Welcome to the sixteenth 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 series!
By Jeff Parent
lean into where is an expired track,
set tumbling by a collision in its system of origin,
reddish and unsteady
from prolonged exposure
to the general exuberance of time.
Here between the growth of things
and a river not quite suitable for drinking
if the weighted scent of copper
is anything to go by,
durable and eccentric,
turn sharply away
and upward to perihelion.
I am left alone to my trajectory
with a book under my arm,
what seemed like a good idea
until this bygone route
accelerates beyond the orbit of Mars
at a pace I’m not prepared to think about
even if I could.
Jeff Parent is a dad, comic book enthusiast, and some kind of poet. His poems have been published by The Fiddlehead, Words(on)Pages, Lemon Hound, and The Temz Review amongst others. Jeff is currently pursing a Master’s in English and Creative Writing at Concordia University and lives in Québec’s Eastern Townships.
aisle of discomfort
By Norma Kerby
on a Monday morning in the grocery store
only the unemployed or the retired come
sometimes a woman with a child but you
seldom see them this early i could see him
moving along the fresh vegetable row like
a sweeper with his cane and determined walk
even the young fellow stocking the cabbages
moved his cart aside if i didn’t know better
it looked like i was the target and who knew
what i had done this time most likely it was
someone who disagreed with the article about
how you store heritage potatoes or whether
streams were drying up in summer or if
weather was getting hotter or colder i looked
for an escape behind the banana island
but when he called my name in a big voice
where was there to hide how are you doing
he asked loudly did he actually think i
would tell him probably not but through
the strain on his face and those tired eyes i
recognized him and winced and asked how
is your wife he answered slowly as he
massaged a leek she just got out of hospital
i’ve been spending too much time on her
and not enough on me but i am still working
scheduled for knee surgery in January
i was so relieved he wasn’t
going to argue about whether that
photo was an adze or a mattock i
nodded along and both of us commented
on bones and neither mentioned our cross-linked
in-laws or their angry exit to the Okanagan
then he headed for the broccoli and i
left via the spinach knowing the next
time we met it would be another funeral
as time shrivelled up and we both kept
too busy trying to outrun our age
Norma Kerby‘s poetry has been published in a number of journals, magazines, e-zines, and anthologies, most recently in the anthologies, Heartwood (League of Canadian Poets), Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press), The Golden Oracle and Somewhere My Love (Subterranean Blues Poetry), and Shadows and Light (Writers North of 54). Her chapbook, Shores of Haida Gwaii, was published in 2018 by Big Pond Rumours Press.
After The Gig
By Bill Arnott
Relaxed, reclined in armrest rows of padded seats
our sleepy ferry creeps toward a sunrise
Michael and I softly strum guitars
yes, I’m permitting myself to be
. that guy
acoustic call-and-answer starts our day
with aroma of fried bacon, crisp
five cups of drip roast breakfast blend
. lingering on clothes
Ahead, Bowen Island, a child’s likeness of a whale
all that’s missing is the arcing water spout
and one big eye
Beyond, inverted Vs of mountain blues and greens
confectioner’s dusting of new snow
vertically mirror widening wake
a whitewash skein tracing our trail
. on ever calming teal
Ah, Michael’s tuned to open G, a dampened banjo sound
to share a song he just composed
somewhere on forest beach in Haida Gwaii
diminished chords an echo of old growth
. how he conveys a people, place, the past
. in single, resonating fifths
. remains a mystery
Cast in icy canvas views, cozy in our toques and scarves
muted patter morning sounds surround
. windows offer vista jolts of Kodachrome
. as last night dwindles like a murmur
candlelit lounge, raised patrons at high tops
sipping wintery cordials
. cluster of our own – poets, storytellers
. singers mingled in the mix
patted backs and hugs, laughter barks, applause
a clump of lushes piles on, despite the odds, convert!
. leave the bar
. as fans of poetry
. and us
After, crossing town in intermittent under-wattage streetlight
adrenaline still staving off the cold
. and wet
two neatly folded twenties and a five in hand – the evening’s pay
a police cruiser speeds onto a side street, red and blue
. leaves me to wonder
. who else’s life has changed forever
Back “home” at crash pad – stacked-up house welcoming artists
middle-age surfers swim to sea, catch sofas as they rise and fall
. on swells and tidal surge, ridden over rocky reef and shoal
. thin sheets and pillows never ever changed
to sleep like drunken, hairy babies
happy just to have a place indoors
. hot food
. and wine
. from the kitchen wafts a warming apple crumble
No tabs for the talent, we were told, cash only
just like covers at the door
. I’d pulled a fist of coins, from my jeans’ pocket
. got on with a night of come what may, and openness
Chorus of my spoken-word recycling in a loop
I let it circle, play
. harmony of poetry and lifelong goals
. realized on cold dark nights
and ferry rides
that cross a stretch of inland sea
. where island refugees
. weeknight drunks and poets
merge in dim lit pubs
to read, recite, resuscitate
. to sharing honesty
Finally, stepping down, off my pedestal stage
a striking woman, age inappropriate
hemorrhaging daddy issues, intercepts
. holds my gaze
. tells me I’m “genius”
Oh, you’re using that word wrong, I think, but do not say
Decide I must be somewhere else. Immediately.
. But linger, a moment
. then move on
thankful for all I have back home
. not the sofa house-cum-crash-pad
. real home, where I return
imagining warm cinnamon and apple
Vancouver author, poet, songwriter Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of Dromomania and Gone Viking. Sales generate donations to numerous charities. His poetry, articles and reviews are published in Canada, the US, UK, Europe and Asia. Bill’s column Left Coast Poetry Beat is published by the League of Canadian Poets and the Federation of BC Writers.
By Renée M. Sgroi
inside the tangled netting, eyes. the scenes replay, replay. the netting tangoes scenes where front to back, wear front to back. a cave. a cave inside the vision of her eyes. screening.
the scenes replay the tangled nets from flesh to mattress, wrest on mattress. crawling. he craves the flesh where locks obey. obey. inside the wrangled net he carves the knotted flesh, knitted best. mangled. he carves a knotted fist on flesh. display. the metal spoons are clanging, wind chimes. arrested flesh is handled front to back, front to lack. a zippered film replays a strangled wrist or eyes. red eyes, green eyes, black eyes. a self. her self on fleshed display, he curves the netting angled on her thighs. wind chimes. the metal spoons bang vespers on his sighs. bleeding. a fish with tangled netting on its thighs. a netted fish, a flesh, a mangle on display. your eyes.
Renée M. Sgroi recently edited the poetry anthology, ‘Written Tenfold’ (Poetry Friendly Press). She is the president of the Brooklin Poetry Society, and an associate member of the League. You can find her online at: https://reneemsgroi.com and on Twitter: @ReneeMSgroi
WHERE ARE YOU HARLEY DAVE?
By Pauline Sameshima
I met him in the laundry room
in Harvey’s Hotel in Lake Tahoe
he wore tattoos for sleeves
and a weathered face that told
of his travels across the continent
this time 4500 miles on his bike
searching for delicacies
like dungeness crab
said his neck tired first
from riding without a shield
and he needed his chaps for the
frosty mornings at high altitudes
carried three days of clothes
in bungeed saddle bags
chuckled that he looked like
someone in the Village People
when he rode without his leathers
we laughed lazily over the machines
spinning urgently, vibrating
an urbaness not in our conversation
and my face tired first from the fascination
. . . as the door closed he turned with a smile
“don’t steal my Harley clothes from the dryer”
he knew what we both recognized
I could fly on the dragon in his arms
fit into the art on his skin
Pauline Sameshima is an artist, writer, and wonderer. She lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario. More on her makings can be found at solspire.com.
By Angel Edwards
. die in the snow
. Tears of the departed
. beneath icicles freeze
. The broken hearted
. shiver cry
. to the ghost
. Life thieves
. A toast
. Life grieves
Angel Edwards is a singer songwriter guitarist poet from Vancouver. Two of her books, “Tales in the Dreams Garden” and “Lust Unfiltered By Love” were published in 2018 by Silver Bow Publishing. You can find her work in newspapers and magazines in Canada, United States, Ireland, England, Africa, Romania and Croatia. Angel is working on her third book of poetry.
. The six hours it takes to get anywhere
are never divided by anything else,
so relax for a moment and settle
into this one formative fact.
Think about the weeding in the
garden you promised you would do,
the summer someone you love dies,
how to watch a documentary and
not talk about it later.
Now, put those thoughts aside. Recall
the first time you picked saskatoons off the
bush in your backyard.
. You crushed them between two flat stones,
. waited overnight for it to dry into a paste.
. What did you compare that sensation to and why?
I ask these questions because I miss how we walked
through alleys together, that one time we stopped
to rest on a grassy spot near the power lines.
It was a hot day, but we didn’t mind. We
listened to the humming overhead until it all made sense.
By Stuart Ian McKay
Stuart Ian McKay is a Calgary poet. His poetry and non-fiction have appeared in journals and anthologies throughout Canada. “a cognate of prayer”, his second book of poetry, was published in 2013. Stuart’s chapbook, “even the idea of maya is maya” will be published by Frog Hollow press in 2019. Stuart serves on the poetry editorial collective of filling station.
By Melanie Flores
In a crescendo
not a whisper
or careless caress
but with cantankerous squirrels
on sequined sidewalks
Flame on a wickless candle
moon calls my name
dances in slivers
blackness bathes the sky
Pelted with stones
that melt into oblivion.
Toronto-born Melanie Flores divides her time between writing poetry and short stories and working as an audiobook narrator, writer and editor. Melanie won 1st place in Polar Expressions’ 2017 Poetry Contest for her poem “Final Moments”, which was also accepted for publication in “Universal Oneness: An Anthology of Magnum Opus Poems from Around the World”.
By Kamal Parmar
Almost the end of March,
last rays of the setting sun
falls on its dimpled surface.
A shadow etched
across crystalline patches in our yard.
Blueprint of the cherry tree,
once branches decked with pink frilly blossoms
cavorting under the cloudless summer sky.
Now a shivering skeleton,
battered by the cold breeze.
Night lights flicker,
a remote town swaddled in layers of ice and crust.
What happens behind closed doors remains a mystery,
the drama of Life unfolds.
A lone star glitters in the night sky,
frozen ponds, furze and bush
scrutinize in silence.
Kamal Parmar’s genre is poetry and creative non-fiction. She has published in UK, Canada and India as well as many publications in reputed US and Canadian literary journals and anthologies. Kamal is the secretary of The Ontario Poetry Society. She is also a member of Haiku Canada and of The Writers Union of Canada. Kamal, at present, is working on a new manuscript of poems.
By Neall Calvert
In the city, caterwauling crows woke me
almost every morning . . . The sounds
of life, I tried to convince myself,
but I could comprehend how someone
would want to shoot them . . .
I moved closer to nature.
Heedless of property lines,
down from the telephone wires he came—
regally, effortlessly, across my backyard grass,
a black-feathered potentate marching
toward his goal: a small water-filled hole
in a concrete pad, meant for
a clothes-rack post.
Down into the rainwater went the shiny black beak;
out it came and then—flawless, eons-old move!—
the handsome, night-coloured head lifted
and for three long seconds—three flowing
sacred seconds of natural monarchy—
the liquid burbled down his throat . . .
In those moments he ruled the world
—and I? . . . I surrendered to a king.
Neall Calvert has twenty-five years’ experience as a journalist, book editor and writer. He began creating essays and poetry at midlife after immersing himself in the lives of the German-speaking poets Friedrich Hölderlin and Rainer Maria Rilke. His essays on these two writers can be found at westernu.academia.edu/NeallCalvert and in his Kindle book Hölderlin & Rilke: What I Learned from Two Great German Poets. Neall has been published in The Men’s Journal, Borrowed Solace, a Douglas & McIntyre anthology and online and in print at Recovering The Self.
Curated by Joan Conway 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.
For more information on how to submit and to see the next deadline, visit the Fresh Voices page.