for Love Poems 2005.
We're big on
love here, as everyone knows—
and Marianne, Suzanne and Ursula wish you all you can handle in the
Here are the
on-line finalists in our contest.
click on each contributor's name to short-cut to the poem.
of Spruce 'Round My Grandmother's Rocker
Mary Ellen Sullivan
went to the window
to watch the spruce trees
along our lane way.
Comfort wrapped round me,
as I watched the way
the branches flowed in the night.
how my grandmother used to rock me
Holding me into her softness
And singing to me
"He's Got The Whole World In His Hand."
I would look up into her smiling eyes
like they could surround me.
kind of like a poem,
my Gramma and the spruce trees.
now I'll know what to do
if I get scared.
I'll hum my poem and rock
like I'm on a big spruce bough.
is possible now
An electric guitar's
on late Saturday morning radio,
coffee and a folk song throaty and real.
It's not the song I've
so many times since the sixties.
It's the rare transparency of moments
when you can see through everything,
when every rare thing becomes soft,
an apple tender with seed.
Moments like these
love simmers and boils over
like a pot on the stove,
like a banshee whistle of the kettle.
Windows get steamy.
I could happily let
under the bed, could refuse
to shake out the mats,
could fill all the kitchen pots
and let them boil over
while I asylum mad,
quietly like 19th century women
doughy, soft, and benign;
smiling, thinking of you.
for the Girl Often Overlooked
© Charmaine Cadeau
From the highway, your
on a barnside
makes everyone who drives by
call out to you.
Someone hand painted
you into this landscape,
what you are,
what is had:
hint, root, lark.
knot of wood, however planed,
a strong, open heart. You are lured
by roadside attractions: world's biggest,
world's only. Away from
any main drag,
the smallest also
lean into you. At night, the empty
band shell at the park
lends a private
bullfrogs, cricket song,
your song. In haloed
shadow theatre, each one pretending to
be something else.
think, has nothing
to do with love.
I'll be there.
Stop fussing over me. Get your wet thumb away from the cow-lick
you call bangs. Kleenex, spat on, is not a face cloth. That's
dimple not mayo, chocolate, not beauty mark. Heaven forbid there's
a gap between my two front teeth.
I said I'd be
there. I could change my mind. Leave you bent over the toilet,
retching from the nausea of the cure we all ran for last week,
planted our pink ribbons breast high, next to the sport bra, the
spandex, the headband, the perspiration (not sweat) accumulating
on our sun-kissed foreheads, retching in the middle of the night.
Sleep another thing to get through.
I'll be there
when you finally stop talking. It will only be the eyes now, I'm
guessing, that will talk. Whisper, wheeze, all pink and chattery,
blinking shut longer than blinking open and with your little head
on the pillow, too, breath's a simple rise in the field of your
For pity. Close
my eyes. I can't watch this. All those giddy, inoperable years
where every word from your mouth stung the smallest parts of me.
Clitoris, ulna, wrist, the colours around a cut, tremolos of purple,
blue, yellow, a small mole called brown.
© Patience Wheatley
You would expect
sensation to have atrophied
so long after the wrenching
glory of first real
to the tidal wave of love
when what you thought you knew
turned out to be
on the edge only.
Dorothy Livesay wrote
The Unquiet Bed
at fifty-five or more—
what if you're over seventy?
then, which organ contracts
to send electric spasms
sharp up through the gut
when the womb is shrunk
I ask myself can this be
a joke from above?
What purpose is served if oldsters
sweet though it may
and doesn't make
unwanted babies or spread Aids?
and if your muscles
your skin soft, your
joints still flexible your
eager and willing...
why not dive in and
Your sweater's arm
my nape grabs a few hairs.
I came tonight because I thought you might
and there you were then sitting beside me
in the warm conference room five minutes
into the lecture you tugged your sweater
over your head leaving behind
an untucked striped shirt
cuffs pushed back from your forearms
nothing up your sleeve, damn you.
I know you could slip your fingers
into my hair and conjure
foil-wrapped chocolate coins
from behind my ear.
I sit up straighter—posture
is the whole
deal, you know—wondering how my hair
looks from the side why I didn't
stripe some perfume in the creases
behind my knees whether I've worn
this blouse a time too many
what I want I think is for you to think
I'm smart and your fingers flexing
on the trouser material over your thighs—
are those push-ups?—smaller, more
fine-boned than I had thought,
those fingers I want now on my nipples
quickly, while the room's hidden panels
slide back and forth in their smooth grooves
and trapdoors spring open at our feet.
One More Surprising Moment
Walking in fall's forest,
we are lost
again, like kidnapped children homing
toward loves we barely remember,
anymore than these dead birch stumps
remember standing taut
three years ago, before the wind
at last, died down.
When you pick up the
it spills out its dusty entrails
in a cloud of unknowing.
Swinging empty in your hands
it could become anything—
a scroll, a flute, a scope for sighting
far off ships.
"'There are so many levels,"
you tell me, sagely,
and layers mean richness—
a past decomposing into humus
a future leading off down many trails.
But all I know for now
is this little breathing space
between the canopy
and the rustles underfoot
where, in one more, surprising moment,
we are not entirely alone.
Way You Look Tonight
© Roz Bound
in the oven
sugar's fragrance in the air
I dance around the kitchen
and my fingers flour your shoulder
but you laugh
and kiss my nose
and my skirts turn circles rounder
than the cookies getting browner
the timer goes
alerts me to the empty space
unburned cookies for a change
my floury face and on
"The Way You Look Tonight"
and I decide to dance
however strange, knowing
that the way I look tonight is quite old and plain
but just supposing
you were there
you'd brush the flour
from my hair,
softly sing that sugar-sweet refrain.
Our flying feet would slide and sway
dip and turn while cookies burn
and you would dance
me beautiful again.
Science of Skin
It's funny, how I understand,
mechanically, the human hand
but still cannot begin to grasp
the chemistry of the lover's clasp;
the easy way that fingers lace,
divining all the empty space,
and tighten, filling in the gaps
tight as a Chinese finger trap.
It makes no sense to me, the way
man crumbles, soft as desert clay,
when woman's palm touches to his.
What age of alchemy is this?
If one experiment could
answers to questions that would quell
this insatiable need to know
just where my heart and lifelines go,
I may, this once, abandon books
and find someone who turns and looks
and sees the naked fingers of
a stranger to the ways of love.
Then, if I find in his first glance
the willingness to take this chance
I'll start my lessons of the heart-
perhaps the perfect place to start.
no more lies left to live she says
i've lived every one
from here to there and back again nothing worse than living
a tall tale twice as ugly and twofold your size
she wants to play says she'll trade her jokers for a king
sets her tarnished coins up front
they don't have to be hearts she says, just a pair.
© Kelda Larsen
Ohmygod she is she
is she is
sadder than me and
her eyes are bright blue bullets that narrow under dark and perfect
I want to know all of her
so much in her eyes.
She says so little just stumbles out the door
staggered under some pain
waving backwards at us with her wallet chain swinging from her hip
her black jeans black shoes.
I choose all of it
show it to me Jackie and I'll hold you because ohmygod
you are you are you are
I just want to know you
under the thin layer of animated skin.
© Marianne Paul
it is easy to think
of gracie as
a silver foil balloon losing
herself to the sky
the ribbon dangling through the air like
string from the crow's beak in
spring love crazily
in the air so that even the crow
acts like a bluebird and the crone
gracie giggles at the
of love at seventy her hair at her
in pig tails
elastic bands chosen
to match colour and
not even the crows can
explain this inexplicable behaviour
the string from their beaks their
the mad sweet obsession in their
she is like a flock
in autumn after the lull
of summer urge
filling the hallow at the
core of winged bones
jumpiness felt in feathers
and held in the dark of perfectly
© Mark Lavorato
I am stuck to you
Like the stamp on an envelope
Of one of those letters we write and never send
Licked with a teary tongue
And slapped onto the corner with reckless abandon
That decayed as fast as courage
One of those letters
written in frantic sentences
Words trying desperately to convey things that were never said
But should have been
The type of letter that sits in a drawer until it's forgotten
Which is never
And that ends with:
Even if I don't know where that is.
I've seen it.
I have seen it.
It's the place where the sun drags slow across the floor
like it's sneaking up on us;
skulking over the wood while you read on your stomach,
crawling with hunted silence
towards your bare feet.
Meet me there.
© Mary O'Dell
"Again, the holy
striving has given way to ordinary joy."
Almost as after a mystic arising
I settle past passion,
sated but wanting still to touch
caress you into sleep and dreams of lovely places—
mountains of snow, perhaps—
those Alaskan peaks you love.
almost able to see through your shut eyes
the stinging brightness,
feel with your skin the bite of wind,
I dream awake your Arctic dream,
nudge close and closer,
feel you drifting
yet drawing me into your arms.
Sleep will elude me tonight—
or perhaps I will purposely slip wide-eyed
beyond its pale
not to miss your return.
© Gabriel Dey
only I could have won you, from the mud.
Your blustery scales, your body coiling heat from sunlight,
your small, insignificant tongue.
There is a stillness.
The husk of night moves
against the pull of the future.
We will love, fearlessly. And our lips
will touch again, like the first green boughs
of our infant breath.
Later, rain with its
The world, a cage that holds our bones.
All of us, in our torture.
in the past,
the air is fragrant with that first breath,
our first night of sleep. The sheets a veil
between the dark, that nestles the fierce bodies of our rage.
I had no dream of this
yet. Not of this.
Not of torture, and regret,
with its small and bloodied tongue,
its terrible language.
I have only, that first
night of sleep.
It lives dormant inside our bodies. Blooms
only in small slivers. The brush of the sheet,
my gaze a small ball of fire. A river.
can know (baby)
© Kristin Sumner
baby, baby, I know
how you feel about me
— wait. I take that back—I know
how you felt about me, baby.
back when our words were intimate. back
when our sighs were collective. back before
I told you that I love you.
baby, I don't
have any of that music for lovemaking. turn
your digital audio to rave or techno. we
can keep up with that beat, baby. I'll
keep up with you. keep with me, baby.
I'm with you when you
fade. when you grow.
when you turn away, I'm still behind you. I leave
you space, I kiss your face, and baby, I praise
heaven for you.
still have baggage to unpack and
put away, baby.
we'll sort, we'll advise, we'll repack, we'll deal. baby, we
can figure out all the ways we love. we can unfold
the corners and share the surprises found there. we
can spend this time together. baby, we can know we're blessed.
pull me in. push me away. I'm forever where you
want me to be. let me make you happy, baby.
baby, I'm for you.
Day You Died
© Richard Arnold
for my father,
Frank A. Arnold, Jr.
Afraid to sleep inside your house that night,
I dragged the stained tarp you used to cover the tractor
Out to a grassy place beneath the trees.
Old sand stuck to the
canvas was the whetstone
On which I ground the long bright blade of pain
Remembrance grew into—as I lay down
With by-gone fishing
trips, and you and me,
Baited trot-lines slanting into black river,
Talking by the fire and passing the frequent bottle
To keep awake-my memories
stabbed and stabbed
While dark needle-bundles on the pine above
Tossed and sighed all night against the stars.
One of them, old blue
Regulus, near dawn
Found me out of all the universe with a beam
That left the Lion's paw seventy years ago.
Inside later, I found
your old baby shoe
Had fallen from the bookshelf where you kept it—
A dusty shrunken object on the floor, glowing
Softly gold in the
newborn sun's caress.
when my son writes about
if you must write on
the subject of me
let the poem be about books shared
the playful ball of words thrown and caught
how we pulled characters from covers
like coveted cookies, warm and malleable
how easily you memorized phrases
like favourite toys not long on the shelf
how time was one more
book one more page one more
picture and I would not say no
so much more of mothering I will to forget
so much more of tug and pull
or words best left not said
like all the tasks of learn and tell
of when and where
the swell of anger and regret
it is your younger
face so close to mine
as we fought over who loved who
and I said me and you said you
let it be
that when there is the time to say it once again
that it was once
Joanna M. Weston
a gentle quiet
in the car
Last night we celebrated
the plans for our back garden,
raised beds for your vegetables, ample borders for my flowers,
pathways to raspberries and artichokes, a hammock in
the arbour. The dead cherry will be replaced with a plum,
and the birch we fought over, cut down and removed.
I fret about losing the bowed and feathery branches,
first perch of the morning crow, but everything has its time, my love.
Last year you asked for arbutus, write about that sexy tree,
and I wondered what about it, exactly—it's bark curling back
from red-ochre flesh, and branches undulating, like flamenco dancers,
sunlight glinting from their sleeves. Last year I searched the city
for a pair of scarlet tights to wear with my black velvet jacket,
dressed like the first time we laid eyes on each other, and love
swooped down on us like a hawk with its huge inescapable wings.
For fifteen years we've
slept well together,
all the cells we've sloughed off through living
completely renewed in the bodies we now inhabit.
Some essence of you resides in me now, as I am a part of you.
Every night I welcome the length and heft of you,
every morning I kiss your face, linger in the deeper
nooks, and trace the path where they laced your sternum back
together, after rebuilding your damaged heart.
At times we hear the beat of hawkwing, the old pounding
reminding us of who
we were. Tomorrow the bobcat
and bulldozer will come, to scrape away the surface
of what is, make ready for new plantings.
Charmaine Cadeau was
born in Toronto in 1977. Her first book of poetry, What You Used
to Wear, was published by Goose Lane Editions in 2004. She is currently
a doctoral student at the University at Albany in New York where she
continues to write poetry.
Deirdre Dwyer is the
author of two poetry collections, The Breath that Lightens the Body
(Beach Holme, 1999) and Going to the Eyestone (Wolsak &
Wynn, 2002). She teaches part time at Mount Saint Vincent University
and lives on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore. Her poem is dedicated to her
Dorothy Mahoney has
two books published by Black Moss Press and an anthology with friends
published by Cranberry Tree Press. She teaches at Essex District High
School and is currently working on a book of poetry about dogs inspired
by the family sheepdog, Manfred.
Gabriel Dey resides
on Vancouver Island and is currently completing a degree in Creative
Writing. "Love and Syntax" is from her collection of lyric
poetry "A Glass Boat Dreams of Flying."
Isa Milman is a Victoria
poet, visual artist and occupational therapist who immigrated to Canada
30 years ago. Her first collection of poetry, Between the Doorposts,
won the Poetry Prize at the Canadian Jewish Book Awards in 2005. Her
next book is about the early Jewish immigrant experience in Saskatchewan.
Jennifer Londry's work
has appeared in several journals and anthologies. Currently she is working
on a poetry manuscript and a collection of short fiction. She has work
forthcoming in Poetry Night in Muskoka, and Grimm
Magazine. Addicted to love? Nah, addicted to poetry—oh
Joanna M. Weston, born
in England, married, 3 sons, two cats. Writes poetry, short-stories
and reviews. Published internationally in journals and anthologies.
Has a middle-reader The Willow Tree Girl and a chapbook Watch-night:
Christmas in poem and story in print. Lives in Shawnigan Lake,
A native Pittsburgher,
Karen Koegler lives and writes in the Kentucky Bluegrass. A professor
of geography and political science, her writing has been supported by
grants from the NEH and the AAUW. Poems recently appeared in The
Caribbean Writer and Natural Bridge. A new Masters in
diplomacy has not finessed the heart's delicate negotiations.
When she isn't guiding
sea kayak trips on Vancouver Island (the summer), or in Baja, Mexico
(the spring), Kelda Larsen lives in Courtenay, V.I. in a house filled
with driftwood and beach glass. She is currently anticipating her next
yoga class, the up-coming Six-Gun Buddha show and the completion of
her first novel, "Slowly With Your Hands Up."
Kristin Sumner lives,
writes, plays with her pets, and endures winters in Winnipeg, where
she also studies Icelandic at the University of Manitoba. Her poem "we
can know (baby)" is part of an as-yet incomplete cycle of love
Marianne Paul has come
to poetry in recent years and has finally found her true love. Twice
a winner of the WRAConteur Poetry Award, she has also had her work published
as a Monday's Poem. Marianne's fiction and non-fiction have appeared
in various publications, and she is the author of the novel, The
Mark Lavorato was raised
on the prairies, but has spent most of his adult life abroad, and is
currently living and writing in France. He's busy dredging through the
tedious process of seeking publication of his first novel, while contentedly
working on his second, of which poetry is an integral part.
Mary Ellen Sullivan
works as a community occupational therapist and has had poems published
in the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. She won third place
in the 2005 Elora Writers' Festival Creative Writing Competition (Poetry)
with her poem "Quiet by Nature."
Mary O'Dell has been
writing poetry for 23 years and her collections Poems for the Man
Who Weighs Light and Living in the Body were published
by Mellen Poetry Press. A chapbook, The Dangerous Man, was
published by Finishing Line Press. Mary's work has been accepted by
journals such as The Sow's Ear, The Louisville Review
and Passages North. Mary lives in Louisville, Kentucky and
is president and founder of Green River Writers, Inc.
Natalie Forman is currently
completing the Professional Writing Degree program at Grant MacEwan
College in Edmonton, Alberta. She credits her upbringing in a borderless
Northwest Territories town for her affinity for the earth and the written
word, and hopes to share her poetry with a world that occasionally forgets
just how sweet the most simple pleasures can be.
Patience Wheatley came
to Montreal from England at the age of fifteen. Her first published
poem was accepted by the Antigonish Review in 1978. Three books of poetry
have appeared since then, the first two published by Goose Lane Editions,
the third, The Astrologer's Daughter, by Pendas Productions
is a sometime theologian and part-time poet who lives on Morrison Island,
Quebec, in the middle of the Ottawa River. A student of Northrop Frye
and Carl Jung, he supports himself by working at a retreat centre. He
and his partner Kathrin Winkler read, write, paint and occasionally
get lost in the woods together.
Richard Arnold feels
lucky to have had a father who took him fishing many times on the snake-and-alligator-infested
rivers of south Alabama. He wishes his father was still around so they
could stay up all night and talk about more civilized things, like poetry.
Richard lives in Errington, B.C. and teaches at Malaspina University-College.
Roz Bound is a writer,
healer and teacher in Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she offers
writing workshops and facilitates open floor readings. She has lived
in South America, the Caribbean, and England, and holds an MFA from
Goddard College in Vermont.
Susan Stenson is a
poet living and writing in Victoria. Her latest book, My Mother
Agrees with the Dead, is forthcoming from Wolsak and Wyn. She's
planning on winning some money soon so she can teach less and write