This section contains poems by a winner of the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, by winners of the Atlantic Poetry Award, and by authors who have published numerous volumes of poetry. It also contains poems submitted by new and unknown poets. Rather than separating these, we have chosen to set them together, side by side (see a full list of contributing poets on the right-hand side of this page). Poets and readers will inevitably have their own responses and make their own comparisons.
beneath mother’s gaze
a toddler poised,
in the meadow’s
epicenter, lost in
the sun-lit bliss
of waist-high grass
and enraptured by
the sweet aromas
of clover and timothy,
by the vast unfolding
a bright vermilion
with spots of white,
the rhythmic wind—
all there to be
touched and gathered
as a tiny hand
reaches out, a conjurer’s
a squeal of marvel
as the blossoms
rise and collect
a stirring cloud of
We’ve talked the sun up,
settling all the universe
over saw dusted floors.
He’s laughed with me.
He’s cried my tears
in heavy blood drops.
I’ve seen this man,
but perhaps only in dreams?
They could give me sadness
for what is not.
Yet the visions frame
as the clock strikes
first one, then two,
I know this man.
I have seen him
a weather beaten face,
I have shaken his hands,
calloused by grace.
The Devil Sends
The truck dumps topsoil on the grass
at the end of our long clay lane,
the place the west wind burns by August.
Barefoot I jump in the loamy earth,
decide to make a rock garden.
My husband wheelbarrows huge
foundation stones to circle the base.
Our sons bring bricks from the torn-down
chimney. One builds steps to the top for fun
facing north, away from the house.
l ask him to make more on the south side
to see from the kitchen window.
Don’t know until too late
l’ve turned play into work.
Granddad gives a wrought iron Sundial for the top
“Gonna be some job to keep the weeds out of this.”
For the first years we call it the Shinto
shrine. Nasturtiums border brick stairs.
Dainty carpathian harebells thrive
a while. Hardy rock garden perennials gray
then die. Even sturdy sedum. The herb
quadrant goes wild. Dill disappears.
God steps in, gives wild strawberries.
Next, buttercups, Queen Anne’s
lace, asters, and goldenrod.
Then the Devil sends the sod
that finally takes over.
Our sons have left home.
Only the forget-me-nots bloom now.
Kissed and Outgunned
She’s got a heart-stealer smile,
a rebel ready
to yell with her tattoos drawn
underneath her skirt;
two loaded guns
she never leaves at home.
Black glasses and brass knuckles,
metal studded leather jacket
stained with blood and booze;
you better protect your stitches boy,
this girl will tear you apart.
She’s got a punk rock style
tougher than a hand grenade,
keeps a switchblade
tucked in her back pocket
in case she’s looking
for a fight.
These midnight city streets
are filled with bruises,
and broken bottles;
she struts down
the dark alley in her high heels
towards me looking
to take my heart away.
I wait for her
against the chain link fence,
she approaches slowly
with blade in hand.
I pull my pistol out,
only to be kissed and
The Dodo Bird with Peter at the Golden Gates,
Looked out upon the line of those in wait:
Lamented for a time, then checked his list,
And called upon the names that Peter missed!
Quagga Zebras, first at call, were welcomed through the Gates;
Their Zebra head and horse behind was strange, but no mistake!
Next in line were Thylacine and Javan Tigers, side by side;
They pawed and scratched their way along, then leaped inside!
The Hartebeests of Bubal fame and Ibex from the Pyrenees,
Walked abreast, at even stride, and in the Gates they squeezed.
And lines of others followed on in endless streams of life, now gone,
Of Golden Toads and Monk Seals, Hawaiian Crows and Giant Swans.
They looked upon the human line and just as quick, moved on!
Patient Peter watched outside, amidst the rising mist;
The Dodo Bird went on and on, admitting all his list.
When Peter asked if none of them had ever done a wrong?
The Dodo Bird, somewhat alarmed, explained what had gone on.
These creatures on my list, he said
Are dead to yours below;
They tried to share their meager bread,
Their flesh and blood, in tow!
Your people killed them, every one,
And millions just for sport and fun!
Until on earth, no more to come!
It seems to me, they didn’t know
That all of us are one!
Then Peter checked his human list;
In tears, which he could not resist,
Heard the screams of helplessness
And realized what he had missed.
There upon this Judgment Day,
He called upon the caring souls,
Welcomed them then backed away;
Looked out upon the rest, irate,
Consulted God then shut the Gates!