Poetry Advent Calendar

Welcome to Day 25 of this poetic advent calendar – a non-chocolate, non-saccharine look at the closing of the year.  My website is threatening to shut down until I can allocate more memory to it, so I am avoiding an image with this post and crossing my fingers, hoping I can breathe in tight and make it.If you’re reading this, we made it!  Happy Christmas and a lovely message from Sherry Marr, with image by her sister Lori.





For any person with who has experienced the cruelty of extreme age or dementia, today’s startlingly beautiful and stark poem will hold great meaning. Tina Biello expresses one of those emotional moments that so many of us have felt. Tina is a published poet living in Nanaimo.

Untitled Glosa

She is looking at no one.
You think she feels your skin
as moonlight falls across your shoulders?
She feels nothing.
-Lorna Crozier, Angel of the Moon

The Gentle Care Wing at five a.m.
on Christmas morning
is as quiet as the deep forest
blanketed in snow.
Slow and sure the creatures rise,
as the first light dawns.
You creep down the hall to the
seventh door on the right, peer in.
Mom is sitting, alert as a fawn,
She is looking at no one.

You step into her gaze.
She stares straight ahead,
ponders the wall.
You sit at the foot of her bed, sing.
Tu scendi dalle stelle.
Italian Christmas notes stir.
The fawn begins to see
her immediate surroundings:
window, pointsettia, bed. You touch her hand,
You think she feels your skin

but you are not sure.
Try not to think.
Her hands,
a familiar song.
Yet somehow this room
plays tricks with you.
The light, the objects,
the lack of sound, your mother.
She keeps on sitting
as moonlight falls across your shoulders?

Nothing is certain anymore.
Is it moonlight of the night gone by
or daylight of a day to come?
You give up, sit.
Hold your mother’s hand
as the light begins to pour in.
She smooths your hand
as if petting a cat.
Mom, Buon Natale,
She feels nothing.

copyright Tina Biello


Day 23: by Shirley Langer, has the feel of a New Year’s resolution. It echoes the frustration we feel at the fact that longing, in itself, is not enough to make the world a better place.




Day 22: Janice Lore wrote this poem as a simple paean to Solstice. Clear cold winter days hold a special magic for those of us who live on the usually-wet west coast. Janice is a member of the Clayoquot Writers’ Group and her long poem, Ipsissima Verba, was published in book form by Leaf Press.



Day 19:  Sharon Lingenfelter submitted this poem – about which she says: “Obviously I was working for a big company when I wrote this…”     Click to enlarge.




Day 20:    As we reach the shortest day of the year, the darkness shines with its own light.



Day 19: Here’s a little bit of fun, inspired by the local crow mafia.





Day 18: The holidays are so deeply associated with those we love, which makes them bittersweet when family and friends are no longer with us. This haiku, Remembering Mum, is a propos of my mother’s birthday, which would have been today. It is by my brother, Mike Streetly 



Day 17: Janis McDougall of Tofino shares a memory of angels at work in her realm.




Day 16: Anna Eastland shares her poems, photos, and ponderings on her blog Just East of Crazy Land: Adventures in Parenting and recently published her first book, Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood. She has 6 kids here, and one in Heaven, and is busy homeschooling. (Important context for the sense of exhaustion in this poem!)



Day 15: Love As Well As Gifts is written by Halifax’s former poet laureate Tanya Davis. I’m going to break with tradition (or at least with the pattern of the last 14 days!) and instead of posting words here, link to this exceptional poem. Don’t miss it!


Day 14: Today’s poem is about Nukmiis, the late Chief Bob Martin Senior – someone whose gentle humour and patient ways I often find myself missing. In the lead-up to the climate convention in Paris, I also found myself wondering what it would have been like to be in his shoes, experiencing such radical changes of culture, environment and technology during one lifetime.



Day 13: Beset by storms on the west coast this week, we are feeling winter’s fury.



Day 12: Ursula Vaira of Leaf Press writes: “A gift can lift you right out of your life—in an instant you are transformed. Sometimes the one who gave the gift has no idea what just happened. I should have written this poem to thank her about 15 years ago.”
Ursula lives in Lantzville on Vancouver Island. She writes and paddles, both in good measure. Her poetry book is called And See What Happens.


Day 11, the first airlift of government-sponsored refugees arrived in Canada – their faces shining with joy and relief. The collective emotion spilled over, reaching even my quiet floathouse.     (Click to enlarge.)



Day 10’s spacious and quiet poem pays tribute to the kingdom of snow. Jacqueline Cameron has had the good fortune of living on the west coast, in the Rockies, on the prairies, in the Kootenays, and in the Yukon – places of great beauty and vitality. These transformative landscapes inform her writing. Click to enlarge


Day 9: how to make sense of our conflicted human relationship with trees? We are alive because of them. We worship them, yet we destroy them; destroy them to worship them. Go figure. Here’s a little haiku about my Christmas tree, one  I love a little more everyday. Click to enlarge



Day 8 is by Sheila Peters, who lives and writes in Driftwood Canyon just outside of Smithers. Her latest venture is The Bathymetry of Lax Kwaxl, a chapbook of sonnets coming out from Leaf Press in February. To find out more about Sheila’s work, go to www.sheilapeters.com

Click on image to enlarge



Day 7:  Heather Streetly sends a haiku (plus photographic proof!) of her summer-pink
advent garden volunteer.                                                 Image and poem Heather Streetly


Day 6:  If the sun— is a poem that could only have emerged during the darkest days of winter.

Day 5 is  by a fellow Clayoquot Writer and friend, Janis McDougall, beautifully evocative of December.

Day 4 is by Caroline Woodward, an award-winning author and friend, whose most recent book Light Years is a warm and wonderful memoir about life as a lightkeeper at Lennard Island.Caroline writes this about her poem:
This is a Mathnavi in the Mutagarib metre, a Persian poetic form which I picked to honour the long journeys made by Syrian refugees to flee the genocide perpetrated on civilians there. Thank heavens Canadians are stepping up, even in small villages like New Denver, to open their homes, hearts, schools and peaceful places to work and to worship in this country of so many refugees over the centuries. For this form, there are rhyming couplets, with twenty-two syllables in each line, which is then divided in two hemstitches of eleven syllables with a rhythm/beat of: ~// ~// ~// ~/

 Click on the image for full viewAdventCarolineRevisedJPG

Day Three – about angels. Unlikely ones



Day 2: the gladness of stars



Poetry Advent Calendar December 1st – The Journey