David’s 90th Birthday on Anna Maria Island



February 2014 ≈ Number 29


cover 2013.indd


This issue of Elephant Mountain Online features Damian John, Daen Davidson-Couch, Mark mealing, Brad Bradley, Doug Wilton, Rachel McGown, Sage Wilton and Philip Sarsons.
Three of these writers appeared in the recent trade paperback edition of Elephant Mountain, our annual selection from this online magazine. Now available in local bookstores: Lots of photos to remind you of winter’s hidden secret (Summer!)

JOIN THE CAVALCADE: Send your poetry, short fiction and art to doug@elephantmountain.org

We’ll publish it here (if it meets our lofty editorial standards) and if it makes the cut you will see it in our next fine paperback edition.

is a venue for both page and performance poets. Page poets can learn more about the value of sound/performance and anyone can use it as a stage to rehearse a piece for the next Slam.
BOM is also a way to try out stuff you’re thinking of publishing. Elephant Mountain gives Slam and other writers a venue for pieces that work better on the page and enables them to get public print exposure.

The Booksmyth Open Mic usually occurs on the last Friday of the month so the next one will probably be on Friday Feb 28.
Doors open: 7:30, Readings/Performances start at 8.

We welcome both new or experienced writers and spoken word poets.


Doug Wilton


doug wilton ≈ valentine for a dying friend




valentine for a dying friend


the last time i saw you Caro
in a bed in palliative care
it was clear
that you don’t need to go on a diet

skin draped over those fine bones
but you were remarkably interested
in my work and the life that was going on
around you and would go on
without you

and almost enjoying the new adventure
entering the voyage with an excitement
that reminded me of how small children
enter the new adventure of life

not knowing or caring what came before
just as you don’t know or much care
what may come after

when we last spoke i recalled how
soon after my mother’s death she appeared
at the foot of her grandchild’s bed
and told him that she was in a good place
and not to worry

in recounting that event i clearly saw
that she still lived in little Adion’s heart
and that we who must die will live on

in the hearts that remember something of us
that they will pass on to those
who will love and remember them

so i leave this gift Caro
woven from what we shared
in this life that is deeper than a dream
and rounded with
something stranger than a sleep 


Hashem Shaabani ≈ seven reasons why i should die


Hashem Shaabani

Hashem Shaabani


An Arab-Iranian poet has been executed in Iran for “waging war on God” and threatening national security, human rights groups say.

Hashem Shaabani was executed in an unidentified prison in late January, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre writes.

He had been sentenced to death in July 2012 by the Ahvaz Islamic Revolutionary Court for muharibih (“waging war on God”), sowing corruption on earth, propaganda against the Islamic Republic and acting against national security, it adds.

Shaabani, a member of the Arabic-speaking Ahvazis ethnic minority, was the founder of an organisation promoting Arabic culture and literature in Iran known as the Dialogue Institute and was popular for his Arabic and Persian poems, Al Jazeera reports.

It adds the 32-year-old often spoke out against the treatment of ethnic Arabs in the province of Khuzestan.

Following is the translation of a poem that Shaabani smuggled out of prison.





For seven days they shouted at me: You are waging war on Allah!

Saturday: Because you are an Arab.

Sunday: Well, you are from Ahvaz.

Monday: Remember you are Iranian.

Tuesday: You mock the sacred Revolution.

Wednesday: Didn’t you raise your voice for others?

Thursday: You are a poet and a bard.

Friday: You’re a man, isn’t that enough to die?


Philip W. Sarsons ≈ The Shorelines of Johnson’s Landing





I just had an article come out in our Star -http://www.nelsonstar.com/community/241351941.html – so having a spot in the Elephant Mtn network is rather timely. If there were room for a preliminary blurb to the poem, perhaps something like:

Poetry brings closer the things which are challenging to express. Especially the esoteric which by its nature is inherently elusive. In sixty-four poems, ‘The Book of Gardens: A Lover’s Manual for Planet Earth,’ reveal the study of mindfulness meditation as given to us in the I-Ching, the Chinese classic ‘book of changes.’ These poems become the bridge, something ever-at-the-ready to cross, travelling into a landscape which otherwise remains foreign. Below is an excerpt from the long-poem at the back of the book “The Shorelines of Johnson’s Landing” which points toward that territory of a pure reverie, a common and unceasing longing, seemingly unique to each of us. Proceeds from this book will be donated to the Johnson’s Landing Community to aid in the recovery and transition from the largest landslide to hit the area in 12,000 years. Copies can be purchased at www.thebookofgardens.com at Otter Books, Shanti Yoga, and BookSymth. Best – Phil





held by rain and cloud upon this hill

the wind blows, the house creaks, the jays

descend, and the woodpecker and mice fall

into their slow invasion: the owl by night

hawks and eagles by day, even in this rain

the chipmunk keeping ridiculous company


up from the lakeside, the wish to be down

by the shore, rising so full. for there, returns

all dreams of Otherness: the secrets of a surface

the whole bird flocking, its song backward in its throat

its wishing guided no less by insane fancy; for the wish to be

beside the sea is far within, under the sediments of fear fusing

with the flux of fascination how the deciduous worry

of wind beside the conifers embrace of it


. there is a driftwood at the waters edge knowing of a slow river

a slow river which has made its nest inside a mountain

letting hard tides fall slowly, their bodies into footprints

and footfalls and fossils guiding them onward

and downward – though all be onward

down to where the lake slipped

and keeps falling upon itself

. and unto every day
: the turn of zodiac

the impetus of Flood

each life by each life

this damning economy two lips of flame

cupping an always invincible shadow, moving

as a lake textured by but a patch of wind


yet let not these shadows rule

but simply be that a shadow be known

for the sweet do all too often conceal

their sweetness even from themselves

to pursue a malnourished light

deep unto some darkness

again and
again – but not these trees :

blind and bright chorus

who knew of music before the clouds of early day

crawling up this mountain of late fall

and day

operatic inevitable and loving it


for the tree itself is too but a shadow


and let not

the below waves down this hill

be of too great interest either : but after

where one can still hear in the wave

the vacationing stream the knowledge of mountainside

past the million temples – trees or stone – all of the single alter joyously

unignorant of sacrifice


: unto this beach the sunken and broken

are made whole in sand ; warmed and warming

the oceans anterior to these mountains

the Atlantis to the Atlanteans

Pangaea not sunk but risen aching erect, yet crippled, aging in the stretching sun
crumbling . . .


so these ashes too will be of use

where every creek cuts itself into tributaries reaching until reached

for there is nothing unless for these trees forevergiving the breath of their

round excellence

nothing except the longing of nothing

except     night crammed with night

night sky in a prisoners robe

alternating lament with wonder

eroticized only by gods into day

and the certain beauty of the daisy feigning innocence

disguising the sorrow germinated – cultured – on the passions

on clamour while unfathomably silence is

bathing in the sun with no one watching


Daen Davidson-Couch ≈ GREY MARRIAGES


Daen Davidson-Couch

Daen Davidson-Couch















grey marriages


the long plains of black as night, as crow
an unseen face, images dissolving, in the

sun, celebration, of winds waking a cloud
the shades of white

rice paper, laid upon her painter’s table
as black and white

create grey marriages, moving as slow
as the ancient turtle, as fast as a hungry

cry at dawn
a small bowl of green tea

a Chinese opera playing, so sweet, delicate lovers
oh, the first kiss, and the last

so very opaque, and strikingly calm
the night and the day, as song

a hint of spring, upon my easel
grey marriages, absorbed in the wind

we dine, in our hearts, between
the light and the dark

grey marriages, the chi of quiet’s

music, so thin, as we wait

together, a partner of contrast
the kind night, invites a day

of shadows and simplicity
for the Chinese brush painter’s

way of making her quiet
a grey marriage, of brush and symphony

a celebration of what is


rachel mcgown ≈ home






You’re home
I know it’s true, I can see it with my own eyes
you’re standing in the kitchen
you came it through the front door
your uniform is crisp and shines with medals
Proof of how heroic this whole tragedy was

So I see, that you’re home now
But you’re looking around like you’ve never been here
like you didn’t lay that floor with your bare hands
like we weren’t married in this very room
like you didn’t make love to me on that table right before you left me

You left me
you left me
and they tell me that you’re home now
but all you see are dreams
and all I see are ghosts

You left me
And it’s taken years to figure out how to breath
years to teach my heart to beat around he breaks
years to learn my life without you in it
to convince myself that I could

But you’re home now
you came in through the front door
wearing that same look
the one you had every time I said

I love you

the one that’s waiting for me to take it back

You’re home now and I don’t know if I can back track over
the years I pretended I was fine more hours than I slept
the years I prayed almost as much as I cried
the years I told myself I didn’t need you
the years I almost believed it

But you’re home now
and I can try

You’re home now

You’re home now


brad bradley ≈




cloud pretending

cloud becoming


take history for example: a silver hue, almost
invisible; almost never. only when mentioned,
as a matter of fact. “i am
responsible,” i then admit, “for my vessel.
there, i said it. are you happy now?” her
quizzical look. “i’m just saying that i am way
outta shape.
my wings are like bricks.” she wedges antlers
into the blowhole, keyhole, into the shifting
window, hollers into
the void,
“bring me your love! bring me your best
antlers morph into a surgical straw and broken
neck. weather leaks out. w e a t h e r   l e a k s .   w   
e    a      t     h    e       r       .
silver seepage. “i am thirstier
than medical literature. i am danger
in the language.” “c’mon! c’mon! push
air! maintain density!
yer not vapour yet!
ah ha!
a new silver lining.
what’d i tell ya?”
again she pushes her fingers through,
“what’d i tell ya huh?”
my heart elastic and smooth. now,
take history for example, and evolve into additional fluids.
means more than wetter, yes.”


sage wilton ≈ treasure your treasures




Treasure is that of the Treasurer


I have a tendency, or rather, an obsession with collecting rocks. For the longest time I never fully understood why, nor can I recall when it began, yet it remains a habit. Whenever I’m at a beach, a park, or travelling afar, I catch myself probing; sneaking a peak of the ground below, searching for the perfect few to add to the collection. This habit puzzled my family, and frankly, it puzzled me for a while too; you probably think it weird as well and I honestly don’t blame you. “What is that shirtless girl doing down by the shore?” Well, that was me when I was four. I hadn’t a bag so, improvising, I carefully carried my bundle of rocks in my blouse. My siblings looked upon in utter bewilderment, one even daring to disengage my grip from those treasures. My hands tightened. They dissed my rocks as dirt, not delighting in them as I did, not sharing the same desire. It was then that I realized why. Not everyone looked upon little pebbles and stones with the same eyes; with the same mind. To me they were not just little gatherings of dust, nor did I only appreciate their splash of colour as they lay beneath the waves; no, they meant much more. They signified the place and time from which they were found, the experience I so happened to enjoy and wanted to remember. They were tokens and little time-banks of my thoughts and feelings, my sights and senses of particular places and times in my life. I thought they were beautiful, those little stones, because of how I beheld them. Because beauty itself simply is subjective. It was now clear why, what in my eyes was regarded purely as treasure, could also be considered trash to another. Treasure is that of the treasurer.

The art lover in awe of a painting. She admires it from all angles, standing afar to appreciate the work as a whole, and then observing at arm’s length the skill and precision of each stroke. The deep hues of blue and crimson, layer upon layer of rich colour engulfing her. She can submerge herself in the abstractionism and lose herself entirely, forgetting about her prior place and the problems of that now distant person. This piece speaks to her, it brings her peace. It provokes a personal connection and relates her back to former memories, each with their own emotion. A flood of feelings wash over her and she is deluged, drenched by the sea of imagery. To her, a picture really is worth a thousand words. A thousand strokes, a thousand colours, a thousand thoughts. She observes these each as their own treasure, painting herself as an art treasurer.

The advocate for the preservation, restoration, and improvement of our natural world, the environmentalist. One of many whom share these same ideals, who has hopes for a cleaner, healthier, and more peaceful planet. She surrounds herself in the natural surroundings. The forest, lakes, and fields bring her the most joy, the sunsets a more spectacular sight than even the greatest CG film. The wilderness is where she is most content, most at home. Not only is she fascinated and in admiration by the sheer beauty of it all, but she feels somehow also spiritually connected; To and as a mighty oak, her soul branches out and takes flight in the sky, while the soles of her feet, rooted in the soil and to the heritage of the land, travel deep within the surface, interconnecting her with everything. It is her will, her self-connection and thus self motivation, her mission to protect these resources, these treasures.

Like the environmentalist and forest fanatic, another is also in awe of the shade of green; the businessman. He too views the forest as growth, not ecological, but as economical. Two people looking upon through different eyes. To him money, quite literally, does grow on trees. He loves the green for everything it gives him, everything it gets him. The fine dining, luxurious mansion, and fancy automobile make him strive for money. It forms his social ranking and provides for better standards of life, ultimately buying his happiness. He thrives in the materialistic world, the fast paced industrialized life, loving every moment of it. He is a pirate of the planet treasuring treasure.

The one to whom beauty is seen through everything but the eyes; the blind man. He has never physically looked upon the earth, the sun, or a pretty girl, though his treasure chest outweighs that of any other. His appreciation for life and view of beauty overflows and resonates in everything around him. It is in the morning sun, streaming through the tattered, moth eaten curtains, tickling his skin and warming his blood. It is in the sounds of summer, the bird`s melody and the buzzing bees. He sees beauty everywhere and in everything, eyelids closed, but mind wide awake. His senses tingle, treasuring the euphoria in the little things. From the vibrations of a beat to the scents of spring, the smell of violets blowing in the breeze. Water, cool to the touch and fresh to the taste, a rushing river and falling rain. These are the things he sees beauty in, what makes his mind flutter and his heart happy. The beauty of a woman, not measured by makeup or vanity, but by her inner qualities, by the sound of her voice and flow of her speech; the substance of a person outweighing their ever changing appearance. The blind man sees. He polishes the treasures we left covered in dust beneath our feet.

Beauty, by its very definition, is that which makes one happy; which gives pleasure to the senses and exalts euphoria of the mind or spirit. Since this varies from person to person, from an environmentalist to a businessman, from an art lover to a blind man absent to colour, and from me to you, beauty merely is in the eye of the beholder. It is simply subjective. What one may regard as dirt or trash, another may treasure as a sparkling stone. Treasure your treasures.


January 2014 ≈ Number 28 ≈ New Year Issue


cover 2013.indd


This issue of Elephant Mountain Online features Stuart Ross, Doug Wilton, Daen Davidson, Mark Mealing, Pippa Bowley and Joel Guay.

Many of these writers appeared in the recent trade paperback edition of Elephant Mountain, our annual selection from this online magazine. Now available in local bookstores: Lots of photos to remind you of winter’s hidden secret (Summer!)

JOIN THE PROMENADE: Send your poetry, short fiction and art to doug@elephantmountain.org

We’ll publish it here (if it meets our lofty editorial standards) and if it makes the cut you will see it in our next fine paperback edition.


Booksmyth Open Mic launches a new project: Page To Stage To Page.

Page To Stage is taking a poem that works on a page and helping it work in a performance setting.

Stage To Page is taking a poem that works on the stage and helping it read better on a page of Elephant Mountain or any publication.

The ideal I think would be to make poems that work well on both pages (paper and digital) and in performance settings/videos.

I’ve always liked writing that enables me to hear the writer’s voice in my head and am bored when writers read their stuff as if they were just computers with a text to speech program.  

Booksmyth Open Mic is a venue for both page and performance poets. Page poets can learn more about the value of sound/performance and anyone can use it as a stage to rehearse a piece for the next Slam. 

BOM is also a way to try out stuff you’re thinking of publishing. Elephant Mountain gives  Slam and other writers a venue for pieces that work better on the page and enables them to get public print exposure.

Next Booksmyth Open Mic will transpire on Friday Jan 31.
Doors open: 7:30, Readings/Performances start at 8. 

We welcome both new or experienced writers and spoken word poets. 


Doug Wilton



Doug Wilton ≈ the great uprising




The concept of universal mind was inherited by Buddhists from Hinduism which divided reality between spirit and matter (as does much Western philosophy) 
and sees mind as the work of spirit within the physical body.

The problem with that dualism is explaining how spirit/mind manipulates matter/body since surgeons had never found anything but boring goo in the human skull. That problem was comically addressed by Descartes in the 1600’s but didn’t start to find a real solution until the brilliant anatomical dissections of his contemporary Thomas Willis. See SOUL MADE FLESH The Discovery of the Brain — and How It Changed the World. By Carl Zimmer.
Darwin takes care of the rest. Since mind is no more than an accident of evolution reality is no more a mind than it is a pumpkin.

You could argue that none of this disproves the existence of a Universal Mind. It just makes it unnecessary.
It’s also possible that there’s a giant pumpkin (named Alfred, tho believers will debate that) in the centre of the moon.

The notion of universal mind is a distraction from the essential point—that the suffering, confused and seeking mind is already an integral part of universal reality. Thus the most immediate gate to reality is the mind itself. To me that is the great discovery of the first Zen people but the insight needs to be slightly refined, by discarding the notion of a universal mind.

My scanty reading of Lao Tzu et al has left me with the impression that they, like all mentally wakeful people, were aware that they were part of an incomprehensibly large and mysterious reality and that the trouble with humans is our tendency to regard that as merely a painted backdrop for the little drama of egos we call career, politics, history. They understood that the fundamental work of meditation is to return to our original, organic and wakeful attunement with That. They also understood that any attempt to weave doctrine or dogma out of that flow of attunement would only distract from it.
Better to let the seeker feel the flow by living, working and sometimes gabbing with people who are already awake to it.

As some sage once bluntly said, the philosopher who has not embodied his philosophy is an ass bearing a load of books. Probably it was contact between bookish Buddhists and such fundamentally wakeful persons that led to the kind of zen that rises from the clutter of words and letters, like an old (or young) ass dumping the books from his back.

I look forward to any opportunity to be part of that uprising, whether in life or art.

I write for the fun of it of course, but also because I know that this great uprising could happen
at any moment
even in the writing or the hearing of these words.


Daen Davidson ≈ Small Birds Follow The Night


small birds follow the night



to sweep, the amber sun
get up, for the day, the prayer

you left in the dark veil
of becoming, arrives to quench

your beauty, the trust you came
to find, I know, I was there in the

circle, the cathedral spoons, ringing

weeping with my mother’s tongue, now
quiet, i yell with owls, i howl with

one day, she will take me again into
the human sphere, for now i dwell outside

the wall, walking with turtles

we huddle in the vacant beaches

cold to touch, yet still enjoying
the swim, with seals; they saw my

fin, they saw my wing

we travel, a day, at a time
as we wait for you

in the delivery room of sand and bells

it is the mystic’s food
the charms of the absolute

the well, where life dwells




Stuart Ross ≈ New Year Poem






For your information, when
you eat things they go into you.
I learned this last year.
This year, however,
I cannot write a poem. I just
can’t do it. My dog skids
around on the ice outside,
I’m bleeding the radiator
with fifty leeches, seismologists
curl at the foot of my bed,
episodes of F Troop are shot
in my living room, guppies
do tricks in the depths
of my teacup, plus:

confusion is the basic unit
of all living organisms. It has
been dubbed the building block
of life. A single confusion
divides to produce two daughter
confusions. Let’s pack a lunch,
pile into the station wagon
and sit in the driveway.

In closing, then:
Blank sheets of paper
scribble poems on me.
A lamp throws a shadow
into the wastebasket.
The radiance of the night
is just about endless.



Joel Guay ≈ I Miss My Dad



Roy and his mom are sleeping over tonight. There are no story books suitable for a four-year-old here where I am house sitting. And so, Roy asks me to tell him a story from my childhood, since he is studying ‘history’ these days.

And so, I tell the story of me at eight, going to work on a Saturday morning with my dad. Amazingly, I can remember every detail of that day fifty years ago.

I remember him saying the night before:
“You might want to get to bed early tonight, son. Morning comes early.”

And in my excitement I’m in bed right after dinner. It’s still light out and I’m already in bed, closing my eyes real tight and trying real hard to go to sleep. I’m trying so hard that I make myself need to go pee. And so, I have to get up and go and then I’m back in bed, trying even harder.

By this time, everyone has gone to bed and I’m lying there awake in the dark. And I can hear my dad’s regular breathing in the next room and I listen really hard to it and the next thing I know, it’s morning.

Well, I don’t really know it’s morning but I can feel my dad pulling gently on my big toe, like this. And when I open my eyes and look up he is smiling down at me, with a finger to his lips as a sign for me to be quiet so I don’t wake up my sisters.

And so, I hop out of bed silently and jump quickly into my clothes. My dad, by this time, has turned and headed for the kitchen. I’m so excited that I beat him there. And here we are, just the two of us.

Here we are in the half-lit kitchen. Everything is real quiet and kind of magical. We have breakfast—toast with peanut butter and bananas. Just the two of us. And I watch my father prepare lunch for two men, him and me.

I remember going outside and climbing into the front basket of his balloon- tire bike (my father never drove a car) and riding down the street in the almost-dark of 6 AM.

And so, I sit in the massive metal basket as he pedals us silently down the street past the homes of my sleeping friends. Not even the milkman is stirring yet. I remember the sound of the gravel on the tires and the cool morning breeze on my face. And the smell of my dad.

I remember working all morning, pulling nails out of used lumber, and lunching on fried port chop sandwiches, my dad eating slowly to make sure I had enough and me mostly leaving him only the bread as I devoured the meat.

I remember a big, husky man ambling by me and winking at me. I remember another walking by and ruffling my hair. All morning men are walking by me and smiling in my direction and making comments to my dad like:

“Are you sure that’s your son, Camil? He’s a good looking fellow…”

And my dad chuckling as I get more and more puffed up with pride. I remember his boss walking by and saying, loud enough for me to hear:

“That’s a hard working lad you got there, Camil.”

And my dad just smiling quietly, like me.

And I remember riding home in the basket at the end of the day, slumped over my dad’s shoulder, half asleep from exhaustion, as he walked the bike home so as not waken me. I remember the sound of the wheels on the gravel, the smell of him against my face, the feel of his hard and soft chest against my back. I remember the feel of his muscles moving under my face and his powerful arm around me, cradling me like a baby.

And I remember him carrying me into the house gently in his massive arms and slipping off my shoes and carrying me into bed because I was too tired to stay up and eat dinner. I remember him slipping me under the blankets and covering me up, stroking my hair and smiling down at me as I closed my eyes. I remember that day, the day I needed no food to feel full.

I remember all of this today, telling the story, a little chokingly, to Roy and his mom, enjoying Roy’s laughter at the little boy who could eat six pork chops for lunch.

And Roy, noticing my tears, explains to me that sometimes, the mist that separates us from those who have gone on is very thin. And anytime you want, you can see those who have left and they can see you.

“Now is the time for you to wave to Camil,” he screeches excitedly, “And he may even wave back at you if you smile.”

And so, almost beside myself, I hold Roy in my arms and hug him, stroking his cheek and smiling at him, as my father would do to me.

I miss my dad.


Pippa Bowley ≈ It happens, just like that




it happens, just like that.


trust gone like sun behind a cloud

grey stone face

sphinx, not giving out any answers

as if stone could outlast love

and fear feast like

ravens on exposed flesh

anger will put on the armour of forgetfulness

the cloak of righteousness

so heavy, unyielding

and difficult, once put on,

to remove.


it happens, just like that.


December 2013 ≈ Number 27 * Winter Solstice Issue


cover 2013.indd


This issue of Elephant Mountain Online features Paula Hudson Lunn, Leannah Fidler, Doug Wilton, Helen Blum, Geordi Campos, Deanna Reed and Daen Davidson.

Most of these writers appeared in the recent trade paperback edition of Elephant Mountain, our annual selection from this online magazine.

Now available in local bookstores:



JOIN THE CAVALCADE: Send your poetry, short fiction and art. We’ll publish it here (if it meets our lofty editorial standards) and if it makes the cut you will see it in next year’s fine paperback edition.

And, above all,

Stay peachy.


Paula Hudson Lunn


lakeside bench winter


I saw you


You were making that face in the mirror – the one where you pucker your lips and see if it’s cute

Waiting to cross at the light – did you know your shoes were too big for your feet

I saw you down the street – you had the most beautiful hair

I saw your eyes dart around while your dog shat on the lawn

I saw the back of your head – it was warm and inviting in the afternoon sun


I saw you

Empty the cream at the coffee shop and not bother to tell the barrista

because you emptied it into a water bottle in your coat’s deep pocket

I saw you rake leaves and watch from around the corner as kids jumped in

I saw you walk your evening laps around the block tapping your cane on aging cracks –

we say hello if the dark hasn’t blinded us


I saw you

Reach for his hand, look up into his eyes over the rim of your coffee

I saw you sitting in the back of the library reading Macleans

I saw you jaywalk nonchalantly, giving the driver the finger as if he owed you some right


I saw you

The younger you, the child you were. He shows up in your face when the light comes into your eyes.

I’m always amazed at how I can see that.

I saw you peaking up over the books and from the tins of vegetables, suspicious and watching

I saw you in clothes that melted to you like you were born to wear them

I saw you walking – I liked the way your body moved


I saw you shake your finger, pick your nose, hike your pants,

I saw you walk into me while you were clicking out important part-words – I saw you from a block away and I just let you do it. I wanted to think it might make a difference.


In case you ever thought nobody noticed…

I’m not the only one.

I saw you.


Leannah Fidler ≈ Alone & Infinite






I saw you standing in the doorway
the hood of your sweatshirt up,
even though you were already cloaked in shadows

Watching, waiting

there are no stars tonight
no moon either
the fog settled in
and stubbornly won’t let go

I know how it feels, hanging on.
But I started too late
and my hands didn’t get to that spot on my chest
in time
to keep my heart from leaving
to keep me from turning away

If I were you I would stand there in the shadows
waiting for the stars to crowd the sky.




I fell in love, last summer,
with the tree in my neighbour’s yard.
trunk swathed in emerald moss
hidden under a soft canopy

then the brazen bare-beauty of autumn
of fallen leaves and empty branches
while all around conifers
tower with needle-full boughs

now, white lattice, laden with snow
frozen and standing, still unyielding
while pine branches fall
exhausted by their winter burden

blue sky, finally
as the snowy grip melts
tumults of snow plunging down
as the lattice breaks open sunshine streams in

I am already anticipating
that blush of spring.


geordi campos ≈ teardrops & dialtones



You there
with the eyes whose irises change
with the rise and set of the sun
Do you remember?

I see it reflected in orbs framing
all the pain i need as answer
you do still recall
the times you would cry, my hand on your neck
trying to comfort a fellow
broken souled dreamer

the times you would open
entrance awaiting and we both
sweat drenched chanting incantations
to remind us of heart scars
we hadn’t made yet

Do you remember?
of course you do
for me a time of cruel truths unsaid at moments
wishing I had the gall
to shape lips around phrases like
I never really loved you back
I let my lips lie elsewhere
I count our relationship a mistake

All the words that wound the spirit
Let’s be clear
I never had the guts or heart or lack of it
to break
might have heard those words from others
but never from me

You and I were fluent
ups and downs
teardrops and dial tones
terrible movies and hot tub hot boxes
attempting to smoke out the frigid cold
we were always stoned
two baked goods side by side
somewhere that was nowhere

 Far from invincible we would cut each other
with the jagged edges of our histories
then mix stories and tears like blood
becoming One
or at least an impression
of an image shared

You unfortunately
showed me what I didn’t want
always knowing you deserved someone better
left you in a ship on a sea that wasn’t mine
to sail
and watched you drift away


doug wilton ≈ WEEPAGE


pippa eli creek 2000


(or Music For Tears)


I admit it:
I have always been a weeper.
My grandma used to say my eyes were too close to my bladder
(which is hard to picture).

She herself was rather weepy, and for good reason, being an epileptic with a scarred lip (thrown from a horse when a child). A lonely woman in a rooming house in Toronto, she would journey north to connect with her son and grandkids but end up fighting with Mom and leave, weeping, on the bus to Hogtown.

The reasons for my weepage varied. Once, when a child, I looked at a drop of pond water under a microscope and saw that it was full of life. When I subsequently saw the pond iced over I thought of all the lives frozen in that ice and teared up a bit.

And I wept when the old man strapped me in the woodshed with his double-stranded razor strap. I would stand with arms raised and he would whip my body until I started to sob. Then he would reassure me that it hurt him more than me.

Mom never showed her tears. When she was a girl, she and her sisters would switch each other with willow wands to teach themselves not to weep or cry out. So she kept her tears inside and focused on the care of others. At the end I found her working in her bible with a pen. She said she was underlining every instance she could find of the phrase ‘loving kindness’.
My father only wept when he laughed too hard. But his main mode of emotional expression was rage.
His pa abandoned him and his mom to live on welfare in Winnipeg, in the thirties. At age 15 he rode the rails to Ontario, slept in hobo camps and worked as a day labourer, a wandering tough guy in Ontario, where he lived until he met my mom.

When my first lover ditched me I begged her, weeping, to change her mind. For a long time after I would imagine that I saw her on the street only to realize that it was someone else. I dropped out of school and became a lonely pilgrim. Then the psychedelic wave washed me through a sequence of hippie scenes and left me destitute, weeping openly, indifferent to the passersby, on the streets of Vancouver.

I wept a lot after Mom died. One time, stoned, I found myself gazing at a photo of her. Suddenly her image began to shimmer and dance. I held my breath until I realized that her movement was caused by tear mist evaporating from my glasses.

The term ‘weepage’ was coined by a fellow tree planter. When I told him that I had spent most of the day on the rainy mountain singing, howling and weeping, he said ‘Ah weepage.‘ Listening to the wolves sing around our camp at night cheered me up a bit.

Up till ‘85 or so I had only wept for myself but that year I found myself sitting by a tub in which a sick friend was trying to comfort herself and I started to cry with her. She was annoyed, but I think touched. At that moment I realized that I needed to be a true friend to someone, to her in fact, if I was ever going to become something more than a cold, lonely observer.

Sometimes tears take me by surprise, like (as my sailor brother once said) a line squall. I often think about the day I left Korea, where I had lived for five months with a small Korean family as an English tutor. On the way to the airport with the father I realized that I would probably never see them again and (to my keen embarrassment) I wept helplessly the whole way.

In spite of the sorrows of my youth I never contemplated suicide. As my old man liked to say, it’s a long road that has no turning. I knew that if I lived long enough something good would come to me. And it did. They did. She did.

But now I have something else to cry about: the realization that the one I love will someday die and the even worse realization that I may die first and leave her to go on alone without me. Just writing this brings tears. But they feel very good because they tell me that I am truly alive.

At an early age I learned that boys don’t cry and in order to avoid tears I learned to shut down the feelings that would ignite them. I became watchful of my dangerous heart and learned to distract myself with critical thoughts toward my father which led to a critique of authority in general and a quest to discover why we human beings allow ourselves to be ruled by men who are themselves ruled by anger and fear. Eventually I became a kind of cool, philosophical zenist, scornful of those who allow themselves to be ruled by their savage hearts and failing to see that mind is what matters.

But writing in my solitary rooms I usually play music in the background and I discovered that music could often unlock a deep well of unacknowledged sadness and love, bringing a light that revealed the still living heart of a wounded child. Finally I learned to let my heart child weep and rise from the darkness and walk openly in the world. Finally I came to understand that he is the best part of me, as important to my wholeness as my rational, analytical mind. But there are still times when that mind, with its incessant judgement of myself and others, drags me away from my heart into a cold, dry place. Then I need music to bring me to my senses and wash my eyes clear.

At this moment I am listening to Schubert’s Quintet in C, the second, Adagio movement. Written in the last weeks of his life, this is possibly the most beautiful love poem in the language of music, a poem without words but to my ears a song of deep and delicate love and the deep sadness that attends it because of the understanding that love is always enmeshed in confusion and mortality. The adagio is accented by a series of string picks that feel like teardrops falling, drop by shining drop, upon my heart. The best recording I’ve yet found is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtZgIKZ_jrw    If you want to skip the talk by Joel Krosnick you have to move the cursor to about the eight minute mark and wait for it to load, but it’s well worth the wait.

Another piece that moves me is Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34mNg12vg6Q
Here is what one war veteran said online, about hearing it used in the film Platoon:

I wasn’t in Viet Nam, I have been elsewhere. Still I can share those feelings when I‘m watching that movie. Did You recognise how music became more loud and people talk less and less all the time. That’s how it goes. When time goes, You don’t talk to another… and You feel if someone is watching You. Couple of second staring and they turn their head.
The real fight starts when You come back. World has change forever… It feels like You watching it threw window. You are outsider. Every day work feels pointless. If You are lucky You don’t see dreams during night. If You see, they all nightmare. And no one can imagine how does it feel to wake when You hear someone breething to You ear, and You are alone. Or how does it feel when You hear scratches and see shadows.
Music like this give power to believe goodness of people. It tell there can grow beauty from endless suffer, total disaster and after un-human behaviour. Love will win allways.
To me music like this gives a peace. …give me my tears…

Another piece I use (sparingly) is Jesus’ Love Never Failed Me Yet, a duet by Tom Waits where he accompanies the recorded voice of a London street tramp who simply sings:

        Jesus’ love never failed me yet,
        Never failed me yet, never failed me yet.
        Just one thing I know that he loves me so,
        Jesus love never failed me yet.

The man sings in quavering voice of absolute childlike innocence. When Waits first played the tape for his studio sound technicians he saw that they were soon reduced to silence and tears. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMZVZ5NBkpw

Other songs that come to mind: Allison Krause singing As I Went Down In The River To Pray. That song was beautifully used in the film Oh Brother Where Art Thou in a scene that shows all the simple hearted baptists walking thru summer trees down to the river.

and: Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling, Cynthia Clawson, vocalist. Music from the beginning and closing of the movie Trip To Bountiful (1985)

Winter Solstice can be a hard time for many of us, especially those who spend it alone. This is obviously why so many cultures bring on the light, feasting and general jolliness. I wish you all the joy and warmth the season may afford but if all else fails you might just try some of this musical medicine
and have a good cry.

Three of the above pieces are nominally Christian but I don’t identify with any named religion. There is a widespread religion of the heart, that has no name. It’s practised by people of all religions and none. Though it has no name it does have gods and goddesses: of love, wisdom, science, music, art and poetry. My personal favorite of those deities is the one I glimpse in the song Down In The River To Pray. The refrain goes

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good lord show me the way.

I have my thoughts about that good old way
which may well differ from yours but

my solstice wish in this dark time is
that you too will return
to the river and the child

who stands within your heart
robed in radiance and crowned with stars

and may that child indeed show you the way.





Daen Davidson ≈ exotic librarian




exotic librarian


he, or be it she,
loves the smell of dusty books
on shelves or on hooks
give them musty books

oh the subject inside,
could be a novel of spies
a recipe of lies
a country with no flies,

it ain’t about words

in the broken and the haunted
vapours of a cover
like a love, always close at hand,

the smelly and the sublime

nose that holds a pose
the exotic librarian swims
in the fine, and opens mirrors
of the books, both “hot off the press”

and the old linen covered story-holders

marked by hungry minds
spat upon by dying flies
give the composting, obnoxious and refine to
exotic librarians, they will find

a book for every temperament

angels and devils are all the same
to them, cause in the quiet of their riot
they love the rot of well worn rhyme

the cover and the spine are the exotic librarian’s wine

now i have met a few, of these spiced up
dictionarial persons, with their looking at the book
in hand, squeezing from their library soup
another humble stasis, as if in trace

but i can’t believe this humility

’cause in the back of their eyes
they are deeply attracted to the sound
of a book, the echoes of these feelings

arouse a passion in their bells

and they digest like a tiger

the desires
and the fever
of the reader


deanna reed ≈ the red shoes




We were just children. I was four or five and my sister, Joan, was eleven or twelve years old when we were informed by our parents that we were lucky kids to be able to take an exciting ride on a train to visit our grandparents’ farm for the summer. Before we had a chance to determine this luck for ourselves, our one small, battered, family suitcase was packed and we were at the train station being quickly helped up onto the steps of one of the giant, smelly boxes that was spewing a fog of steam and black smoke. Standing on the top step, our hands tightly clamped together, we both turned around – Joan to say her goodbyes, and me to say that I was thinking of changing my mind about this trip. But we saw no familiar faces.

      I realized, sadly, that I had been abandoned by my mom and dad into the sole care of my big sister, the designated and reluctant caregiver. And the very, very long 100 miles of this “exciting” train ride sounded like, “Deanna sit down. Deanna be quiet. Deanna be still and stop doing that!”
     After many stops which raised and dashed my hopes, we finally reached the one stop that was ours. I was never so happy to see Grandma there to meet us. I grinned from ear to ear when I saw her petite figure standing alone with that familiar smile on her small face, framed in her usual kerchief where miniature pin curls peaked through. In her print cotton house dress, lisle stockings, and brown Oxford shoes, she was the epitome of primness. I could feel her strength, however, when we assailed her with our loving bear hugs. Grandma picked up our suitcase, and together, we walked through the fields to the farm, following rocks that Grandma had painted white, so that we wouldn’t get lost when we walked back to Brown’s General Store located near the train station, to buy our many Grandma treats.
     Our vacation at the farm was filled with lots of fun things to do. Grandpa and Grandma kept us busy and entertained by playing on Grandpa’s newly erected swings, a very big one hanging from the branch of the old maple tree for Joan, and a smaller one attached to a wooden frame for me. When we were inside the farm house, we often braided the fringes on Grandma’s settee or listened to conversations on the multi-party line telephone box which was located on the kitchen wall. In the evening when he was finished his farm chores, Grandpa, with his thick, white, wavy hair, bushy white mustache, and pale blue smiling eyes, would sit in his rocking chair smoking his pipe. I would climb up on his knee, curl up and be entertained with stories until I fell asleep.
But the biggest event for me each day was waiting at the mailbox by the road for the mailman with high expectations of getting a letter from my mom. On one of these occasions, I remember  jumping up and down with sheer delight. My mom had sent us gifts. It was extremely rare to get anything new back in 1943. I tore open my parcel to find the most beautiful pair of red sandals in the whole world. I wore them everywhere, always reluctant to take them off even at bedtime.
 The next best part of visiting the farm was playing in the hayloft in one of Grandpa’s two barns which stood side by side, separated by a laneway wide enough for the horse drawn hay wagon to pass through. It kept us entertained for hours jumping and dropping and rolling around in the loose hay. Grandma whose job it was to clean us up afterwards from head to toe, of pieces of hay and who knows what else,didn’t seem to mind at all.
     One day while we were enjoying ourselves in the hay at the top half of one of the barns, we saw something flickering, something other than sunlight, through the cracks in the wooden slatted walls. Flames! We quickly raced down the ladder and ran screaming to our Grandpa who was just below us milking a cow. Grandma came rushing through the door. She quickly pulled us out of the barn. To my young mind, it seemed everything took place in slow motion. Grandma grabbed one of my hands and Joan the other one. They were yelling at me to hurry, running, and dragging me up the hill towards the farm house, over rocks and weeds and through cow pies. Then, the worst thing happened. Sadly, one of the cow pies sucked off one of my new red shoes. When I turned my head around, I saw my sandal had disappeared. It was then, the trauma of it all hit me and the tears started and the bawling began. I’d lost one of my new red sandals. And my world was in flames. After we got into the house, Grandma wrapped me in a blanket and placed me in her rocker. She started the chair rocking and told me to rock and pray. “Pray, Deanna, and don’t stop.” I only knew one prayer and so I began,” Now I lay me down to sleep, Now I lay me down to sleep and (sneaking in a whispered), God please save my sandal,” over and over and over.
     Outside, the quiet farm yard exploded with the voices of neighbours who had come from miles around. They began carrying buckets of water and forming a long line from the well to the house. Somehow, I noticed this and my young mind thought that they were throwing the buckets of water on the wrong building. But Grandma explained that they were trying to save the house from catching fire. Well, that started the tears and howling again. Still in tears, my hand was grabbed again and now, wearing my old rubber boots, Joan and I were whisked out of the farm house. We were led into the field along the white painted rocks away from the burning barns and told to stay there until it was certain the house was safe from the flames. And keep praying, of course. After what seemed like a very long and frightening time, Grandma finally rescued us from the field, back to the safety of the still standing farm house. By then, many of the neighbours had gone back to their own homes. The farm was quiet again and the sight of the still smouldering barns brought the sadness of the realization that there was a good possibility that we would never play in Grandpa’s hayloft again.
     I cried myself into an exhausted sleep that night. The next thing I remember, is that Joan and I were soon following the same white stones back to the train station for our trip home. I was carrying with me only one of my beautiful, new, red sandals, and listening to the familiar, “Hurry up, Deanna, stop dragging your feet and stop whining, we’re going to miss our train,” which we did.
 And that’s another story.         


ellen burt ≈ i am easily undone




I am easily come undone

a piece of clothing fastened with velcro

one size fits all

able to absorb too many times too much

I am weighted by the gown of receptivity, sensitivity,

blackness to repel you

softness to embrace you


a piece of velcro which winds about the neck, the chest, the heart

is easily pulled apart

my heart is easily ripped apart

I am dismembered from my chest in a kind of self arrest

from the crest of the blackness of self


I am a twin, a clone of all I adore

or a curtain to all I abhor

a curtain of black which can’t

be pulled back

a garb I can’t retract

a guard I can’t relax

I am alone but not alone in coming apart

see this tear across my heart.


I am a piece of clothing

not a shield and I am the one beneath the cloth

the elusive, hiding, squirming self

no one can find

and finding no one i am too tight, too soft, to clingy, too loose

never say too loose

too recluse but not too loose.

the others – loose jointed, unafraid

speak truth

I squeak at most


I am a cloth flung limp across the arm

I am, I think, in need of serious repair,

a pair of faded jeans,

white at the wrinkles, deep in the creases, holes in places,

patches in bright colours,

underneath, material, threadbare


I am barely hanging on, barely hanging in

a pair of jeans fitting too loose one day, too tight another,

a rag doll, mouth sewed shut, thick seam here.

I am sewed tight across the chest, the waist, the legs,

sometimes it’s hard to move in this body.



I’ve been washed too many times

becoming limp and hard to stay on anyone

hard to stay with any one


to hang together.

I am easily ripped apart.


Helen Blum ≈ gertrude stein + fire






Gertrude Stein sits in her parlour

in Paris, yes she does, yes she does,

surrounded by famous people.


She is a big woman, who likes you

if you don’t mention James Joyce.

You have to admire her,

or she won’t like you,

and if you disagree with her

she won’t like you.


She talks to the men,

the famous men.

The wives talk to Alice B. Toklas,

who is her lover, yes she is,

the one who prepares the meals.


Gertrude Stein is a big woman,

yes she is, yes she is.

She lives in Paris with her wife

and partner, Alice B Toklas.

She talks to the men and Alice

talks to the wives.


Gertrude Stein writes strings of

words that don’t make sense.

She calls them novels.


Gertrude Stein wears shapeless

clothes and sits in her parlour

in Paris with her pictures by



Yes she does.





I had no light or guide, but the

fire that burned inside my chest,

the fire that gave me no rest,

the fire that led me west,

the fire that changed my destiny.


While that fire burned I could

walk on hot coals and not feel a thing.

I could sing the secret songs of birds

and birds would come one by one, and

in swarms. Yes, the birds would come

in a great fluttering of feathers, and dance

in spirals around my head, around the flame

that was my head.


While that fire burned I had no words

only the song of birds, only the sound

of the sap that rises in spring trees,

only the roar of the fire that rose in me.


While that fire burned there was no light,

nor was there darkness, but the burning

in my chest would not let me rest.

I was deaf and blind and as alive

to kindness as a wildflower is to sun.


While that fire burned I could run to what

I loved and what loved me with no thought,

nor could I stop and even when I ran through water

the fire burned as if the water

was a wind that fanned it.


And when I came at last to the land

where the fire belonged,

 I could finally stand on the cool sand.

 I could finally stand.


November 2013 ≈ Number 26


cover 2013.indd


This issue of Elephant Mountain Online features Daen Davidson, Pippa Bowley, Radha Paula Neilson, Mark Mealing, Doug  Wilton, Kathryn Hartley and Josie Ahearn.

All of these writers appeared in the recent paperback edition of Elephant Mountain, our annual selection from the blog.

Now available in local bookstores!

There will be an open mic on Friday, November 29, at Booksmyth.

Time: 7:30 PM



Hey Slammers!! The next poetry slam will be executed on December 8, 7:00 pm, at John Ward Coffee shop!!

If you are poetic, literate, or just plain awesome, come and share your creations (and/or audience skills) with the loving and supportive crowd!! See you all there! 

Stay peachy.

(Keegan, for the Nelson Poetry Slam)



daen couch-davidson ≈ my mother was




A Sufi


in reality, can spin on the axles of reality, and see many different worlds

(these are pre-tech types, who still carry the spiritual gifts of wells of understanding,

they have been thru the ropes; they have no greed or lust, they are not easier

seduced by external situations, they understand why and what they are, mature beings)


having been brought up in the restaurant and bicycle repair business

and having lived in the apartment behind the shop with a fun loving

irish chef-dad, and pianist mum, my mother was a sufi


when i was born in the suburbs

i, always the slowest kid in the family

sitting for hours, watching trees and things

following ants home

having to memorize where i lived, by counting my foot steps

tall too soon

mum was so happy when i said, we did not have to go to my graduation


(she was not p.t.a, material; they wanted a type of conformity, a very competitive group of materialists, where one upman shit, and herd mentality reigned; she was the unknown factor, for many years, not surprising some well known poets in this city, have written about her, as the lucid beauty,
she could read a soul, with her white light, she helped so many lost souls, find a


she was not the pompous type, look at my house, ain’t i better then them,

my mother was geniunely kind, and wise, and never never bartered to the detriment of
her spiritual self; her beauty was real and deep, not a superficial covering, brassy
and ultimately empty; cruel from insecurity, that was not my mother

she never ever lost her dynity as a queen in the spiritual realm, and turned heads
from that natural glory


a highly incarnated soul, nothing to do with education, and the monkey business


my poor mother, would take a big belt of liquor

to get her thru the day, and on occasion sleeping on the kitchen

floor, when i was six, like a baby; perplexed and exhausted by my

strange inner world, talking to dogs and disappearing sometimes


forgetting where i was, did not realize that i had developed an

astral body, having incarnated from a tibetan monastery,

having been a very developed monk in my last life time

(i had strong, reflections of that, and did indeed study
tibetan buddhism, in a few groups)


it was only latter that a nephew who was big into physics

told me of the martial art form, called the drunkard

where the opponents fight, looking totally drunk

.one of the most difficult martial arts


and all those years, wondering why my mum

was a bit different
though her humour, and ability to tell jokes, irish, what do
you expect


was really a very developed martial art student; no wonder she
enjoyed the company of the chinese so much and them her


i also find great friendship with the chinese, we swim together,
personal history, is nothing to them, only the now


when she moved from the suburbs
(i became myself telepathic at ten, and a straight A student,
because i could see the answers, in the air, coming from a long
line of ancient seers; i was always sleeping in class, and my teacher
would ask me a question, and i would wake up knowing, in retrospect
i was in a lucid state, unlike other students who were frothing at the
bit with nervousness, i felt deep compassion for their inability to understand

partly why i became a teacher)


my esoteric teacher affirm this, years later, saying i communicate with natural spirits, irish what to do

i come from a long line of illuminated idiots, in the sufi tradition

where the future, comes faster at you, then the past

idiot means knower in sufi terms, often being able to not get caught
in the projects of others


the metropolis is where she was happy, a tavern dweller in sufi lingo

storytelling and mingling with many different types, not defined by
house, or income, the poets world, of allegory and symbolism, where
the lucid ones live, the real seers

she was an artist in the kitchen, and garden

she could mingle with the races

with the grace of a swan

and was so loved


for her smile, people asked, are you afraid to get

cancer, and she always with a surprised laugh,

knowing herself, said no..in a very musical way,

she knew that she was too loved to go down that road

she thought it was a totally absurd question


always up for a story and a laugh, my mother was a sufi


i am learning now the martial art

of the drunkard, and surprised

maybe its incarnation, i came in knowing it

it is not at all difficult

and surprisingly when i am out walking

whatever is coming at me(if i sense negetive energy)

moves away quickly

with a look of respectful fear


in my drunkard performance(they fear what
looks unbalanced to them, which is exactly
the point)

also being a professional potter
for 20 years, the centre, is second nature to me

i can go off, and get on, my mother was a sufi


no wonder my mum, had such a laugh,

but never ever, to the ignorant
she would never challenge the honest people

it is hysterically funny

leave it to the chinese

to create such a simple

and yet effective means

of terrifying aggressors.

and pretty repulsing types
(repulse monkey)

of humans, that possibly

may cause extreme boredom

the ones propped up, for big

events, that yell read me, read me


and i, i just want to

stay small, and have tea

and linger in the non event

areas, tired of the hypes

and manifestations

sometimes nothing

is wonderful




kathryn Hartley ≈ patterns





Patterns, rhythm, predictability.
These things call to us with a power as primal as breath;
soothing, smoothing the random chaos
swirling in the maelstrom.
If there is no pattern we try desperately to impose one:
connect the dots and believe they form a recognizable shape;
line up random facts and force them to make some sense
where none exists;
create tenuous threads to hold our world together
even as it shreds beneath our fingertips.
We need the patterns.
Our brains require those facts to line up like little soldiers in a row.
We want to know
that the ripples spiralling outward from a droplet on smooth water
will keep on forming perfect circles, ever larger circles,
forever to the shore.
We revere the sacred labyrinth at Chartres, France.
We walk the mystical pattern said to heal the soul,
following that mathematically perfect trail
of loops ever folding back upon themselves
one upon another until you wind your way
to the centre of the universe
and back again to the beginning of all life.
Magic made of stone, made of patterns
all in satisfying balance.
All illusion.
Madness lies within the random wildness
of our world,
a world that makes no sense to our linear brain.  
There are no reasons,
no master plan, no meaning.
It happens because it does; that’s all.
We cannot stand back far enough to see
that chaos is the pattern.




josie ahearn ≈ sound of the crow


October jpegs-05217




How long has it been since I lay

Watching clouds overhead

Listening to silence broken only

By wind dancing with jack pines

And sound of the crow circling

To speak of sacred laws

And of walking softly on this earth.


Radha Paula Neilson ≈ Poems From a trip to quebec






Front Porch Mornings



I have become a fixture here

on my mother’s front porch

mornings wrapped in layers and prayers

coffee cup in hand

neighbours wave

walking children to school

dogs on leashes

I watched green leaves turn yellow

brilliant in the sun

trees now skeletons

leaves displaced

from their branches

as I am

from my world



Hawks Lost


I had forgotten about the wind here

howling through narrow window openings

powerful enough

to slow a person’s walk

bend trees to breaking point

This morning the clouds rush

across the sky, grey on grey

The hawks have not returned

their dead trees

no longer stand

unsafe, with the wind in suburbia

a woodpile all that remains

I miss the hawks’ company

their call

that returns me to myself


Pippa Bowley ≈ to show you i see you ≈ she is






I want to walk forever

in this forest

gazing at the tapestry

of each trunk of tree


I want to weave as you do



with light, lichen bark

pattern, story,

wound, growth, peeling

grey, silver, silver-green

flocks of flecks, spots, specks,

spores, maps, coils,

whole starry skies


I want to be weaving

as you do


with my human words,

my songs,


to show you

I see you

I will weave as you do


I will be as much

as I am

as much as I can


to show you

I see you



SHE IS (Argenta’s place spirit)


The day she pushes through my face,

cracking my skin,

the yellow sun

cannot burn the mist away.


It is She,

tugging down my mask

with her fallen, wrinkled face.


Her cheekbones drawing my cheekbones back,

stretching my mouth

into the grin that holds all sadness.


It is She

who is pushing through my bones,

She who is

trapped in the mountain’s stone.


She pushes through

what solid mass blocks memory:

this bone and flesh idea

of separation.


Remember, she tells me,

how much you know.

Remember, she tells me,

how large you are



I am home.


The tallest fir is silent

beside the yellow sun.



doug wilton ≈ another day in Paradise




Another Day In Paradise


Dedalus Beat came to the conclusion that he had died

and was living in heaven

he had always wanted to live in a real world

where real people led their outwardly ordinary lives

so his heaven appeared as a perfectly ordinary

tho beautiful place


where he lived and died in his sleep and

woke up again and again

mostly unaware of his immortality

unaware that he had lived before Before

and would live after After

in worlds whose only link was the resonance

of dreamers dreaming the same dream.


He learned that most of the townsfolk believed

that they had not died but were still living

normal lives on earth

where they sometimes walked around innocently

saying to passersby, Good morning and

Another day in Paradise, eh?


They were folk who had always known

that life would be better in places that

looked and felt and sounded

like the soughing of wind thru mountain pines or

the curious language of crows.

Everyday they woke up from somewhere else

as they were absorbed into a different bundle

of embodied or disembodied dreams.


Gradually he came to understand that everyone who dies

ends up as one of the citizens of Aspenorth and its

connecting valleys and he wondered how many recognized

the true identity of the place.

Failing to see that many plunge into yet another mortal

life and death in heaven

but later they show up on Baker Street as some new visitor 

who thinks he is just stopping for a day or two

until he starts to realize that he has always been here

and that this is where he will always be.


Dedalus himself had gone away to FarWest and Iberica

but in reality the places he explored

were all within the multifarious precincts of heaven.

And he realized that he had never been elsewhere

than in heaven and all there is to do when you discover

that you have always been in heaven is rejoice and try

to keep those who walk raving in their sleep

from hurting themselves and each other.

They sometimes sense that the angels are among them

but seldom realize that they themselves are always

in the realm of angels.

Then one day they wake up at

an unusual altitude of wakefulness

and begin to realize the truth about life and death

and the true name of the world.


And the wider they wake the more they see

that each soul they meet is a kind of angel.

There are several kinds but i will just mention here

the recording angel 


who visits the sleepers with his book

and notes under each one’s name

whether she or he is fast asleep

or still dreaming

and looks down

into the haunted or innocent eyes

of those who are just waking up.



October 2013 ≈ Number 25


cover 2013.indd




WE LAUNCH THE 2013 / 2014 issue of
















Doug Wilton ≈ the problem with i


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The Problem With i


Why i am not contained between my hat and boots.


Where exactly in my body am i?

I could lose my fingers, limbs and still have a sense of I.

I could have my brain transplanted into another body and still have a sense of I.

So many humans would say I am my brain.

But a brain without eyes, ears, a mouth, the ability to communicate and feel bodily sensation and emotion, is a brain without a complete sense of personhood.

If it does have a sense of I or self it is a very diminished one.


While we’re in the brain, consider memory.

People with extensive memory loss have a diminished sense of self.

If I don’t remember what I have been and done, it’s as if that person no longer exists.

Universally a person thinks of herself as a body with a story.

The story limits her but also tells her what she is.

Without it she has to let other people tell her what she is.


In the future perpetrators of serious crimes will have their memories erased and replaced with new memories of a more socially acceptable life they will then be released from hospital to a new social context in which they will lead acceptable lives. But someone within each of them will struggle to remember what he or she was and is. So dramatic conflict between the old and new self/life.


Our sense of what we were is integral to our sense of what we are.

Yet we often say the past is gone as if the I that am were not a living record of the I that was.

Someone observed that the past is not really past because it stands present in every cell of my body waiting for the next shipment of oxygen, protein or sugar.

It is when the past is not the focus of present attention but stands fully present behind it, focussed on the sheer fact of existence, that I am most consciously alive.

at the edge of the great divide between all that was and all that is coming to pass.

The fully present consciousness is focussed on the actual moment of change but that focus includes the changing counsel of memory. Is fully present consciousness the true self?


Am I the flame or the candle?

An unlit candle is like a body that is dead or unconscious.

But the flame by itself cannot be imagined

unless the candle were darkness itself,

an ocean of dead matter that

burst into flames of life in living things,

an ocean of sleep that bursts into consciousness.

Still the flame needs fuel.

It’s unreasonable and misleading to assert that the self is only the flame

and not the lamp of the body that supports it.

It’s only aesthetically and rationally valid to say that I am at least: consciousness, brain and body.


But if we are abolishing irrational exclusions within the body, we are also abolishing irrational exclusions from self in the space around the body. We must remember that the exclusions between selves in interbody space, tho they manifest as physical and social exclusions, are primarily in the minds of the excluders.


It’s easy to see that consciousness, brain and body are inseparable parts of the self because they are obviously an organic unity.

Human beings have universally manifested a need to feel that the individual self is also an organic part of a larger organism, a larger self.

Obvious examples are my family, especially my children.

In cultures who have not yet been divided into independent nuclear units, the sense of family as extended identity includes extended family, clan and tribe.

The tribe then reaches out into the space around itself seeking unity with an even larger entity.

Inevitably some tribes will find that passion for unity with (and the protection of) a larger entity will lead them to believe that they are the children of a celestial mother/father with a pantheon of celestial cousins like Norse gods or Celtic fairies or the hierarchy of saints and angels who administer the limited celestial and earthly kingdom of a tribal god (like that of many Christians, whose domain excludes Hell and its miserable inhabitants). The Jews have a god whose domain includes Hell and a Satan who is not the exiled Anti-God but only a rather busy servant of the One whose domain is all of Creation.


I feel no need to discuss the provenance of religious documents or fairytales or to doubt the intensity and certainty of people who convinced by the hunger of their need to set their feet solidly on a sure path to a heaven, however vague or specifically imagined. Perfumed palaces, magical gardens, 72 virgins, 9 muses, 8 gods of the week (1 spare for weeks with hidden days), god of each hour, goddess of hearth kitchen garden love, playful maiden, mother and lover of all desire, warrior Queen and wise crone.

People feel a natural need to communicate with their gods, for some it’s a daily practice, for others a less frequent summons. For some the god is only a muffled voice, for some a small and quiet voice,

for some its not a voice at all but only the sound of wind, a stranger music that sometimes passes by.

For some the gods appear like chimerical beasts for others they are more like aliens or natural human beings who are also charged with mental and physical energy, luminous robes, volcanic heat.


Whether the gods are made of atoms or dreams or brown sugar is not my concern. Tho i think they are all of the above, since the food or medicine we eat affects our thoughts and perceptions. If perception on the other hand could shape matter we could turn a rock into a peanut butter sandwich just by looking at it.

Perception does change rock into bridges and walls. It conceives a transformation of ore into a golden ring or wood into a house, of dream into words, words into minds that dream their mutations of the dream that dreamed these words.

So we could abolish the imagined exclusion of perception from the realm of shaping matter. Perception and thought /words move muscle on the bones of an exquisitely organized embodiment of myriad metabolisms. And sometimes that city within feels entirely separate from the external city of which the thinker is a tiny inner organ.


Identification: writer as a specialized cohort of areas in the brain that mediate reason, thought and speech and the small cohort of technical skill need to type or ride a pen.

What is it about writing that enables it to magically, arouse a world of recognizable characters whom we naturally love or hate (or both)?

Writing can allow us to perceive other worlds and lives so engagingly that we may be moved to help, to visit or to shun them. We may be encouraged in our ignorance about others or have it diminished by the truth of fiction, the voice of Things As It Is.

Words lie at the very heart of the problem with people, which is the problem of identity,

because words can poison relations between us or heal them.

Poisonous words and thoughts limit the extension of identity, causing the collective milk to curdle into separate individuals and groups.

Healing words replace the poison and, in time, the perceptions they encode will enlighten and enliven society as a whole.


Healing will mean a complete dissolving of unnecessary barriers between persons. No one else can eat my breakfast, sleep in my bed or think my thoughts but these very words are clear evidence that minds can overlap, in a small space and for a little time, and be two parts of a larger mind. Writing can enlarge the sense of I to include all who read and understand it and more tenuously, tho still solemnly, I include all who may independently come into the good harbour of this understanding.

This good harbour is also the bosom of Compassionate Wisdom, in its multifarious bearers.

The joyful throng around the throne on which nothing sits but the weight and light

and darkness of pure and undivided,

nameless, faceless

bodiless and mindless,

all accepting,

all inclusive


The flame of consciousness as pure attention is

wonderful but, again,

self is both flame and candle.


So words can abolish all inner exclusions, expanding the self to include present or potential readers

and all who participate anonymously by independently arriving at the covenant of the cosmic vision that gave rise to the words.

The outer limits of attention and self are found at the interface between the orb of attention and the forms which impinge and are received as smells, shapes, colours, sounds, tastes, impressions of weight and texture, of heat, cold, humidity or dryness.

Attention also receives images from memory and imagination and attends

to the feelings which memories, thoughts and words arouse.

‘Tis in that caldron of feeling, memory and thought that the next thought, word or action will draw attention to itself and begin to move our innocent mouths and limbs.

To speak and act in the world like honey or vinegar, to help identity to continue to flow, to be received by all willing hearts and minds.

Until, perhaps, a collective self evolves that is intelligent and powerful enough to draw a dying universe back and down thru an infinitessimal point where it turns itself inside out and is reborn as an the next universe, a finite/infinite infant, all shiny and new.


But an oak tree is just an acorn’s way of making more acorns and such a god would be just another way that both small and unlimited selves make more small or limitless selves, universe after universe, acorn after acorn, god after god.


Infinite Child


When i was a child i heard that parallel lines meet at infinity.

Poetry and philosophy also meet here.

The only question that must be asked is how

to wake from the illusion

that i am only finite

how to wake to the perception

that i am each and every interim, interstice

emanation, inference and apprehension

eyelash and wrinkle, roar and tinkle

how to wake to things as you are

and where in all of that is the sense of self

how to wake to the paradox

that sense of self is usually the sense of a limited self

but sense of infinite self is no sense of separate self

but often a sense of an absence


is that a key?

My sense of an absence can make me a hungry ghost

constantly trying to fill the hole somewhere inside

or to at least temporarily soothe the ache of emptiness


a writer has two options

he can paper that emptiness over with wonderful words

building a thick carapace of speculation, argument, lies

and useless information about everything under the sun

but the means to free himself from his fear of the sun

and everything underneath it


the body’s natural wariness is the seed of separate self

but wariness can become awareness

and awareness can become aware of infinite self

which is no separate self

which is felt as a sense of perpetual absence

think of it as a fading scar

in the skin of heaven


Mary Ann Carlton ≈ the problem with people


October jpegs-05180


I write to express my inner visions that usually come from a place outside myself. We write to be free from all the social, economical and political structures that keep us conquered and divided; yet writing brings us together in another form. The problem with people is quite simple we have to many of preaching the latest new age ga ga when we all need to sit down shut up and listen to the inner voice. We all want answers while most lay within; but we do have a global system that projects fear and anger into the pit of our soul. We want to change it, we all have the answers do we not. The revolution is inside us not out there, it is when we are of right thinking and doing when change occurs. There is a generation genus in the making lets hope they will overcome the barriers and b.s. There are one billion fractals of human’s on this planet each one stuck in their story or self identity; believing that we are special. When we scale all manifestations down to a lowest common denominator of love we will then have a new frequency. Keeping in mind we are programed conditioned and conformed by design, this will take time to change if at all.

There is nothing more tantalizing than a good read, walk in nature, one or two great friends and a warm community. Community is something that has been replaced by television, computer games and cheap gossip. What is wrong with people; nothing when we see the larger picture because it us who are the cause of our own suffering, and if we believe that we are the ones we have been searching for all along then it is time to shine. Collective consciousness is nothing more than a new group, a new fad, a passing moment in time. Masses of frustrated confused people, what did we expect? Clean good laughter is so important for the mind body and soul, yet is rarely expressed because we have become the puppets to a never ending abyss of elitists agenda.

Self proclaimed healers, medicine prophets, contaminating the whole as most are intoxicated in self importance, missing the mark. The biggest problem with people is they do not know how to share, really, truly share, let me tell you we better either jump on board or jump off to save the precious resources that do exist for what is here, now, and for the future.

No time to waste or hesitate, live life to the fullest, be true to your self, celebrate each moment as if it were the last!



Volker M ≈ comment on identity project


October jpegs-05211


s’kuse me if I butterflishly project my naught all too holy proboscis into this untidy little scene; but did naught, at several stages, the very nose ringed queen of poesy once plead to naught bleed the gesture dry, ose



daen davidson ≈ the big heart

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i am amazed that the heart and mind, come together in the process of writing poetry..sorta like the Buddhist monks and Chinese brush painter, i am revealed to myself, and my curiosity and sense

of harmony, play, joy, love connects with the big heart called social communication…and i make

such deep and long lasting friends thru it…and i make friends with myself…which to me,

it is all mystery… unraveling, and esoteric; i think having been a student of gurdjieff work for many years, all about feeding different part of yourself…and not getting to obsessed with one center..

poetry the emotional center, to me the essence of surrealism…allows those impressions that

don’t let go, to be introduced again again…because we just don’t know as humans, what is

talking to us, in the spirit….the future seems to call thru poetry; and paradoxes are understood…

and like a crow, or a hummingbird, humans make sounds; to express how life is touching them…

i loved it since, i memorized the children hour by longfellow, and tagores work….

mybe i accumulate poems like a possession…but damn alot of people, have glint something of

worth in my work…and like my paintings that hang everywhere…it is a pleasure to make other

people happy; in honesty i am not much of a plumber, though i want to be…nor a super cook…

like master chefs….so i do what comes natural…put it on the table…and as they say, it is all crow

droppings…and i fine with that…

as long as whales and horses exist…those kind of wonders, i am aware of my humaness…

and what can you do…..but work with ya got.

tks doug for asking, and running my work….i love elephants almost the most.


Sept 2013 ≈ Number 24


taghum park-05084 

Welcome to Elephant Mountain.

Issue 24 features Mark Mealing, Doug Wilton, Daen Davidson, Phil Mader and Tom Hardy.

Feel free to join the circus. Send your verse or creative prose, flash stories, postcard novels, either as an attachment (word, Google doc, or direct email) to doug@elephantmountain.org


We also welcome writers & readers of any age or genre to our

OPEN MIC AT BOOKSMYTH. Each reader can read up to nine minutes of prose or verse or just listen and enjoy congenial conversations, tea and snacks.

Next Open Mic Friday Sept 27, at 7:30 pm

Photo: the editor, just after having laid our new floor. Still had to screw the boards down and oil them. This, combined with working on our annual journal, was the main reason there was no August issue.


Tom Hardy ≈ Fold ‘Em Stunt


taghum park-05114




Supererogatory was the instruction playing the mood

sweeping with bravura wet gravel.

If the individual rolled a boulder-sticky mote

beside the point and over the note muttering

with security. Problem of the dream in the appearance.

Rejoice: walls flung against black transparent bars. Voice:

the inextinguishable theory of de-oxygenated souls

blacking out at the mouth and grabbed quotable

beautiful pulverized place much extant

in the guidebooks scrambled slopes.


July 2013 ≈ Number 23


mist lake stones * 2170


Welcome to Elephant Mountain.

Issue 23 features Mark Mealing, Leannah Riah Fidler, Doug Wilton, Daen Davidson, Margaret Hornby and Clayton McCann.

Feel free to join the circus. Send your verse or creative prose, flash stories, postcard novels, either as an attachment (word, Google doc, or direct email) to doug@elephantmountain.org EACH YEAR WE MAKE A SELECTION OF THESE SUBMISSIONS FOR OUR INK AND PAPER JOURNAL ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN REVIEW.

We also welcome writers & readers of any age or genre to our

OPEN MIC AT BOOKSMYTH. Each reader can read up to nine minutes of prose or verse or just listen and enjoy  congenial conversations, tea and snacks.

Next Open Mic Friday August 9, at 7:30 pm