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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I think God must love water
and perhaps is a water being
above all;

his laugh cascading over stones,
words floating like they do,
rising up on his elbows

in the morning
to be with me,

curious like a lake,
mirror turning down the bright flame
of his eyes,

and his mother heart
where did he pull that idea
from the void,

where in his endless body
did he reach into

carving off a chunk
and mold Adam and Eve's
lopsided muscle,

leaving space for the darkness,
for the empty seat

of rough glowing coal
sparked by rising words
God throws into the river

catching fire becomes the soul.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

6th Place - Poetry Super Highway 2012 Poetry Contest

Elephant in the RV

When elephants gather I cannot look too closely
or watch windmills of mountains sway
or the water that comes as a trickle from the eye.

I cannot watch the long arm curl and curl
around the stubby youngster
or the curious mouth on the end
or the gushing coolness from it
blown with glee.

I cannot watch from the air
the dusty countless snaking
one-at-a-time foot plodding miles of path;

they look so thirsty.

Or the elephant’s eyelash
or cut of the small mouth, sad smile,
or imagine the size of the mediastinum,
space of the heart;

because they are almost too big to save,
and too small in number. I can’t take two
and hide them in the RV,

begin a breeding program.

I cannot feed them their favorite vegetables and fruit in season
while I drink coffee and write every morning;
or watch through the loft window with the black dog
as the two gray lovers amble down the slow slope
to the field, where they give each other the

most tender grasses,

lean their rough heads together,
earth quake of a quiet rumbling
like a cat begins to purr.

I cannot name them Wilson and Beth,
or Sebastian and Murgatroid, or Lily and Ben.
They came already named--Mary and Lewis,
and over the years of them living in the Northwest,

the trails they flatten have grown,
all the flowers around the house
are gone,

mud pit at the lower end of the hill collects
the rainwater. Mary runs when she feels the drops
on her back, trumpets to Lewis to come join her.

He walks steady and deliberate swaying trunk widely
until he gets to the mud where Mary is already wallowing.
He slides in next to her; they roll and giggle, skyscraper sides
darken with shine.

One day Mary came and woke me, pulled at my arm until I got up,
and there in the open barn I built for them, in the gold straw,
steam rose like a hand from the little one,
slippery from landing.

And I crouched down to get a better look;
round swimmer of remembering womb,
unlikely angel, wobble on little pillars,
a wet and dark cloud, old man skin baby
of the giants from the desert
I cannot admit I love.


by T.L. Stokes
c2012 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blog Talk Radio

September 2012 Worldwide Open Reading 09/09 by PSH Live | Blog Talk Radio
T.L. Stokes reads the poem "Dragonfly" on PSH Live hosted by Rick Lupert.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hornby Island, B.C.
Photograph by
California Watcher

c2012 California Watcher (all rights reserved)


Monday, July 23, 2012


Fierce god eye
untrembled reflection
seeing all things.

Into my waiting hands
come her most glorious feathers,

cast off
after the arrow of her attention,
mottled fledgeling
learns the sky.

She can wait forever
watching the offspring.

Her other half,
Proud Arrow
across the lake,

watches her
with adoration.

for the Snoqualmie Eagles

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

My love lies hidden,
and the butterfly zippered in the dark
does not forget the dream

of wind,
of sailing the kite of her body,
of nothing to catch her.


All the hours leading to dawn
punctuate into a path of the black horse
rushing into us,

I forget I ever heard the voice of God,

and want to stare into the throat
of the explosive word,

hoof beats, all things leaving,
my own heart blotting out
all of the light.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

After the move is finished...celebration.

Great Auntie meeting Lily

Auntie Kelsey and Lily on heritage day

Friday, June 22, 2012

Night of the Soggy Sky

Each moment we are poised between
being born, and dying. You breathe in
to give birth,

and exhale, allowing life
to leave you.

Within the space of those two things
is what we have. All that we have.
It is the place of peace we search for
all of our long life,

because we forget the wisdom of being
a child,

and knowing everything.

Between Lily and my father I exist in this moment,
thus this poem is for you.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

New Children's Book - international standout

This is how you write a children's book to stand out in front of all the rest......

Excerpt from: Poetry for Children - White Raven 2012

This is from the White Raven collection of new
children's books for 2012. I picked just one, from Belgium,
because it is written not just for anyone, but specifically for
people with a visual handicap and children who have dyslexia.
It is multi-layered in its approach and so creative.
Enjoy their review. tls

Dewitte, Jan (text)
Vlerick, Freya (illus.)

Rare snuiters. Een prentenen gedichtenboek
(Odd animals. A picture- and poetry book)

Gent : Po√ęziecentrum, 2011. – [36] p. + CD

ISBN 978-90-5655-104-9

Animals – Poetry
»Rare snuiters« is an extraordinary picture and verse book that is explicitly aimed at people with a visual handicap and children with dyslexia. The short, humorous poems are about animals, one for each letter of the alphabet, ranging from ‘Aap’ (monkey) to ‘Zwaan’ (swan). The top of each page contains a silhouette of the animal, set out in relief, and features the name of the animal in Braille. The poet even found a solution for tough letters (like X and Y), although this required some creativity; an example is the X-osaurgoat that lived long ago. The illustrations are large-planed and have an atmospheric, yet high-contrast colour scheme. This ensures that visually impaired people can view them as well. Moreover, all the images can be felt because set in relief. The photos of human eyes that have been incorporated into every image literally add a special touch. The poems themselves are not offered in Braille, but can be listened to via the included CD. (Age: 8+) H Special Mention

for more selections of White Raven 2012 children's books

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Home Builder

The Home Builder

My father is a dark fortress in the sun,
an oak tree, so many arms, every hand
facing heaven.

My father is the wind
with a name.

My father knew how to love
my mother perfectly.

My father was a gardener,
though he'll never say so.
And mother, with her green thumbs,
dark, dark hair and olive skin,
counted days of the sun
and seasons of her little plants.

She held each one up
and they named us,
even the first who didn't draw a breath.

My father will say he was a builder,
and built a house on the island.
He drew up the plans, hammered and
stood with my mother, smiling.

He placed the great windows
facing the waves,
and the setting sun made the air

My father held my mother until she died.
And for seven years his heart lay broken.

Now as the air turns rose-colored,
and the waves begin to leave,
if you stand on the south side beach
where seagulls funnel upward,

you can see him walking over the stones.
We can walk along beside him
for a time, talking about

inconsequential things,
or slipping into silence
like a gentle room
with one lamp.

That's where we are now,
walking along beside him.

for my father
and all of our family

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Soul in Yellowstone

Tenderly, I look over the face
like a map of the earth. The older one,
who once looked down into my face
as I looked up, grinning.
His little one.

How the years pass like a river.
All the notes of our voices float up as light
and vanish.

You and I sit in our own deep silences.
I hear soulful ringing of the steeple bell,
from somewhere deep in your belly.
I feel pressed to say something,
polite talk of yesterday, however
I cherish the moment.

Your soul may leave us here

A beautiful agate slipping from the fingers
of mother's hand,
caught in the last of the last sun,

or a few old bones
with their well-loved wrinkled fabric.

I sit with you in silence. Look out the window.
It rains a little. We change the subject,
travel to Yellowstone in the old blue Chevy,
smile at each other in contentment,

watch the wolves begin to weave out
across the meadow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Pearl

Oyster ocean washes a pearl out
into our giant hands.

The moon quivers.

She, it is a she, crackles and yawns.

Her skin is loose, like a puppy.

Her eyes are little dark moons.

Her mother, most beautiful vessel,
glistens and glows. Tired. A queen.

Her father bends down
to kiss her mother's lips.

His face is a porch light.

I came in from the field with roots for toes,
and try to stand as a maple would,

branches soft and curving as the wind,
oh, soft May lisp of a breeze,
moves me,

while I remember how to cradle.

The pearl with her eager and sucking mouth
won't let go of my finger.

My heart runs races.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

for Charlotte

To the woman who carried me in her ocean,
plucked two stars for my eyes,
brought the moon close to color my skin,
lit the fire to start my heart beating.
Love, oh simple and little flame,
roaring to life.
To the woman who so peacefully and wise
gazes down upon me,
visiting my dreams,
singing me to sleep.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Into the Eye of God

Into the eye of God
you dive,
black white-tipped arrow,
forsaking the sky
and life
to grip more of it.
Flying in the realm of water
oh heavy boat,
mighty oars plunge forward.
You gauge the shortest distance.
Calculate the weight and struggle
in your talons.
The beach is a door
you enter half water/half air,
a dark figure in a dripping coat
grasping at the windows.
Half of you is an explosion,
a black bloom, your tail is the flower.
After that is the prayer time.
The wings come up and open.
Drawn across your parachutes
are navigational symbols,
the ancient text.
I wonder who reads it.
The warm light brushes off the weight
of your feathers.
You jump into the air
and the fish, by then gladly,
goes too.

dedicated with love to Dotty
April 22, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Great Grandpa Dean and the Moon Child

The baby comes slowly from the dark
round silence; day by day, she fingers
the soft line of her universe.

Just as sure as the arrival nears,
the opposite current pulls the far shore closer.

I'm not sure if you know what this means:
pull of the moon, dark energy, mystery
upon mystery.

My father lies on a strange bed dreaming of my mother.
If he dreams too much he'll go there.

We schedule the sisters and cousins to come steadily
like a flock of snow geese. Each will shake out their
pillow-like feathers, look at each other with dark gem eyes,
nod as they take turns around the bed.

When he awakens he'll remember the snow of his dream,
how he wanted to walk out across the field,
but up came all those soft and glorious wings.

He'll stay for us, and to meet the new baby
when she comes forth, wise beyond measure,
staring into his eyes from the dream-time.

They will exchange a story and prayer
only they will understand. She'll stay and
grow tall in the garden of sunflowers.

Father will slow his steps,
and by the time we look back
he'll be gone.

for Great Grandpa Dean and the Moon Child

c2012 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Moon's Dream

Two nights ago
the womb-baby
came to me,
skin fair as transparent spring,
her body round and light
like a baby seal,
and I held her
as a grandmother does
for the first time,
gossamer bundle
of blanket and knees,
newness of her oyster heart
turning pearl.
I brought my face down close
to feel the feel of the wispy fluff
of her head, drawing in the warm scent,
small searching hands, bud
upon bud, and magic.
I think the curious moon,
pouring over us it's creamy thoughts,
brought her and the dream
to me.
It's like that you know,
the moon, the sun, the earth,
bringing their ear close
to the slosh and pull,
the moon-colored swimmer
in her dark and muffled ocean.

for Heather & Derek

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

ten lights of letting go

Tell me why the spirits
play in the skin of the dead leaves,
clacking as they twirl themselves
into the baby sky.

The wind is an old man,
a voiceless bellow
speaking in the movement of all things.

The poem is the journey of the eye
speaking to the heart.
How hunger stirs the hand
to lift like leaves and write.

I have begun to believe
that nothing ever really dies.

We change our clothes. We break our wings.
We fall, we sleep.
The seasons lay down over us
while we listen to our mother

who's breathing
reminds us of everything.

She is the sunrise, the moon's face,
the language of stones, the scent of rain on the earth

She is the plain sparrow who loves me. The eagle.
The constant warmth of the bear in the den.

Put away your tears for the lost things.
If you can call them back to you,

or open your ten lights of letting go
to hold the next good thing.

Friday, February 3, 2012

witch in the garage

In the middle of the night
things were simple,
a party of coyotes
dancing and woo-wooing.

The next day the witch in leggings,
black hair pointing to the damp grass,
talked about the table she set.

She stood in the meadow looking for scraps
they may have left,
listed off the menu: dead bunnies, salmon,
this and that.

All day you wonder why.
She has a baby you know. Raises chickens
and sometimes coyotes like to steal
the weakest.

Drag it to the field. Bless each feather.
Perhaps she's trading one thing for another.
Here take the trash, the what's-left-over.

But then she talks about trimming
the fir by her upstairs window, so she can see
when they come, for blood,

for the song in their bellies.

c2012 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Brief Coyote and the Thumbprint of Snow

Soft sounds, thumb printing snow,
singing as it comes down
oh, spacious innocence
and crystal faces,

are your eyes open or closed?
Your singing makes the woods
put on white coats,
tucks the grass
in for naps.

Slipping from invisible doors
brief coyotes hunt for an hour.
Yoga pose and meditate. My eyes
are grateful.

A shadow calls from thirty years ago.
I answer. I remember while talking,
the boat clutching the wind, the music
of your voice, the color of your skin.

We both apologize
for not being kinder.

Gray clouds rock the sun to some other country.
Still, the white goodness keeps falling.
Candles and flutes make the black dog

I turn from the window, my eyes full of white.

for Sundays

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

From the Belly of Winter

I want to say something to you
that you've never heard before
and yet you've always heard it
somewhere inside of you
and you can't forget it
and you never want to
and you can't help
reading it
and again.

for poetry
and those who read it

Miracle: The Hen

Twenty degrees makes the night immediate.
The hen screams the end of life song: Repeat!, repeat!.
I'm coming and find her with her head stuck in the lattice,
by the front porch, where Linus the brown poodle left her.
I chase him off hollering. He catches another in the woods.

I gather her wet brown black ruffles in my arms,
circle her stillness, my voice coming down
around her like God. We find a plastic moving
crate, tilt it empty, fill it with a green fleece
and drag it with one free arm, the other full
of hen.

Inside the cabin I clear off the table. Put the crate
on it, cozy the fleece and slowly lower the hen.
I can't seem to move my left hand away. Honey
words come from me like breath. The dog
wonders about everything.

We sit back and wonder. Put on flute music. Begin
to warm chicken soup and rosemary loaf from the
oven. Periodically, I lift the blanket over the crate
and the hen looks up at me. She lays still and quiet
in the dark softness. Her life comes back
to her like this.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Room of Winter

Night of the first day without you
comes like the river when we're not looking,
the field silently waits the first snow.

Horses have taken their hoof-prints
and speak no more of the wind.

Roosters line their warm round bodies
in the tree, coo and say night to night.

My heart is a window. It is not cold
when you belong to winter, or watch
wild things and the wood grow taller.