Poem of the Week: Last Night I Had a Dream – via Alison McGhee

Last Night I Had a Dream
- Antonio Machado (translated by Alan Trueblood)

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamt of a fountain flowing
deep down in my heart.
Water, by what hidden channels
have you come, tell me, to me,
welling up with new life
I never tasted before?

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamt of a hive at work
deep down in my heart.
Within were the golden bees
straining out the bitter past
to make sweet-tasting honey,
and white honeycomb.

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamt of a hot sun shining
deep down in my heart.
The heat was in the scorching
as from a fiery hearth;
the sun in the light it shed
and the tears it brought to the eyes.

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamed it was God I’d found
deep down in my heart.

A big thank you to Alison McGhee for generously curating these beautiful poems.

For more information on Antonio Machado, please click here.

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Tusky Business – Jon Stewart

The findings of last week’s EIA report Vanishing Point, into the illegal ivory trade between Tanzania and China, have made it onto the popular US new satire The Daily Show With Jon Stewart …

WARNING – clip contains references of a sexual nature.

You can read and download Vanishing Point, in English and Swahili, at http://eia-international.org/vanishing-point-criminality-co… #‎ivory‬ ‪#‎elephants‬ ‪#‎Tanzania‬ ‪#‎China‬ ‪#‎JonStewart‬

Part 2

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Minutiae #7: Yari

UnknownI remember him as a child quite well. White blonde hair, small, determined young boy. He and his brother joined the skating club years ago. Yari took to skating differently than his brother. He was serious and focused and train-able as people like to say. His brother skated but not in the same way. And soon Yari rose through the ranks, competing, growing, focussing and then I blinked and he was off to Calgary to train. And in the summers he would come back to the club and run our dry land sessions. Even then he was tough and serious even though we were a rag tag group of skaters of all ages, including my partner who was well into her 70′s at that point. He ran dry land like we were real skaters.

And one summer he brought a girl who would become his wife. And she and I would hang around the back laughing and talking, and Yari would look up and smile and then tell us to get down and do our endless low walks across the grassy field under the hot summer sun. And while it was clear that I wasn’t going anywhere with my skating he always had the time of day for me. And sometimes he would say something that was just plain funny. And spot on. And that’s when you could see the funny guy behind the focused young man.

I remember he came back for a few seasons to coach and I always wanted to do better because in spite of my lack of natural ability and the numerous fears that held me back, he still gave me his all. But it wasn’t just me he gave his all to, it was everyone. He gave everyone his all.

I saw him this March at the BC Championships. He was the referee. We said a quick hello because he was busy. I heard that he and his wife had gone their separate ways. That he had become a lawyer and that he lived in Calgary. That he had spent a few difficult years but he was happy now.  I heard he had fallen in love with a woman and a little boy. That they were the centre of his universe and that he was a devoted step-father to this little boy. And I imagine Yari in all his generosity and kindness and capacity to give, being an amazing person to the little boy in his life. I heard that they were the apple of his eye and that they were to be married in July this year. I had heard that as a lawyer when things got tough he would lighten things up by wearing colourful socks or ties or jackets and that he had picked a spectacular jacket for his wedding.

And then I heard that one week before his wedding he suffered a terrible headache. It was blinding and relentless and like nothing he had felt before even though he was familiar with migraines. So he brought his little boy to his neighbour’s house and called an ambulance.

One day this summer the phone rang. It was my best friend  who had called to say she had something to tell me and that she wanted me to hear it from her and then she told me that Yari had passed away. And it shook me to my core. It shook me. Not because I knew him so well. I didn’t at all. He was a ship passing by in my life. I cried because he had given me something. I cried because he was so young – 37. I cried because his wedding, the happiest day of his life in the end became a celebration of the passing of his life. I cried because I didn’t know how to grieve for someone that wasn’t my immediate family but who had touched my life with his generosity and his passion for a crazy sport. A sport he believed in passionately, a sport he gave so generously of his time to. A sport that he helped young people and old people  and all kinds of people in between, excel in, taking each of us as seriously as though he were training us for the Canadian national team. He made me reach higher - try harder. Speed skating, a sport that gave me confidence when I had none. An ounce of the confidence that this sport has given me in life belongs to Yari who helped me get there.

I have only known three people in my life who left far too young. Sometimes when I’m out walking I say their names out loud – Lori Brown, Scott Wilson. I blow their names out to the wind hoping that those lives will be scattered to the earth, carried by the wind, embedded in the dirt, carried away to beautiful places. I say those names to confirm that they were indeed here. I say their names as an act of remembrance so I never forget. And now when I walk I say Yari’s name in the hope that a young person who left us far too early and who gave so many, so much, will always be remembered and embraced. Yari.

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Chinese President’s Delegation Tied to Illegal Ivory Purchases During Africa Visit

Hi everyone,

Things have been a little quiet after the march but there’s still lots going on. As a relative newcomer to advocacy  I am beginning to realize that advocating for “species at risk” is a marathon not a sprint. I just hope there is enough time to stop the eradication of elephants, lions, tigers, rhinos, apes, pangolins etc..(and I don’t use “etc” lightly here but the list does go on and on and on.)

The one thing I’ve learned is that we’re all too blame. This isn’t a case of this being someone else’s problem. This is our problem. Each one of us, every country around the globe allows the mass extinction of species by either not speaking up or being actively complicit.

IVORY-tmagArticleIn the case of China it’s all those things and more. Growth of the Chinese middle class fueled by one of the world’s strongest economies has increased the cultural taste for ivory. Some people believe (apparently) that many Chinese believe that tusks simply fall off elephants or are only taken from elephants who have died naturally. Even Hallmark was recently promoting ivory as a 14th anniversary wedding gift until public reaction and advocates obligated them to take it down and re-write their catalogue. I want to believe that we live in a day and age where gross public misinformation isn’t possible but in the case of China, a closed society in many ways, it is possible. And of course, it’s not just China – it’s the communities that allow their wildlife to be bought and shot and killed. Poverty, lack of education, greed, transit countries, laws that aren’t enforced and those of us who stand idly by,  are all co-conspirators in the death or shall we say the murder of wildlife.

I’m sharing this article published in the New York Times. Global March for Elephant organizers will be organizing protests all the over world in front of Chinese consulates. They might be in it for the long game but so are we. As long as the long game doesn’t mean that no elephant is left standing because of the greedy need for ivory – ivory a word I hate using because of course, a tusk is what belongs to an elephant – ivory is the human objectification of that animal’s tusk.


Chinese President’s Delegation Tied to Illegal Ivory Purchases During Africa Visit

BEIJING — When President Xi Jinping of China and his entourage of government officials and business leaders arrived in Tanzania in March 2013, it was to officially promote economic ties between the two countries.

But according to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, a nongovernmental organization based in London, members of the Chinese delegation used Mr. Xi’s visit as an opportunity to procure so much illegal ivory that local prices doubled to about $318 a pound. Two weeks before Mr. Xi arrived, Chinese buyers purchased thousands of pounds of poached tusks, which were “later sent to China in diplomatic bags on the presidential plane,” said the report, which was released on Wednesday.

The Chinese government has been trying to prove itself a responsible state actor that is serious about abolishing corruption and abiding by international law. But the report, “Vanishing Point: Criminality, Corruption and the Devastation of Tanzania’s Elephants,” details Chinese diplomats and military personnel colluding with Tanzanian officials and Chinese crime syndicates to send illegal ivory to China, decimating Tanzania’s elephant population in the process. Read more here.

We all need China to stop this. They have to stop or we’ll lose one of the world’s greatest keystone species – a species that has roamed this planet for millions of years. I don’t want to be the generation that allows this to happen. Because it will happen with elephants and every other animal and species until there’s nothing left. Please share share share.


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Poem of the Week: Don’t You Wonder Sometimes? by Tracy K. Smith via Alison McGhee

Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?
- Tracy K. Smith


After dark, stars glisten like ice, and the distance they span
Hides something elemental. Not God, exactly. More like
Some thin-hipped glittering Bowie-being—a Starman
Or cosmic ace hovering, swaying, aching to make us see.
And what would we do, you and I, if we could know for sure

That someone was there squinting through the dust,
Saying nothing is lost, that everything lives on waiting only
To be wanted back badly enough? Would you go then,
Even for a few nights, into that other life where you
And that first she loved, blind to the future once, and happy?

Would I put on my coat and return to the kitchen where my
Mother and father sit waiting, dinner keeping warm on the stove?
Bowie will never die. Nothing will come for him in his sleep
Or charging through his veins. And he’ll never grow old,
Just like the woman you lost, who will always be dark-haired

And flush-faced, running toward an electronic screen
That clocks the minutes, the miles left to go. Just like the life
In which I’m forever a child looking out my window at the night sky
Thinking one day I’ll touch the world with bare hands
Even if it burns.

For more information on Tracy K. Smith, please click here: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/07/18/does-poetry-matter/wipe-that-smirk-off-your-poem

My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alison-McGhee/119862491361265?ref=ts

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Poem of the Week: When You Are Old – William Butler Yeats – via Alison McGhee

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

A big thank you to Alison for curating these poems.

​For more information on Yeats, please click here.

My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alison-McGhee/119862491361265?ref=ts

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When you ride elephants, watch them paint or beg in the street, you are supporting this:

1234177_739106516116457_73281306_n”Phajaan to Tourist Attraction: Elephant Tourism in Thailand”


Everyone, tourists especially, needs to be educated as to the plight of the Asian elephant. These animals’ spirits are broken through a ritual known as the Phajaan; baby elephants are prematurely ripped away from their mothers. They are then caged, starved, beaten, stabbed, poked and cut as they are kept awake for days without food or water.

Once “broken”, the young elephants are forced into a life of street-begging, trekking (rides), and “entertainment”, eg. circuses, painting, zoos, etc.

Please EDUCATE yourself and others! Do not support this cruelty by feeding a street beggar (baby elephant begging for food), riding on an elephant’s back (trekking) or attending a show.

* Phajaan Ritual (VIDEO): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVckvi_gWVo

* Further INFO/PHOTOS on Phajaan:



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