Where I come from

Posted in Uncategorized on November 9th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment


the land extends mile after mile

empty of man, wild

Indian horse herds graze

undisturbed, two loons exchange

their quavering calls falling

through the first night shadows

falling across the lake

like melancholy welcomed

on a long afternoon alone

I remember

traversing plateaus

where hawks sail upward, wings set

to the wind, crows caw

from the tops of ponderosa pines,

a mule deer springs for the horizon

and a coyote leaps for berries

on a Saskatoon bush I feed myself

and my horse eats leaves and everything

is seamless  joined


Posted in Coyote on August 20th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

Introduction: This is part of the sequence in which Coyote (the humans’ name for the robot) smuggles a small amount of grass into the US in ‘the belly of the beast’. A previous section has established ‘yi’ as ‘dot’ and ‘ya’ as ‘dash’ in a version of Morse code sometimes used in Coyote’s Journal, as now. Coyote is programmed to meet her Authority, Zoë in a certain field on the US side, and on her way to the rendezvous she encounters a fence, and something more. Becoming ‘She’ Coyote tries to climb the fence, Its paws slipping on the thin cold wires, which form squares too small to squeeze through, too big to avoid, swallowing Its head or a leg, as the fence sways under Coyote’s assault. Coyote drops back to the ground, but is driven to try again. And again, the fence throws It back at each attempt, but Coyote doesn’t know how to quit.   Something barks in the field beyond. Another bark, and another, coming closer. Coyote stretches Its nose through the fence, inhaling a strange, strangely familiar odour like Its own wet coat without the metal tang; a   stronger, darker, wilder scent, exciting It, tantalizing It— the scent so different, and so like; related, part of a whole of which Coyote, too, is a part, at one with that other dark part, that shadow drifting closer through the mist—a dog? No.   A coyote—or almost-a-coyote; not quite like Coyote, though looking and smelling much the same, and Coyote feels a curious deep tingling inside, in a place It hadn’t previously known existed; and as the almost-coyote ventures closer, this tingling increases,   and out of Nowhere Coyote knows that almost-coyote is a ‘he’—and deep inside that tingling place Coyote also knows that It is also  Yi-yi-yi  yi-yi-yi-yi  yi!—She!   Yi   yi-ya ya-ya-ya-ya    yi-yi-yi  yi-yi-yi  yi-yi-yi-yi  yi  I                    am                                 She,                     Coyote sings. Yip-yip   yip-yap  yap-yap   yip-yip-yip-yip  yip  I                    am                           He,           Almost-coyote sings back (At least, that’s what Coyote hears.)   Yi-yi-yip-yip-yi-ya-yip-yap-yi-yip-yip-yi-yip-yippety-yippety yi-yi- yippeee they sing together, confused notes mingling in chaotic harmony.   Almost-coyote comes close enough to touch noses —and suddenly growling, He backs away, barks once, and wheeling around, trots quickly off across the field, the rising mist in wisps around him.   Ya-yi ya-ya-ya!—No! She howls Yi-ya-ya  yi-ya  yi-yi  ya!—Wait!   Coyote scrambles up the fence, and falls over on the other side, and by the time She’s gained her feet, again, He’s faded into the fog, leaving Coyote possessed of a knowledge She didn’t   ask for, and can’t use, but which has changed her forever. For It is now She; and She does not give up; She charges after him, wailing W-a-i-t W-a-a-i-i-t   W-a-a-i-i-t  f-o-o-r  m-e-e-e She cries, her chips ablaze,   her wires afire, her little bits of fleshy nerves throbbing like a drum; never has She run so fast and free before.

Looting the House Next Door

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

A lot of outrage has been expressed about those who rioted in Vancouver recently. While not condoning destructive behaviour, I’m less judgmental than many, having particated in something similar myself. I understand how easy it can be to be carried away by a bad idea. The following poem is an excerpt from my book 1970: A Novel Poem

Since ‘private property’
had become a pejorative phrase—except for
one’s own belongings, of course—
perhaps it’s not surprising we looted
the house next door, thinking it abandoned,
we abandoned ourselves, and ran
from room to room and floor to floor,
snatching up small objects, anything
that lay to hand—Oh, the glee! the glee!

greed singing through us,
avarice humming in every cell,
we grab anything we can carry
—pillows, pictures, food, figurines
clothes we don’t need,
records we’ll never play,
books we’ll never read—but oh!

it was fun to take,
and take, and take,
and take, laughing

—in a fever to acquire
in a delirium of greed
we lugged home armfuls of stuff,
left it on the kitchen floor, and
going outdoors, lay about
the back yard, panting,

catching our breath, coming down,
coming back to ourselves,
a little awed, a little proud,
a little guilty, a little scared.

That night our visitors went home early.
They trailed away and the house was
unusually quiet for several days.

Next morning, shame-faced, we returned all
their things to the indignant owners, who returned
late the same night from wherever they’d been.
They moved away shortly thereafter.

Blue Mud Dauber Wasp

Posted in Uncategorized on June 17th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

A tiny, solitary wasp I never would have noticed if I hadn’t been hunting for creatures to photograph.


Posted in Uncategorized on June 17th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment



At various times, lately, when prowling the back yard, camera in hand, I practice really looking at things, really seeing them. Otherwise, my vision is often suspended somewhere between the object I’m ostensibly looking at and a more panoramic view, with the result that I’m actually seeing very little, I’m in sight-limbo. So whenever I remember to, I practice focusing on what I’m looking at, noting the details of what’s close around me–how individual blades of grass bend this way and that, a bit of gnarled twig, a grey, white-veined stone, that scurrying ant (too tiny, and moving too quickly to catch with even this lens)–looking for the tell-tale twitch or flight or glint of wing that indicates a potential photographic target.

But after a while, I’ll deliberately switch to a more panoramic view, which is different than the suspension of vision in sight-limbo. In panoramic view, I catch the movement of insects and birds I would probably miss when concentrating on details close at hand. ‘Panoramic’ in relative terms, of course—twenty feet around me, instead of two, or sometimes hundreds of feet, a voluminous view as I scan the sky for an eagle.

Of coursed, in sight-limbo I’m usually thinking about something, usually something other than seeing, although thinking about ‘looking’ and ‘seeing’ (shades of Carlos Castaneda) can suspend true looking and seeing, as readily as thinking about any other subject. The ideal is to be Buddha-minded—aware of detail and panorama simultaneously—which seems to require stillness. And most depictions of the Buddha show him seated, though I have two little carved wooden Buddha’s with their hands in the air who appear to be dancing. And of course, it wouldn’t be complete enlightenment if one could only experience it while sitting.

Anyhow, in the garden I switch back and forth between detail and panorama, and still mostly get stuck in the middle, thinking about something and not really seeing. However, the camera does help to keep me focused on what’s going on around me. Because I’m looking for living, moving creatures to photograph, I’m far more observant than I used to be in pre-camera days, when much of my daily walk would take place in sight-limbo, the landscape going past as a backdrop to whatever drama was currently playing out in my head. Now, I’m much more attuned to picking up the darting movements that reveal where some bird or insect is, and am slowly building up a collection of all the various bug, bird, and (once) reptile life in the garden. There’s much more of it than there seems at first—like the beautiful turquoise-blue mud dauber wasp, so tiny—half an inch, at most—that, without the ceaseless hunt for food for the camera, I never would have noticed.

Bald eagle

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

An immature bald eagle landing on a tree at Witty’s Lagoon near Victoria B.C.



The Elimination of the Per-Vote Subsidy for Political Parties—

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment


Isn’t it typical of the Harper Conservatives to eliminate the most democratic form of funding political parties—the per-vote subsidy—while maintaining the least democratic, the tax credit for political donations?

The Harper Conservatives claim that the per-vote subsidy forces tax-payers to finance parties they don’t support—which, typically for the Harper Conservatives, is simply not true. My vote directs where my tax dollars will go: to the NDP. The per-vote subsidy is far more democratic than the generous tax deduction for donation to political parties, which obviously favours those who a) have a taxable income (I do not); and b) can afford to donate any money at all, let alone $1,100 (the current limit per person).

 As the party of big business, the Harper Conservatives raised 4 times the money ($17.7 million; with 3,400 people contributing at least $500) than the NDP, the party of working people and those on lower incomes ($4 million; 600 people contributing at least $500). Under the Harper Conservatives’ proposal, the wealthy will have even more influence over government than they do now.

 One commentator made the argument that, without the subsidy, political parties will have to ‘work harder’ to present a platform that citizens will support, totally ignoring the fact that the per-vote subsidy already encourages political parties to do their best in each election to win votes, even if they can’t win a seat.

 When political pundits bother to comment on the elimination of the per-vote subsidy, it’s generally couched in terms of Harper’s desire to eliminate the Liberal Party once and for all—as if that somehow makes it all right. However, while Harper’s first target may be the Liberals, the real target is all political parties, all of which will have difficulty raising the kind of money the Conservatives raise from their comparatively wealthier backers.

A one-party state is in keeping with Harper’s well-demonstrated desire to avoid dissent, and the elimination of the per-vote subsidy is a long step towards bringing it about.

Do Civil Forfeiture Laws Trample Our Rights?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

 This question, which I’ve slightly revised, was asked by Victoria’s Time-Colonist newspaper on Thursday, May 19th . This is my reply, which the T-C published on May 19th.

Of course they do. Minister Bond’s claim that, “This isn’t about circumventing rights, or the court process.” is nonsense. The creeping expansion of civil forfeiture laws at the provincial and federal level is another symptom of that metastasizing legislative malignancy in the body politic ‘the war on drugs’. Because of this disease our rights are increasingly eroded with each such legislative encroachment.

Real justice—the courts and due process—is not a profit centre; ersatz or ‘administrative’ justice is. As a result, impaired drivers go untried while police act as judge, jury and enforcer at the roadside, or in one’s home, with almost no right of appeal. We do not need to sacrifice our civil rights to fight organized crime.

The single most effective blow against it is to end the war on drugs, thereby dismantling the black market, and its enormous profits. Seizing a few goods, however immediately lucrative for governments, will do nothing to stem the cash flow generated by drug prohibition.

Unfortunately, we are now saddled with a government which prefers to impose its private moral views instead of improving our security, from both criminal gangs and greedy governments, by ending the war on drugs, and rescinding other unconstitutional legislation such as the province’s civil forfeiture laws.

I’m Voting for Real Change–in Government

Posted in Election on April 26th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

I’m voting for Randall Garrison, the NDP candidate in Esquimalt Juan de Fuca, because I want him to be one of many NDP MPs—enough to form a government.

I’ve quaffed the heady brew of a favourable, surprising—and delightful—poll, and I’m putting my spirited hopes into effect by voting for an NDP MP, and urging everyone to do likewise.

The Harper Conservatives, in their disdain for democracy, are making the false claim that we vote for ‘a government’. We do not. We vote for 308 MPs who choose our government from amongst themselves. Traditionally, the party with the most seats gets the first crack at forming government, but the Harper Conservatives make the sleazy, fundamentally anti-democratic claim that only the party with the most votes has the right to test the House, and that a coalition government would be ‘illegitimate’. Nonsense. If 155 MPs agree to support each other; they will form government, and there will be nothing illegitimate about it.

If the Harper Conservatives don’t know this, they’re too stupid and ignorant to be trusted with government, major or minor; if they do know it (and I’m sure most of them do), they’re too cynical and manipulative to be trusted. And this is only one of the many examples of how willing the Harper Conservatives are to distort the truth—nay, to downright lie—whenever it suits them. The truth is, the Harper Conservatives don’t care what the truth is. Parliament to them is at best a tool be manipulated, and at worse an enemy to be thwarted, by any means available. Parliament to us is—or should be—the means by which we take care of each other and our society, an expression of our will, not that of the Harper Conservatives.

But enough of those shabby-minded, drably dangerous men. I’m voting for real change; I’m voting for Randall Garrison, the NDP candidate in Esquimalt Juan de Fuca. Of course, I’ve always voted NDP, regardless of the candidate’s chances of winning because I share most of their values and agree with most of their policies.

But for those who have always wanted to vote NDP, but didn’t think the Party had a chance of winning—now’s the time to vote as you really want to. For once you can vote for the NDP knowing that an increasing number of citizens feel the same way, and that if enough of you make that choice you will vote for the winning candidate; you will bring the country one step closer to real change.

Aside from anything else, wouldn’t it feel good to be part of a fundamental shift in who governs us, and how? Wouldn’t you enjoy, wouldn’t you love, broadening the political landscape, freeing yourself from the stale choice of either the power-greedy Harper Conservatives or the once-entitled Liberals, to choose the real alternative, the NDP? What a breath of fresh air that would be.

I’m serious—wouldn’t it be fun?—a glorious, heart- and soul-expanding joy to open the door to real change by voting the NDP into office? Of course, I’m biased, but the election is now far more exciting and promising than it was a week ago, before the NDP climbed up the polls into full view. Don’t let this opportunity slip away.

Vote for real change in Ottawa. In Esquimalt Juan de Fuca, I’m voting for Randal Garrison, the NDP candidate, to be our next MP.

The Poet at His Meal Among Students

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25th, 2011 by Elizabeth Woods – Be the first to comment

for Allen Ginsberg

He eats cold curried chicken,
salad, whole wheat bread,
after a concert, hungry, eats it all,
and asks for seconds, his audience
imbibing beers around him, two
talking to him as he chews,
answers between mouthfuls,
emptying his plate, as they feed
on his attention, and drink
from his mind.