Uncertain Outcome

(Lucy is on the left, Hope is on the right)


Leaving her was the hardest part. She has never been separated from me or from her sister Hope at the same time. I wept, murmuring that I loved her, that I would be seeing her soon…


Lucy, my diminutive Chihuahua is almost six years old and for the last week I have been uneasy about her health noting small discrepancies – the way she didn’t inhale her chicken with her usual gusto, choosing not to run in the Bosque when we went down to the river, normally her favorite pastime, the absence of her little face at the window as she waited for me to return from my predawn walk. Three days ago she vomited bile, not that unusual for a Chihuahua, but the next day she developed diarrhea, while still eating relatively normally. I kept hydrating her and I let it go until last night when she refused her kibble, had loose stools, and needed to go out in the middle of the night. Instead of snuggling next to my head she lay at the foot of the bed, her eyes dull, her little body listless, choosing to stay there so as not to soil the good quilt when she threw up…Hope, her adopted sister is the Queen Bee and often bullies Lucy, unless she is ill. Then Hope’s deep attachment to Lucy and her distress become evident. Last night Hope was unable to sleep, continuously checking on Lucy, returning to snuggle up to me. All of us spent a sleepless night and it was abundantly clear that something was very very wrong.


Early this morning I called the vet a friend had recommended to me and was told to bring my dog in. What seemed like hours spent in the waiting room did nothing to calm the sense I had that Lucy was really in trouble even as I held her tightly in my arms. Hope was waiting in the car.


Still, I was not prepared for the vet’s diagnosis, even though I had had a very troubling dream a couple of days previously about liver failure. Not only did Lucy have a moderately serious case of pancreatitis, but she was dehydrated, a condition I already suspected. I balked at the vet’s recommendation that Lucy stay at this strange unfamiliar clinic for the next two days (or longer?) so that she could be given fluids around the clock. And yet, knowing that pancreatitis can be fatal, I finally agreed. Gazing into her eyes wordless communication passed between us. In retrospect, I think Lucy, was more accepting of this situation than I was. I felt something like resignation or acceptance? Tears flowing I blurted out to the vet, “Oh this is more about me than Lucy.” And maybe it was.


Being separated from this dog is like losing a part of myself. My worst fears are bubbling to the surface… two full days without her… maybe more… she’s too young to have this disease… she will die before I see her again… my mind tumbles through dreaded possibilities. Some wiser part of me intervenes helping me to recognize that it will not help Lucy for me to panic because our relationship is too intimate and she will be negatively impacted by my distress.


Although I rarely speak of it I am a person who understands what animals are trying to convey, with or without words. We communicate telepathically and because of that I know that for Lucy’s sake I must separate my fears from my love for her. Creating this boundary sounds easy, but when I see her little face in my mind, the child-like terror takes over, and I am unable to sink into any place of comfort within myself. It’s only been a few hours but already I have had to repeatedly break the “seeing – comforting connection” between us before I transfer my fears.


I lost three dogs to stomach related issues, one died of pancreatic complications, the second succumbed to pancreatic cancer, the third to diabetes. Bridgee died just two months before I got Hope, and a few months later, Lucy joined our little family. It was after Bridgee’s death that I finally accepted the truth that I would always need dogs more than they needed me…


I have been fortunate enough to have a veterinarian as a friend for more than thirty years who believes that animals and the people they love need to be together especially during times of illness, and that healing if it occurs or comfort is deepened by the physical presence of the person who loves the animal the most. Thus, I have never had to leave a sick dog at the vet overnight before and have routinely been allowed to be in operating rooms. The shock of this terrifying physical rupture instantly catapulted me out of my body as my childhood fear took over and only vaguely did I note that Hope was subdued on the ride home although she was lying in my arms.


When we arrived I was initially stunned by Hope’s behavior and afterwards overwhelmed by anguish. She jumped out of the car, ran to the porch looking for her sister, scented the ground where they had peed this morning, and when we came inside scratched at closed doors, ran from one end of the house to the other, repeating these maneuvers until I thought I would go mad. I called her to lie down with me for a while because I thought it would comfort her, but instead she continued to stare out one window and then another – a dog possessed. Like me. When I went to feed her she came racing over. Suddenly realizing that Lucy wasn’t with her she ran to the closed outside door scratching at it frantically willing Lucy to appear like magic.


I had to get outside and let Nature calm me because there was nothing I could do to help myself. All I knew was that I couldn’t let the god of chaos reign, or succumb to denial. I desperately needed to walk this knife-edge for all of us, regardless of outcome.


I dragged an unwilling Hope down to the river and we entered the Bosque. Listening to the flow of water on stone and walking mindfully and slowly so as not to tire or overheat either of us we wandered through the paths returning to the house, but not until the river began flowing through me… I thought Hope would sleep, but unfortunately she is still on high alert, staring out one window or another, and painful as this might be to witness I have to let her be. She has to be allowed to work through her feelings just as I do.


For me my life’s challenge is always to move though painful or frightening emotions without getting stuck in them so that I can reach the other side, re –entering my body to “accept what is”.


My relationship to Nature keeps me in touch with my senses, keeps me rooted in the present moment, helping me to deal with dis-embodiment.


Writing this narrative helps me acknowledge that this story may not end well but that there is also every reason to hope that our sweet Lucy will be coming home to us. It too keeps me rooted to the present.


To combat dis-embodied fright I printed out a black and white picture of Lucy and Hope, one where Lucy’s eyes are fastened intently on mine. It sits here in a special place, and now I can look at it, send my heartfelt love and break the connection before the fear takes over…


I see my beloved little dog with her dark brown eyes, fox-like ears tuned like radar, magnificent long hair and a feathery tail held high wagging and thumping in anticipation because we will soon be together again. I reach out to her, hold her tenderly in my arms and tell her that no matter what she will be all right. Tonight and tomorrow night the same Cottonwoods that shelter this house will also shelter her for they stand as majestic sentries around the clinic. And perhaps all of us will hear the owls singing. I beg these trees that I love so much to nurture my beloved until we are once again reunited.


We love you Lucy.




This morning I set off for the river just before dawn leaving Hope in bed sound asleep. Padding along the path I suddenly heard the Great Horned Owl call once, twice, three times as I drew closer to the sound. I don’t know what made me look up, but suddenly I saw the owl sitting on the edge of a Cottonwood branch.


I was so grateful to Nature – for the presence of the owl and for that Cottonwood tree – In that moment I believed that the owl and the cottonwoods were holding, protecting, and loving our Lucy even when Hope and I were unable to be with her…

The Tree Mothers Are Dying

The smoke clogs

my lungs;

a steel band

wraps itself around

my chest

tightening its hold.

The horizon

is dull gray.

The trees are burning

And I cannot breathe…


Innocent trees are dying

by billions, tortured by

hungry flames,

turning wood to ash,

rooted smoldering corpses

cannot escape.

Charred trunks,

crisped brown leaves,

needles curled, crackle and fall.

Sweet cambium –

The life – blood of trees

smothered by air

fiery tongues

and I can do nothing

to stop this holocaust

that brings me

to my knees.

And I cannot breathe.


Yesterday at dawn

I walked

to the river

in the heavy

thick air.

My lungs


my feet dragging,

my head pounding,



of mountain

and mesa

blurred by an ominous haze

wondering what was

wrong with me.

I could not breathe.


It was as if the predawn

sky reflected

the hell – the torture

of burning trees.

Like holy women

burned at the stake

for healing with herbs

the trees are screaming

the lungs of the Earth are exploding

and I can’t breathe.


Trees weeping white tears

enduring the unendurable,

and still the rains do not come.

A ten minute deluge

cannot suffocate fires

scorching trillions of rootlets

tunneling deep underground.

And I cannot breathe.


Where are the Cloud People

that once gifted the Earth

with silvery ribbons of water

that flowed until

each tree and plant

was satiated

glowed luminous green?

I cannot breathe.


They have gone away

taking the monsoon

rains with them,

leaving humans to

their Fate.

The Earth is on Fire.

And yet,

even today we deny

that the death of trees,

(whose breath is our own)

forecasts our own demise.


The Tree Mothers are Dying.

And I wonder why

I cannot breathe.


Working Notes:


I wrote a poem about my troubled walk to the river yesterday only to have it disappear into cyberspace leaving me very upset and unsettled because it had everything to do with trees. Trees feel like some of my closest relatives.


Unable to let it go and knowing I could not recover the original poem which was better crafted than this one I was still compelled to write another. One thing I have learned as a writer is that I must follow my instincts…


I learned to love trees from my mother who spent a lot of time climbing them. As a child I swayed in light breezes on tree limbs, slept in leafy feathered branches and conversed with avian friends. Trees marked the changing seasons, and living amongst elder trees and loving them was a childhood passion I never outgrew.


As an adult the Apple Mother called me to her, nurtured me when I moved into my first real home located in the midst of what once was an apple orchard. Ancient gnarled apple trees were my daily companions with whom I had many wordless conversations. At midlife mindless tree slaughter on the edge of my property and a terrorized maple tree led me to leave that home for the mountains of Maine where I thought there were fewer people to harm them and trees were more abundant.


But once I began living on the edge of wilderness I was confronted with the realities of Maine logging and the fact that in this state trees were systematically harvested for whim or homeowner profit and always for the sake of a burgeoning economy. Maine currently has less than 16 percent of mature forest (2012 statistic) remaining. Bears and chickadees are moving northward for food and raped land surrounds my property on three sides. Dirty yellow machines roar and crash through once peaceful forests. The smell of chainsaw oil nauseates me. One of my immediate neighbors chopped the crowns off his trees and let them die slowly in agony. I witnessed this dying every single day. It took years.


I thought I had survived three lifetimes of tree slaughter by the time I fled to the high desert. It was a relief not to be surrounded by large trees. I immediately fell in love with the scraggily gnarled junipers some of which lived for hundreds and hundreds of years because they weren’t particularly “useful” as fuel.


Most recently, the Cottonwoods have stolen my heart with their rustling scalloped leaves, although I also learned that because of damming and water shortage that these elders would not produce young saplings that would survive to become the next generation of cottonwoods because these trees must have direct access to an ever shrinking water table. I settled for loving them with all my heart for now.


Then came last winter. We had no snow, no spring run off, no rain, the warmest spring on record – 90’s by late May – 100’s in June and by then forest fires had been burning out of control all around us and elsewhere throughout the southwest since spring. There were cheery rumors of a heavy monsoon season with plenty of rain to come but I had a very bad feeling about the truth of this prediction. Trees communicated to me that my senses knew something people did not. And, as I feared, the rains have not come except in teasingly small amounts. For example 0.03 inches fell late yesterday afternoon. It is now almost the middle of August and the monsoon season is coming to a close. The meadow in front of my house remains the color of winter wheat. And the ground is so dry it crackles under my feet as soon as the torturous sun hits the ground.


The junipers, highly adapted to high desert environments are in trouble. These “indicator trees” have bunches of dead needles throughout and growth is all but absent except in areas that are irrigated. One of these trees I have adopted as my Guardian tree. I know by now I can’t save them all but this one tree is watered daily and has responded by shooting up six inch spires of new blue green growth. Each morning I take a moment to touch her branches and talk to her just as I converse with the Cottonwoods. I remind myself daily to live as much in the present as I possibly can because all life on Earth is changing at a breakneck speed because of human indifference and greed. There may be no tomorrow…


Even with an attitude of resignation that sometimes borders on acceptance things have been getting worse. As the fires burn on I wake up to the smell of nauseating smoke. Each day is hooded in haze although the heat from the sun appears to be relentless. My energy level has plummeted not just because of the intolerable months of heat but also because of what it means to see that daily gray haze clouding my vision. The trees are burning.


Up until this week early pre-dawn walks to the river were my salvation, and my friend Iren’s Bosque has been a refuge. But a few days ago all that changed. Instead of trotting off happily in the dark to meet the river before sunrise I noticed that my breathing was becoming labored as I walked. I do not have breathing difficulties so I experienced this sudden change as alarming. What was happening? It wasn’t until I wrote this poem that I finally got the obvious: The trees are burning, and my identification with these beings is probably partially responsible for causing breathing difficulties for me. My very sensitive body is also like a tuning fork and any changes in the atmosphere affect me when others have no problems at all.


For all of my life the “Tree Mothers” have been with me long before I named them as such or understood that trees and women are two elements of one undivided whole. We are intimately related, as anyone who is even a bit conversant with world mythology knows. The cross cultural “Trees of Life” indicate to us that this relationship between trees and women stretches back to the dawn of humankind.


Perhaps this is why women gather round trees to protect them, as if only

we could.

Singing up the Dawn…

My walk to the river

is a joyful entrance

into the eternal Now.

The water flowing,

crushed fresh mint,

trilling bird song

desert air so sweet

my body vibrates

humming with all that is…


Returning under

bowing cottonwoods

I touch a heart shaped leaf

in reverence…

For Life.


Datura trumpets

are sirens singing…

And I bend down

to pull intoxicating scent

into my lungs

remembering a seed

that became a goddess

white roots tangled

in wet cloth

before spring planting.


This holy one of the Wild Places,

Waste Places,

speaks to death

for the unwary –

Fans Wildfire.


Luminous white moon faces

celebrate the dawn

perfume dissipating…

When a piercing eye rises

pearl blossoms fade

like I do under

the fierce heat of

a bittersweet orange


Israel Francisco Haros Lopez

Above: Isreal’s art: La Llorona

Borderless Haiku: (IFHL)

We have forgotten the names of each other underneath the shedding skin those names written in our blood that have danced to tonantzin tonatiuh before they knew they were lovers. 

Last week I was fortunate to have attended a poetic reading and performance by a remarkably gifted young Mexican man named Israel Francisco Haros Lopez who was born to immigrant parents in Los Angelos. He is both a visual and performance artist, and his work transcends borderlands of all kinds. Israel believes that it is critical to honor and remember the ancestors so that we may once again become one with the winged ones, all those who crawl or walk on this earth, the Four Directions, Earth Air Fire and Water, Tonanztin and Tonatiuh – the Aztec Earth Goddess and the Sun God – Israel’s expression of unity in divinity, and the universe as a whole. His visual motifs are drawn from Pre – Columbian America and his work is an attempt to search for personal truths within the context of today’s world incorporating Mexican/Indigenous stories into the whole.

Israel believes written work or visual work cannot occur without sound or vibration, because all things on this earth embody and express themselves through vibrations. As such his written and oral work is constantly shifting as it is performed or recorded.

Israel’s current body of work explores Mexican, Indigenous and Urban Street Art Identity. He is inviting the viewer to consider their own ancient script and ancestral memory in order to mend racial, geographical divides. The work is also a healing practice, which through his art workshops he invites participants to become contemporary ancient scribes exploring their own writing practices both literal and figurative.

He brings his firsthand knowledge of the realities of migration, U.S. border policies, and life as a Mexican American to his work with families and youth as a mentor, educator, art instructor, ally, workshop facilitator and activist. Even with a 1.59 High school G.P.A., Israel managed to go back to the community college and raise his grades to get accepted into U.C. Berkeley and receive a degree in English Literature and Chicano Studies followed by an M.F.A in Creative Writing. At formal and informal visual art spaces, Israel creates and collaborates with others in an interdisciplinary way that includes poetry, performance, music, visual art, and video making and curriculum creation. His work addresses a multitude of historical and spiritual layered realities of border politics, identity politics, and the re-interpretation of histories.


What follows are two of my favorite pieces:


  • mexican jazz part 50


build that wall we come from the stars

we are the echo of grandmothers

migrating this America when it was just

and always a turtle


on mothers backs

more mothers backs

more mothers backs


this wall cannot stop the wave

of time immemorial


our grandmothers bones are scattered

across this rock

all rocks

along the feathered serpent

dancing with your minimal



of what you think

you can stop with a wall


build that wall

you cannot stop our d.n.a.


  • white liberal antics part 44


White supremacy gets tricky when you add white hispanic and spaniard

and spaniard blood is white European blood

where do you think hitler learned genoicide

through the skilled native holocaust

orchestrated by cortez and the sword

and the bible that drives the blood

underneath the asphault

runs through the veins of a city

wanting to continue its legacy

of spanish conquistador

and la virgin de la conquista

running through the rivers

of la llorona

mourning for all her children

red black yellow white brown green blue purple pink


how do you interrupt this white supremacy

running through the city


running through the rivers

of la llorona mourning

screaming for the memories

of the whiteness of the moon

screaming for the memories

of the whiteness running through

her raped indigenous body

praying for the memory

of her children that were birthed

from this

red black yellow white

brown green blue purple pink


begging for the songs

stuck in our throats