If you ever lose heart and the earth seems as distant as stars fading into the noise of your busy mind, know this. That a tiny island exists in the blue hands of the ocean. That a tree grows upright into the salted clouds. That two eagles love each other enough to spend their lives greeting the morning sun together. That two eaglets stand in their nest, gazing at the heavens. Looking down to the forever ground. They eat and sleep and flap their wings. And one day in July, one by one, they will jump into the air. They will know the difference between existing and what is beyond. They will hold onto nothing. The hurricane will come, courage catching their pinions on fire, as they mount the wind, climbing ladders into realms of the invisible.

--T.L. Stokes

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Do you know which Dosha you are?

"From the five elements, the three doshas are derived—Vata,Pitta, and Kapha. Known as mind-body types, the doshas express particular patterns of energy—unique blends of physical, emotional, and mental characteristics."

from The Chopra Center

take the quiz:
Quiz for Your Dosha

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

From Wellspring Health:

Changing Habits

1. RESILIENCE: Our capacity to survive and flourish is compromised by the lack of awareness of our habits and their consequences. Meditation heightens awareness of ourselves. Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, and improves relaxation and resilience.

2. NUTRITION: What and how much we eat and drink directly affect our health and longevity. We are what we eat and drink, but most of us are unaware of our nutritional habits and their consequences.

3. EXERCISE: Regular physical activity can transform health. Building habits of physical activity promotes physical, emotional, spiritual health and an overall sense of well-being.

4. SLEEP: The importance and benefits of adequate restful sleep are poorly understood. We assess sleep needs and improve participants’ sleep habits and conditions for restful sleep.

5. LEARNING: Lifelong learning and active use of the cognitive function are essential to well-being and happiness. Emerging brain research on neuro-plasticity indicates that a more mindful approach to learning sustains cognitive functioning.

6. FRIENDSHIP: Enduring and meaningful friendships are key to health and happiness over a lifetime. A network of healthy relationships enhances open mindedness, mental acuity and emotional stability. Positive social networks produce compelling benefits.

7. SIMPLICITY: Our lives are overrun with activities, busyness and possessions. Having a clear profile of our personal values, how time is spent and the complexity of everyday activities helps to set priorities, avoid self-indulgence and achieves a spirit of humility.

8. SPIRITUALITY: Habit change is profoundly spiritual. We help participants discover and nourish their deepest values, motivations and aspirations. This spiritual foundation guides progress in all other Habit Areas. A life lived in this spirit leads to an enlightened conscience, gratitude, harmony, peace and sustaining energy.

from Wellspring Health

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wild Things in the Night

The committee of roosters gathers
at my ankles, the night
drifts off like a loose horse.

In my ears the coyotes' laddered song
still lingers. Wild open throated.
A language not so strange
awakens the heart,

gleefully, from a simple dream.

I wake with the sun,
the field is empty.

I look down into the petal of my hand,
and in between the fingers,
one tuft of gold-gray fur remains.

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Matilda the Hen

Within the pink stairs of brain's
abalone a new sun rises,

within cobbled membranes
lighting the electric boundary

and in this warm darkness,
the black sea flows.

I fear I am drowning.

I fear my heart's pain.

I fear that suddenly
the weight of life
may snap the last strong fiber.

Where will my spirit go
into that eagle's sky?

I pray for safety, I pray for a moment
of solid ground,
the earth's fragrant voice
in my ear, singing "Life! Life!"

Who will save me,
how will I save myself?
I am not the single heron
rowing through the marshes,

I am one plain swan in the field of many.
We turn the horizon snowy.

Or I am Matilda, the hen who circles
with her eye in the sky,

trying to stay up with the others.

....if one day is dark,  the next must be light.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

blindness is a horse

Blindness is a horse
before it arrives,

the mesmerizing song of hoof beat
vibrating across the field;

how the grass parts

and moss, kicked up
into chips of black sparks

dancing away.

Dark is not dark
if you remember,
though the eyes are blind,
the heart can see,

and fog is not fog
except for clarity,
the space of air before
and above,

the softness.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Seed Falls in the Field

The sound of a seed which falls in the field
shatters the heart open,

grandmother maples who throw their hands
across the belly of earth

glance my way.

And I say to my daughter
the sun:

Say hello to my grandbaby Lemon.
Sing it a song today,

tell it about what you are seeing,
white frosty morning.

Play some beautiful classical music
to swim to.

Tell it we love it so much
that the colors of the world
dim slightly,

the sun turns to us,
the moon tips down,

and one still,
quiet night in May

your arms will be waiting.

for Heather and Derek
and the lovely lemon

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Standing Under the Blue Bridge
by T.L. Stokes

If you must take me away
in the blue heron's gray coat.

He always comes above me,
surprisingly uninvited,

makes my loneliness jump and quiver
to see him again.

He is my totem I never asked for,
never was assigned.

I just know with glory
and a certainty

he is my great, great grandfather,

he is a piece of God,

he is the inside lid of the omen-maker.

When he claps
those great bridges together,

I am dead,

I am born.

If you must, take me away
this way,

when evening is still virgin and silent.

first published in Snow Monkey,
by Ravena Press

c2011 T.L. Stokes (all rights reserved)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Quick! While my heart is still upside down
clutching at the marvel of a glossy sky,
the purity of flying
connected to thousands of wings
in all directions

at once.

for a taste of murmuration ~

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Viking Field

First light comes over the last
sleeping plate of stars.

Coyote hunting calls
into my dream and as it runs into the field
the pack begins to celebrate.

Jagged vibrating song
awakens some wild cell
inside of me

and I walk to the window
hoping to see the blur of their bodies
through the grass and expiring leaves,

but they dance in the far corner
of the field beyond our eyes.
Raven is hungry,

his raspy voice
lifts after the howling.

Stacy and I and the dogs walk the field
later hoping to find the bones
of what they were singing about.

Now night fills the air with its
dark light. The moon is a white
and polished knife. Hungry scavenger,
mute witness,

how my heart is drawn inexplicitly
to you. I come from the night
of the Viking, strangely changed,

the coyotes, the raven.

When I can see nothing else,
you carve a part of my sky.

The black dog leads me back
to the only warm thing, a lantern
opening doorways before us,

like a void we enter,
into room after foggy room
of light.

~~c2011 T.L. Stokes (all rights reserved)

Latest Films/Reviews:

A Walk to Beautiful

2007 NR 52 minutes

This film is beautifully done, a piece of inspiring artwork. It will draw you into the lives of a few young Ethiopian women, their struggles, their beauty, and you will begin to love them and cry for them. If you are hungry to invest in a project to help a group of people, be involved in health care/surgery organization, I recommend this movie as a start. And I mean not to just give a quick donation to a hospital, but to find a way to match your gifts/talents with theirs, and with the young women who have their own gifts. After more research I am sure a poem will come from this inspiration. Also, if you want to know about investing with your heart or just learning about money, try the book "The Soul of Money".

"In Ethiopia, a country with few hospitals and even fewer roads that lead to them, three women are on a journey to rebuild their lives after suffering devastating losses in childbirth. When the women survive but their babies do not, they are summarily shunned by their families. Now, they must make their way to a hospital in Addis Ababa, where they hope to receive treatment for fistula, a condition caused by obstructed labor during childbirth." (Netflix)

Director:Mary Olive Smith, Amy BucherGenres:TV Shows, Documentaries, TV Documentaries, Social & Cultural Documentaries

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Color of Clothes

There is a voice rising from the earth, eight hundred thousand.
From the black one hundred days wild dogs slink. The sun
clutches the cloudless sky unable to hide its eyes. Rwanda
is a burden the earth cannot keep. Sleep, sleep. The air is a river.
The cry that rose up is an unhappy stone. We forget we are
connected. Your face, your child is mine. I mourn who I thought
were strangers. It could be my mother dying I begged you to carry.
What do the walls of the church say to each other? I am the voice
of their spreading moss. I think the land welcomes a little wind
to blow the sand. A blade of grass. Something, another color to
remind us the photos are not just black and white. I think
I am blind now that the fabric is the only color coming
from the dead, the relaxing bones, doll faces, the zigzag
of unfolding fiber.

Dr. James Orbinski

A boy of a man, skinny and definitive, stands talking with some people.
He could be your son. If you watch his eyes they become larger,
you could fall into the things he’s seen. I watched the stories come alive,
and somehow he made friends with nightmares, and when he opens
his mouth, the victims of genocide have a voice. The woman lay
bleeding to death from the places where her breasts were,
her ears were gone, seed splashed on thighs. Stripes from
the machete were a broken sun across her face. The doctor,
began to stitch up what he could and pulled a little too tightly
on her skin, and she reached out gently touching his arm. He
looked at her and saw she was a woman, her wounds, and he
turns his face slightly to the right as the camera keeps shooting,
his eyes go there, that far off look, into the innocence of a
memory that continues to burn him.

The Light That Falls On All of Us

I want to bring some light into the poem. I want to bring light
into all the broken places in history, what it means to be human.
We separate ourselves from each other. I want to make sense
of this. However my mind is silent. I sit in the great room after
dinner, the black dog sleeps. A week ago half a sourdough moon
hung in the sky. All the stars clung to their mother. Last night when
I got home, I walked the dog out into the field and above our heads
swirled the ghost lights.

Across the world in Rwanda, in a small stark building
at the victim's memorial, one of two survivors from that field,
spends the rest of his life digging and preserving bodies. He
pours lime over the threads and bones. Puts them on a long table.
Tenderly fingers a necklace. He hungrily keeps the doctor there
as long as possible, sharing the beauty and horror of what he finds.
He wants a witness. Someone to listen with him, to all the ghosts
who follow, pointing at the next place to dig.

~~~ c2011 T.L. Stokes (all rights reserved)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shades of Light and Darkness

Some days I want to be a darkhorse.
I will write only about bones and skeletons;
about the scent of an abandoned house,
the walls fall slowly inward;
how rafters are the last rotting layer
of dust and broken lace.

I want you to see how the light drifts down,
how voices in the floor boards
rise up in the throat of crows.

Other days, I live with angels. Eagles lend
their wings. Each flower in the far field
has its own voice, each an unspoken name.
Dragonfly darts in its necklace flight. You there,
come over here. Stand with me silent in the evening.
The circle of giants around us bow their heads. The grass
is wet. The last thing we see is the field
retreating into blackness.

Wait. It is not all. Overhead the stars point in all directions.
It is the next thing. It never ends. Climb with me into the loft
and we will sleep.

~~~ c2011 T.L. Stokes (all rights reserved)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Frog in the Gutter

Base notes twist from the gutter
of the farm house, on the hill overlooking
the long field, where in the morning
the beaming face of the sun
slips between the tall firs,
and here is where the magic
happens, a gold pathway
opens along one edge of the field.
A narrow strip of rising light
in the expired towers
of summer grass, and a few
exploded dandelions,
lamp posts
offering their own
brief flame.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


before I melt like a good witch
in front of the poem
and you,

barely materialized
from pieces of memory and wish.

Have no fear,
I am not hungry, just alone
and if you have no fear of heights

we should be good.

For flying is my invisible passion,
it could be yours. Here though,
earth-bound with an aching wrist
I sit,

turning paper into water.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dancing Raven

Being the mud meteors fall into
and light catchers dancing with strangers
we align ourselves to Spirit.

What pulls us apart reintroducing
the voice we have forgotten
is the pleading of others.

The woman tells of the body scan
tomorrow of the book of her lungs,
wide hands stretching open and closed.

The clock of her life keeps perfect moments.
Yet it creates a kind of mud she can't rise from.
The small flood of water where the air
should be.

She reminds us of the answers she seeks
we hold for her and ourselves. The beauty
of our perfection. Vulnerability. If
something can work this effortlessly
or stop, then we can stop. There is
a beginning and an ending.

If the glorious dark raven of her body
should fold its wings, then we all
may line the branches in grief.

If raven mounts the muscle of wind,
she carries ceremonial energy to its destination.
Healing comes with the magic of change.

Come, in raven's journey, all things are possible.
Behind the dark door of everything,
comes the calling of the Ancients.

for healing to Wings

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Black Dog and the Green Umbrella

My brain makes up poetry in a river from the dome
of its pink cave, and I hear it as undercurrent of singing.
In the undertow my heart gets pulled along.
Sometimes I believe that poems are a liquid grief.
I shape the linen of words, pin them to clotheslines,
watch as they dry.

The small black dog sleeps soundly beside me.
We watch the movie of the playwright Oakley Hall III,
who falls from a bridge to the stones below. Someone
from Seattle may have pushed him, or he fell in drunken
anger. And his boundless life of words, rising from a farm in the
Catskill Mountains, begins to go away.

This poem is not about the bridge, or the river,
nor even the stones who count the rain, arranging themselves
into a sort of pattern and harmony, never once considering
they would catch such a heavy, miserable soul.

This poem is not about the brilliant part of Oakley's brain,
his forgotten life, floating up into the gray and suspended air.
Later he pretends to know, like me, when he really can't remember.
Someone finds him, who knows how to love him as he is.

This poem is about the new Oakley, who like Lewis and Clark,
begins to name the unnamed. It is about the slowly discovered,
remaining parts of him, though lopsided, which are finally peaceful.
It's about what comes after the genius of what he lost in the damp
light of the river. It's about his new words from the cabin and his
untethered soul, more than the bright bridge and the stones,
still inscribing small plays into the sand.

The band practices in the living room. I watch the movie
on the bed with a headphone, a warm thigh along the
dog's curved back. Out on the patio under the green umbrella
the boys smoke and talk and drink beer.The harvest moon
is so full I almost thought it would burst, perched
perfectly rounded and silent
behind the power lines.

Friday, September 9, 2011

from Body Mind Balancing
by Osho

Once you start communicating with your body,
things become very easy. The body need not be
forced, it can be persuaded. One need not fight
with the body--that's ugly, violent, aggressive,
and any sort of conflict is going to create more
and more tension. So you need not be in any
conflict--let comfort be the rule. And the body
is such a beautiful gift from God that to fight
with it is to deny God Himself. It is a shrine....
we are enshrined in it; it is a temple. We exist
in it and we have to take every care of it--
it is our responsibility.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Earth Imagining Her Life

A leaf of grass. Still. Green river
comes down over me from the village of trees.
Summer is the long body of the earth
under the sun her lover. He can't bear
to stay away. He hovers over her
pouring heat in a love song.

This year the time is short
and she wearies imagining her life
as somewhere else, young and
running on stars, burning around the edges,

forming herself into another place
where she gives birth with every breath.
She sets us all free as she cracks
and heaves. Her fires plume

the only reminder
of the bone of these ancient
and remaining days.

for our mother the earth

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Over the cathedral the eyes of God fall,
their gold water carrying stars and songs.
The eaglets still carry the night on their backs.
Slowly they stand

and stretch the bone and bouquet
of their wings. My face warms
in the gold light and the language
of their calling.

Alexandra hops and slides across the nest,
wings spread upward. She lifts and lands
on the runway, teeters and wobbles as talons
scrape the old branch.

David watches and imagines himself
far up in the air. He opens and closes
brown sails.

For hours we watch close and invisible.
Words in small lines color the lisping breeze,
and our thoughts loop onto snags and the top
of Douglas firs where they hesitate.

I think, and the space enlarges; we wait,
and all things are possible. We do not own
this nest, this place of nature, we are
the guests, the honored ones.

Bear Medicine

Notes from: "Medicine Cards"
by Jamie Sams & David Carson

Introspection is the strength of Bear medicine. By attuning
yourself to the energy of the Eternal Mother, you enter
the cave becoming like Bear. There we receive nourishment
from the Great Void. All answers live in harmony with the
questions of our life in the Great Void. These answers
to our questions reside within us. We are able to quiet
our mind, and know as we enter the silence.

The place of inner-knowing is called the Dream Lodge.
There ancestors show us different pathways which
lead to our goals. The power of Bear comes from this

Bear walks the path of silence, calming internal voices,
to the rite of passage. This channel is where you find the
pathway to the Dream Lodge, where higher imagination and
ways of being are available.

Accepting the gift of Bear medicine, you are invited
to explore the Dream Lodge. From that place, your
longings become rooted in the physical world.
This is the strength of Bear.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Messenger of the Dreamtime

The whale rock thinks while waiting
for the warming tide laden with green gifts.
Murmers from the sea.

The sheer sheet of the sky is almost blank
holding the ocean's mirror.

The wings have all gone northward. White crowns
and hems. A thousand words from a thousand songs.
Carriers of mariner letters through the dreamtime.

Touched as we are by eagles we stayed. Unknowingly
pinning thoughts to the sky. Effortlessly
the eagles picked them up.

Words drawn into feathers and lifted
by the hollow flame of wind. Can't you see
what you have done?

Your little notes passengered by eagles
through a filmy door, enter the silence
of Great Spirit's dreaming.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


In the last days of summer fields turn
gold, warming as the burning bowl
wends its way. Drying stalks open
like curtains to our feet. Grasshoppers
snap their hard bodies.

When she walks, the girl's hair sways
like a horse's tail. Her long arm reaches
into thorns for black berries. She feeds
two to the dogs.

She says it feels like something's broken
inside of me.

Back at the house we both grab
a couch and a dog. Her eyes are rain
between stretches of blue sea and cloud shapes.

The small promise of the cell
and embodiment leaves her,
like the seeds of grass, like rain,
like the abundance of all things.

A secret tide. The wind, so quiet
it's almost not there catches on a stem
in the field for an instant, a handful
of seeds spill.

The sun fills the rest
of the valley of the day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

After the War


Horses are wind across the field. The woman
braids fingers into the horse's mane, running like this
makes the brain go silent. Dreams chasing her fall
in the grass. The sun picks them up. Hoof beats
drumming are thunder and years of soldier
clothes and horrified scenes are over. The hours
with horses are the only real freedom. She enters
the wind of their breathing. It pulls her hair back.


If she could do anything it would be this:
undo the harm to others and make amends,
but how do you change history? She lifts up her hand
and the walls of the day are filmy leaking color
and dissolve away. She opens her hand and the
sun grows brighter, shines until she see nothing.
And the quiet is loud and the crying comes like
music closer and closer and the colors are harsh.
Someone is lying in the mess. There are pieces
everywhere. Someone is shouting or shooting
and then it stops. The bird in the cage of her throat
swells and flutters to come out.


The pages of the book of her life
are torn in places and it was hard to read.
She placed it on a shelf and forgot about it.
At night when she can't sleep it calls to her
like a bird she forgot to feed. It calls and
calls but she can't hear it. The night fills
the room like a black lake. When it gets to her
nose she waves her hands trying to remember the
formula someone once gave her, to breathe
under water.


The woman picks up the book, moves a hand
over the cover and begins to remember her
name and what language her life is written.
A few pages are missing. She runs a finger
over the uneven edge and as she does, it
begins to mend. The paper like dragonflies
opens and shimmers. The words begin to
fly around the room. They circle her head.
Just then the dog walks in. The book is gone.
The day shifts.


Two horses stand by the old tree of crooked elbows.
An eagle watches everything. The woman rises from
the brown field all soft and unreal and her body
becomes a large dark bird, opening and closing it wings
tasting summer and its youth, all forgiven because there
is nothing to be forgiven for.


This is life. Horses. A book. A dog. An eagle. Seasons
of death and life. Recycling storms and floods sweep it away.
Out of the dark void of all things, the universe of endless mystery
floats. Black holes, infant stars. The past does not exist,
nor time, nor future. The woman reading. The love of the dog
saying with its dark eyes this moment is all there is. This
moment I am everything you lost and gained. I am those who
were harmed, I am those who have loved you. I am all things,
sit with me. Feel how I forgive you, how large and expansive
this is. I am the gift you give yourself. I am what you didn't
know, your spirit you misplaced in the darkest hour.
Feel, as I return to you.


There was a sound like a click when gears come loose,
something slides, a shift in the air. She takes
a deep breath. The woods begin to awaken, the water
bends away. The woman feels the red muscle of her heart
come free of its cage.

dedicated to Msseaman
and Karamia, her dog

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Singing Shell

The sun lays its head on my shoulder,
I drive down the freeway. The sky
was not pink as you remember it,
nor the fire of it a bloody orange or red,
and the smoking drifts did not curl like twine.
Boats did not rise nor sails catch the heaven.
It was not anything you could imagine
nor anything named.

Without definition sky opens her book
and tells you a thing about your life.
Tenderness you miss. Where the eagles
will be when you can't see them. Where
you are, what kind of a mystery, and it's gone.
The vibration does not tremble the ear,
you can not imagine this; something remembered
from before you were alive. A drawing
on the Sail Maker's table. That spacious feeling
just before you sleep.

The sun glances away, and when you turn your face
the shadow wraps you up. Have you seen the opal moon
gleaming and wide, suspended voyager, cold light?
A childhood promise, a new shoe. The sailor's dream.
Container of all poems and romantic thought, wish-bearer,
your singing shell. There it is in the thick round sky,
a black sea surrounding its beautiful loneliness.

for longing


I only wanted one thing and that was, just once,
to lie across the massive nest of sticks and twigs.
Stretch my body out and see how big it was.
So in dark cloud of the night I climbed up, pulled
myself over the branching rim and without a sound,
laid down and slept.

The sun slips through clouds slowly enlarging
the last day. A day like all the others, it opens like
my hands. I look down at them marveling how
feathers have begun to sprout from all the fingers.
I lift my dark head, shine the bead of my eyes
to the beaches, the sea. Listen while the sun cracks
open, spooning lemon through the woods, over my back.
I stretch out one leg, open and close my bright talon.
Unfold my right long oar of a wing it brushes over
my sister. I look but she's left and perches on the
babysitting tree glaring at her world. She is scary.
I love her. I sit up, stretch and bow to the day,
open the dark prayer of my wings. Shoot white
paint. Shake and ruffle out my feathers. Begin to count
them, sliding my beak along the stems. Comb and tuck.
Thirsty lungs open and suck in the salty air. I shake
my lovely feathers again. Then I get an idea. My crop
is a small echo and my belly seems large. Lake a cave
of little voices. I scan the horizon, listen for the spear
of our parent's call. Across the beach they sing a different
song. It rises like a hunger leading us away. Without even a
brief hook in the wind, or changing slant of sun coming
down the old stump. Without a thought really, I reach into
the sky, pull it towards me. Clear the jagged branches. Sweep
upward. Alexandra comes too and we simply follow, Mom
has gone and Dad brings us along. The salmon singing tell
us it is time. If you look over whale rock to the right beyond
Hidden Cove, above the trees leaning down, see our dark
shadows go smaller and smaller. I point my face towards
what I do not know. Alexandra says it's rivers in the north.
My heart like a pulsing stone feels like it could burst
and I sing and sing my joy and trepidation. Alexandra
silently pushes wind, determined as her raptor heart dictates.
Steel and fire. Inside I have a small thought, I know she is
a little afraid like me but never shows it. We follow the large
wings telling us hurry, come quickly. Like burning meteors ,
night's falling river, the fish churn toward their memory.
Each salmon is a word, a benediction, the last gift. Even
before we get there we write prayers across the sky.

for fledglings David and Alexandra

c2011 T.L. Stokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Boy as an Owl

“Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He's on the run and your daddy's here,

Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,”

Beautiful Boy by John Lennon

I sit in the room with two windows
waiting for the moon and the poem,
and I look into your eyes and see us
in the darkness.

Beautiful boy.

If I am light now and yellow, you are all the shades of black,
the back cover of the book, the stolen joy,
the owl in the night perfectly folded.
Sapphire beads and shade
in the valley of its face.

Though I know you didn’t fit
in a world of distraction,
the hidden rules,
you gloried in the forest of your existence,
late elbowed together with your own kind,
flying silent.

You moved in a realm
to which we were blind;
shut doors you knew
and didn't know were there.

Where are your hands now Terry?
Laying all the letters down
in lines of neat and ordered soldiers,
smoothing the paper as it slides through the press.

Ink defining tips of fingers soaking up the scent of it.
Eyes darker, wider set.
You shuffle in and out of rooms
perfectly at home as a foreigner,
while ink of the dreamtime
writes an explanation.

The sky is falling with the sun into the brim.
Here lies the vastness and horror of separation:
nine tenths of your life was a room
and no hallway to get there.

Going away was how you arrived and off
you've gone. Without a kind word,
“what a nice hand to hold”.

You slip from my marrow,
hasten your breathless feathers.
I sit on the edge of the bed on the anniversary
of you taking your life away,

and I don’t even know
that under our rafters
you sit by the lamp shade
on top of the bed post,

folding your speckled feathers
together like a book you’d like to give me,
or a song,

humming like owls do
when they’re satisfied,

…”beautiful beautiful boy.”

For the Spotted Owl we loved so well.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


In the land of giants is a room
hidden in the outlines,
down in the sweet fir scent.

Under light of the sky,
outside shadows,
a place to sit.

Across the bay they come like geese
spirits casting brief reflection
fingers on the waves.

Bird voices
looking for the kindest weather.
People wearing their animal skin,
others raptor-hearted, feather-haired
come to us wounded.

They limp or land hard,
leaves rustle and fall.
As ghosts of the earth
we gather them to these green arms,

speak to them low in a language
they will understand,

hold them
until they remember themselves again,
knit their cells together,
look up,

feel the balance,

drink from the sweet well
of that river
we know as peace.

for the observers of raptors
who search for healing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cliff Dwelling

The woman and man
who live here
rise with the eagles
and the sun.

It is the only way to follow cycles
of the day in perfect unity.

Connected with the light
as it adorns each piece
of earth with form.

Drawing forth our memory
of who we are
from the forgetting of
the dreamtime.

Pearl Rock has a necklace
connecting her to the sea.

Abalone clouds are ships
with all destinations
to one place--the mountain,

who gathers them onto
her white shoulders.
Her arms stretch to either side
including us all.

Here on the cliff we sit.
Whale rocks
float in the high tide below
without moving.

All the stones
came here for a reason.

I listen to them
and the king fisher
calls in the distance.

Mother of all arbutus
holds the squirrel's treasure,
her body now a sculpture,
gray and black.

Next to her grows the eucalyptus,
in ever-widening arcs
flowers short and tall flame.

Their colors are the drink
of air and bees.

Nuthatches circle my head
as the sun lowers
toward the ring of mountains
and finally
into the sea who sails away.

for Madrona and Wolf
with gratitude.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

photograph copyright boonibarb/barb biagi


Broken Crow looked out the window
the year the eaglet died.
Almost body-less, so well hidden
from neighbors, dragged herself
from room to room in the house
of no light.

She would be Summer muffled by clouds.
Word sounds, a gagged mouth,
bone and muscle of a hand curled
and drawn back, an arrow
dipped in weakness coming at her.

Other sounds, like whimpers,
the forest after lightning strikes,
just before flames leak out of the damage.
She would be Summer
in the corner, raining once again, each punch
bringing her closer to Bear,

who is Autumn,
running across the hillside,
gazing at the burning leaves,
shaking out her lovely wild coat,
shoulders the muscle of night.

Always knowing her territory,
Bear gathers details, noting
each piece from the eagle tree,
fields, swallow nests, blueberry bushes.
Earth's scientist, and lover.
Rumbling shape-shifter.
Bear leans her paws

against Crow's screen door. And Crow,
looking and looking and weighing her life,
takes a chance, touches the screen back.
And something begins to come back to her,
begins to stir inside. Autumn's tourmaline eyes
offer back her reflection.

Crow opens the door. Autumn stays
for a time sitting in the living room,
feet up on the sofa. They go to her den,
sip tea, lick honey off the spoon.
Through many nights Autumn's voice
comes steady as granite, honest
as sparrows, begins to change her.

Bear rumbles off into the wood
bringing back another season, Winter.
Hair of snow and eyes, stars in the grass.

It takes the beaten to recognize the wounds,
the violated, to speak languages only victims
utter. Thus Winter came quiet and pure to cover
the ground so Crow could see the Earth as
something different. Fallow at rest,
safe in the hands of higher law.

Winter transformed herself into Peacock,
stepping lightly across the floor, righting
the fallen lamp, straightening the rug,
listening, giving gifts of wisdom;
where to go, who to call, how to run,
how to fight.

Peacock moved off in a soft blur,
came back later with the next season.
Spring was a breath pulled from the Earth
and the sea. She covered Crow in branches
and feathers, bringing her to the next life,
teaching, pointing the way.

Spring stayed forever it seems this year.
Relentless mother of rain, fiery storm-laden,
full of flight then blended into Bobcat slipping into silence,
prayers lifting from her face.

And the seasons, flowed over Crow's body
like water, sun, silence, laughter, like snow, pure and
undefiled, teaching her she was more than
a scream caught on the oak's limbs;
brought her down like something soft,
ready, like a baby in the season's arms.
Cradled. Safe.

The house of wind has always been
a mystery, seasons are chapters
we follow. Bear glances back
at Crow, Peacock glides out the window,
Bobcat looks up as clouds fall into
the sea.

Then thunder tears open Crow's heart
into Young Eagle, she watches the animals
gather into a single vision:

Three Sisters suddenly rise up, opening themselves
Into black wings, reach toward the eagle tree,
veer off, go sideways

into doorways of her forever.

from anonymous:

"for the Three Sisters, with deepest gratitude;
AJL, Jingles, and Mishi
who saved my life.

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)
c2011 boonibarb/barb biagi (photography all rights reserved)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nailed to the Raven

I am nailed to the raven
and thus live a life hell-bent
on revival. The poem always comes
to me like fire, like a mustang
rearing up, clawing at my mute face,
and always, always is the fire raging.
I am a wild fire traipsing across the hills.
My mother, in her dead sense, claps her
hand-bones, jumps up after me in the form
of a bird, sweeps the air
with unbelievable arms, ironed
to perfection, weaved, embroidered,
slapped together. I leap back
from the apparition joyful, exhausted,
as the poem lies on the floor,
crying like a violin baby.
I pick it up,
washing it slightly,
place it in the sun
on the sill like a new butterfly,
damp tangle,
moving with brilliance,
allowing her wrinkles
to flood my eyes,
to widen.

Just then, the raven
flies from my chest.


Veronica told us to come by the bay tonight,
main entrance to Big Tribune Bay, July 16th.
Into silence we walk together from the meadow
in a long line, not so much in sadness,
it is that too, but humbled, as something
greater than ourselves rises and covers us with
the ocean of this warm, terrible love. Rain
pulls down our faces, the tide floods. In our
hands are little gifts. In Veronica's words:
"found objects from nature, votive candles,
rose petals and tiny boats to float out to sea."
Our feet sink into sand, southeaster blows
straight in. Hundreds walk together. I kneel
on the shore and set my boat down, try to push
it out, watch it wobble and sail, back
into my hands again.

From Veronica, Orlando's Mother:

"True hope may never be abandoned,
but we believe that Orlando will not be returning to us."

From Wren:

In telling about the southeaster, rain and flooding tide..

"..so all the gifts that were sent on the water came back to us.
You can put whatever meaning you want on that."

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where Babies Come From

In the bowl Spirit gave me
we cooked up something new,
swirled it around, sprinkled wild seed,
herb-like breath, spices from my mother's side,
and we smoothed out the yard enough
to plant a little garden,

inside this watery sphere
muffled and sun-less
grew some girls.

one first, and four years later,

One grew tall and the other traveled,
and they both grew

White herons,
ocean's albatross.

When I hear the birds in the far wood
call, I think of them. When the first snow
comes in for landing, or the tide rises and warms.
Fledged and in their own territories
coming back like eagles do,
just to hang out, be close,
show off their wings.

Remind me their feathers and bones
carry their life,
and the air which circles and weaves,
came through me, continues,

sweetens as it moves through them,
setting off chimes who ripple out
from the body's ocean,

currents of daughter-song,
something new,

welcomed and sent back
from infinite mystery

for Heather & Kelsey

c2011 T.L. Stokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, July 10, 2011


The woman in a room of light
walks to the porch and sits to think about
the earth.

If you are sand, you would not be nothing,
you would be a spark, a piece of the original star,
rounded by the wind, sifted by
tongues of the ocean.

And you would lie under the June sun
stretched out like all of us,
like linen, a sheet of many words,
salty textured,

waiting for the ocean
to come love us again.

“I am sand.” she says.
“One tiny grain from all the beaches
of the world.

And if you think about all of us,
all of the sand on all the beaches
of the world,

what a force we make.”

Together, we are the homecoming,
the beautiful hand the ocean
takes, day after day; we are who
she sings to.

We are the foundation of our mother
the earth, and the transition
from whole to water.

Shells and meteor, gold and glass,
we are the expression of Everlasting.
The tiny bits of batsong, eagle-scream,
hum of midshipman.

We are the bone holders, the phosphorescence,
the wind's knee.

Together, we are what the moon and the sun,
the earth and the heavens once were.
We are the image of love leaving itself,
parting, falling away,

and coming home again.

She picks up her coffee cup, stands
and takes one more long, long look
into the woods, to the far off days,

all those green
and shadowy places.

for Jingles

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

high tide line

These words
are sand after the tide
came and went
misplacing forgotten gifts
they look like broken shells
bits of seaweed
untied and wrinkled
slightly damp
in the shy sun
partially obscured
by her own hands

I think they were meant
to be something more
but without you
to pick them up
how is the giver
to give them?

Water Egg-Blue Planet

On the water egg-blue planet
is an island of trees
and black rocks
with a million eyes
deep-set holding
stories in their
empty light.

Each day the sky cracks
an eyelid, and a creamy milk
like a flower's skin,
or a blush
slowly fills the dark bowl
of night,

until the physical world
becomes itself again.

I want only one word
or two, a poem slight in build
and agile. A single thought
like a creek in summer.

So I cover the waters rushing
from my heart.

Last year in the summer,
on the 14th day of July,
an eaglet stopped breathing.

I know your breath stopped too,
for an instant. We all did.
From that moment on,

after the floods came,
something grew like a new forest.
We had never seen before.

Some would call this legacy.
A man climbs the spire of a cathedral
shaking in his brave boots. Pulls
the eaglet's body into the backpack,
waves at the camera,

to the world
so we could breathe again,
and the chopper flew her
to loving hands
who found the cause
and calmed us,

Many hands. Much love.
Phoenix meanwhile churning
away invisible, to her next life.

And after, came courting
and sticks to the bowl
of great branches.

Mom laying bright circles of white light,
two for good measure. Dad busting out
with pride. Hatching. Growing.

And now here we are in the land
of celebration. The breeze and the ocean
gently clapping. Silly to think
this would ever be easy,

or a simple poem. Letting it all go
I sit with you my family in the wood,
the thousand eyes, on every limb
and shore.

Listen to our memory. To the gifts
piling up in front of us. The flutter.
The lift off. The next life,

and one who left us for greater things.

in deep gratitude
for Phoenix, and how you continue
to inspire us all.

July 14, 2010 Phoenix, an eaglet close to fledge
became ill and died on the Hornby nest #10. Worldwide,
observers where shocked and grief-stricken. Due to the
amazing efforts immediately afterward and ongoing,
Phoenix has continued to share her legacy and inspire
thousands and thousands of people and benefit other
eagles through donations to wildlife rehabilitation
facilities and ongoing research.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Mother on the Beach

The sun feels a little too sharp,
so I stop to let it enter me. The world
begins to slow its frenzied rotation.
My skin is on fire, so I send my eyes
over the roll of wet voices. The ocean
is a mother too. How can I empty her
sad hands? The ocean, I'm told,
holds nothing forever. These are
questions a human asks of mystery.
Spirit world is another place
I've not yet been invited to. My eyes
look for its boundary, for the door
in between the cedars. For the
clasp, the old lock, for the word
that melts hinges. Surely my heart
knows the answer.

I look at my hands, mostly because
my head feels too heavy to hold.
The air is a heavy harp,
I cannot breathe. Why is the room
of grief so empty and why am I alone

My son is as close as the next minute
and I can't figure how to connect
enough lines to map his destination.
I want him here. Oh for one long glimpse
of his skin, or the way he holds his head
when he's smiling. The light I recognize
as only coming from his eyes.

Enough. I beg the distant sky for silence.
For mercy. For anything to make this
unusual pain stop. And the waves
continue to sing so softly
for a moment I think I hear
his voice, feel for a second
something close to peace.

for Veronica-Lynn,
Orlando's mother

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Search for Hornby teenager to resume today

Search for Hornby teenager to resume today

Crow and the Dump Truck

Crows and ravens. First, let me tell you
about the crow. The raven comes later.
Jeff stops his dump truck in the middle
of the street. The cars had been driving
over the poor bird, flipping and rolling
a bundle of black wings. Traffic behind
the truck waits while the man scoops up
the crow, and stands there, quietly,
looking down at it. Then crow begins
to come back to himself and grips
Jeff's hand like he will never let go.
Jeff puts it by the building,
down in the cool grass. Later,
from work, he comes to check
on the bird who gathers strength.
Jeff, a tall, suntanned country boy,
takes a wheat thin from his lunch bag
and offers it. Crow takes it, and
flies off, each wing beat
a thank you reapeated;

like crows calling,
or water, splashing around rocks,
or ripples of something
that feels so good
it echoes.

for Jeff and the crow

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Friday, July 1, 2011


The island looks smaller from the air.
Sheets of blue opening their arms
around the rock and sand hem,

like an old woman
left by her fisherman lover
in the innocent days,
now rising from a blue nest,

an island of her own heart.

The forest is reverently hushed,
pointing to the next life
and eagles nest in her hair.

You walk to the cove in your dark
boots looking at the sand like
a book, reading its indentations.

The breeze lifts the ends of your hair,
plays a little while you think.

Orlando could be anywhere.

You try to silence the sound of your
heart, and his mother. She is everywhere
even if she isn't with you.

The weight of the stone
within her is unbearable.
You listen again.

You finger the sand,
and the foot prints
and the places of no foot prints,
reading each word of no letters.

You listen to the wind, your grandfather,
who steadily hums. His words
are vibrations we measure
inside our heads.

You look to the tall sky disappearing
into the hands of a black night.

We try to light what we cannot see
and some cry. It is easier to wait
with a mission in your breast
and your feet falling one
in front of the other,

than in the camp of mothers.

You would hope Orlando's mother
was out too, in a boat or
inside the bird searching.

The waves came to shore this morning
with empty hands.

The breeze lifts a few thin limbs,
leaves use sign language.

You close your eyes, stand facing the sun.
The red kayak will open its secrets.

listen to even that which is silent,
it talks too.

for Orlando and his family
and the Hornby Island search effort

c2011 TLStokes (all rights reserved)

Monday, June 20, 2011



A miracle is something that is impossible
which happens anyway. It is the mystery
from places we cannot see or touch.

When my little daughter,
small sparrow in the snow,
was dying,

my mother-heart
was a picked flower

and each petal of it
was pulled and left
in a pathway
as I walked in such dark
lands, unnamed,

At the last step as I held
her soft and fading hand,
she said softly,
"I want to go home.
Is is morning yet?"

I walked to the boundary line
between her life
and the next.

The land that lies across all of our seas
which we will never see until we give
our eyes away.

I swam with her in the wide, cold sea.
When I awoke I was on dry land,
called to her side
in the morning.

The nurse, looking like a shorter angel,
waved me closer. "Come look!" she said.

And Heather's eyes were open like roses
and her breath came on its own.

My legs disappeared for a moment.
My heart grew large.
And all around us, like snow
coming down,
was a feeling of awe,
the moment of time when
there is nothing

but the purest presence
of something whispered

like a miracle.

for Heather

c2011 TLStokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, June 12, 2011



Color falls from the sky
in small increments, like waves
fading. Mother comes to the nest.

For three nights she was away.
David, too small to understand,
cried and slept.

I dreamed mother was not well.
A heavy stone pulled my heart down
and fish swam in the wrong direction.
In the room of scientists,
as the next day came

hearts were kites flying.
Of headless trout and twisting midshipmen
the eaglets happily fed.

Ma and pa took turns swooping in
and away. The waves moved over
the rocks. Wind sang songs to the trees
who held handfuls of little birds.

What I am trying to say is this.
That the sun caught fire and burned the sea.
Wildflowers danced in fields of grass.

And mother, after pa tidied the nest
and tucked the eaglets in,
moved toward the center.
David, always eager for her warm

moved under. Most of him too big
to fit, his head well into the world of feathers.
And Alexandra, bigger and braver
leaned in too.

Mother gathered them up to her heart,
and the sound of its beating,
and let me try to find the words,
--fed them from the universe,

calmed them. Sang to them.

Like the song of all spirits who love,
and all mothers, who somehow
always know the words
to the little sleeping song.

for Mother Hornby

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Trail of the Sun

Last breath of the night
holds the sea in a black cloak,
we rise dragging strings
of sleep from our elbows
and feet.

I climb down the ladder
from the loft and fumble
for clothes while two women
wait at the door, ready.

We enter the salt air.

The young breeze lifts limbs
on father's tree. We walk
down the dirt road together
and above our heads

the eagles sing and call.
Are they greeting the trail
of the sun to their nest?
One mate calls to the other
who calls back and the notes
fly and fill our sky.

The vibration enters my heart
and all my veins and turns
them gold like the sun
so it seems like streamers
entering and decorating
cells with love
of the earth,

from eagles
to the sun and the sky.

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Missing the Boat


First in line at the ferry terminal
the only car in the wide gray parking lot.
I write by the windows while you buy
a scone.

We end one journey beginning another.
Like life and death, exciting,
sad and glorious.

My hair is full of eagle feathers,
your arms look like wings.

Our heads are slowly turning
white and the wind
has become something different.

Who knows whose ancestor
travels back to me. Whose message
is typed across a black wing?

Surely the Grandmothers
will of these verses
teach us to read.

for Idaho, with gratitude

c2011 TLStokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Visitor

(photo by David Hancock, Hancock Foundation, www,hancockfoundation.org)


I had a vision.

Down the staircase was a wood door.
Down more stairs, through the hallway
to the right in shadow was a stone room.
Inside a circle of moon-colored
stones, a great fire burned.
Across the fire sat an old medicine woman
with raven eyes, feathers cascading down
her hair. Deep lines etched into her face
like old stories.

She didn't speak but her presence said everything.
All around the circle we gathered. Then off to my left
on a wooden perch coming out from the stone wall,
sat a young eaglet. Ratty black and gray coat of down
and new pinions. White fluff headdress coming down
to her eyes. Curved beak like a sloping moon
dipped in chocolate.

We knew her name in an instant. Flyer,
come to join us. She seemed to almost smile
when I glanced at her, then hopped off
and waddled over. She put her face close to
mine and nuzzled in. I petted her, marveling at the
closeness and gift of her attention. All the people
around the fire held hands then, and
I don't know what we said or sang or chanted.
I don't know what all of this meant. I don't know
who the medicine woman was or how long we
sat at the fire.

What I do know is this: that an eaglet had joined us,
that we linked hands to celebrate, the black knife
of fear was gone. In the space left empty of fear filled
instead with red and orange flame, with the cool stones,
with warm wise hands, with the face of the medicine
woman silent and present. With the overflowing
constant warm affinity for all things we call love.

And Flyer, free from all hindrance was there. Thanking
us, thanking you, silently speaking the image and thoughts
of her heart, her young, innocent mind, her ancestry,
her future. And more than that in the moment of our love
and sacrifice, came the opening possibility of all things.
I wanted to stay in that room with the fire for a long time,
I wanted to sing and chant and be silent,

I wanted to look into Flyer's eyes and read about forever.

dedicated to all those who helped plan,
support, and execute the successful rescue of Flyer,
the young eaglet who was freed from fishing line
in her Sidney B.C. nest.

C2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Special Thanks to:

Epicure Selections, Sylvie, Derek Rathwell of Drainscope (provider of first mats), Victoria Drain, (provider of additional mats), the crews who kept transferring the mats, the owner of the Pennsylvania mat manufacturing company, Laurie Broughton of L.B. Crane, Lyal, his operator, WildArc, rescue-rehab center in Victoria, Jeff Krieger of Alternative Wildlife Solutions, David Hancock, the Sidney support team, Mindy, Dave Saunders the Mayor of Colwood, Karen, Richard, and all the unsung heros who contributed and supported Flyer's rescue.

(list compiled from the article
by David Hancock: The Sidney Eaglet Rescue - May 19th

Sunday, May 15, 2011



I am here as the world is ending.
The dark rain sinks closer to my heart,
so heavy the night we just survived.
All that I know is this, that you,
my dark little beloved, are calling.
I am close, I am here. I will fight off
this unknown intruder, this unthinkable
cord that holds my child. I am fierce.
I am strong. I call to the heavens
and my ancestors. What is this that
holds her so? What is this I scream
in my distress. My lovely mate is near,
I drink in his steady guard, his strength.

I am here as the world is ending.
I gather up my offspring, my other two,
silent they hide their faces.
My wings will try to cover us all,
I will stay and be here. Shhhh.
I am here. My hungry love
still hunts for solution.
I search the skies. My eyes
gather the universe, come
to my aid. I will call
until I can call no more.
My voice will travel the currents,
reaching every dark, secluded space.
Every sun lit speck, every dot of
existence. It is a spear, an arrow
of blood and love and I will
continue to send it
until the world ends.

Here in this safe place,
a darkness creeps. I am quiet,
I will wait. Shhhh. I am here
now. We will fight until we cannot
fight any longer. We will love
until the moon comes down.
We will stay close,
I will warm you,
I will be here,
until the sun
and the moon
lay their heads
upon us.

for the eaglet Flyer
on the Sidney B.C. nest
who's foot was caught on a line of some kind

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Salmon Song

Salmon Song

We look through layers
of old arms. The dripping green
and flat flowers, fiber of sleep,
petals of collected ultraviolet.

Some call it forest.

To us it has no name.
We feel it, borrowing the chipped
and snapped off offering,
its broken separating piles of names,
heart in pieces, spark of seed.

All through these colors
flows the chant of salmon.
And beyond this, their messages
of river-bended light,
and ocean's mouth
reciting the blood call.

Ancient offspring.
Just as I begin to tell you
my perch's history, all of it

The tree begins to stretch upward,
like an old man unraveling his bones
and holding his flesh high overhead
he becomes something like sky
barked over and burning.
His blood is a river,
black and fragrant.

He turns slowly to our
glowing eyes.

Come sit a while with me,
he says. And learn.
Cast your eyes like eagles.
Watch how everything
constantly changes.

There is no word for this.
Stop. Shhhh. Listen.

So still is the light of all things.
So quiet yet thunderous living.

Here comes the wet and glorious
voice of storm. Tuck under this wide
curved wall and we will watch together.
The woods come down,
the river is a sky.

Sleep if you must.
My breast continues
the drum beat you
have always known.

Filling you, the forest,
the wet black river of

salmon song within you.

for Ostrich

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)