Tree talk

We went back into a snap lockdown on last Sunday at midnight. This is lockdown No.8 here in regional Victoria, Australia. It is supposed to be a seven day lockdown but who knows. Before we were once again restricted by the 10k travel limit I met up with one of my daughters and her kids for a quick catch up. Seeking a place where the kids could run around freely we went to a steep wooded hillside beside a large lake.

The wind was blowing a gale and the kids ran around screaming with excitement at the sense of freedom it gave them. They’ve been cooped up for weeks what with all these lockdowns, remote learning, playgrounds being off limits for some of the time and the swimming pools closed.

My daughter and I braced ourselves against the wind. The force of it whipped our hair around our faces and made our jackets billow out from our bodies. The trees were bent at wild angles and the leaves were tossing about frantically.

The wind in the trees,
the sound of banshees singing
-change hurtles in.

I’m using the time in lockdown to work on my novel.

I’m writing an eco novel set at some unspecified time in the future. In the process I am delving into obscure areas of research. Here’s some unusual facts I learnt recently:-

Electricity from Trees
To extract electricity from trees and convert it into useful energy, researchers built a boost converter capable of picking up as little as a 20 millivolt output and storing it to produce a greater output. By hooking it up to a tree using electrodes, the custom-built device was able to generate an output voltage of 1.1 volts, enough to run low-power sensors… Using the electronic output to keep track of a tree’s health is another possibility.

A Finnish company recycles batteries by turning them into plant food

Globally, the disposal of alkaline batteries has become a major problem,” said Adrian Griffin, managing director of Lithium Australia, in a press release. “Our plan for repurposing the active components of the spent cells is not only a significant step towards worldwide environmental management of the issue but could also have a powerful influence on the sustainability of disposable batteries.”

Although some chemicals in batteries are toxic, this new method takes micro-nutrients present in alkaline batteries and turns them into vital food for crops. Zinc, which is present in many alkaline batteries, helps plants to make a chemical called chlorophyll. This is what makes plants green and without it they can’t use sunlight to turn water and CO2 into energy…

The batteries are first crushed, then filtration and purification processes remove toxic elements like mercury and nickel. It is important that these don’t end up in the fertiliser as they could make their way into the food we eat so testing of the final product is rigorous. Once removed, they are sent on to be safely disposed of by hazardous waste treatment plants instead of leaching into the soil as they would if the batteries were sent to landfill.


The way in is the way out

This week on Earthweal Ingrid asks us to consider ways in which we might find our way of the labyrinth of the Anthropocene.

The way in is the way out.
Change starts with thoughts.
Descartes and the Enlightenment –
all those great minds devising
the mind/body split,
the human/nature division.

The industrial revolution came soon after.
Profit driven mass production
birthing the capitalist mindset
whoopee and hey presto,
fast forward two hundred years
globalisation has enslaved our minds.
Consume, consume, consume,
exploit, extract, abuse.
Don’t think of the environment.
Humans are separate from nature.

The way in is the way out.
Change starts with thoughts.
If we change our way of thinking
our world view shifts.
With humans as part of nature
human/non-human interbeing
co-creates new outcomes for all.

Feeling the joy,
dancing in the green world.
Labyrinthine ways unfolding,
magical passages of dappled light.
New ways of thinking opening
new neural pathways.
The heart/mind connection
illuminates the way forward.

The Paps of Danu

This morning I read Brendan’s beautiful poem written to his own challenge
It reminded me of the The Paps of Danu -two hills in County Kerry, Ireland that can be seen from the mountain where one of my daughter’s lived for many years. Inspired, I wrote the poem posted below. I have posted a few photos of mystical Ireland too.
(Danu, is the ancient Mother Goddess of Ireland and the Tuatha de Danaan are her children).

The Paps of Danu as seen from my daughter’s old farmhouse.

Drinking at the mother’s breast
pure silvered light
as nectar sweet as morning
at the Earth’s first dawning.

Deep underground the children of Danu,
the Tuatha de Danaan carousing.
An unholy racket some say.
following the dreaming paths
into the rainbow crystal caverns,
marvel at the light beings resplendent,
raiments of silver and Sirian blue shimmering,
the Shining Ones of myth of legend
singing to us now –

Wake up, wake up Earth children
Your mother needs you
Come to her aid,
Protect her.

A mountain track near the Paps
Mountains in The Ring of Kerry, west Ireland
The Western Isles, County Kerry

The light floods in

Ingrid Wilson, a contributor to the Earthweal poetry challenges has created an anthology The Anthropocene Hymnal. She says the Hymnal is a collection of ‘Poetry which does not compromise. Poetry which looks Big Money in the eye and says, ‘you are to blame.’ Poetry which is not afraid to be shot down or burned. Poetry which can rise from the ashes of censorship and ignorance and be heard even louder because of the attempts to silence it. As soon as people start to listen, such attempts will be made. And these will be the clues that we are writing the right kind of poetry. Keep going!’

In celebration of its publication Brendan of Earthweal asks us to write a poem of the Anthropocene which does not compromise. A Poetry That Does Not Compromise (The Anthropocene Hymnal)

I wanted to post something to congratulate to Ingrid on her good work. It sounds brilliant. I wrote this poem in response to the challenge but I don’t think it fits the brief. I’ll post it anyway because it reflects my response to the current state of the world.

I cannot save the world.
The burden is too great.
It weighs me down.
The darkness is so intense.
when I look at the chaos
I falter and lose heart.

Shifting my focus
I come alive to the world.
The morning sun pours down
golden across the town.
Behind the houses
storm clouds gather,
indigo and heavy with rain.
A blackbird sings.

I drink in the golden light
as I walk into the storm.
I hold it in my heart
and keep going
into the dynamism.
Here at the transition

old certainties are swept away
in fires and floods, storms and sickness.
Who knows how much will die
but who knows what will be reborn?
There is nowhere to go but on.

In the collapse of the old
a space emerges –
the light floods in.

A visualization

I’m still plugging away at my novel. Writing some rough notes about what I want a character to say I realized they work as a kind of poem. As the novel may or not may not ever reach a conclusion I’ll post the poem here (the haiga at the end was created some years ago).

To visualize the sphere of the planet –
the mighty oceans, the sprawling land masses,
the rivers, the grasslands, and the forests,
with the sky arching above it all
revealing in the darkness of the night,
worlds beyond worlds. Galaxies spiraling
out beyond the limits of human sight.
Vast cosmological time stretching
both back and forward into infinity.

The immensity of it all.
The finely tuned harmonics
of quasars and pulsars
vibrating with energy –

and then to return
to the body
here on this piece of Earth.

Now is the time of our being-ness.
The present is where we create the future.

linked to – earthweal open link weekend #75 | earthweal

Where lies hope?

Out of the primordial soup we came.
All life on Earth
united in its beginning.
No creature greater than another.

Eons of separation passed.
Humans assumed control.
Our needs are great they said.
Everything is here for our pleasure.

Animals in cages wept.
Ancient trees died in wild fires,
Life giving waterways ceased flowing.
Human control devastates all.

All life is one the mystics say.
It began that way. Our hope,
our salvation begins in reconnection.
Humans are part of nature.

I had to come back and have another go at the Earthweal prompt this week. Hopefully this one more closely responds to Sherry’s heartfelt prompt: Jane Goodall: On Hope | earthweal

At the Interstices

Here at the interstices,
the poets and mystics,
the dreamers wandering
across the Anthropocene
despair –

with humans at the pinnacle,
separate and alone,
apart from nature,
oh so tragically,
oh so arrogantly,
always taking
extractive capitalism
hastens the demise
of all life on Earth.
Or at least that’s how it seems.

Here at the interstices
with etheric energies swirling
the rebels and the outcasts
spin dreams out of gossamer
and craft pathways out of words.
When all voices are heard
the human/nature split heals
and the way forward clears –
with interconnected inter-being
human/non human knowings
weave beauty into the future.



This week’s Earthweal prompt takes me full circle back to where this blog began. My first post here was about encountering a mother and baby koala in the bush one winter’s afternoon –

My experience with the koalas was one of those key moments that come back to mind from time to time and reveal still further layers of meaning. I wrote a poem about it in response to Brendan’s prompt:-

What are animals looking for? What are they seeing? That’s the essence of this week’s challenge, THE ANIMAL GAZE. Tell us of your encounters with that gaze. What do we share with that gaze, how do we differ? How can we understand it, considered in the marbled and congealed in masses of neurocortical fibers and dense clusters of culture and language and all-too-habitual mastery? And what does that gaze read in us?”

Remembering luminous koala eyes,
brown and full of forest,
gazing into mine –
pulling me into their world
– the dream of the Earth.
The knowing we were tree beings once.
We understood the warp and weft
of branches against the sky,
the rhythm and the song of it.

We knew the strength of anchoring.
The pull of earth energies
rooting us to the planet
while branches
as threads of energy,
silver in the moonlight,
reach up towards the stars
-human/non human beingness

The Retreat

The fatalism within me
meets the defeat in you.
Hopelessness clouds my mind –
this is the Anthropocene,
we are all doomed.
Seeking solace I retreat.
Into the forests I wander.

On lonely beaches I linger.
Light sparkles across the sea.
Breezes ripple through the trees.
Breathing deep my mind clears.
Hope whispers – there is still time.

No, no, I hear you say.
It isn’t possible.
The powers that be are entrenched.
Their control grows ever deeper.
The future is dystopian.

I retreat further still.
Entering meditation my consciousness shifts.
Deep within the inner worlds
I slip down into the Earth’s crystal caverns.
I reach up into the starry cosmic realms.
My spine becomes the conduit.
Energy flows.

Slowly the miasmas of fear dissolve.
Gradually mass consciousness fades
drawn into the shadowlands,
I face my wounded self.
Carrying my burdens to the light.
I let them go.
Inner freedom grows.

Coming back into the world
I teeter. The fatalism is seductive.
It is a path I know.
Its outcomes are determined,
the path becomes a dead end.

I retreat once more.
Setting my intention
I focus on the heartmind.
Meanings become fluid.
New neural pathways open.
With hope as a bastion
the future can evolve,
new possibilities emerge.

Not dead yet

It is so very late now
life hangs in the balance.
The Antarctic ice sheet cracks,
while the permafrost melts.

My grand-daughter’s eyes are frightened.
The wildfires are burning,
the planet’s getting hotter,
the future is uncertain.

Away from the hubbub
deep within the silence
a kernel reveals itself –
not dead yet,
but flickering in the darkness
the life spark ignites the Will.
It isn’t over yet.

With the arrogance of white privilege
we assume/presume to know the future
while naturecultures watch and wait
being in relation to
more than human realms
inter-action with life
intra-action with the future

Poem written in response to