The Tower Journal

Janine Canan

from CONSCIOUSNESS: New & Selected Poems 1971—2014 (Regent Press, Oakland, Fall 2014)


Mother Earth, it is not you
who need to be invoked—
for you are always here!
But we your human children
who today must be invoked—
who have abandoned you, forgotten
to call upon you, neglected to care for you,
failed to serve you and disregarded your needs.

Help us now to awaken and remember
our obligations to you and all Earth’s beings.
Let your spirit fill us with love, appreciation and joy
and overwhelming desire to serve you in all that we do.
May we think and speak and act as one family of one Mother
who gives life to all and when it is time, takes it away.
Guide us, Great Mother, in every decision we make,
every habit we develop, every action we undertake.

May we never forget you again, beloved Mother Earth,
beautiful and bountiful source and resting place and wonder.

These Days

In my country they do almost
everything wrong—
and in other countries
it’s worse.

So I suppose I was lucky
to be born here, though I resisted
the general flow
from day one.

The materialism revolted me,
constant warfare infuriated—
no, I was not charming—not that
I do not value sweet charm.

Oh dear, old now, I have lost
the flow of my thought—
or rather, the flow
is losing me.

I float in this world of dreams—
so many of ecstatic beauty,
others devastating
in their malignant destructiveness.

These days, often, great waves of sorrow
wash over my heart.
Any tree, any bird, any baby
sets off weeping.

And I know that you know
what I mean.

Jeanne Of Congo

No, she was not burned at the stake.
She was tied to a tree
while gangs of men raped her over
and over for many weeks.

After her first surgery
they continued with their raping,
forcing her to give birth
in front of them and their guns.

the baby died or they
would have raped
and killed that new life too.)

Small dark young, Jeanne
struggles up onto the stage, speaking
with the loud voice, the laser focus,
the fury of pure Virtue.

My mouth is hers roaring from Bukavuto, Sonoma,
every continent on Earth: Are you tired yet
of your domineering pornographing predatory
lusting after the power

of demons? Are you satisfied yet—
ugly, cruel, stupid, useless,
vicious, hate-filled,
not even human?

You stole the sacred body
of a human being and you desecrate it
every time you dishonor
a woman.


I am not an aesthetic
I don’t really care
what color looks good

on me,
for I am what colors
the Earth most

my skin blends perfectly
with the sands,
my eyes flow
with the seas

my smile blooms
with the flowers,
my light shines inseparably
with the sun

My darkness glows
with the moon and the stars,
and when your eyes
have opened—

you will see.


The past is a cancelled check,
says the guru, it is gone—
so let it go!

The hours, the decades,
the centuries wasted
in holding on!

That is the weight
of history that bogs us down
and down.

The boulder of our regret
and resentment and failure
that pins us down.

Rise to the Moment
where everything
is fresh and new.

Pluck the fruit, the mushroom,
the healthy leaf that springs
forth now!


When you are in a forest—
think of all the levels.
Down deep where you can’t see
is a whole world.

Roots coil and curve in every direction...
worms, mud, bugs and seeds
among rock, and below
the molten zone.

But here on the ground
is the richest realm of all,
with its soil mulched by the deaths
of the countless, and new life

springing ever upward
into brilliant flowering bulb and
bush, tree and bromeliad.
Birds and millions of years of animals

roam, woman and man
and children resonating
like music with the leaves and moist air,
sunlight streaming down

through the sapphire blue light—
clouds drifting in perpetual journey—
and above them, hundreds of thousands of galaxies,
star diamonds birthing and dying.

Yes, think of all the levels
because we humans are like the forest
with our root people, worm people, mud people, seed people
orchid people, short yews and towering sequoias,

and a cosmos of slithering cold-bloods,
restless animal people and flying bird people—
above, the airy sphere of cloud people,
blazing sun people, soft moon people

and the innumerable star people who sparkle
most brilliantly in blackest night,
and all, evolving deeper and wider and higher
into the unknowable Mystery.


Some days I feel like
a far reaching ray of the sun.

Other days like the riverbed
under a great stream.

Other times, I’m just trying to wake up
from a deep sleep.

Or, I start taking mosquitoes seriously—
thinking when I finally reach

the highest peak
everything will be perfect.

It’s as if I’m practicing
on a child’s violin

when I am already playing
in the Symphony.

On the Road

Have you ever been tapped on the shoulder
by a Muse, and dragged by your hair
to pen and paper?

What about old-fashioned Inspiration—
and leaving all those other jottings
to the trash bin of the mind?

Teaching writing? Wouldn’t it be better
for everyone to read? Aren’t there
too many poems already

nobody wants to hear? Wouldn’t
it be kinder to serve hot soup
to somebody hungry?

Inspiration, what’s that anyway?
Where does it come from? Some goddess
you haven’t met yet?

Instead of trumped-up tricks, why not get out
on the road and just keep walking
until you meet Her.

The Moon and Me

The song I wrote in the Moon
sang back to me:
I love you, I heard.

—I love you too, Moon,
forever watching over me

Love your soft face
where a lover’s word can always
be secretly inscribed,

how you glow through the night,
and sometimes hide in a cloud
like a child.

—Oh I love you, my Poet,
sang out the Moon—love
how you write me your dreams,

your pains, your visions,
and pour your whole heart
into my pallor

filling me with the truth
that no man can really see.
I love your poet soul

that sees and weeps and sings
with unending love
for human possibility.

Copyright © 2014 Janine Canan

Janine CananJanine Canan is the author of twenty books including Mystic Bliss (forthcoming as App, eBook, & German translation) and Ardor: Poems of Life; award-winning anthologies, Messages from Amma and She Rises like the Sun: Invocations of the Goddess; key translations of French poet Francis Jammes and German Jewish poet Else Lasker-Schüler; a collection of essays, Goddesses Goddesses; and illustrated storybooks, Journeys with Justine and Walk Now in Beauty, read in the Navajo Literacy Project. Her work appears in journals, anthologies, films, on radio, television and internet. Born in La Ciudad de la Reina de los Angeles, Dr. Canan graduated from Stanford with distinction and New York University School of Medicine, and is today a private psychiatrist in Sonoma, California, volunteer consultant for Amma’s Embracing the World project. Visit for more information.

The Tower Journal
Fall/Winter 2014