Poetry Contest Reading

My poem “Elder” placed second in the Upper Valley Arts Guild annual poetry contest. The theme, Indigenous Diversity is Beautiful” inspired me. The event’s interpretation in sign language was also a lovely addition to a sweet afternoon. Thanks everyone who participated and organized this. NH’s former laureate, Marie Harris presided. See below the recording of my reading at aprox 13 minutes in and below, a copy of the poem .


I am so old that my patience fondles

a future already made.

I am old enough to remember

how to seek food with my drum

and to ask butterfly of future seasons.

I remember that my senses

feel colours that are extinct

and that my skin breathes

all Time equally and seeks it here.

I am old enough to call the rocks

family, the mountains teacher.

When I sit near a tilted line

of water, I know that it is me.

To become old,

one befriends rocks, consults mountains,

honours water. One learns

to stand on the divided island some call life,

and soak peace from sky and land.

I am old enough to know I am a bystander

to the ripples of insect births

and star deaths.

I should be eroded by the shallow crimes

of hate in human history,

but I am old enough to see

that our future sings of a tail

swallowed by its mouth

as it devours its past.

And I am at peace

watching the feast, awed

by its appetite.

I am so old,

this makes me new.

Chapter Excerpt Published

Thanks Charlie for uploading the chapter “New New” from my inspirational children’s novel for adults, Gretial Taan. Still looking for an agent and/or publisher, so this isn’t the end of my search, but only a temporary moment of visibility, which I appreciate:

My Eco Dystopian Coming -of-Age

Confined to an underground city, Adrian’s problem is that everything he loves is illegal: running, pets, nature. Skye’s weakness is that she loves nothing but her computer server, Nanny.

Until she meets Adrian.

Eco warrior meets genius gamester who can access all the city’s secrets. It’s all mischief until they release a wild human from prison, exposing lies about Earth’s contaminated surface. And get caught. Skye’s punishment is to compete in national gaming tournaments, whereas Adrian is sent to brain ReBoot. One emerges a star, the other a rebel.

Thirty years later, Buster interviews superstar Skyedancer about a nameless and maybe mythical rebel who he believes is the unsung hero of city’s Fall. Skye is the only person who knows how Adrian risked his life to free their city. Buster will get more than a scoop and history will get its heroes.

Told from several timelines and points of view, with tensions of false trails, hidden clues, nicknames and unreliable narrators, this dynamic plot explores kindness in an oppressive, inhospitable environment. It asks important questions about the difference between fame and heroism, tracks the line between community responsibility and personal dreams, and explores dystopian narrative without violence.

More Micro Fiction

Amanda is haunted by the ghost of her husband who is not yet dead.

She decides she might not kill him after all.

Medieval Dragon Art

chicago 100

Who will win the battle against dragon extinction? Sacred stories can be reversed…



Quarantine Blues

What about this short story collection?

Quarantine with sister (pretty good right?).

Quarantine with father and his new bride.

Quarantine  with husbands former spouse’s boyfriend (can you figure that one out?)

Quarantine with five dogs (not allowed out of the apartment) .

Quarantine with the neighbours with quadruplets (fun for an hour?)

Quarantine… and the list keeps growing.  And spawns a reality TV show.

} between the breath – a poem

what is your creation story? asked spiritual doula judi blum…(Intothemeta.com)


} Between the Breath

all good stories start with once upon a time

in the beginning there is everything and nothing


I wake and I am here  {

}      a mystery

I hear

here and see there

smell and taste and feel

breath in { } and breath out { }

{    Mystery   }

talk      listen

the sun shines

I put my eyes to it

the sun shines

rising moon

rising tide

rising mystery

we shimmer and dance

circle chant

we make babies    we make love

we make peace and it is grace


And mystery




And this


spin this mystery

spin this – your weave

Yours. I laugh


deep diving with words

my weave  Yours  Ours

pushing hard at these words

urging them to break open

demand their attention

tell me                                    tell me

{yes listening}


my silence aches

it is here everywhere

pressing in

`I lean, lean into it

shift    mystery

{{{               I will shift    I will shift and I will

be gone to this      these words

}}}              I will light in

fall in

< >

there?  < >

I hear, see, feel, taste, hear

oh, and it is

it is so close

this whispering


silence     silence    creation is about to

tell me its story.


and I am                   }{

breath in

}{    I am not     }

breath out

[[[[[[  ]]]]]]


between that <love>

and that <love>




{{ and my breath }}

from The Dragon Portal

Thresholds of the Dragon Portal

The dragon portal is not a stopping place. It is not a location or a way of being. It is not a resting or an action. It is not an alternative nor a path. It is not a story nor is it an instruction. It isn’t a concept nor a mental decision. It cannot be pointed to nor caught. I cannot lead you to it and say sit here and you will find it.

The dragon portal invokes a maligned spaciousness of spiritual engagement that includes earth, earth beings, and their place in the cosmos. It is both bigger and smaller than we are. We are always, in every moment, in the dragon portal and we are in every moment out of it. The creation story was an attempt to provide a story in which we can see all of creation and the light flowing in and out of the non-light. The dragon portal is the place which resides between.

But there is a circle around this other place which provides different perspectives into the mystery. Each are cracks in a door revealing glimmers shinning in a moonlit ocean. Each inspire. The doors don’t open any wider. But when each doorway, the little thresholds, are held simultaneously in extreme paradoxical mystery, there is another crack. The dragon portal. Another shimmering view which will change your life and how you live it.

[ The Dragon Portal is a non-fiction sacred text and is free as a PDF – please contact akarastroies@gmail.com for your own version – and look for the wisdom story for adults and children that begins the light weaver series exploring the dragon portal as a allegorical adventure. ]

How To Talk With Owls #7

I have the keys to their enclosures. The raptors. I open them, one at a time, and do service for owls and hawks and eagles and falcons. I rake and clean and water while they, wild talon shod birds, study my every move. As I work, I can’t help but ask: how do you talk to Owls?





This word, fight, is one step away from flight, yet they’re quite different one from the other. And yes, the title is not a typo.

Rick and I are working together on a Saturday morning in Spring. The weather is summer gorgeous, and it’s probably the first time I’m anticipating the scrapping work without being wet and cold. So yeah, that’s got us in a good mood. We’re psyched, you could say.

Step into the staff area and the mood changes quickly. On the gurney is a towel wrapped bird being held fast between two people and a third is working on a claw. It is so still I believe it’s dead until a single claw opens and closes.

Shit! I had before noticed that theses raptors are armed, but in that moment I have a full appreciation of the possibilities of the talons. The claw opens wide, and the otherwise curved and compacted talons spread like knives in a Kung Foo Movie. Long, curved and wickedly sharp, I have a visceral reaction to this simple movement.

It is a Great Horned owl on the table, one who has lived in the wild around the VINS centre, feasting on birds and occasionally crashing into enclosures and eating VIN occupants. There’s a great sadness in the place because a beloved education bird, Crowy, has been killed by this beast. It broke through the winter brittle plastic roofing by falling through it, and then devoured the “smartest bird I’ve ever known” as one of the staffers admits. Crows are smart, but this royal owl, the most dreaded of all, who eats most of the other owls as well as many large hawks and anything else it can catch and consume, has no trouble imprisoning Crowy the minute it has gained access to the cage. And apparently, it has a princess attitude towards its food and eats only the head.

The scrapping work is going really well. Everybody is in fine form despite warnings that they’re in egg laying moods, which can be worse than usual as they feel more territorial. But we’ve found no eggs and no birds seem out of sorts until our last cage, the bald eagle enclosure. It’s the size of a large living room, maybe bigger, so when two of us step in, we’re not really encroaching on personal space; but the female, who I wrote about the last time, the one who is always in a nasty mood, screaming and complaining, is more agitated than usual. Not only is she vociferous, but she’s actively charging. Once, while I’m on the ground picking up bits of bone, she comes toward me running, and from that low angle, she looks bigger than I am. I also notice that the faster she runs the less wobbly her gait. As described in the previous blog, she’s got a bit of a humpty dumpty gait. What seemed funny before now feels a little more intimidating.

Somehow, the two eagles end up in the same corner and she pounces on him andf he screams. No wonder: she’s got him hooked in her talons. His wings are spread and he’s flapping to get away and she’s hammering at his head with her hooked beak and he’s pecking back, screaming. And despite his obvious willingness to accommodate any of her wishes, she doesn’t let go. My animal instinct rises up in me and I stand and take a few steps toward them yelling “enough!”

Ok – if she had decided to attack me I had a bucket in my hand for protection, so I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been an easy fight. The shock of my aggression stops them dead and she comes toward me, wings outstretch. She stops, hissing, and when I don’t move back, she bounces away, humpty dumpty style.

Later, she comes at me, again seemingly trying to get me out. I stand up and tell her to get back to the other end. She seems a little perplexed, but she goes down to the other end. I’m getting good at this. I don’t know where my great white man protector is – nearby, no doubt ready to help me if I need it…?… and that’s when I say – you know, I think we’re done. Whatever we haven’t done, we’ll leave cause she clearly wants us out of here. I head out with the hose, he with the pail behind me. He looks back and she’s running for the door. He closes it quickly against her arrival and she’s standing there, at the other side, as if making sure we don’t come in again.

We go to the front of the cages and pause in front of the Baldy cage to see how they’re doing. She has stopped attacking the door and is having a bath. She’s practically singing she is having such a great time bobbing and ruffling herself in the fresh water.

All along, is this is what she wanted? Some private time in a bath?

How To Talk With Owls #6

I have the keys to their enclosures. The raptors. I open them, one at a time, and do service for owls and hawks and eagles and falcons. I rake and clean and water while they, wild talon shod birds, study my every move. As I work, I can’t help but ask: how do you talk to Owls?


Eagle Release


I am on our morning lookout with Rick and a cup of coffee. The distant hills, lit by a dawn sun in spring formation, angles creamy light into blossoming maple reds and yellow birch and pale green poplar.  On the slope below, we see a fox staring up at us, immobile while we stare down. I think – as I always think when an animal stares at me – that it is trying to communicate and I want to know what it is saying. Why does it stand there? Why does it make sure we have seen it?

The dogs are not yet aware of it and then they are, and all bodies careen into action. Cooper’s hundred pounds of muscle like a horse pounding. Mollie with her bad hips trailing behind. And the fox long gone into the forest shelter. They disappear over the crest, soundlessly.

Rick and I mosey that way, calling and whistling, knowing nothing will turn the dogs until they are out of breath and discouraged. But at the crest where we almost never go is a gift: a field of fiddleheads ready to be picked. The fox had been standing in that spot, looking up at us, as if saying: you’ve been looking for fiddleheads for several weeks now and all along they’ve been here, on this hill, under your nose, under your every morning coffee at the lookout.

Was the fox actually thinking that? Does any animal actually communicate to us the way people of the earth, people who lived with the earth, believed? That there were messages in their eyes, in their presence? I like thinking that something helped me find the fiddleheads. Circumstances big enough to include the possibility of help from the Universe, help from my earth companions, the animals. So I did thank the fox for her help.

I went up to VINS in a good mood, excited to be with the birds, but also disappointed. After I volunteered to clean the exhibition cages, I heard about an eagle release scheduled for that same morning.  VINS had rehabilitated four eagles in ten years, so eagle release was not going to be a daily occurrence. I guessed that the regular volunteer had found out about it and I, a gullible and willing and  less informed sub, took their slot. I was – clearly – way down on the totem pole of volunteer hierarchy.

This Baldy had been in care for over three months recovering from poisoning. She had been tagged in Quebec, so they knew she was a pre-adult, four years old. Snowmobilers had found her face down in her own vomit and somehow they figured out that she wasn’t dead. Staff at VINS were sure she would die as she vomited all the next day. Her recovery was cause for celebration.

I heard later that day, after I had finished cleaning and was eating my lunch, that she ran out of her travelling cage to fly into a tree where she stared at them for twenty minutes. Some people report that she seemed upset with them. Others that she might have been grateful. I think she was just a little gobsmacked at her luck – that all her worry and anxiety of the past weeks, scared that her life was going to be forever in a cage, confined to be alone. I can only imagine that three months might seem interminable.

Gobsmacked. All her fears ungrounded. All her worries proved wrong. Maybe she wasn’t quite sure what to do next. And then a staff member walked up to her perch and shooshed at her. And off she flew, spiraling into an updraft, capable on a good day of climbing higher than any bird can go.  And miraculously… or not… another eagle showed up.  I have seen three wild eagles in my life. They’re not like pigeons in a park or crows in the woods. They don’t hang out everywhere. And yet, on this day, another eagle arrives to greet Baldy on her first day in the wilds. As if waiting. As if knowing that this was happening on that day.

I did have my own little moment in this story. My own memory of this lucky girl. A couple of hours into the work, earlier than usual, I had a thought. A little pull in my stomach, a little urging in my gut. It called me back to the staff rooms, to my warm coffee and snack. To a pee break. Usually I try to clean more than half the cages before a break so that the second half of my day is easier. I talked myself into staying and getting further ahead; then I thought of my warm coffee; and then thought that it was too soon to break. And then I felt the compulsion again. Not for a pee or coffee or food, but just a little noise rumbling and saying “time to go in”. My thinking continued in this vein for several seconds, bouncing in that terrible way we have of arguing with ourselves, until I realized that I had no idea why I feel compelled to take a break, but that I had to find out.

As I arrived, the wildlife director was coming out the door to catch Baldy in her enclosure. Two staffers were bringing a huge travelling cage behind. And they invited me to join them.

Her enclosure was L shaped and bigger than the generous exhibition cages. It was easily over two hundred square feet, and high enough for her to fly. Small by her standards, no doubt, but large enough to make catching her a challenge.

We were four people in the cage, two with large butterfly-like nets, and she careened between us screaming and swinging her enormous wings like weapons. Once on the ground, she ran like a canon shot, barreling past the nets, forcing her way through them, charging into spaces and gaps, struggling, fighting, screaming. She was angry and ferocious. She was tenacious and determined. She was majestic.  Powerful. Awesome.  I don’t use that word often…. But here: yes here: she was awesome.