Prompt 12: in between

in between

“it’s in between,”

they said

when I asked where the centre is in this wandering in wonder

but I don’t know if I know what that really means.

is it the light

or the dark?

or neither

or both?

or all?

all…in those eyes…watching out for me

holding me

in between.

r. l. elke

Prompt 11: all of it

all of it


tilt your head

view this place with soft eyes.

see it?

it’s the place we began:

the womb of our Mother,

soft and warm like a sweat lodge door.


are we arriving (ni-maaja*)?

or departing (dgoshin)?

or returning (bskaabi)?


many say it’s all of them

and none of them.

(c)r. l. elke

*these words are in the language of my Ancestors: Nishnaabemowin

prompt 10: I remember in highways

I remember in highways

what is love

but remembrance

and I remember in highways…


in moments on lines,

like beads moving on thread,

strung to make pictures from pixels of glass.


I remember in fragments of myself,

in pointillist pops of colour against light –

stained glass memories of sun on shuddering leaves

in hot, August winds

who had forgotten how to weep

until September arrived.


these longings

these recollections of highways,

like sutures,

binding pieces of me

to all those open flaps of wonderings,


of wanting –

anchor me to the spaces between re-membering


longing to completely forget.


when I land “there” –

in these moments of recognising myself

against the backdrop of forgetting why I wanted to know me –

I pretend to ignore the pain in my ankles,

from the impact of the landing,

I feel only gratitude for the journey…



maybe a little loneliness, too,

for the pieces of me I had to leave when I arrived.


that’s always the bargain

when we remember in highways:

the place never leaves without you.


r.l. elke

Prompt 9: preservation



hands stained with beet juice

reminds me of Granny,

learning at her elbow

how to pickle all those veggies needed for winter

from the days she learned from her granny

when her father would bring elk to the house

to feed the family,

guts in buckets for the wild ones,

jacket smelling of smoke from roll-your-owns,

hiding the smell of blood with cinnamon

baking with apples.


these days,

the ruddy dye brings a tremor to my heart

to recall her and how much I miss her.

(c) r. l. elke




Prompt 8: this fire

if i hold a light to this fire,

will the ones who keep me safe see me here,

by this fire light?


I breathe into the light of all the Star people,

living in the medicine that they love me, too.


if i hold a light to this fire,

will my fire be there, too?

(c) r. l. elke



prompt 7 Viator: surrender


I thought I knew love

when I was younger

in the days before life and death

wrote my life like a soap opera.


in all those deus ex machina moments

I thought I knew love locked in the mysteries of trust or blindness

where the universe cared about me enough

to keep me from knowing everything.


I tripped along heavy footed,

smashing little toes under crushing steps.

I thought I knew love

when hands reached out to steady me.


so many times I find

I know nothing

when I think I know everything

’til I thought I knew love.


these days I pray for lighter steps,

for hands less grasping and hungry,

for humility before the unknown to teach me

I thought I knew love.

(c) r. l. elke

prompt 6: edge of the world

edge of the world


“here there be witches and dragons,”

they said

with their rotten-breathed words-

rumpled, boney fingers digging into paper images

too faded to read.


I know their imagination is duller than their one good eye:

they can’t see the possibility of wonder

or mystery

or whatever, truly hangs there:

on the edge of the world

spilling words from amphorae

like honey

and sticking to everything all the way down.

(c) r. l. elke

prompt 5: questions


crocus is the first flower of spring,

unless you count snowdrops…depending where you live

i guess

like this place

centred in light from trees longing to be outside again

not trapped in this bar(ren)eness of whatever was left behind

to be gathered up,

witnessed by the (w)holes in the spaces around us leaking wires

and li(n)es meant to keep us present long enough

to love the piles of spring in the centre.

(c) r. l. elke


prompt 4: musings on light

musings on light

how could they know?

this glimpse into the heart of us-

a window to the places warmer

than who you are to me now,

in the chapel of our discontent…

your discontent…

my in ability to be what you needed me to be

for you to be who you could never be

so we could agree on nothing.


all these glowing meditations on…

maybe on light but nothing else…

chokes me with splinters

where words once breathed

and smelled of winter.


(C) r. l. elke



prompt 3: this burning mess

The 20 little poetry projects

this burning mess

breath is life

small red berries see in the dark

the white-hot light of these end-of-days summers

filling my mouth with ash.


now all I smell is burning

when I worry about the future

and I long to run to the water to cool my raging skin

or taste the silence of all those screaming trees Bezos and Musk can’t hear

in California

or the Cayman Islands

or Mars.


our breath is killing us in our sleep

while we wait for someone else to fix the problems we’ve created.


these companies are all going green to save the planet

because, they say,

liquid natural gas does not come out of the ground…

the exquisite pile of lies

making me shove my thumbs in my eyes so deep

I am now deaf,

the silence slicing through me.

“she’s mojo,” they said,

“the one who brings water to fire in

rippling, glass buckets.

this madness will end in the squishing of mud between our toes!


the trees are calling while they run around screaming

with their hands on fire.

(C) r. l. elke



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