There are those who hear the voice of wheels – February 2021

From War Cry on a Prayer Feather, 1979, by Nancy Wood


There are those who hear the voice of wheels

And call it music.

And those who hear a symphony

In butterfly wings.

There are those who ride a highway

And call it beauty.

And those who follow the straight line

Of a spider’s silver thread.

There are those who define living

As existence only

And those who cannot live

Except to define existence first.

There are those who run in circles

And those who simply run

And those who find movement

In the greatest stillness.

Go one way or the other.

Fight for wheels or butterfly wings.

Travel on highways or spider threads.

Take up the cause of movement.

Bury stillness with the dead.

Abandon home for the popular place.

Kill the roots by girdling the tree.

Those who know the greatest comfort

Take not the greatest ease.

Those who prosper most

Prosper more with less.

Who speaks for animals who cannot talk? – September 2019

From War Cry on a Prayer Feather, 1979, by Nancy Wood


Who speaks for animals who cannot talk?

Who sees for flowers which are blind?

Who guards the river which has but one course?

Who represents the mountain in time?

Who comes here to argue for the life of beavers?

Who will tell of the importance of snails?

Who has seen the mantis shed his skin?

Who believes in butterfly wings?

I am nature’s advocate

Ten million birds

Ten million trees

Ten million animals

Ten million fish

Are mine.

I will fight you in this room

And out of it.

I will dare you to define


On the face of a dime.

I would like to be a tree – October 2018


From War Cry on a Prayer Feather, 1979, by Nancy Wood


I would like to be a tree

but you would cut me down.

I would like to be a river

but you would build a dam.

I would like to be a bird

but you would poison what I eat.

I would like to be a deer

but you would shoot me for my meat.

I would like to be a fish

but you would catch me in your net.

I would like to be a coyote

but you would want me for my skin.

I would like to be a grizzly bear

but you would kill me because I’m rare.

I would like to be a flower

but you would pick me to take home.

I would like to be what I am.

Is there any hope for that?

What the Trees Said When They Fell – March 2017

From Shaman’s Circle, 1996, by Nancy Wood


The forest was an ancient tangle, so dense that whispers

could not be heard between the leaves, so tall

That birds became caught in branches and never reached

the sunlight, but spent their lives in the twilight

Layer where moss hung like ropes and the mist of ages

clung thickly to the air. Trees grew like sentinels

To history, older than animals, birds, or fish ever dreamed

of becoming when they were young and believed


That life would last forever. Those trees knew forever meant

long centuries of observation of weather, birds,

And animals, also ferns and moss, the sliding nature of

rocks embedded in mud and the temperament of snails.

Those trees grew up knowing all about one another, side by

side in a moss-green light, comforted by wind trying

To get between them and by rain falling in vertical shafts

anxious to penetrate their dry roots.


Those trees were necessary for balance, harmony, and beauty

in the world. All the animals and birds knew their importance

And spent their days and nights honoring their existence. Then brazen

people came and looked at the trees with calculating eyes.

They built roads and trails, then they cut them down, those ancient,

peaceful ones.


The trees fell gracefully, according to their nature,

one by one, with moans heard by birds and snails,

While in the river fish hid in dark pools. As the trees fell

they said: We bore witness to our time and

Each of you shall bear witness to a different time. Then,

where each tree fell, a child of destruction sprang up.

Full Circle – June 2014



Nancy Wood poem poster 18: Full Circle


Full Circle, from We Became as Mountains, 2008, by Nancy Wood


Some say the world is dying,
but I don’t believe them.
There is always something good to see.


My ancestors would not have given up.
I, in my modern house, cannot give up either.
To give up is to die.


My voice goes on
and I fight like a warrior for
creatures who cannot speak.
The voices of turtles and falcons are within me,
and I must put myself in Brother Bear’s skin.


The end is the beginning. The full circle
of my life is nothing more
than one footstep going on.