Dr. William Henry Drummond Poetry Contest 2015
Judge’s Choice Awards
How A Tree Understands by Patricia Smekal
Any red maple knows
a day’s length is determined
by sun and shade,
weeks may be judged
by a beetle’s progress,
months are learned
from wasps and winter wrens.
Seasons are easy to measure
in reds, yellows and greens,
years can be calculated
on an abacus of rings,
and countless lifetimes are inscribed
on forest floors
in the language of understory.
Nothing Between Us by Shannon Pass
Awake now, I see one snowflake. It’s pat-
tern refracted in the sunlight. A life span
in geometry, falling to earth.
In the hall, Mom hands me a photograph.
“I thought you might like to have this.”,
she says, her jaw tight, daring me to take it.
She is not warm. She has given me plenty.
It has always been this way between us. I
put out my hand, and say “Thank you”.
Grandpa holds me like a bird in his hands
and Baba is smiling tracing circles with
her finger on the table.
I button it into my pocket and don’t look
at it again till I get home. The happiness
on our three faces is so much I cry. I
keep it in my jewelry box and look at it
when I am alone. I feel shy for anyone to
Snow falls all morning and I walk in the
white powder hush. Snow piling on top of
snow until it tips and falls. My black
wool coat turning white, holding the snow.
A blue jay calls from an evergreen near
the edge of a clearing. Measured movements
follow dark, dark eyes like an arrow drawn
into a bow, release then fly away.
I have felt like poison for so long, not
even really knowing I am here.
Wild carrot rise straight and lifeless out
of a snowbank and shaking like a Shamans’
rattle, scatter seed, coaxing life to re-
turn to what is near a corpse. I taste the
snow in the dead flower. I let it melt on
my lips. It smells lofty and high.
When I am four, like in the photograph,
a question pops out of my mouth. It’s dark
and Baba sits next to me on the bed.
“What was it like when you were a little
I hear her slowly draw into herself all
the air in the room. It has never been
this quiet between us.
The next night, brushing my hair with her
hand, when she has stopped singing, Baba
says, "When I was a little girl I lived in a
round house. We slept in hammocks, with
the animals inside to keep us warm.
In this way she lets me know there is
nothing between us.
Home Made by Patricia Smekal
I am from the War’s days
when we learned that Walls Have Ears.
I’m from practice blackouts,
ration books, Jell-O,
and tin-foil saved in rolls.
I am from a kitchen table,
lines of tobacco laid just so
along finely folded paper
in Dad’s cigarette machine —
ten cents for ten good ones.
I am from Pick-up-Sticks and Monopoly,
from a window-framed cherry tree
and a board by my sick-bed
to be propped up with knees —
a lectern for Nancy Drew, desk for sketches.
I am from my sister’s hand-me-downs,
from Mummy’s tug on boisterous braids,
from Daddy tackling Sunday’s roast,
and from winding up Nan’s Victrola
to play Who Killed Cock Robin? yet again.
I am from the breath of Douglas fir,
Eau de Cologne, Ivory Soap and sweet peas,
from the taste of Granny Smiths,
vinegar on fish and chips,
ocean salt on skin.
I am from all of this —
home-made, a paper chain
strung along childhood,
some links in loops, almost broken through,
others, to this day, still holding strong.
Hybrasil Return by Margaret McKeon
“We were inside each other all along” ~Rumi
I return home a stranger
tripped in dark eyes
pooled of salmon
shadowed beneath banks
While I slept
by that belly-broad river
but in inbetween, of sun slitting
sun-stain ambered limbs
you sifting through me
eyes silting my sense of sleep
of arising silted
There is no peace now
Home, a stranger
to each fog-red breath
cracked sidewalk crack
rusting gold-leafed hill
on sea’s twilighted glass
An airplane home lands
foot dusk edge
of sighted and real
of dark eyes
burning fire in my belly
burning crow-crested threshold
Sidewalk Burial by John Jansen in de Wal
The agonies of age
weathering and neglect
sprout pox on sidewalk skin.
Deteriorate concrete bonds
into sandy wasteland,
leave pestules of pebbles.
Rain washes grit
into desert like
that which helped
reclaims Her own;
soft sprigs of grass
to heal her wound.
The Last Stop by Gerry Mooney
A brisk day gives off muted,
The abandoned pond,
edged by spent bulrushes,
is now a solid black mirror
by windblown skiffs of snow.
A bracing breeze whistles
through the adjacent
bare-boned band shell.
Geese huddle in a sheltered corner
of the deserted marina,
near the boat ramp.
necks are scrunched
close to bodies,
tucked under wings.
Occasional muted honks become airborne
and waves slosh languidly
beneath floating docks.
A pair of geese shuffle up the ramp
shaking icy slush from webbed feet.
Nearby snow is dappled
with solid white
and frozen green.
A flurry of wings and energetic honks
announce one small exodus,
The next day,
a glistening film of ice
silences the water
near the docks.
February Snowfall by Gerry Mooney
It is a snow-globe day
quickly becoming spectral.
wrapped in mounds of cotton,
is muffled to near-silence.
Chione works her snowy magic:
conifers are capped
with whipping cream,
white-etched deciduous trees
are decorated with popcorn balls
and weeping caraganas
morph into umbrellas.
At the marina,
docks resemble rows of coffins
shrouded in white
and the lighthouse is lost
in the flurry of flakes.
Tire tracks dawdle their way
to the club house
disappearing in the distance.
I recall the excitement
of remote, snow-filled days
and briefly recapture
that childhood sense of wonder.
strident snow plows
will sweep the neighbourhood
chewing up snow,
spitting it into driveways.
we will hoist our shovels,
brace our shoulders
against winter’s cold breath
and head out to face the inevitable.
Cobalt — Spirit of the North by Wanda Hunton MacFarlane
A little town with a heart of gold
In silver veins a story told
In mine shafts old, decrepit gray
A lonely ore car on the way.
In days gone by the Call of Boom
While dancehalls rung in lusty tune
And cities built from shore to shore
In riches from the wealthy ore.
When fire razed the little town
The shock of tragedy surround
The courage of the old and young
In praise and fortitude is sung.
While overhead the bomber flew
And sirens wailed across the blue
Brigades rush in from far and near
With CB contact loud and clear.
Will ne’er forget the living hell
And so survivors surely tell
Disaster area — tempest tossed
When all was o’er, no lives were lost.
Then once again the cry arose
‘Will build again’, in time it grows
And so has been a little town
Where peace, tranquility abound.
Can ne’er replace the old with new
In treasures lost is surely true
But can be proud of those that day
And the “Cobalt Spirit” all the way.