Monthly Archives: December 2013

Climate change; maybe hell is real, and we’re burning

Day 99

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez

Burning hot, temperature rising. Blazing black asphalt, warming waters, dirt,  hot to the touch.

Freezing cold. Finger tingling, bone numbing. Limbs of trees heavy with ice. Snow where there was no snow before. Frozen.

Driving rains, falling in sheets. Flooding, creeks and rivers rising over banks. Highways turned flowing, floating away. Swollen.

Dry as a bone drought. Deer with bloated bellies, fish, bones bleached white in the sun. Sky no clouds. No water. Dead.

Wind, Strong, blowing bare soil into dust. Raising waves, monster storms, spinning, gathering speed. Horizontal rains, trees snapped like twigs. Violent, destructive. Re-birth.

Balance tipped.

Time was, you could count on the dates of first frost. Plan for it, put the garden to bed, harvest the sweet potatoes, last of the tomatoes. Birds timed their flights by it. Wings unfurling, stretched strong on winds to carry South.

No more.


Time was, you could count on the dates of last frost. Plant the seeds, put the ‘taters in the ground, watch the bright colored feathers fly home to nest. Listen to the insects, night noises, hatching out. alive.

No more.


Time was, you knew when the rains came. Helped the plants to grow. Watched the tender tendrils creeping over rock and ground. Watched the puddles fill, frogs lay their eggs, strands of slippery DNA. Cool, fertile, rich.

No more.

Can’t count on it.

Time was, you could count on the dry times. Puddles dried, water gone underground, into sky. Fruit ripened on hot summer days. Large leaves mildew free, sun kissed. Damp under rocks, dry on top. Happy, healthy, whole.

But we cut the trees.

With chainsaws, bulldozers, burned the rest for a clear cut. Black smoke filling the skies. Open, barren, charred, hot.

And we burned the ancient fossils for fuel. More black smoke. Blotting out the sun, choking. Charred. Hazy smog. Enveloped the earth in chemicals, poisons, dark and dim.

And we keep on doing it.

Even as the giant, icy glaciers melt, waters running fast, clear, cold to the sea. Polar ice caps disappearing under the padded feet of the bears.

Even as the oceans rise. Rise and warm. Freshwater mixing with salt. Too much, too little. All wrong.

Even as the global temperatures rise and fall. Each day a broken record. Hotter than the last, colder than the last, wetter than ever recorded before.

Upside down.

Seasons broken, scrambled. Cherry buds in winter, snow in the fall.

Droughts for 10 years, 20. Decades. A century.

Floods, monsoons, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis.

Gone. Species. ecosystems, towns. seaside cities. whole worlds.

A warming, heating, changing.

It is our undoing,

this constant unrelenting need to consume.

And even as the world burns up, our appetites never cool.

Some say its’ too late, the scale has tipped, we’re


But others,

oh others,

sing a song of transformation,


and life.

Find a new way to live they say,

and we might have a slight chance yet,

of stopping the runaway train,

the maddening march of

climate change.

A world gone crazy.





We are at the tipping point. Place of no return.

Forged from the fires of endless bad decisions.

And the empty blindness of eyes that do not see,

and hearts that cannot feel.

Maybe hell is real.

And we are burning.

Get involved.






To learn more:

Thank you for listening,



photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen


observe the spinning of the earth

Day 98

rebel logo


retreat back into child’s pose

and observe the spinning of the earth

let your senses roam free across vast landscapes

and hunt and gather for subsistence

let them enter your mind sharpened and worn

calloused and used

close your eyes and feel your heart pump that blood through your veins

feel your synapses firing

digesting the bounty your senses have brought to feast on

this is the way of awareness

this practice of observe



and repeat

transcend the sensory plain and mine the soul for insights

move inward into the vastness of the inner landscape and self assess

am I okay

am I aware


dance through the night until the visions dance out in the open

sleep and see the other world we inhabit for the first time

observing is a verb


Thank You,


A moment of silence

Day 97

photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen

Thank you for listening,



What are you going to do?

Day 96

(The photos tonight were taken by Michelle Johnsen and Wilson Alvarez at the candlelight vigil for the Conestoga Native Americans murdered so long ago. May our gathering together tonight on city streets help forge a new future. May we never forget.)

vigil by Wilson Alvarez

vigil by Wilson Alvarez

I’ve been wanting to learn to fight, physically, for a long time, and now I’m finally learning.

I come from a family where anger didn’t happen very often. Tight lips, and resentment, yes, but rage, arguments, fury were rarely seen.

Which is good I suppose, in some ways, but it also means those strong feelings are still unfamiliar to me, are awkward on my frame. Even though they may rise up, I’m just not sure what to do with them.

So I’m trying to get better at letting that anger come through when it needs to, and trying to figure out how to deal with it, what to do with it, how to handle it.

And as it rises up, it burns away some of the panic, the stuck-ness, the places in me where I hide all the scared,

the frightened,

the fear.

And one of the things I’m scared of is fighting. Physically needing to defend myself, or attack someone. I’m scared to get hit, or to hit someone. When I’m out alone in the woods there’s still this whispering little feeling on the back of my neck, like, ” is there someone behind you? You’re not safe. What if someone wants to hurt you. rape you rob you kill you…” blah, blah, blah. Because living in this culture, especially as a woman, has made me all scared and paranoid. And small.

And I’m sick of feeling that way. I hate it. I want to get big. I want to have faith in my own wits and muscles no matter what comes my way. I want to learn to defend myself, to know how to punch, and take a punch. To move my body in ways that can save my life, or the lives of others. I want to feel safe.

In fact, I think self-defense is a basic skill everyone should know, a simple insurance plan so we do not need to feel afraid.

So we do not need to look at one another with suspicion and fear,

so we can sit calmly and play all day in the sun alone and with others,

and know our bodies will protect us.

And that feels empowering,

and that makes me feel brave.

And that’s what we’re going for isn’t it?

Learning the skills that make us feel dauntless,

brave and powerful,

whatever they might be.

To push ourselves to do the things that scare us, make us feel uncomfortable, that burn up the fear we hold inside.

Let’s challenge ourselves, here, at the advent of the new year.

To make some lists of the things we most want to learn,

the things we most want to do,

the skills that will help us reach freedom.

And let’s go after those things with all of our might,

throw ourselves into understanding,

so we can look back a year from now and say,

wow, I am a new person now,

filled with life, and energy, and passion, and love,

and I am brave and bold, and balanced, and strong,

and my knowledge is power.

The power to take care of myself, my family, my community, my world,

without the help of monster machines and corporate beasts.

And let’s learn these things as though our life depends on it,

because, well, yes it does.

What skills do you most want to know? Who do you want to be?

Figure it out, make your lists, plan how to make it happen,

and let the transformation begin.

I’m learning how to fight.

What are you going to do?

Thank you for listening,



vigil by Michelle Johnsen

vigil by Michelle Johnsen



Peel away the layers

Day 95

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez


My thoughts are with you tonight, on this, the eve of the anniversary of your violent death.

In a world full of  so much loss, I’m not sure why your murder strikes me so.

A squeeze in my heart, a dull ache in my bones.

Why its’ with me as I go through my day, cook, take walks, hug my baby, sleep, dream.

Maybe because your death represents all the deaths,

the destruction this civilization leaves in its’ wake,

the ruining of villages, cultures, lives, ecosystems,

the great destroyer.


Or maybe its’ because I see myself in your story.

Mother, wife,

lover of this land,

daughter of the earth.

My children walk the lands yours once did.

Play in the sunshine,

laugh in the shade of the big trees,

Sycamore, Tulip Poplar, Beech, and Oak.


Civilization steals

whatever it wants.

Takes whatever it desires,

uses people as pawns to

do its’ bidding.

Turns the world inside out.

Creation into destruction,

beauty into ugliness,

life into death.

We must separate ourselves from this civilization. Figure out where we stop and it begins.

Peel away the layers,

the contamination,

the broken parts of our brains.

Work to mend, to heal,

to be become whole again, balanced.



You are not forgotten.

The land is calling out your name.


Tomorrow night we will hold a vigil at the place of your death,

to remember that horrible night,

to remember your life,

to remember your people,

to remember there is another way to live on this planet.

So that this may never happen again.

There is no excuse.

Tonight I hold my family close,

as I know you would yours, if you could.

How frightening,

how fleeting,

how quickly it all can be taken away.

My apologies are to the whole world, from each tiny bird, to each creature of the sea,

and everything in between.

I love you.

I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.

I’m sorry,

please forgive me

thank you.

I love you,

I’m sorry,

please forgive me,

thank you.

I love you.

It should not have to be this hard.

We must work to make the wrong things right.

It is ok to feel sad,

to feel angry,

to feel hurt.

There is nothing wrong with you,

it doesn’t make you weak.

Let it wash through you.

Feel the pain and let it wake you,

make you,

fresh and new,


Know you are alive.

You are strong.

Do not be afraid.

Thank you for listening,



photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen

Bird’s Eye View

Day 94

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez

There’s a way of looking at things,

as though you were high above.

A bird’s eye view.


Rivers and lakes, cities and towns.

Stepping back from the landscape allows clarity,

teases great patterns out of  little ones.

Branches, spirals, arteries, veins.



Concentric rings,

the ripples of a stone thrown into a pond,

the bird flight in response to a deer’s quick getaway.


We all leave our tracks in the earth.

Movement, made visible,

written in soil.


I once heard of a man who buried himself in the ground for three days,

hoping for rebirth, looking for answers.

I don’t know if he found them,

but I don’t blame him for trying.


Yet  I’m sure the earthworms must have thought it strange,

legs and arms, and clothes, and shoes,

wiggling and wriggling,

aching to break free.

“How odd. ” I’m sure they said. “What will they think of next?”


The rings on the earthworm like the rings in the tree,

like the rings of the pebble,

like the ring around the moon,


To all my relations,

Thank you for listening,

I love you,


photo by Michelle Johnsen

photo by Michelle Johnsen

Here is a Native American poem of gratitude. May we give thanks and stand in solidarity with all of our kin..

The Thanksgiving Address

By Chief Jake Swamp


Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.  We give thanks for our family,

friends, and fellow human beings…

Now our minds are one.


We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.


We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.


We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.


Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.



With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.


Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.


We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one


We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.


We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.


We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.


Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.



We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.



We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.


We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

Now our minds are one.



We gather our minds to greet and thank the  Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.



Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.


We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way. Now our minds are one. WE GIVE THANKS FOR YOU…

~Chief Jake Swamp

The Raven

Day 93

Once we hiked to the top of a high mountain.

Desert at the base, all scrubby brush and golden sand.

Sharp, dry, baked by the sun.

Silence so loud,

ringing in our ears.

Static, still.

And the higher we climbed,

the greener it became.

Large trees, lush streams.

Birds, rabbits, squirrels and deer,

living on islands in the sky,

amongst the clouds.

And at the very top,

a raven,



flips and dips,

in the air,

this way and that,

flapping hard and then plummeting, wings still,

only to catch himself and do it all again.

Such pleasure there!

in that strong beak and black feathers.



at home,

high above the earth.

Thank you for listening,