I didn't expect to see her as soon as I slid into the water.
in fact, I didn't expect to see her at all -
But there she was.
her ancient form floated through the coral metropolis, her mammoth shell speckled with barnacles and patterns which seemed to dance in the watery sun beams.
a fractalline kaleidoscope.
a steady stream of bubbles burst
from my mouth as I squealed in excitement
upon beholding this
a sense of calm quickly enveloped me in composure,
as it dawned on me that this moment
was a gift.
I centered myself
and tuned in
the gentle sea turtle and I
glided gracefully alongside one another
she, absorbed in
plucking food from the coral with her beak-like jaw
absorbed in her.
I dove down and swam with this timeless being
she accepted my presence
and the dry world I generally inhabit faded from my
consciousness as ten, twenty or thirty minutes passed
when she went up for air,
I went up for air.
our wet heads bobbing momentarily above our
secret underwater world
and back down we would glide
into the loud silence that is home for
as many fish as there are stars in the sky,
sea snakes and jellyfish and manta rays
octopus and prawn and
a sea turtle
my imagination revelled in fantasies of
the Places she has surely been,
the Wonders she has surely seen
that no human ever could.
beneath the watery cloak of blue I marvelled
at her shell,
within my reach -
a mobile home for this ancient aquatic astronaut
as she traversed the endless labyrinthian ocean
for twenty-something years,
if not longer.
I looked into her eyes and
we are the the modern-day Sky Sailors.
without a compass or clock we knock
on the ornate door of the Unknown
looking for a home
and some of us find it -
others don’t want to.
an intangible concept bursting with many forms,
I have endless ideas
definitions and decisions about
what this word means.
Home is an ever-changing experience
depending on how I feel that day,
where I find myself
who I’m with
or how good the coffee is.
it’s a simple choice to decide to place
everything you have into a cloth contraption
and strap it to your back.
but this choice is an electric catalyst and
it changes the world around you and as
the world around you changes
your insides begin
shifting gears, shedding fears, pruning away
your dead leaves to allow
your vibrant Green to blossom,
a shade of green unlike anything else
you've ever seen.
this eternal spring garden within you will grow
and with such tenacity
you'll touch the sun you yearn for.
I wrote this poem two years ago, after returning from my third time sleeping under a blanket of stars in the Arabian desert. These dunes are called Sharqiya Sands, and they exist quietly yet powerfully in a country named Oman. The photo at the top of this page was taken right before I wrote this poem, actually :) You can see for yourself where the beetle went for lunch!
All of the memories I’ve made in those seemingly endless dunes are held close to my heart, and every time I reunite with the sands I feel inspired, cleansed, and vibrantly alive. Sitting atop a dune amongst an endless sea of sand, I wrote this poem about my kinship with this unique and mesmerizing environment. I hope you can take with you a little piece of what I feel when I’m there!
Desert, my dear friend
and silent sister of the ocean,
how do you imitate your
salty wet sibling so
I shriek with delight upon beholding
but for the shimmering dust trail that's lifted
and carried away by the wind
before my eyes.
I watch as Wind,
the invisible artist
carefully carves your powdery face
Stillness and Silence are always the
guests of honour here, while
Sun, Moon, Beetle and Camel
are regular attendees
The Moon’s radiant smile
is contagious here, Desert.
She grins as she peeks over the
dark side of your dunes and
spills light into my pores
I thank her for the tapestry of stars
she has so elegantly woven as a
it is the Sun’s turn to play again.
In the Sun’s glow I gleefully
trace the patterns in your skin,
which holds no secrets.
I learn where the beetle went for lunch
and how deeply the camel’s padded hooves
imprint upon your curved shoulders.
I let you lovingly fold your
immeasurable sand over my dusty feet,
while you carry stories of
frankincense through my soul,
as you have for centuries.
I recall a time
when you were an Ocean.
and before that,
you were Stardust with me.
We laughed together as
we were jostled around in The Great Hand’s
purple cloth sack of Everything,
in a delirious fit of joy
he grabbed heaping handfuls of waves, stars, dirt
then scattered us along the
tides of existence.
I am here with you again, Desert.
We both look different now
I recognize you
and you just winked at me.
this backpack is my home,
I call her Turtle Shell.
she’s olive green
or, she used to be.
years of travel have lacerated her thick skin
with rips, holes
dirty cement grime.
foreign city street scum
the sidewalks have
into her exterior.
I am fond of these stain-smear souvenirs.
because within the canvas walls of this
tattered threadbare sack
lives an elegant library of memoirs,
finely bound with
gold lettering gracing
each hand-pressed page.
her seams breathe with
books of adventure and spontaneity
these autobiographies so fiercely alive
with tales of
reunions and last kisses,
more stories here
than her seventy litre frame
could ever carry in print.
Turtle Shell has cruised
down the cobblestone pathways of curiosity
she’s been soaked in saltwater slime.
she flew frantically down the Mekong
on a boat made of wind
and whizz-jump-skipped through time.
she dodges with me,
in reckless abandon
oncoming motorbikes tuktuks and vans.
and each time I carry her weight up a hill
or heave her onto
the last train to anywhere -
I feel hopeful, but never sure.
I hold her close
as my surroundings blur.
to rest my eyes on her
she is familiar.
this backpack is my home,
I call her Turtle Shell.
she’s olive green,
or, she used to be.
Sand in my backpack, shells in my shoes
freedom is easy when I get to choose
where home will be next.
flying on a whim
no plans before or after
a routine-lover’s disaster, my life is a
of last minute decisions and visions,
incisions in the thread of consciousness where I tie in
a divine rhyme
as sun-drinking trees whip this train window
I remember home, and her seasons.
Canada, the snow
A linear world so structured
I’m reluctant to attempt to squeeze my intergalactic mind,
this wandering worldLife
the hum of my inner Adventure Machine!
money talks but I can’t hear it,
the things I value are experiences
music gratitude synchronicity connection
my barefoot callouses complement
this endless summer complexion and
I don’t need anything else when
my wings are dusted with
my heart’s intentions.
Southeast Asian streets
a chaotic kaleidoscope
of humans, animals, aromas and noise.
vehicles eternally dodging
roads wrenching, churning, clogging
horns and humans yelling,
everybody street-corner storytelling.
a four-legged friend with a patchy fur coat
he’s been through a lot, it's easy to note
he sniffs a delicious scent as it
floats from a nearby plate
soon a man kicks him
and he scampers away.
And there’s Ollie
independent, knows no other way
she’s striving to survive in this tropical bay
paradise for many, a struggle for some
her reflexes tense, ready to attack or to run.
too many distasteful run-ins with humans
loving encounters, none.
white-spotted on black
meanders through the night in search of a snack
sniffing out the next bite -
the city spits occasional scraps.
regurgitations of human consumption
dismal discarded morsels
he devours in darkness out back.
these smog-covered nibbles line his stomach for a while
still hungry when he’s finished,
he curls up in a trash pile.
To be utterly invisible
or reprimanded, chased away
which would you prefer to endure
I can't help but cry as
I hold a litter of puppies
born into a kind of poverty so far under the radar they’re
In a place where the people are impoverished
a diseased homeless dog
is an alien.
Bottom of the barrel,
below the food chain.
I stroke their coats gently,
A future so daunting for such little beings.
The motorbikes, the busses these puppies will dodge,
the miles they’ll walk
grime under the claws
forever searching and wild
follow the nose
kicked, scolded and beaten
that's how it goes.
these innocent creatures
will have to learn young
how to navigate this human-designed
To the one we named Ghost,
hunger carved the shape of your ribs with a chisel so sharp I got whiplash double-checking if you were a walking phantom. In the slightest breeze you’d topple over, your shaking legs jangling like skeleton keys. Knew your previous meal might be your last so we bought you some dinner and you inhaled it fast, then limped over to thank us in your own way. A gentle bow of your forehead,
soul to soul,
For the fur-cloaked solo sailors riding churning asphalt seas
trying to stay afloat in this unforgiving city,
I see the Being behind your mange-ridden coat.
the fleas that you’re scratching can’t penetrate your soul
creature of light born in a difficult time,
an impossible place
I can’t begin to imagine the things you have faced.
For the silent soldiers
the dirt covered warriors,
I wish that this poem could put food in your belly
you all have a story but no way to tell it
I’ll be your conduit, you’ll be my muse
we all just walked a mile in your shoes
I’ll stroke your fur
and my words.
The world's forgotten dogs,
I didn’t forget you.