Progressive Independent Creative Collective


Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

The Last Stand at Mona

A battle buried in antiquity
When Rome invaded Ynys Môn with might
Yet druids still gather on Anglesey;

The fourteenth legion crossed the Irish Sea
Cavalry, infantry—soldiers alight,
A battle buried in antiquity;

Women hollered curses like the banshee
In black, disheveled, a terrible fright,
Yet druids still gather on Anglesey;

Brave armed warriors faced the enemy
With brands of flame, each one ready to fight,
A battle buried in antiquity;

The Romans slew the druids savagely,
Blood soaked altars, groves cut down through the night,
Yet druids still gather on Anglesey;

Rome herself has vanished in history,
Rowanberries grow on this sacred site,
A battle buried in antiquity,
Yet druids still gather on Anglesey.

© 2020 Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Greetings from the Woolly Mammoth God

Hi friends, this email was written by my late friend Anne (1943-2010) who I worked with at the Greenwood Fred Meyer in North Seattle for years. I post it every year to remember her. Please share and remember my friend Anne.


Greetings from the Woolly Mammoth God, and his representative on earth, Anne Gilbert!


Sent: Friday, November 17, 2000 11:48 PM

To all:

Greetings from the Woolly Mammoth God, and his representative on earth, Anne Gilbert!

November 18 is a significant day in the Northern Hemisphere (and in the Southern also, but for different reason). Why is it significant? It is the day the sun sets in Barrow, Alaska. The sun will not rise again for 64 days. Out on the tundra, the moon will rise and set, rise and set, the Northern Lights will flame into a rainbow of colors, and the wolves will howl beneath the stars. Human beings will huddle in their dwellings and watch the Northern Lights flicker and flame.

Farther south, the dark and the rain and the cold will close in. The sun will rise and set each day, but between November 18 and January 24, dark, dreary, cold, enlivened, or perhaps threatened, by an occasional snow, will set in. In wild places, trees will be bare, the ground frozen, and life will be hard for the wild inhabitants of forest and plain. Humans will be subject to colds and flu, and their misery will spread with the dark, shortened days. 

But all will not be misery, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, for it will be a time of celebration as well. With the lessening of the sunlight, will come the turning on of many-colored lights on houses and Christmas trees and whatever surface is flat enough to string a wire. People will gather together (in the US, at least) to visit and pass the time with family and friends on Thanksgiving, perhaps really to give thanks for the blessings they may have received throughout the year. There will be other winter holidays too, occasions for visits and celebrations with family and friends: Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, New Years. Yes, trees will be bare and the ground either soggy or frozen, depending on where one is, but there will also be joy and companionship for many. And yes, there will be time for reflection as well.

The same is true, in reverse, for those living in the Southern Hemisphere. These same 64 days will bring an increase in light and heat, and the return of outdoor activities and pleasures. Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere lucky enough to live near a beach will doubtless spend time there doing something pleasurable with family and friends. Others might plant a garden and watch it grow and flower. Perhaps there will be long walks in the mild, ambient air, underneath a beneficent sun. Those of you living in the Southern Hemisphere may not have to worry about colds and flu, but there will, of course, be such problems as sunburn and the hole in the ozone layer, but the many of the holidays celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere are also celebrated in the Southern, and again, these are times for renewal of friendship, companionship, exchanging of news, and just plain merriment. Here too, there will be time for reflection.

What Should people in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere reflect upon, asks the Woolly Mammoth God? 

The most important thing is, that all seasons are times of change. In the depths of winter, there is always the hope of spring, and leaves budding, flowers poking their green leaves and buds out of the cold earth, of birds returning once again to sing, set up territories, mate, and raise young of their kind. There is always the hope of renewal, even in the depths of darkness. In the Southern Hemisphere, the reflection will take the opposite course: that all the sunshine and light are finite, and changing, as the world inevitably turns its endless cycle. The plants will fade and sleep, and the cold, the rain, the shortened days and perhaps the misery, will come again, to be followed in their inevitable course by the distant spring. For, wherever you are, there is always change and renewal.

And, for all of us, Northern and Southern Hemisphere inhabitants, in the midst of festivity and merriment, we are, ultimately alone, in our own skins, no matter how close our companions, no matter how much they are willing to share with us. By the same token, when we are alone, the memories of past companionship give us comfort, and the promise that there will be other times when we will not be alone. Times change, times stay the same, and there is always the knowledge that in the midst of joy, some sorrow is inevitable, and in the midst of sorrow, there will be joy, just as a rainbow promises the end of the most terrible thunderstorms. 

The sun will set in Barrow, Alaska on November 18, and it will rise again on January 24, as it always does. For darkness and light are always intertwined, as are joy and sorrow, life, death, and the seasons. In the depths of darkness, there is always time for reflection, and a ray of light will shine.

And so, the Woolly Mammoth God, and his representative on earth bid you farewell for the moment, leaving, it is hoped, ample room for reflection.

Anne Gilbert, Representative to the Woolly Mammoth God

Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Elegy for Jim Radford

Born in Hull, his melodious voice will not cease,
Nor quit singing about all the horrors of war
As a bard and wise elder of Veterans for Peace;

Such sadness on knowing this final release,
In a loss for the world we farewell our troubadour
Born in Hull, his melodious voice will not cease;

He has gone now, flying away with a skein of geese
Calling out to us from afar, this orator
As a bard and wise elder of Veterans for Peace;

His life will always be with us, as ambergris
Floats in the ocean until it reaches the shore,
Born in Hull, his melodious voice will not cease;

Sometimes life seems overflowing with caprice,
When this friend was ushered out that open door
As a bard and wise elder of Veterans for Peace;

Lament him now with a song of the Northern seas,
Remember him who climbed to the top of the tor,
Born in Hull, his melodious voice will not cease,
As a bard and wise elder of Veterans for Peace.

© by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Oxey Mead Park

I lay on the grasses in rolling fog,
In yellow hayrattle and fairy flax,
By the dusky moorland and blanket bog;

The snipe chirps out her plaintive monologue,
A skylark warbles while diving her tracks,
I lay on the grasses in rolling fog;

Life continues her subtle dialogue,
The sun recites hymns to the zodiacs,
By the dusky moorland and blanket bog;

The peaceful clouds roll by in epilogue
Casting shadows in forgotten syntax,
I lay on the grasses in rolling fog;

The meadow hums in ancient analog,
Oxeye daisies keep their secretive pacts
By the dusky moorland and blanket bog;

I need no other church or synagogue
Within my particular parallax,
I lay on the grasses in rolling fog
By the dusky moorland and blanket bog.

Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

Deadman’s Walk

I wandered stone streets in Oxford that day
Not lost, but looking for light in the spires,
Ancient limestone, sharp thorns in the briers
Or even the scent of a rose bouquet.
Down Merton Street to a gated archway,
Passing through it to see what transpires—
Walking the footpath of humble friars
To an old iron swing gate, then I stray
Just outside the old city wall, to space
On steps at the start of the Deadman’s Walk
Where Jewish funeral processions took place,
Buried under unconsecrated rock—
When a wood pigeon calls with sudden grace,
Coo, Coo, Coo, spontaneous, all ad hoc.

Writing by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff

The Tomb of Karl Marx

My pilgrimage started on the Overground to transfer
to the Jubilee and Northern lines, then boarded a

Pantone Red 271 bus, walked downhill through
Waterlow Park to arrive at Highgate Cemetery

where everyone had prepaid for a specific
30-minute timeslot. I was given a map of the

cemetery, I followed all the signs and walked
the dirt path to his tomb and the first thing

I notice is how large it is. His bronze head is
gargantuan and there are bouquets of flowers

at the base. There’s a steady trickle of people
to view the monument, and people are taking

photos. A French family asks me to take theirs’
so I do and then I ask them to snap my picture

with left fist raised. His famous quote about
change is on the front of the giant black marble

pedestal. As I leave I don’t feel different and
am still part of the poor working masses.

I guess my journey worked. You should go.
Bring flowers and revolution.


Boudica’s Final Hour

I hear the soldier’s footsteps right outside From Roman legions which are hunting me— A mother, warrior, Boudica, queen. That swarm of angry hornets aims to sting My skin with fire, piercing me with pain. I will never accept an end like that. Now happily spared the brutality Since you opened up the door to hide me, Anam Cara, you prove to be a friend, To help in my hour of direst need Just as we had previously agreed. I gift you this torc, irreplaceable— For your kindness, so it is not plundered. Help my daughters I pray, speak of this day. See this vial that had herbs and honey; Some mandrake, hemlock, needles of the yew I just drank from—to end my life this hour. The soldiers in the road are almost here. They ask about me, going door to door; ‘She has long red hair, coarse voice, and is tall’ One hour is all that remains. Listen— These troubles began with my husband’s death Prasutagus wanted us to have half His estate—but Rome wanted everything Like I was not a real human being. They took all my neighbors properties too. I protested, so they flogged me and then These monsters raped my daughters, twelve and ten. This bloodthirsty pack of rabid jackals— It did not bother them. They are the dead. Their culture is criminal. No goodness. Only dominance. The Pax Romana Is simply the dehumanization Of the world. Removing all compassion. But our eyes are open, we see what is. The peace of Rome is just a lie, a jest So the wicked can swarm over the earth, Turn kindness into cruelty, bring death. The Druids just made their heroic fight On the island of Mona, but fell fast. Then tribes met and decided together We could not allow these wrongs to remain Without a struggle. Win or lose—we fight. We all must take arms against Roman ‘rule.’ I was chosen to lead the daring charge In which we defeated the ninth legion. It was such horror. The women hanging. The multitude of the dead. The babies Crying as their mothers were killed. The stench. The burning. The screaming. The bloody deaths. First the capital Camulodunum Then Londinium, Verulamium. Listen close—my previous life was good. My mind has many pleasant memories: Camping by the Wensome chalk river shores, Running in green fields, picking spring flowers, Exploring the sand dunes and pine forests, A picnic on the mud flats, carefree days At home with my family in the village, Watching the terns, sedge warblers and swallows, Lessons in cooking and animal care, Untamed rivers and lakes, games with my friends, Sandy beaches, marshes, fens, and reed beds, The barn owl who liked to sing every night, Lovely conversations with my husband, Working in the garden with my daughters, Magical countryside, large gray stone blocks, Tall flint walls in a nearby Roman town, Spongy saltmarsh, woodlands, and butterflies. It was all a gift, all blessed—and now I feel an unexpected clarity. Some sudden light illuminates my mind. Serene as tufted clouds in summer skies Slowly floating through the expanse of air. Calm like the lark who watches from her perch. Weightless like a small dandelion seed. Freedom. I can float away with the breeze. I feel attuned to the sun and the sky, To the yellow oxlip, rosettes of leaves, Clusters of spring flowers under the trees. I feel a presence and sense life moving, Spirit in all things, living soul, divine Shimmer of being within, so sublime. Yet my body weakens and breath grows still I must lie down, the end—she calls me near. Very soon, I will be travelling there With the great heron out to the North Sea To dance with the deep, where I will just be; Roaming the headwaters and tidal flats Liminal as light upon the surface, In waves that crash on rounded marshy coasts. Think of me as the sun rises each dawn When you feel that surge of an inner strength With each ephemeral moment of time. I promise to be there eternally, Immersed, one with the great estuary. c. 2020 Ruth Ann Oskolkoff


The Vigil in Crossbones Memorial Garden

Those old iron gates found on Redcross street,
This shrine in Southwark will open the door,
Where the outcast dead and living might meet;

In Crossbones Garden lay the obsolete-
Prostitutes, children, the bones of the poor
By old iron gates found on Redcross street;

Statues, purple flowers, a wooden seat,
Thousands of ribbons left forevermore
Where the outcast dead and living might meet;

Rest in peace, all these vigils will repeat
For all you working girls from years before,
Under iron gates found on Redcross street;

This sacred site is always bittersweet,
Always grim but with beauty we adore,
Where the outcast dead and living might meet;

I sit and think their tale is incomplete,
Their plight now impossible to ignore,
On old iron gates found on Redcross street
Where the outcast dead and living might meet.

© 2020 by Ruth Ann Oskolkoff