Winning Words – Poetry

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Rocks by Reva Nelson
The lake called to me
My soul knew it needed this
Quaint comely town

The lake told me
Come here and you will heal
The sunsets will calm your anguish

The wind said
My gentle breeze will soothe your heart
The seagulls will make you laugh

Nature knew
That rolling waves massage a heart
And jagged rocks shred memories

Outside by Donna Wootton
The veils of snow do not drop softly.
They fall like props from Downton Abbey.
Scenes of drama meant to unsettle.

Weather a menu selection that offers
hearty stew for a stormy night to fuel
a body’s need for storing calories.

Winter turns with rising temperatures.
White blankets weigh little when full of air.
Invitations fall like confetti. Come hither.

Wait until the blow passes, and stillness
brings daylight to tempt indoor lives out
to feel the ground’s softness underfoot.

Cenotaph 11h/11d/11m by Wally Keller
They came quietly, the poppy-tagged people.

The Cenotaph was encircled, embraced, communitied.

Under the trees troubled with turbulent gusts, they stood still.

The vets, the cadets, the civilians, stood still.

In the cool, in the crisp, in the clear crystal air, they stood, still.

An old man sniffles the autumn air, a leaf falls, they stood still.

A tear snails silent down a widow’s cheek, an oak leaf falls.

Sunlight caroms off a medal of honour, they stood still.

Invocations, anthems, prayers and poetry, leaves fall, they stood still.

In the minute of silence, only the sound of wild things: wind, dogs, tots.

In the minute of silence, the trees disrobe their load of light.

The poppy-tagged people stood still amid the fallen leaves

and in the crisp stillness, loving memories of fallen warriors.

In the cold fall thrall of falling leaves, still they stood,

for freedom, for freedom, for ever, for all, for all time.

Song of the Sixties by Gwynn Scheltema
Andy’s up front in the psychedelic
bus smoking down the highway
eight miles high on a sunny afternoon
past strawberry fields forever
all the way to everywhere
leader of the pack, son of a
preacher man and he don’t mind the pot
holes ’cause this is the Age of Aquarius
and it’s all groovy, man
just groovy

and sweet Caroline sways,
solo dancer, brown eyed girl, flowers
in her hair Aurora
Butterfly of Peace
her no-shoes tapping
just a-clappin’ and a-tappin’
born to be wild
what a wonderful world and oh
the colours, man
oh the colours

and in the back, Joey’s watching
thinking can’t take my eyes off of you
you’re all I need to get by, my girl—
daydream believer
and he’s feeling good vibrations
in his cambric shirt
stroking his blue
guitar, beads on his vest jangling
in time
’cause he’s got rhythm, man
he’s got rhythm

and way in the back Jack and Julia
are staging a bed-in
on the old mattress
people got to be free
it’s now or never
don’t think twice
come stand by me
you gotta have love
all you need is love
give peace a chance
like they’re in some Montreal hotel

and the world turns
and tomorrow may never come
but today is groovy, man
love is free
love will steer the stars
and the moon is in its seventh house
and Jupiter lies with Mars
so don’t worry baby
it’s all good
Cambric (n) lightweight, closely woven, plain cotton cloth first made in Cambrai, France, and originally a fine linen fabric. Used in London by 1595 for bands, cuffs, and ruffs. Encyclopaedia Britannica

Refuge: The Old Apple Tree at Garden’s End by Sharon Ramsay Curtis

At the garden’s end,
an ancient tree spread its arms,
to a lonely child.

She climbed the branches.
Perched there, secure and sheltered,
petty rules on hold.

The tree heard her hopes;
gave her space to find herself
and follow her Path!

Once, Long Ago, in Dar Es Salaam by Christopher Black
Once, long ago, in Dar Es Salaam,
A beautiful woman appeared,
where I sat, silent, alone, with a book,
in an emerald garden, to read,
who walked up to me with warming brown eyes,
and a smile like the glorious day,
she moved with a grace that made the palms sway,
she laughed like the ocean kissed breeze,
that made me alive to my state of despair,
how far I had fallen from hope,
unexpected, she sat and talked of old songs,
the mysteries of stars, and the mind,
of kindness and giving, the sharing of time,
of why we are born and then die
why wisdom is rare and often is lost,
that question, to have or to be,
amazed by her words, her questions, her voice,
I asked her to tell me her name,
I am Grace, she replied,
with a tear on her cheek,
spell broken, she stood up to leave,
I lay my book down and rose to my feet,
she curtsied to my simple bow,
and as the muezzin began his soft call,
like a vision she parted from me,
and some might claim it a dream,
but standing I was, for me she was real,
so sat to reflect on her words,
still silent, alone, except for my book,
but now with the strength to endure.
The Boatman by Marie Prins
My small dog
hobbles to the creek
on bow-legged feet.
Deaf, half-blind,
he barks into the void.
Does it echo in his head,
while he stands
in the snow, anchored
to his paw prints,
howling, howling, howling –
for the longest time?
From the patio, I call
his name, louder and louder,
to no avail. He cannot hear.
Perhaps I’ll boot up, grab
my walking stick, join him,
howl together at the boatman
hovering by the bank.
Voices from Beyond by Carolyn Helfenstein
It took over six years of researching, all the while placing
Newfoundland characters into an 1800-1850 Newfoundland setting.
My novel would become both fiction and creative non-fiction
And would be called
Rock Solid.

As I researched, I learned about the original settlers
Who came from England, Ireland, and Scotland,
Who survived the trials,
Of Newfoundland winters with barely enough food.
Their children become the first generation of Newfoundlanders.

I swear it was my characters that created the voices
As Rock Solid blossomed.
After all, it was their story.
They merely told me what to type.
Then the day came.
I hunched over my computer when it happened.
I realized the characters that guided me
Were breathing their life into the pages as they said goodbye.
Rock Solid had become a story of love and adventure
And I had the answer I wanted.

The Art of Walking by Cathy Joyce

Fun is walking through dried orange, yellow and red leaves lying on the ground.
Looking above the majestic tree tops at the bright blue cloudless sky.
Over the next ridge are the sounds of the gently lapping waves against the shoreline.
Feeling excitement and taking the pace up a notch.
The view of the lake is what dreams are made of, in today’s world.
Calm, peace and solitude.
Time for oneself and within social-distancing guidelines!
Feet twisting slightly on the mounds of river rocks as you walk along the shore.
Enjoying the wide expanse of water, as far as the eye can see.
Turning the corner, through a small opening and following a small path into the forest.
Walk the trails.
There are short ones for the pleasure of walking and long, tougher ones for the energetic.
Still walking along the marked trails of the forest floor, you discover a wooden boardwalk.
It treks through the marsh, well above the swamp water, keeping you dry.
The swamp grasses, blowing in the breeze, are taller then you are.
Walk to the lighthouse (it is 10+ kilometres – remember you have to walk back).
Read the history plaques and enjoy the scenery.
See the swans flap their wings and gracefully take off to grace another spot.
You walk off, to walk another day.

The Sugar Bush by Antony Di Nardo

sweet and full its syrup
                sits on tongue
the sap warming up the maples
the tap lines installed
since November
and now finally I see them
put to use

fractals of ground water
molecules charged
by the simple sugar of the sun
begin to rise and run
                drop by drop
flowing into the cold blue veins of PVC
                strung to sag
                                and spiderweb
an elegance
                between the trees,
                and gathering,
for those who wait,
                the essence
                                of the sugar bush

Pandemic Trilogy by Marie-Lynn Hammond

Barely Noticed

belatedly crept up on us
we barely noticed

we hauled up all the drawbridges
barricaded ourselves in
against the pestilence

but it invaded by stealth
and left us powerless
as peasants

and while we
counted potatoes
and washed
our hands
buds swelled
grass grew
squirrels nonchalantly
went about their business
birds sang unruffled
in the blossoming warmth

and in the flowerbeds
the grape hyacinths
sprang upward
in triumph
tiny tender spears
of royal hue

while we cowered
and sickened
and died

the greening earth
barely noticed


Everything and Nothing

I fear when this is over
that we will have learned everything
                and nothing
                that we will zoom back to “normal”

                (As if the way things were before was normal—
                humans heaping ruin on the verdant earth,
                leaving blood and tempests, extinction
                and empty dust in our wake)

Like an old film reel rewinding
the skies over China will morph
from their new blue
to choking orange
workers will back up
return to factories
to churn out tawdry goods
none of us really need
cars and people will swarm in reverse
through our now empty cities
to be devoured and spat out
over and over
by cogs and sprockets
        ones and zeros
    the market’s insatiable maw

And the golden butterfly in Brazil
newly emerged into sunlight
        and fragile survival
will be extirpated by a key stroke
in some mining czar’s office
on the seventeenth floor

Our newfound kindness
as sweet and plump as a nectarine
will shrivel and shrink
to a stony

And the wild goats and deer
now grazing on suburban lawns
and lolling in the empty, sun-warmed streets
                        will gallop backward
                to their old haunts
        their shrinking forests

to nothing


The Plague

This winter drove us, hard and cruel;
We suffered its barbaric rule.
It killed our spring, gave us instead
this sickness and unending dread,
as, distantly, we mourned our dead.

But now, this first mild spell in May,
the lake lies calm and blue today.
Frost-blighted buds, though brown and curled,
persist, and soon will be unfurled
as if no change has marked our world.

Yet change has come, with surely more,
and likely worse, for us in store;
for we have desecrated all,
have fouled our nest with toxic sprawl,
and hastened Eden’s second fall.

We poison land and sea and air,
and stamp out species everywhere;
we rape the earth for oil and gold
(until the centre cannot hold)
and breed like rabbits, uncontrolled.

Oh, how we breed and breed and breed!
Eight billion hungry mouths to feed.
And greed gets overlaid on top,
so some must starve while others shop.
But want trumps all; we do not stop.

And yet the lake is calm today…
it seems to hold the plague at bay.
The earth in balance once again;
no raging flames, no hurricane,
no drought or ceaseless, flooding rain.

The robins preen, spring peepers peep,
the sap still runs, the trout still leap.
But can it be forever thus?

No. Nature should kick up a fuss,
for now we know: the plague is us.

Wind Sniffing by Linda Hutsell-Manning

we were to say the least a
motley crew of women
middle-aged recruitments
from the local temp employment
meeting every morning out
behind the plant down in the
parking lot where Joe who
had seen better days waited
in his rusted eighties Ford

he had that lazy I don’t give
a damn demeanour as he shifted
from his cigarette and coffee
front seat stance into the chilly
morning air his open shirt
and leather jacket swagger
tough guy stud act just to let us
know what we’d been missing
what we’d never know

we came in cars on bicycles
each weekday usually at ten
dependent on the wind direction
east or south east Joe said
was the best each here to fill some
economic need we lined up in
our baggy coats and hats if it was
cold beside his battered car

one by one we took our three
fold sniffs unscrewed each
cap breathed in the acrid
contents subtle sub text
differences we were expected
to identify and name then
armed with clipboard map
a daily log sent off to
stand and sniff and wait

the three suspected gases
unpronounceable we soon renamed
labeled from our household expertise
Stale Running Shoe was easiest
Fried Rubber stronger vaguely
reminiscent of some drag race
pop a wheelies on hot afternoons
but hard to tell from Plastic Melt
especially on the north east side

the plant a great white hulk with
three tall stacks that intermittently
belched out the residue of progress
nestled by the lake down wind from
school and subdivision our sniffing
data gathered as a scientific study
labeled neither pro nor con

we walked through fields where
milkweed silk touched goldenrod
past sub divisions gravel roads
locate the spot stand timing for ten
minutes each two minutes sniff
our guide a five point Lichart scale
from least to most olfactory glands
tuned up nose hair antennae on alert

we sniffed in sun in rain for our next
pay felt our collective story grow
one woman ordered off the road at
gun point by old Jameson his house
his life now boarded up with anger
and confusion you git off a here I
own this land got papers from King
George Joe laughed we detoured
came the back way round

one leaf crunch morning sharp with
frost we watched two startled deer
make u turns slender white flags up
bounding from a meadow formerly
their own and cattle mottled noses
snuffling each green blade
food chain innocents devouring grass
while we marked S or was it H
two at three minutes gagging five at ten

day twelve a foray to the Pentecostal
Camp along the tidy rows of shuttered
cottages and trailers resting from
the summer’s daily fervour and conversion
standing sun warm as the scientific minutes
drifted through the leaf dry afternoon
a trinity of entries all absolved and pure

that daily trek back to the parking lot
role switching to our other lives the
camaraderie accumulated stored in
footsteps passing comments rain
wet faces tracking minutes in the wind
that still faint image of us all lined up
across an open field one after one
a silent row of wise old hags like
bloodhounds sniffing in the wind

Images by Ian Davis

To reach out
To touch
almost feel
the passages of thought.
So close yet they drift by on whisps of the mind.

A story without words.
Of you.

Where Have Old Men Been Drinking Coffee? by Matthew King

Where have old men been drinking coffee?
Where have they taken their backgammon games?
Where’ve they compared their bifocal frames?
Have they been driven to secret gymnosophy?
Where have old men been drinking coffee?

Who hasn’t mentioned poor Morty’s colostomy?
Who’s known to tiptoe around their shames?
Who’s kept reviving their high school nicknames?
Who’s been rebutting their crackpot philosophies?
Where have old men been drinking coffee?

Who’s been correcting their ancient geography?
Who’s been googling their crazy claims?
Who hasn’t minded their addled brains?
Who’s made allowances for their biographies?
Where have old men been drinking coffee?

Where have they sucked on their Werther’s toffees?
Where have they listed their aches and pains?
Who’s been listening while each complains?
What’s their excuse been to ditch their dames?
Have they been true to their waitress flames?
Where have old men been drinking coffee?

“Among other things, the pandemic has interrupted men’s coffee-drinking circles, some of which have been going for ages….”