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Sample Poems by Bettina Barrett


Walking between worlds
has got to be the most difficult
balancing act
would take years of practice
and the earlier one got started
the sooner those worlds would
stay in place, right?
I'd hate to see them collide
or otherwise take off into
who knows where.

As for the balancing act itself
is it done on grass or
the sidewalk inside the house
or on the trail to the top
of that mountain?
Also, how many worlds
are we talking about here?
Two three six or seven?

I've seen jugglers doing ten or more
but that's a feat rarely successful.

While I've been trying
to figure all this out
the veggies steaming in the pot
on my stove have been cooked
to death. So much for my own
two worlds . . .

Thinking like an Adult

(in the words of The People)

Multi-year-old ice is blue and solid, he says.
The breaking of ice started back in the seventies.
The land is thawing. Ponds disappear.
Glaciers have melted. Rivers flood
and their banks collapse.
Bridges are unsafe. "Have to cross
by boat now," he says.
Just mud and gravel.

Now bears and ravens are
everywhere. Can't have caches anymore.
Bears find and eat our meat.
It's not safe to be out alone,
to pick berries by yourself.

The sun has moved. The earth tilted.
We see the changes, where sun rises
and sun sets. Stars are not
in their right places. Winds come
from the east, not north. From the south
comes the pollution.

The bears here are
tampered with by outsiders.
Bears are sensitive to sound. To touch.
Helicopters hover. When collared,
bears can't hunt as well.
These scientists and biologists know
only what is in their books.
We are the hunters. We live here.
We are The People. We know
and see what's happening. This world
needs to think like an adult.

Wings into the Now

She lives here
the one who answers calls
of wind and weather
of mountains and the waves' roar
the one who speaks out
not knowing fear
the one who sings a voice
that polishes stone
caresses a just-opened flower
fills the ear of a listener
who stops in midstride
to meet what is alive

there's never been a taming
of this she lurks
out of sight sharpens the hunger
like any wild beast
on the hunt for prey
with a strong heart she moves
follows longings tamped down
by strangers' feet
still her eyes shine echo the moon
and whenever the call comes
she rises flares
on wide wings


To be present at the dawn
of each morning at the first
peeling back of curtain
barely a finger's touch
upon the sense of sight
that fleeting glimpse of change
giving birth to the day
and its on-going

never enough time given
to catch hold of this moment
and let it be just
what it is
a there-ness barely caught
inside my eye

I light sage from the mountain
watch its ember glow walk
the threads of smoke
around my prayers
beginnings that rise
from the heart's center
in such holding to be alive