Category Archives: Poetry

Blood Upon the Rose

I See His Blood Upon the Rose
by Joseph Plunkett

winter in exchange district winnipegI see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

flowers-on-the-beachI see his face in every flower;                   
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

waves on rocks costa ricaAll pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea, 
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

The choir I’m part of this Good Friday morning is singing this poem in an arrangement by composer Hugh Robertson. It reminds me of St. Bonaventure who said that every piece of creation is another footprint, another fingerprint, another revelation of the mystery of the divine. The whole universe….. it’s all sacred.

Other posts……

Thinking About Mary on Good Friday

A Life That Adds Up to Something 


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Filed under Holidays, Poetry

Tree Inspiration

lone tree on lake winnipeg shore

Photographed on the shores of Lake Winnipeg

Sometimes we have to stand alone, just to be sure we still can. -Nishan Panwar

dave me treePhotographed on the yard of a historic Lutheran Church near Minneapolis where friends were being married.

 May your love grow like a tree, sending roots deep and branches high, with new beauty every season of your life together.- Cynthia Reed

planting trees in borneoPhotographed in Borneo where Dave and I were tree planting with our students.

I’m planting a tree to teach me to gather strength from my deepest roots.  ― Andrea Koehle Jones

cherry tree broadway saskatoonPhotographed on Broadway Avenue in Saskatoon. 

Unless a tree has borne blossoms in spring, you will vainly look for fruit on it in autumn. -Walter Scottredwood yalta

Photographed at the Massandra Palace in Yalta, Ukraine 

A redwood once seen leaves a mark that stays with you forever. – John Steinbeck
winter tree winnipeg exchange district
Photographed in the Exchange District of Winnipeg 

Deep roots are not reached by the frost – Tolkien

Jamaican farmer with her bananna tree

                           Photographed in Runaway Bay Jamaica

A tree is known by its fruit. Matthew 12: 33

keats way street in winnipeg

Photographed in the St. James area of Winnipeg

I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. Joyce Kilmer

olive trees by vincent van goghOlive Trees by Vincent Van Gogh photographed at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

A tree is nature’s masterpiece. – John Muir

dave tree angkor wat

Photographed in Angkor Wat Cambodia at a temple built in the 12th century

People without knowledge of history are like trees without roots.  Marcus Garvey

Other posts………

Wild Flower Inspiration

October Inspiration

Eagle Inspiration

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Filed under Inspiration, Nature, Poetry

Fifteen Dogs and Writing Poetry


Two men siphoning sweet water

On a steaming Thai day vying to be the one

To suck the final dregs from nature’s cup.

I just finished reading the Giller Prize winning book Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis. The author traces the life and death experiences of fifteen dogs given human thought and speech capabilites by the gods Hermes and Apollo as a result of a bet the two mythical Greek brothers make in a modern bar in downtown Toronto.


Using the Caradec pattern Alexis writes poems where the name of the dog is not legible but can be heard when the poem is read aloud. For example here is Alexis’ poem for the dog Prince. 

Longing to be sprayed (the green snake writhing in his master’s hand)

Back and forth into that stream

Jump, rinse: coat slick with soap. 

If you read it out loud you will hear the dog Prince’s name at the end of the word jump connected to the next word rinse.  

The poem that starts this blog post is one I wrote for my husband Dave using the same  pattern. Can you find his name? He and his friend Hans were having a drink in Phuket Thailand. (check out the words day and vying)

Here’s a poem in the same pattern using my name MaryLou. It is about me setting off on a motorcycle trip in Taiwan. riding-with-dirk-in-tawain

Putting my fate in the hands of my cousin Dirk

Will I be merry, lose my life

Will I be hurt, lose my inhibitions

I buckle my helmet and we fly.

( check out the words merry and lose)

Can you write a poem in the same form?  I’d love to hear it. Post it in the comment section below. 

Other posts…….

King David Was A Rapist

The Poetry of Boxing

 A New Poet


Filed under Books, Poetry

My Movie Debut

I made my film debut in Hong Kong when my husband Dave asked me to appear with him in a reenactment of Shakespeare’s Sonnet #138. Dave was giving his high school English class an assignment to write a modern-day version of a Shakespearean sonnet and he wanted to perform one himself as a sample for the students.

I was a little hesitant to give it a try but I think I didn’t do too badly in my first screen role.  See for yourself by clicking on the photo below. There are some breaks in the film but do watch till the end where Dave does a great recitation of the sonnet. 

driedgers acting out shakespeares sonnet 138

Other posts…….

My Modeling Debut

So Proud of Them- Visiting My Students in New York

Multi- Tasking- Wisdom From A Former Student

She’s Done It Again- Proud of my Former Student


Filed under Education, Family, Hong Kong, Movies, Poetry

A New Poet

I learned from my mother how to love the living.  That’s the first line in a beautiful poem by Julia Kasdorf.  I’ve just discovered Julia whose poetry seems to resonate with so much of my own life experience. the sleeping preacher kasdorf I bought one of her books The Sleeping Preacher and I’m savoring the poems, saving them, to enjoy one or two at a time.  

What I Learned From My Mother
by Julia Kasdorf
I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

Other posts about poetry…..

I Believe

The Poetry of Boxing

Dancing in Shangri -La



Filed under Poetry

Rebellion Poems

Ever felt rebellious and need to vent?  It’s something teens know quite a bit about. When  I taught high school writing classes one assignment was to create a rebellion poem. I provided a sample about an experience I remembered when I was a teenager.

She Tried To Tip The Boat

She tried to tip the boat to prove she was a risk taker

She did it because she was tired of being the dependable child

She did it for the thrill- for a glimpse of life in the fast lane

She did it to make them sit up and notice her

She did it to see if she could make her even-tempered Dad lose his cool

She did it because no one would expect her to

She did for herself

Here are some rebellion poems my students wrote………

He Stopped Going to Church

He stopped going to church

He did it because he was annoyed

He did it to think for himself

He did it to be free

He did it because his parents always went to church

He did it to get away from ‘the crowd”

He did it for himself.                                

She Got A Mohawk Hair Cut

She got a Mohawk to end the monotony

She did it to break the mold

She did it to shock and appall

She did it to stand out

She did it to fit in

She did it to clear the slate

She did it for herself. 

She’s in a Heavy Metal Band

She’s in a heavy metal band

Because she wants to stand out

She’s in it to release some energy

To have fun with her friends

She’s in it to take a break from the norm

To make her ‘strictly classical’ teacher mad

She’s in it to be crazy

She’s in it for herself.

We also tried applying the ‘rebel’ pattern to some famous acts of rebellion like Picasso painting Guernica.

I Painted Guernica

I did it because  Nazi bombers killed my people

I did it because civil war was tearing my country apart

I did it to show the violence of war

I did it because I was angry

I did it because my country was “sinking in an ocean of pain and death”

I did it because I was an artist and I had something to say

If you’re feeling a bit rebellious why not write a rebellion poem of your own? 

Other posts about writing poetry and teens……

Poetry and Teen Agers

I Believe Poems

The Poetry of Boxing



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A Literary Walk

tauni westwood literary walWho knew Winnipeg had streets like Shakespeare Bay, Browning Boulevard and Frost Avenue? I discovered a very literary West End neighborhood  on a walking tour. Read all about it on my Destination Winnipeg blog. 

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Filed under Books, Poetry, Winnipeg

Dancing in Shangri-La

dancing with naxi women in yunnan province chinaI grew up in a traditional Mennonite community where dancing was frowned upon. It was one of the three sins along with drinking and smoking that just might land a person in hell. So it took me a couple days before I was willing to take advantage of the many opportunities I had to dance on my trip to Yunnan province in China. naxi singers and dancerYunnan is home to at least a dozen different Chinese minority groups. Each has its own distinctive music and dance traditions. These minority groups have not always had a chance in the past to share their unique cultures with the rest of their countrymen and women. Now an ever growing Chinese middle class have the financial ability and political freedom to travel across their great nation and experience first hand its rich and varied cultural heritage.

elderly chinese couple eating lunch with chopsticks outdoors in yunnanMao Zedong encouraged cultural homogenization during his reign. He forced everyone, for example to wear the Communist garb, the blue peasant hat and jacket. Now that China is leaning towards more independence for individuals, minority groups can express their unique identities both in the way they dress and the way they celebrate their artistic culture.

shangri la family_2Yunnan’s minority groups include the Yi, Naxi, Bai, Miao, Tibetan and Han people. We toured the various villages where they make their homes and in some of these communities the women invited visitors to try their hand at local dance routines. 

dancing in shangri la

I had my most incredible dance experience in the city of Shangri-La, site of James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon. Many different cultural groups live in Shangri-La and one evening they held a dance altogether in the village square. I wrote this poem to describe that night.

Dancing in Shangri-La

Replete from a supper of yak soup, yak cheese and yak butter tea

I follow the Tibetan music to the village square at dusk

Light rain falling, red lanterns illuminating

The massive wooden homes built from mountain timbers

Perhaps a hundred people form a circle

Bai women wearing bright pink, fur trimmed head pieces

Naxi children with blue and white aprons

Tibetan yak herders sporting cowboy hats

Miao mothers carrying their babies in richly embroidered slings

Grey -haired men in blue hats and jackets, revolution remnants

Yi ladies with ruddy complexions

Chinese vacationers from Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong- every corner of this vast nation

All holding hands and moving gracefully to the music

Performing a traditional ritual

Arms circling high in the air

Waists bending low to the ground

Feet stepping, crossing on the cobblestones

I watch in wonder, a misty-eyed, white-faced foreigner

Marveling how in this place where Hilton set his Lost Horizon

The people of China can celebrate their ethnic diversity and rich cultural heritage

During years of war, revolution and oppression it was impossible for them to even dream of such a gathering

But now Chinese citizens from near and far are free to come together and dance hand in hand

The shy, inviting smile of a wrinkle-faced woman draws me into the circle

Bumbling, western outsider

I am included and patiently taught until I too can follow the rhythm and pattern of their ancient dance.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like…….

Visiting the Great Wall

Bamboo Gorge Boat Tracker

Three Gorges Project – Yangtze River

Remembering Tiananmen Square

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Filed under China, New Experiences, Poetry, Travel

I Believe

What do you believe? I used to give my high school students an assignment to write about their core beliefs. I provided them with a poem pattern which I got from the movie Bull Durham where the main character played by Kevin Costner explains the credo for his life.  The work my students produced was as thought provoking and inspiring as it was unique. Here are just four of the many great poems I received each year I gave this assignment. I haven’t used the students’ names to protect their privacy. 

I Believe

 I believe in the love of life

The music that shakes my bones

The laughter that throws all cares away

The art of a story

The “second chance” rule

Love as an emotion, unity and forgiveness.

 But the idea of war acting as a problem solver doesn’t prove whose right. It only proves whose left.

 I believe in what goes around comes around

I believe in fantasy as my reality

I believe in plaid pants

Mismatched socks, groovy tights and acid washed jeans.

And I believe in saying how I feel about something no matter the crowd,

 No matter the crowd


I Believe

I believe in the importance of education

The smell of an old book

The sound of children playing

The evil in all of us

The good in all of us

Struggle, climax, resolution

But the belief that some people aren’t as good as others is just plain stupid

I believe in ethnic and religious diversity

I believe in equality

I believe in tolerance

Religious rights, racial rights, gay rights

And I believe in humanity.

We are sometimes blind, arrogant and cruel but we will come through for the greater good of all before the end.

I Believe    

 I believe in the importance of teamwork

The ability to play together

The mental discipline to win

The patience to practice

The effectiveness of hard work

My baseball bat, my glove, my helmet

 But the idea that it takes a whole team to win is sometimes a frustrating thing to accept

 I believe in beating the opposition

I believe in my coach

I believe in my fellow players

Confident but not cocky, keeping my head up, winning gold

 And I believe in myself. I need to set a good example both on and off the field.

I Believe 

I believe in the strength of fear

The way time passes slowly

The idea that people want to be loved

The courage it takes not to wait

That poetry is not just for lovers

Selflessness, spirit and privacy

 But I don’t believe in the possibility of not caring about others, especially once you know them

 I believe we were not meant to be alone

I believe that it’s okay for boys to cry sometimes

I believe that everyone has a dirty little secret

Sharing with friends, helping enemies, and loving God.

 And I believe that even when we think tomorrow may never come there is always hope for the future.


 What would your I believe poem look like?  

If you liked this post you might also like……….

Poetry and Teenagers

Where I’m From

The Poetry of Boxing

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Filed under Education, Poetry

Labor Day Weekend Acrostic

We’ve had a great Labor Day weekend. My husband Dave always teases me about writing acrostics but here’s mine anyway. 

L- lunch with my good friend Wendy at Oakridge Nursery Tea Room

A- amazing meal at our friend Rudy and Sue’s house- Sue is a consummate cook

B- being brave enough to submit an article to a paying market I haven’t written for before

O- organizing all the materials I brought home from Hong Kong to finish writing my book, packing them up and getting them ready to ship back to Hong Kong

R- reading the latest offering in the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. This one is called The Double Comfort Safari Club

D- delightful Skype visit with our older son, his wife and our grandson

A- a new watch bracelet and new Teva sandals were two shopping purchases this weekend

Y- Yes I’m getting excited about our upcoming trip to New York. I started doing research on restaurants, museums and tours

W- writing my Carillon column about five women I’d nominate to be immortalized in a statue in Steinbach, the city where I grew up, because of their important contributions to their community

E- enjoying our first meal at our younger son and his wife’s new home since their wedding in July

E- eating a lovely lunch at our daughter-in-law’s parents’ home after attending morning worship at their church

K- kitchen time making a big batch of turkey chili soup for next week’s lunches

E- entertaining my brother and his partner. They came for dinner and told us all about their recent trip to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma

N- Netflix subscription treat. Dave and I subscribed to Netflix this weekend and I enjoyed the  French movie My Afternoons with Margueritte

D- double visit- both Friday and Monday with my Mom while she was having dialysis in the hospital.  We always find lots of things to talk about.


I didn’t do much labor on Labor Day weekend, but I think that’s the idea anyway. 

We sure did lots of eating

Other posts related to this one…..

A Walk in New York City

My First Published Piece of Fiction

The Book is Here

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Filed under Poetry, Reflections