and end up out of breath in a mush pile, a laughing heap of beings? That’s what wolf pups do. The wolf is one of the animals that call to me, one of my Tla Twein.  (see my earlier post on the Tla Twein) 

I notice that many people love wolves. For some of my piano students, the stickers of wolves that I receive in the mail from conservation organizations are the first choice to put on a finished song.

Two conflicting ideas about wolves are prevalent: One is of the “lone wolf”, solitary, strong, but alone; the other about the close warm ties between the members of a wolf pack, working together to gather their food and raise their babies. Different members of the pack help out by babysitting the cubs while the mother is out hunting.

But when we think of what draws us to the wolves, perhaps these two images are not so conflicting. Perhaps we yearn for the camaraderie, the playful closeness of the pack, and yet feel like the lone wolf who is seeking a pack. On the other hand, sometimes we need the solitary aloneness (but not lonely) of the “lone wolf”.  Sometimes we need to move away from the pull toward compliance of the pack. We need to find our own path.

The lone wolf doesn’t stay completely alone. Sometimes in the night the lone wolf howls. If others can hear them, they respond, and the song echoes back and forth across the miles. This howling in the night is an eerie wonder – wolves singing together reaching with their songs across long distances to lone wolves and other packs (and all the other species that can hear them). Strange dissonances send thrills up our spine, bring new ideas of harmony, new possibilities.

Solitary singing is good, but when we sing in a group there is something so powerful and breathtaking that happens that I, at least, can hardly contain the joy. And when a human composer brings in the forbidden dissonances we hear in the wolf songs, I tremble with some combination of fear and delight. It’s clear, when we watch videos of wolves howling, that this power of harmony and dissonance happens for the wolves, too.

I confess, when the husky down the street howls in her yard as my dogs and I go past, I cannot restrain myself from howling back. Sometimes if she isn’t howling, I’ll give a little howl and she joins me. What a thrill! I wish I dared throw my head back and howl with all my might. My little dogs don’t howl with the husky, only with the fire sirens. But when they howl, they sit up so straight, so earnest, so involved in the howl, that I know it’s a spiritual ritual, a solemn invocation of….?

What is it that I need to learn from the wolf as my Tla Twei? Perhaps it’s the cooperative bonding of the pack for the serious business of the hunt – in my case to take on the serious problems of the world – and the restful dance of playtime ending in the physical closeness of the mush pile.

And in the night, the ritual of singing in strange harmonies, reaching joyfully to my fellow humans on the other side of the valley or the world.


In my book, The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet, the Tla Twein are trying to bring humans back into the sacred Dance of Life, the Tsin Twei.  You can purchase print and ebook versions at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and order print versions from your local independent bookstore.

Want to explore your own Tla Twein? If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area you can attend a three hour workshop on April 28th in Oakland where we will move and sing, write and create art work in search of the reason our particular Tla Twein call us. The fee is “pay what you can”. Contact me at for more information.  Put Tla Twein Workshop in the subject line.

March for Our Lives and the March for the Dance of Life

Last Saturday I listened to the speakers at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. on the radio.  I laughed, I cried, I clapped my hands to one, four, and ten.  I tried to sing along to “We Will Shine.” I wasn’t there, but I joined the march where I was.

I have marched before, for women, for Black Lives Matter, and many years ago for the Civil Rights Movement, and over, and over again during my long life for the end of some particular war. Marches have brought me hope, which is probably why the climax of my mystical fantasy novel, The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet, is a march by a group called One Earth Together that is joined by people all over the earth.  Each group has its own song, its own particular story, and its own Tla Twein. (See my last post, Exploring Your Tla Twein).

For instance, an “island nation” is described:

“… another group swept in, a deep red and black sparkling with bright colors pouring into the amphitheater like lava from a volcano, their island song flowing like an undercurrent through the songs of the others.

We are the land in the sea, sun cooled by sea breeze.
Bright blossoms, many-colored joy,
mirrored in darting fish, corals, and anemone,
in the depths of the clear blue sea.

We come from our creator-destroyer,
fierce goddess, dark beauty,
erupting in fire from the deep,
flowing in red-yellow rivers,
pouring in black writhing smoke,
building our soft gentle island
our land in the sea.

Protect our island. Protect our sea.
Come, our tempestuous island goddess,
pour your fierce love,
fierce and fiery love, into me.

We come from creation-destruction.
In death, new life will be.
We risk death in defiance.
A sacrifice, so Gaia can be freed.

As they sing their songs they are swept up to Ninas Twei, the mystical world of the Dance of Life, the place where all the species dance together to ensure the continuance of life on earth.

You can join in singing and dancing one of these climatic songs by going to  The words are:

Arise, arise, Open your heart!
Open your heart to the Dance of Life.
Arise, arise, Open your eyes!
See the world in the Dance of Life.
Beat your feet
To the beat of your heart!
Dance the Dance of Life!

Peace, peace, Laughter and dance!
Joy and life for us all.
Sing your tears, Sing your fears,
Defy oppression through the years,
Dance the Dance of Life!

Arise, arise, Open your heart!
Open your heart to the Dance of Life.
Arise, arise, Open your eyes!
Dance the Dance of Life!

Read more about the Dance of Life in The Earth Woman Tree Woman Quartet available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and through independent book stores everywhere.

Want to know more about your Tla Twein? (see last post, Exploring Your Tla Twein) If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area I am holding a workshop where we can explore our Tla Twein through dance, song, art and poetry on April 28th from 2-5 pm in Oakland.  Contact me at for more information.