Elephant in the Room     by Dieter Heinrich of Owen Sound (2017)

The elephant
wants no part of any fuss
but fuss attaches
like dust in the dry season
when for any reason
the poor tusker tries its luck
in the salon

Such expansive tonnage
requires a strong stealth
to gain enough coverage

Wearing a lampshade
in no way helps avert a stare
But next to the wall
leg bent, as though a chair
why, it's hardly there
--until someone
insists on talking about it, and
then it's all lights and glare

Seeking as it might the slight respite
of a quiet evening,
it wants nothing more than
to disappear in plain sight,
with a by-your-leave
to slope back, to blend
to retire in the nook
behind the settee
affecting a non-chalance
It wanly hopes to stay
long enough perchance
to munch some nibbles
from the veggie tray

Shy is our pachyderm,
by nature demurring,
and exquisitely deprecating,
preferring as a matter of discretion
to go politely unmentioned,
so easily is it embarrassed
by an affair that brings the hosts
such awkward ruin
for something as simple
​as it being in the room

Jilted     by Lynn Wyvill of Markdale (2016)

Mid August lilies
romp up troughs
of ditches; gloat in 
transplanted status 
by mailboxes and 
casual gardens.

Sweet peas leap 
across fence rails, 
toss sensual musk
in humid air. Lavender
spikes bend with the 
weight of bees.

I ache to stall 
progressing summer.
Flail arms at black birds 
clustered on telephone 
wires.  Tape shut milkweed
pods swollen in anticipation.

    Haven’t we just begun this journey?
    Why hurry to the climax?
    I beg you, slow ejaculations.
    Let me savour your kisses
    and promise of unending love.

Even as the hawkweed dusts
The hillside in smoky haze, 
I cling to tails of retreating
birds and sigh with regret,
abandoned at the altar 
of summer romance.

Progression     by Lynn Wyvill of Markdale (2016)

Twelve maples lined the lane,
grey gnarled lions of welcome.
Planted by a farmer
eighty years past.
Shade to his new brick home;
the one with handsome windows
and a flickering light
to beckon him from the barn,
or neighbours in to visit.
Tender saplings,
twelve paces apart
spread and sheltered wildlife.
anchored in rich soil,
resilient in turbulent squalls,
generous with spring’s golden sap.
One man’s pride.

death stole the old horse.
The cutter rotted in the barn.
Tractors, combines, balers,
the phylogeny of transport
entered his created Eden.
the final knell.
Massive machines
removed fences
of avian sanctuaries,
tore down his barn,
removing every stone
and board.
The cold house
sat empty.
One day,
it too was gone,
imprint obliterated
down to basement walls
where his daughters marked
their growing height.

A crop
of prized corn grew
…an invasive species,
across the barnyard,
…between the trees,
to the mailbox,
that still stands
by the road.
Twelve maples in a cornfield,
guardians of loss.

Night Passage--Lake Huron     by Anne Duke Judd of Port Elgin (2014)

The pulsing beacon swings its beam
around the midnight sky
a beat echoing in engine rooms
of lakers passing by.

Grateful to see the guiding flash
reach out from rocky shore,
on course they travel safely down
with cargoes of wheat and ore.

From Cove to Chantry, then Point Clark
on waves of blue or grey
or ghastly green under thunderclouds,
they make their steady way.

When overhead the sky is clear
and stars shine silvery down,
ev'ry wavelet wears bright glimmers
each antenna a starry crown.

From horizon to horizon far
staunch wheelsmen's eyes must sweep,
unceasing as the beacon ashore
in faithful watch they keep

Listed in alphabetical order by Poet

Relieving These Secrets     by Taylor Legge of Port Elgin (2018)

 My gaze leans out the window
       And subconsciousness
          Does a pirouette
 On the perimeter of my mind

    The ever so calm wilderness
In a mirage of plants and emotion

 Sweeps past my window in a blur

    And it looks like if I wanted
 I could mold the forest together
       And rest it in my palm

But I know of all the forest’s secrets
       Banging in their chests
         Aching to be heard

      I want to stop the car
            And get out
       I want to hear them

The Smell of Rain    by Taylor Legge of Port Elgin (2019)

The smell of rain
Rising away the drought and dust
Coursing through the divots in the dirt
Cleansing the sky of its sadness

The coil of paint
Peeling away from the weathered porch steps
That my brother and I painted one summer
When everything was pristine and simple

The relaxing of the fields
Unfolding their leaves that were spiked in anxiety
Revealing an infant ear of pale ivory corn
That waited all summer for water that never came

The sound of wind
Snaking in between the leaves of the maples
Dotted across the lawn and swaying in harmony
Much older than they were when I swung from their branches

After so long without the rain
And so long where I am lost floating among space

The smell of rain
Will always bring me home

Hope    by Carol Chitovas of Colpoy's Bay (2015)

Suffocating, she succumbs
Whirled white mantle thrust over
Paralysed hopes

Sighing, she yields
fossilized yearnings frozen in time
dolomite dreams 

Flailing heavenward, she appeals
sheathed in limbs stiffened and silenced
icy repression

Heaving, she succeeds
thawed tears pooling, coursing, colouring
symphonic splendor

Winning Poets & their Poems

Miles of Diamonds     by Faye Annette Bender of Owen Sound (2014)

Miles and miles of diamonds
Glitter by my side,
Miles and miles of diamonds
Surround me far and wide.

I dip an eager hand to grasp
one lively light to set.
They slip away like grains of sand
slippery, cool, and wet.

Miles and miles of diamonds,
You cannot mine or hold,
To put on chains of silver,
or mount on rings of gold.

Miles and miles of diamonds,
before my eyes are born,
magic gems surround me,
not on my self adorned.

Miles and miles of diamonds,
millions, yet there's none.
Without the water and the sun,
there wouldn't be a one.

When I'm Gone     by Caleb Hull of Wiarton (2017)

Sink your soles into the solid ground
Feel the clay shift as the soil slides into town

    Because I'm coming
    You can't stop it
    I'm gonna love you when I'm gone

The sun is setting on this time on Earth
I'm sitting down to evaluate my self-worth

    Because I'm coming
    You can't stop it
    I'm gonna love you when I'm gone

I seek forgiveness for all my arrogant ways
It makes no difference but I've lived my life crashing against the silent waves

    Because I'm coming
    You can't stop it
    I'm gonna love you when I'm gone

Take me home on the Big Canoe
Spread me thin and I'll be there when the blooms renew

    Because I'm coming
    You can't stop it
    I'm gonna love you when I'm gone

Make yourself proud and I'll do the rest
Do what you love and our memories will connect

    Because I'm coming
    You can't stop it
    I'm gonna love you when I'm gone 

Yeats' Garden     by Lucy Bacon of Holstein (2016)

The quiddity of Yeats' garden was the beans.
Nine bean rows.  Nine Rows?
He must have eaten beans with every meal
and given them by the pail full to his friends,
neighbours and enemies alike.
How many different  varieties of
vari-coloured bush beans with strange markings,
did he poke into soft dirt in spring,
to take delight in the first shoots
and watch the plants burst upwards,
yielding bushels of green, or yellow or purple pods,
or did he want ple beans, twining over teepees,
bright flowers attracting honey bees,
I doubt he hand-picked bean beetles
or gave a thought to GMO's.

What was it about beans?
Why not squash or carrots,
salad greens in all their myriad forms,
or something exotic like artichokes
with their amazing purple flowers.
He's quite clear in his intention.
It wasn't the joy of getting his hands in the dirt,
or scent or colour which moved him,
or even the taste of fresh-grown food,
only the humming of the bees.

Still I know the feeling
of nothing more important to do
than tend a garden.

He Said/She Said    by John Smallwood (2015)

Monochromatic March
etched like a still
from a black and white movie
shot in high definition. 

In the growing light,
lengthening heat,
a maple at lane’s end
flares at its tip
with sound and colour-a cardinal-
at attention in redcoat tunic
colonizing space and time.

His partner acquiesces shyly
subtly softer, lovelier than he,
she in fawns and vaguely cautious,
waits, brooding,
her colouring recalling waxwings.
Her toughness needs less articulation.

Adamant in her mission, she
wills him down, knowing he has no option
but to serve the species,
to comply with her and the season.

Beauty of All    by Bronwyn Stanton of Lion's Head (2019)

The bird’s sweet song after sweet song,
Blessed with the beauty to burn through man’s eyes,
The river drawing us close.
Eyes set on the falls until they must tear away
because of the chill of winter,
After standing over the edge for so long,
Teetering and tottering, tottering and teetering.

The sweet smell of fresh grass mixed with the warm air
Looking over all, we have no words to breathe
Except the air; words are made of themselves.

Lesson Five: Learning to Sing    by Liz Zetlin of Owen Sound (2018)

It happens, like magic says my teacher
when you relax and stop trying.
Sound spills down your face
and rumbles the room.

So, I’m trying not to try,
to sneak up on myself with song.

Imagine you’re biting into a peach.
Where the golden flesh arrives
behind the teeth, that’s where
the sound should be.

I give it a try.  Since it’s winter,
earmuffs replace the peach. Fuzzy black
poly-something only muffles and chokes.
I try a Bartlett pear, the fleshy part beneath the thumb.
My teacher redirects each sound.

Try not to sit on the sound
in the back of your mouth.
Keep your tongue lazy.
Don’t let it rise up.

I feel like I imagine a baby might feel
attempting to crawl, if the mother said
“put more pressure on your right knee,
lean forward a bit, tilt your head down,
lead with your left big toe, don’t
let your arms get the way. Now,
pretend you’re a cat and crawl!”

I recall the peach, the earmuffs, the pear,
the torment of sound hitting my soft palette.
Screech like a little girl, she says, only more witchy
and higher in pitch – and demonstrates: gimme that gimme that.

I’m so exhausted by metaphor,
by trying, by trying not to try.
But then I remember something I read:
even the Albert’s lyrebird takes
six years to learn its dawn song.

Lucy Bacon                    “Yeats’ Garden”

Elizabeth Bazeley            “LOONS”

Faye Annette Bender        “Miles of Diamonds”

Carol Chitovas                “Hope”

Shane Fera                     “Quiet Corners”

Jennifer Frankum             "Visibility Nil"

Dieter Heinrich               “The Elephant in the Room”

Caleb Hull                      “When I’m Gone”

Anne Duke Judd             “Night Passage – Lake Huron”

Taylor Legge                  "Relieving These Secrets"

                                     "The Smell of Rain"

Lucy Leone                    "Autumn Gala"

Landon Morley              "Looking in the Mirror"

Anna Park                     "The Beautiful Calm Waters"

Emma Schuster              "busher"

Suzanne Selby                “The Vegetarian Vulture”

John Smallwood              “He Said/She Said”

Bronwyn Stanton            "Beauty of All"

Lynn Wyvill                    "Jilted"


Liz Zetlin                       "Lesson Five: Learning to Sing"

Quiet Corners      by Shane Fera of Colpoy's Bay (2017)

there is a rising tide in me
and no estuary for transition

saltwater floods without levee
churn at my feet,
the gate was left open

and I'm a swimmer, sure, since birth
but truth be told I'm spent

I meant to find land sooner,
quiet corners, under trees or open skies
to recharge, but by and large I
left it far too late for that

and treading water, tired as I am
I start to wonder, about the ocean,
and why it encroaches on this land
and quiet corners, turned over

Visibility Nil     by Jennifer Frankum of Port Elgin (2019)

On the first day of the new year
my beloved drove us through sideways snow.
At times we could not see
beyond the swirling whirl of white
which mesmerized,
though he dared not stop
in the midst of nothingness.
Suspended in the winter abyss,
our eyes unblinking.

I held my breath
for an infinite moment
until miracles appeared:
a glimpse of tire track,
a line of trees,
a spot of yellow paint.

We have driven
on invisible roads
for twenty-five years--
and still I am beside him
trusting him through the squalls.

As he turns in the driveway
my breathing eases.

My luck appears infinite.

Safe within our home’s embrace
we gaze through the window.
The snow still flies
yet seems benign--
a landscape gif,

Tonight, when sleeping
we dream we are driving blind
in a Bruce County winter,
and for moments at a time,
our breath is held
and we hold onto hope
as if hope is all we have
in this ferocious world.

Autumn Gala     by Lucy Leone of Durham (2019)

I am lured by the
sensational seasonal foliage
of a nearby forest.
She shows her Autumn apparel
in shades of red, and yellow.

Maple and Birch trees toss
charms of scarlet and crimson;
decorations that delight
the grateful green cedar
whose perfume blends with
the aroma of toasted leaves.

Beech dons a fashionable boa
of saffron vines
wrapped snug along her trunk.
In the cool September air,
she shivers loose flaxen and
caramel coloured leaves that
gather on her mossy skirt.
Blistery wounds hide
behind her fly-away shawl;
bumps as badges of age.
Today she wears them like a
cherished broach to celebrate
a vibrant new season.

Looking in the Mirror     by Landon Morley of Wiarton (2019)

What can I see in the mirror?

I see a Face, a face of kindness and happiness. A face of joy and no regret.
But when I look in the mirror a second time, I see someone who needs to
have a face of kindness and happiness, a face of joy and no regret. When I
look in the mirror I see a face but why, why do I notice the second time that I
see a face that needs improvement? Is it because of our corrupt world and
we don’t care about how we come across just how we look? Why do we
notice that we’ve caused damage to our world until we love over ourselves

What can I see in the mirror?

The Beautiful Calm Waters     by Anna Park of Wiarton (2018)

I see rough rocks beneath the beautiful, calm waters,
With green leaves in the corner as if it was in trouble.
And with its light coming from the leaves of green,
As the black gloomed in the other corner,
And the white in between,
Like it was trying to separate them.
I would hear the droplets of the water,
Dropping time to time,
Into endless wet abyss.
But, I have a wonder,
If any has found the dark wonderland.
If true, I would want to find where it is.
I feel a calm feeling to let out my angry thoughts,
For I feel happy and very calm.
I see rough rocks beneath the beautiful calm waters,
The beautiful calm waters...
The beautiful calm waters...

LOONS     by Elizabeth Bazeley of Miller Lake (2014)

across habitat, water, afternoons
we called to each other.
                         Wilderness was tone-woven
                         with our signals
scored with the gamut
of our cries
                       as I listened for your greeting
as I searched for your answer.
In mirthful
mock approach I splashed
against a crosshatch of waves.
                         I watched for your arrival through
                        the grid of habitat.
When I dived into
the frolic of the water
                       and when you surfaced on
                      my other side,
                      our laughter interplayed.
I sealed a feather
shed from the flight
with a promise you would recognize.
                        In a tumble of shore stone
                        I found your message
                        with its white medallion
                       seal of kindred.
Were we to know
our fugue was a lament
                          how could we
                          have lived our afternoons
                          with such abandon--
The lake records us
in her archives
                        Didn't you hear my sob
                        breaking the night?

Revival    by Elizabeth Bazeley of Miller Lake (2015)

Beneath a hide
of frost-tempered winter
                                sleep-numbed bone,
                                                a shoulder of earth
                                juts through
                                                its translucent shrinking wrap.
Trickled melt-water undermines
an aged porous hip of snow,
                                burble of hidden rivulets
                                livens an alder thicket.
Stretching spectres of the forest
still clench mauve-knuckled drifts,

                                old limbs
                                                resist life’s sap..
                                               before insistent flowering.
Search of a jay
startles you,
                                your dreams exposed,
innocence uncurled
                                and glistening
as rinds of darkness peel away.
                                                Each waking
                                is a miracle in bloom.

busher   by Emma Schuster of Port Elgin (2019)

busher (party in a forest clearing)

dizzily, we giggle through deep forest
not foreboding, just endless.
following starry-eyed nymphs
and red-cheeked goblins,
we walk the invisible path.

still trekking,
our eyes flicker to glimmers of light
that drip from fingertips attached to other hands.
beams briefly alight our path
but their footprints steer clear,
foraging through older passageways,
all converge where a warm glow calls us.

we enter the clearing and
the ground slides from beneath or feet,
as the cold is shooed away by the flames.
burning sparks rocket into the sky like beacons,
dancing down around us in orange flecks.
above, sprawls a cold blanket of
the brightest stars i’ve seen in years.
below, a congregation of swelling creatures
swirling against each other,
the fire coaxing
shared memories out of us.
the forest comes alive through us.

the ocean of bodies becomes rough.
waves emerge and a small section collapses.
lightless fingertips hit heavy
upon beardless faces.
a stronger hand is pulling me
away from the tumult.

the fire is out.


switched off
a blown-out candle.
no one is holding me close.
silence is the only creature around me.

The Vegetarian Vulture     by Suzanne Selby of Southampton (2016)
(note: poem is formatted to fit the page-it was 43 lines long in its original form)

Vera and Vernon were full of much pride, as the day of the birth of their brood had arrived.
There was Valerie, Vania, Vanessa and Vince, Vortence and Varney, Vance and Prince.
A nest full of vultures ready to eat…So Vernon set off to find them some meat.
Now Prince was named Prince ‘cause they ran out of V’s, but Prince was , perhaps from a family of P’s.
He was different, they thought, not a typical V. Yes that difference was clear they would all soon see.

Vultures are birds that help clean up our land. By eating dead animals, they give us a hand.
They eat all the meat and leave nothing but bones, which may sound quite awful and cause us to moan,
But those bones provide food for small critters like mice – quite like the way we get goodness from rice.
And what bones are left will go back to the earth – to return to the soil for a future rebirth.

So Vernon flew off and soared high in the sky.  He had to find food for his brood or they’d die.
And before very long, he spotted some meat – a perfect dinner for his brood to eat!
He returned to the nest with enough food for all. And when he arrived – what a wild free-for-all!
Everyone ate and then soon fell asleep.  They slept all together in the nest in a heap.

As the days passed by, they grew and they grew – and Vera and Vernon knew just who was who.
The biggest were Varney, Vortence and Vince.  All were quite healthy except for wee Prince.
He was always the last to get to the food – and, after he ate, he’d be in a mood.
He’d ignore them all and sometimes be sick.  When it came to food, he’s always nitpick. 

Vera grew worried, “Would this baby survive? Would he grow like the others, would he ever thrive?”
And when it came time to fly from the nest – he was the last to try, well behind all the rest.
But, small as he was, he did learn to fly.  And when he did, he waved a good-bye.
He was not like the rest, he had to find why.  He knew if he didn’t, he might just die! 

So he traveled east t’wards the morning sun. Traveled through days ‘til the nights had come.
And when he got tired, he roosted in trees – sometimes in the forest, sometimes by the sea.
And, after awhile, he needed some food – But NOT what Vernon had fed to his brood!
He just couldn’t face a mouthful of meat. He’s have to find something more appealing to eat.

One day he landed on the roof of a barn – and he watched some kittens playing with yarn.
They seemed so happy with their sisters and brothers – And he missed family, especially his mother.
He watched and he waited ‘til the darkness came. Then he flew to the yard and ate some grain.
Now, that tasted good, his favourite was corn. This was the place he should have been born!

When morning soon dawned, there came to the yard – roosters and chickens that ate, played and sparred.
He wanted to join them and be with the group. Maybe, just maybe, he could sleep in their coop!
Just then the farmer opened up the barn door – and from inside the barn came a nasty uproar…
There was clucking and gobbling and a rustle of feathers – and out came a family of birds altogether.

They were black like he was with a bald reddish head – and he jumped with surprise when the biggest one said…
“Pamela, Peter, Paula and Portence – what I have to say is very import ant!
We cannot stop looking for that egg that was lost. Don’t ever give up, it’s not a lost cause!
He’ll be quite big now with a head that is red.” And, with that word of advice, they marched straight ahead.
And all at once, there came a loud gobble – heard clearly above the usual squabble…
For there in the yard stood a most handsome bird. And the turkeys know, without saying a word…
That this was their brother, they’d found the lost egg. “Please tell us your name,” they all started to beg.
“My name is Prince, I’m a “P” like you.”  He’d found the right place, this was home – he just knew.

So it seemed so to Prince that he wasn’t a vulture – he didn’t belong to that meat-eating culture.
His background was truly no longer so murky.  He was a lot less vulture and much more turkey!