FRESH VOICES: TONY VALUCH, GREG STIDHAM, TONY BRATHWAITE

Welcome to the seventh edition of Fresh Voices, a project from and for the League’s associate members. The League’s associate members are talented poets who are writing and publishing poetry on their way to becoming established professional poets in the Canadian literary community. We are excited to be taking this opportunity to showcase the work of our associate members in this new series!

Into the Flurry   
by Tony Valuch

Clutching fingers shiver and shake,

Twist, press my youth around

My shambling life as I diligently

Slog—step-by-step—inch towards

The inevitable;

 

Wild, fierce, so relentless they come,

Pushing persistently against my gait

Like some annoying, bullying bouncer

Intent on impeding, spoiling my time…

They come;

 

My cheeks colour in contrast, angry

In defiance of the flakes’ stark touch

I squint fearfully ahead into the

Swirling, ivory funnel of finality…

Another step;

 

Stumbling forward, I drag my

Battered frame as memories gather,

A polar carpet: thick, heavy, chilling

As a snowball smack-dab in the face…

That’s life

Tony Valuch is from Toronto. His poetry–concerned with inner nature and rites of passage–has been published in Canada and South Korea.

Run-on Sentence    
by Greg Stidham

Bereft of punctuation the ideas

process across the parade ground of the mind

like the ideas of a manic at his peak

flight-of-ideas      barely able

to stay in single file      semi-orderly

at best      undisciplined and wild

nearly out of control      like

bright splotches of color in

a Jackson Pollack mural      where

is the order      it seems it’s there

but not easy to discern      like

childhood memories invading

like running a catfish line      like

praying the rosary or

knitting or crocheting

calling out the repetitious rhythms

of the stitching      like

days of the liturgical calendar

strung out      or

the beads on the wire of an abacus

time is no matter      they

march forever      unfettered

by concerns of mortality

the pocket of tomorrows bottomless

the marchers’ uniforms’

colors changing subtly one

to the next so the change is

imperceptible      a chant

or a mantra repeated

repeated but never quite the same

train cars on a track      their

own rhythm      rack-a-tack

rack-a-tack      are they

cattle cars

destined for the indescribable

the unthinkable      how

on earth did I get here      and now

how to get back to some place

more safe      where there is no order

only the semblance of order      and

there is no control      what if

you cursed in anger at God and

there was no MI or

cerebral aneurysm just to prove

you shouldn’t you

couldn’t do that to God

and get away with it      what if

you curse at God in anger

and the morning breeze still softly whispers

in tropical leaves the size of childhood kites

and ferns like fans in ancient Egypt

and the birds still chirp

and the waitresses still chatter

and somewhere in some motel room

the beast with two backs still groans

and moans      and sperm

are liberated to do their thing

perhaps in single file like

words in a run-on sentence

or not      whichever

as the case may be

would this make you feel better

or would you feel better

if you just ran out of gas

and dwindled

into nothing

and silence

Greg Stidham is a retired pediatric intensivist (ICU physician) currently living in Kingston, Ontario, with his wife Pam and their two foundling “canine kids.” Greg’s passion for medicine has yielded in retirement to his other lifelong passions, literature and creative writing.

Hot Air  
by Tony Brathwaite

the sound of your voice

flows swirls around and past

the obstacle I have become

 

the tones, the timbre, the pitch

 

the words no longer have meaning

 

fills voids

in confidence

balloon tight

with hot air

Arranging words with varying degrees of intensity for over 50 years, Tony has also performed at readings in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Curated by Lesley Strutt and Blaine Marchand, these poems represent just a small portion of the great work being produced by our members, and we are excited to have this opportunity to share their poetry with you. If you are interested in contributing to Fresh Voices, please send 3-5 poems to lesley@lesleystrutt.ca. You may submit only once per month, but you may submit every month until your poetry is selected. This opportunity is open only to associate members of the League–if you are interested in joining the League, please visit our membership page!