Some of my Poems

For the last five or six years I have been writing poetry whenever the inspiration strikes. I thought this platform would be a nice way to share some of my poems with all of you. Enjoy!

Islands

The island looks alone,
surrounded by the darkest blue waters.
The mind feels alone,
encompassed by an ocean of thought.
But,
the island is not alone,
it remains connected to the earth.
Supported,
like a birch stand, its fellow trees
meters away.
Connected.

The mind is not alone,
it remains connected to the body.
Touch me. Feel my presence.
My warmth.
I am always here for you.
I am beating.
I am breathing.
I am you.

Island and ocean, mind and body,
Seamless.

Universal Language

Fun is a universal language.
Fun is infectious but kind.
It bubbles up from the put of your belly.
It erupts from the tip of your spine.

Laughter is to be cherished.
The joy I can see in your face.
It bubbles up from the pit of your belly.
And you realize…

Everything is already okay.
Doubt is something self created.
I’m flawed and I’m okay with that.
Each moment carries with it an opportunity.
To learn from falling down,
to embrace your mistakes,
to have fun and to laugh,
even when you feel small.

Rooting

Grow deep like tree roots
the Earth beneath welcomes you
relax now, grow deep.

Reaching

Reach up like branches
the sky above welcomes you
reach up now, grow tall.

Perspective

Think a level deeper, to the space outside of you. Past the deep blue. Through the darkness of the vast unknown. Past asteroids and stars unnamed. Drift past the nebulas and black holes and the vast amounts of space between them and notice how small you really are.

Think a level deeper, to the space inside of you. Past the thin skin. Through the layers of muscle, tissue and bone. Down to each individual cell, each strand of DNA. Past the spinning electrons, the atoms themselves and the vast amounts of space between them and notice how big you really are.

The Rock

A rock looks to be still from a narrow perspective, but expand your view to that of the rocks entire journey and a new image springs to life.

From the rocks formation into the planets tectonic plates, to being pushed thousand of feet up in the air to form the mountains, to its continuous erosion from glaciers and powerful rivers, and its eventual resting place as a singular grain of sand on a beach or ocean floor. The rock has a fantastic journey!

Where are you on your journey? Take the time to appreciate this chapter of your life, but then notice when it’s time to move on, to explore existing in a different state. To reach for your heels for the first time in camel pose, or to listen to that deep yearning for a longer savasana.

The River of Flow

The flow of a river is much like the flow of the breath. At times the river gets calm and gentle, flowing slowly, softly and with ease.

But the river has the power to build, as does the breath, and shows its power thorough churning eddies, thunderous rapids and glorious waterfalls.

In all of these states there is flow, in every pose there is flow, there is breath.

Fresh Start

Every batch of beer is a new brew,
a fresh start.
Everyday is a new beginning,
a fresh start.
Every pose is a moment for mindfulness,
a fresh start.
Every single moment, this second here — and this one now –, each is a fresh start, a moment for opportunity, open mindedness, joy and inclusion.

Patience Under a Tree

Getting to know something takes time.
Everyday I could sit under the same tree,
and not in a lifetime
would I know its whole story.

Less

Can less be more?
No electricity,
the pipes are empty,
the pump is off,
the woodstove is inviting.
“Do less.” it seems to suggest,
“Sit in my warmth. Let me hold you closer.”
“I’ve got you.”

I fall fast asleep after the sun sets,
both a hostage and guest of the darkness and fire.

I rise as the sun does,
at first just a hint of gray creeps through the blinds.
The cold from outside continues its steady path inwards.
I feel it on my toes.

Thoughts come slower here,
where the batteries are dead and the outlets are miles away.
Where the water comes from a bucket you dipped into the lake.
Put another log on the fire.
Stay awhile.

Fragile Body

This body so fragile dances upon the earth.
Blood Flowing. Pulsing.
Contained by but a thin papery exterior.
It is pierced. I am spreading. Unconstrained.
My blood blends with the dirt beneath the grass. I watch from above.
It spills out of me crimson red, darkening from the soil and oxidization.

Where is me?

The boundaries are blurring.
To my knees, on my knees. Draining.
Sweat builds on my brow. Palms pulse.

Rushing.
Slowing.
Rushing.
Slowing.
Slower.
Slow.
She breaks through my daze with a calm
“Hello?”

We rush away. Let me heal.
This body so fragile dances upon the earth.

Internal Rhythm

And so we were moved. Seeing all around us.
“Journey with us” they pleaded, and so we left our boat decked setting foot to sand and soil.
Drawn deeper by that distand call, one that possessed our feet to move.
Rhythmically.

And so we were moved. Feeling all around us.
“Dance with us!” they encouraged, and so we left the shore, moving inward, setting foot to beat and drum. Driven deeper by our internal rhythm, one that called forth a willingness to move.
Artistically.

And so we were moved. Joining all together. We held hands, blending, moving ’round the fire with vigor. The stars above pulling at our attention, slowing our pace.

We synchronize with softness. Floating foot from soil to sky, and from sky to stars.
And so we were moved.

Tamed Ground, Wild Edges

Looking out over tamed ground with wild edges. Popcorn sky of clouds casting their shadows upon prairie fields and coulis below.

The wide and powerful river of Peace, cutting deep down through the fertile soil.

We walk trails through canola broken by black bear, past saskatoon berry and chokecherry lunch. Matted grass where she laid down to rest.

The city isn’t calling anymore, I can’t even feel its pull.
I could lay down in the grass and fall asleep. Here.

How can somewhere I’ve never been feel so familiar? Is it the prairie air? The taste of the dill in the borscht?
Longing for an open field with blowing grass, for hands in soil.
I can imagine the crunching of snow beneath my boots.

I feel a calling to this place as I look out over the tamed ground with wild edges.

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Questions about the yoga classes Matthew offers?

The Beginner’s Mind Garden

When my partner and I began this project it was just a dream, but a dream that we’ve shared together for many years. With our farming experience this past summer we felt that we knew enough to finally embark upon this larger gardening adventure together, that being said we definitely don’t know all we need to yet, so right now is a great time to live with the intention of having a ‘beginner’s mind’.

the open-minded skeptic/witness

I’ve often taught a yoga class with the intention and it has helped me grow tremendously as a teacher and as a student of yoga. Moving through life with a beginner’s mind is to be an open-minded skeptic. I love this definition of beginner’s mind. Terence McKenna, one of my favorite thinkers, uses it to describe a good state of mind to have while taking psilocybin mushrooms. He says “Rationalism in confrontation with the weird edges is what’s always worked for me. In other words, if you’re a true believer, if you have some pre-packaged philosophy, then you’re going to miss a great deal because you’re pre-programmed to ignore what doesn’t fit into your model. And it doesn’t matter what your model is. But if you’re simply the open-minded skeptic/witness, and then if you push at the edges of the phenomenal world, you know, go to the highest mountains, the oldest cities, the deepest deserts, the most remote jungles, and just simply put yourself in these circumstances, the cosmic giggle can get at you. — this thing can rise out of the depths, and communicate if it chooses, shape your life, for sure, blow your mind.” (source: here).

Be the open-minded skeptic/witness. To quote another, the zen master Shunryo Suzuki, also known as Suzuki Roshi says “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”.

The garden me and my partner are planting is the prime example of needing these mental states of mind to help us progress successfully. We need to witness what happens with the garden and respond to it, to bare witness to the multitude of differing needs of each of the plants. We also need to remain open minded so that we do not box ourselves in (literally and metaphorically speaking ;))

the garden

In the last blog post on the garden adventure we had just finished ploughing the soil, collecting a ton of cardboard, and having a blast with Maylene and Robin from Loveland Acres, let’s continue!

Now that the soil was loosened we could start forming our raised beds, a technique that Maylene and Robin have suggested we use to help with organization, yield, and ensure the additions we make to it can be modular. For example, if all of your garden beds are the same height, width, and length then you can use your caterpillar greenhouses or agricultural fleece on any row. You can also rotate the crops around the garden easily knowing that your structures and your pieces of plastic/reemay will fit anywhere you need them to be.

the raised beds

So the day after ploughing the soil Emily and I returned with two landscaping rakes. The soil was still soft and loamy and it was fairly easy work to form the beds. I couldn’t imagine doing this in the Spring, when it’s mucky and dense in the soil. We ended up with 7 garden beds that turned out to be 60 ft long each, and one last bed, the 8th, that could only be 50 ft long because of soil density in that area of the land. Forming these beds took us about 4 hours, and after we had finished it all, we were pretty tired and ready for the couch.

the cardboard

Now that the garden beds were formed, things were really starting to look good! The next step we had initially planned was to cover the beds with cardboard. I explain this lasagna gardening technique in my first gardening blog post, here. I had spent quite a lot of time dumpster diving for cardboard during the month of October, but I didn’t gather quite enough, in fact I only had gathered enough to cover half of the garden. The idea with lasagna gardening is to create nice rich soil bed, but after the plough came through the land we all realized that the soil was already VERY nice and VERY rich looking, and luckily fairly deep before turning to clay. It was time to shift gears.

We also planted garlic in the top most bed of the garden! Garlic needs to sit in the soil over the winter, so, we literally just got it in the ground in time, perhaps it little bit too late, but here’s hoping!

the poly

This brings us to our next learning experience, the forecast called for snow very soon, and we need those beds covered before it comes down. Covering the beds is a really important part of keeping the weed pressure down in the Spring while things are getting established, it also helps melt the snow quickly so that you can plant sooner in the season. I hopped in our truck and headed down to grab a roll of black and white poly. The roll was 100 ft long and 10 ft wide, in the end we needed two rolls to cover up the garden beds. The cardboard conveniently ended up moving from the lower half of the garden where we had placed, it to now covering up all the paths that go between the rows. It actually worked out to be quite amazing!

We cut the two rolls of poly into 8 pieces, each measuring 5 ft by 50 ft, and decided that this would be the new length of all our garden beds. We chopped off the end 5 feet of each garden bed down to accommodate getting the most for our money out of the plastic. If we had of stuck with 60 ft long beds we would have needed another whole roll of the poly, and it isn’t cheap at $95.00 per roll. Plus there are only two of us maintaining this garden, so let’s be real, eight 50 ft beds are enough!

the snow

The same evening that we finished placing all the poly and cardboard down it started to snow, and it came down quite a lot!

Now for planning and dreaming during the winter months. Time for sketching up garden beds on paper with a cup of tea, and a blanket by the fire. I can’t wait for what will come next year, and I am open-minded to merely witnessing what presents itself, with a healthy dose of skepticism.

-Matthew Carter

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Questions about the yoga classes Matthew offers?

Garden With a Little Help From My Friends

This is a continuation of my gardening journey, so if you haven’t read my first post titled “Yoga. Like a Garden.“, do that first!

Last, I left you with our plans of ploughing the cleared land with the help of Robin and Maylene, collecting what felt like way too much cardboard (which was actually not nearly enough in the end), and getting our water retention system installed!

On October 31st, Emily and I woke up early, as excited about the plans we had made with Robin and Maylene to plough the land as some of the little kids out there must have been for the evening’s upcoming candy booty! We made steel cut oats for breakfast with canned saskatoon berries and peaches, topped with homemade yogurt and cinnamon. Yum. After breakfast we headed down to the local Farmer’s Market to buy some things for our lunch. We walked right to the Loveland Acres stand where Robin and Maylene stood looking quite bundled and cozy in their plaid fleece jackets. We chatted for a bit then bought some really nice produce from them including a bunch of beets, celeriac root, and leeks. Maylene also threw in some winter radishes for free, they had and amazing taste and a lovely red and white colour inside. We also bought some apple strudel and sourdough bread from Inspired Breads, a local bakery.

We ran home with our market booty and quickly chopped up the leeks, celeriac root, and a butternut squash we already had at home. We placed it all into our pressure cooker for 20 minutes with some chicken stock, pureed and seasoned it, and there you have it, fresh soup from the market!

The plan was to meet Robin and Maylene up at Sue’s house at around 12:30, so we packed up the pressure cooker with the hot soup still inside, bagged up the bread and apple strudels, then we hopped in our truck and scooted on over. They were there when we arrived, ready to unload their small tractor and plough attachment. This thing may look like a rototiller but it is indeed just a very small tractor. It’s got some serious power and when they hooked up the Ground Blaster attachment I couldn’t help but crack a huge smile! The best part is that this thing all fit in the back of their truck, so convenient, though it did take all four of us to lift the machine down!

Since Maylene and Robin had a long morning working the Farmer’s Market, we set up a table outside for lunch before we began working for the afternoon. Emily’s aunt made a pot of tea, and the five of us all sat outside in the Saturday sunlight and enjoyed our soup and fresh bread, with apple strudels for dessert!

Now came the work, Robin and I walked down to the plot of land and I pointed out where the edges of our garden plot would be. He started up the machine then ran a strip down the very middle of the plot, he then began making lines running the machine back and forth on either side of that initial middle line, a smart technique. As Robin ran the machine, Maylene, Emily and I followed him round and round picking up rocks as they got unearthed by the Ground Blaster. I could see how hard it was to run the machine, it definitely took some upper body strength to control it as it hit the larger rocks and roots.

It took us a few hours to get the entire area ploughed, the afternoon sunlight was beginning to dim and our bodies were growing tired. This part of the process had come to an end!

The next step was coming back to form the raised garden beds, plant some garlic and lay out what we thought would be too much cardboard, but turned out to be not nearly enough.

You can follow my teaching journey online and buy passes or subscriptions to my content, this is all on my website at www.matthewcarteryoga.com.

See you in the next chapter of the journey!

-Matthew Carter

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Questions about the yoga classes Matthew offers?

Yoga. Like a Garden.

My partner Emily and I recently moved to Salmon Arm, BC in the pursuit of a place to grow our own garden. While bunking at Emily’s aunts place we were offered the use of a lovely piece of land from her landlord Sue. Sue owns about an acre in the Salmon Arm area where she and Barb (Emily’s Aunt) live and Sue just happens to be a Master Organic Gardener! At the end of August 2020 Sue hired an excavator to come to her property to begin the initial work of clearing the bush off of a large section of her land. For 3 days the excavator dug up small trees, brush, rocks and some small boulders. I watched as it happened imagining the months of grueling work that would take to do by hand. Think of all the people in the world that still have no choice but to work the soil to ensure they can make it through the harsh seasons to come. Hands sore from swinging the mattock through the dense soil and using it to cut through the tangle of roots. Moving massive rocks by hand or with tree trunks as giant levers. If one was lucky enough perhaps even using animals yoked to their ploughs to turn the soil. I’ll bet their bodies were sore from the work, but I also know from experience that hard work can make the body more resilient, if you do it correctly.

I had never felt as strong as I did after those months I spent on the farm, it uses your whole body. But it also can leave you quite sore from all of the stooping low to sow the seeds, then stooping low again to weed around them by hand to protect their gentle structures from the fast moving weeds. Then doing this week after week. I happen to be lucky enough to not have to rely entirely on my garden to stay alive, that being said, I still hope things work out in the most magnificent of ways, because I really like pesto ;).

After the excavator had finished up with the required work we began to move onto the land by foot to remove as much of the leftover sticks and rocks as we could. About a month later we returned to the location to clip down any plants that had started to grow, and then the next step was to get the soil turned using a plough. We think this will help to halt the growth of the roots and shoots from the old brush potentially growing back over the winter and spring months. Removing the unwanted materials from the area felt necessary to be able to nurture the new growth that we intended on bringing it next spring. This is so similar to the times I have found myself on my yoga mat, needing to do a little bit of personal weeding. In life there are times where you need to clear out the old and make room for the new, just like Rumi says in a line one of my favorite poems titled The Guest House, “they may be clearing you out for some new delight.” I imagined the land screamed out wondering, ‘who is this “unexpected visitor”?’ I long to tell it of what we have in store for it, or perhaps the land longs to tell us of what it has in store for us.

After cleaning up the area of debris we staked out the perimeter of the garden which was to be 40 ft by 60 ft. The resulting rectangle was… almost a rectangle, close enough. Straight lines are boring anyways;). The stakes, however, did provide a helpful visual of just how large our intended garden area is going to be next spring.

One of the things with a large garden is that you need a large amount of water to keep your plants from withering during the hot times of the year, and with the potential of the water restrictions that are often placed on this area, we just couldn’t risk that happening. We decided to install a water collection and retention system by using an massive up-cycled plastic drum that was previously used to hold coconut oil on an industrial scale. It’s hard to tell in the pictures below, but this thing is massive! After picking up the plastic drum from a local salvager I washed it extremely using a pressure washer and soapy water. This step was absolutely disgusting, I won’t shy around it. The smell of the old rancid oil in the drum…. gag. Once washed out and squeaky clean, we plopped it down on four cinder blocks beside Sue’s house. Previously, I had leveled off a 5×5 ft spot on the hill just about the garden, work that I truly love doing. Leveling dirt is so satisfying! Next Sue hired someone to rig up one of her eavestroughs to the top of the drum and voila, gravity fed water retention system installed! Sometimes our yoga practice can be like this for our lives, helping to build a container to hold some of the goodness of life, a container you can draw from when you’re feeling dry, when times are tough.

During the whole month of October I had used some of my time each week to jump into the cardboard dumpster at the local Fold Parts Department and load it all into our pickup truck, Goldie (featured in the background of one of the photos above!). We were gathering cardboard for a technique known as lasagna gardening, a layering technique used to build a healthy base for you garden. Once I had gone through the process of gathering all of the cardboard Emily and I drove it up to Sue’s place and unloaded it. The only step that remained was to remove all of the plastic tape and sticker labels on the cardboard, because who wants that in their organic garden lasagna! Stickers taste gross, just ask Charlie.

The next part of the story requires a little bit of context. When my partner and I first moved to Salmon Arm, BC we attended a meeting in late August held by the Young Agrarians where we met an amazingly generous and unique couple who were running a small first year farm they call Loveland Acres. Maylene and Robin toured the group through their farm on what the Young Agrarians call a Land Social. Attendees were shown the greenhouse, the movable caterpillar greenhouse, their irrigation system, general farm operations and layout. After the tour we were invited to ask any questions we had, then we were served an amazing locally catered dinner by the representative from the Young Agrarians. This whole event was totally free, they only want to spread the awareness of farming, land sharing, and community development on a grassroots level. After meeting Maylene and Robin we began seeing them around town at the farmers markets where my partner was selling her soap from her business One Batch Soap. We began talking a bit more and eventually we worked up the courage to ask Maylene and Robin to help us turn the soil we had just finished prepping. They agreed and are we have now planned to have them come down to Sue’s land with their tractor during the first week of November of 2020 to plough through our freshly prepared land. That’s Robin and Maylene in the photos below!

This garden is requiring community to be completed. Without Sue, Barb, the Young Agrarians, Maylene & Robin, the Ford Parts Department ;), Emily & I all working together, it would never be happening. This is how I often feel about the practice of Yoga, it really helps to have a community of people beside you as you move through your practice. Sure you can do it alone but to know that someone else is there alongside you, breathing with you, dedicated to the time on their mat is powerful. Though they are not next to you they are still with you, perhaps having a hard time in Warrior 2, or an emotional time in Pigeon Pose, or anything else they may feel, this is community. It makes us more compassionate humans to share space with and commune with others, and yoga is a great way of doing just that, even if it does have to be via Zoom these days due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from everyone who is a part of this garden project, it is teaching me so much and giving me the opportunity to see how mindfulness can come into every aspect of life. More garden posts sure to come in the spring!

-Matthew Carter

Emily and Matthew looking out over their new garden.

Matthew Carter Yoga & Fitness

Founded in 2020 by Matthew Carter.

Questions about the yoga classes Matthew offers?