Poetry from Janine Canan

Cycle of Civilizations


I have always felt like a shoot on a branch of a long tradition—

a legacy continuing from the Paleolithic and beyond—

that rose out of Mother Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago

peopling the Earth in waves that spread over Arabia,

round India to Indonesia and aboriginal Australia; migrating north—

a few, twenty thousand years later—to the Caucasus

and several thousand years later forking East over the Bering Strait

to Turtle Island—heading south to the tip of Tierra del Fuego—

and West throughout Europe—always leaving their life-prints,

thoughts and visions etched and painted on rock,

leaf, ice or wood, eventually printed on paper

bound in books, read on computers.


But now it seems that computers, libraries and forests

may soon litter deserts as snowless mountains crumble

into dust in the naked blaze of the Sun—

and carpet the vast ocean that covers most of our Earth.

And who among the remaining will remember

the thousands of languages so long and painstakingly preserved?

And who will even know how to find the wild edibles,

the unsalted water, and prepare the grassy grains?

Will they gather round a fire under dazzling skies

telling stories they barely recall—singing, dancing and praying

to Mother Moon and the myriad stars, waking before dawn

to go hunting for berries, fruits, nuts, roots and mushrooms,

greens, fish and clear water—marking the caves

with their signs as they pass?


This has happened before.

Will the cascading stream of human culture—of song and story,

medicine, science and sacred knowledge—run dry,

narrow as the once mighty Saraswati River

that today yields only a few drops?


Watery World


Bangkok is drowning,

Houston quaking,

Manhattan is going under.

Venice wades deeper,

Shanghai sways in its swamp,

Mexico City’s lake-bed is crumbling

and New Orleans is nearly sunk.


All is flux, Heraclitus says.

The water is changing

wherever we step in the river.

He laid his book at Artemis’ feet

and wandered into the hills.

His tome and Her temple are gone

but the weeping words never stop flowing.





There is a War

going on between Mankind

and Nature.

Guess who

is going to win.


Of course, we could


—JANINE CANAN, forthcoming in Consciousness


Janine Canan is the award-winning author of over twenty books. They include her poetry collections Mystic Bliss, Ardor, Changing Woman, Shapes of Self and Of Your Seed, an NEA grant recipient; illustrated stories including Journeys with Justine and Walk Now in Beauty, read in the Navajo Literacy Project; and two essay collections, Goddesses Goddesses and My Millennium. Janine translated early 20th century European poets Francis Jammes in Under the Azure and Else Lasker-Schüler in Star in My Forehead; and edited the women’s poetry anthology, She Rises like the Sun: Invocations of the Goddess, recipient of the Koppelman Award; the posthumous poetry of Lynn Lonidier, Rhyme of the Agèd Mariness; and several volumes of teachings by the Indian sage Mata Amritanandamayi, Messages from Amma (“Best Spiritual Book 2004“), Garland of Love and Love Is My Religion, forthcoming in 2019. In 2009 she received the Sacred Feminine Award. Graduate of Stanford University with distinction and New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Canan is also a private psychiatrist in northern California and a volunteer for Embracing the World. She can be contacted at JanineCanan.com and on Facebook.