Welcome to the sixth 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!

by Frances Roberts-Reilly

The castle is a theatre once more.

Eight centuries, memorials of rebels and battles

In these stones.

Each turret a soliloquy.

The mountains are out-shadowed despite their strength

Those peaks measure

the wisdom of the ancients.

If I were to gauge my own selfhood,

I would be overwhelmed.

Keening sea-wind adds depth to my longings.

I am but a small tributary of these greater beings.

I’ve been circling these peaks for years, practicing

an oration of scale and breadth.

These stones send messages,

defy the laws of decay and death.

Castle stones huddle together intimately,

touch their neighbours as though they have tenderness.

Language must be quarried from our depths.

Rappelling into the pit heats up jargon.

Mines the depths, water cries over rocks.

These are not shamanic stones.

They are powerful protectors.

The stones’ performance need characters

to perform the drama, applaud pathos.

Seven generations of our gypsy clan play harps.

The touchstone of an underground identity

keeps our own origin a mystery.

I am like a castle stone.

I will lock into place this story

secure against loss.

The peaks of the mountain recede over time

like old grandfathers muted and petrified.

My hands steady on the prop of a harp,

meet and part in music’s embrace

Frances Reilly lives in Kitchener, Ontario, where she is a poet, storyteller, Celtic harpist and filmmaker. She began writing seriously in 1972, whilst working at BBC television in London, England. After making award-winning documentaries, she earned an Honours degree in English Literature at the University of Toronto. She is a published poet. Her book (2006) is The Green Man. She has published numerous short stories, articles and poems and she has been a guest author on CBC Radio.  Currently, she performs spoken word with her harp, her poetry and the gypsy stories brought by her Romany ancestors.

“Unraveling Dorothy”
by Melanie Flores

Never in her storied life

Had she dreamt of this finale.

Grappling, with desperate effort,

To hold on to the filmy, fading images

Of becoming Dorothy.

…Trying to remember.

Singing Munchkins animate what

At first appeared a deserted land.

Amid the cacophony, a distant flapping of wings.

Monkeys fly through the sky –

One eyes her with a menacing glance

As he swoops, then soars back

To join his cohorts.

Dorothy’s ruby feet shimmer

The witch dissolves into a wicked mess –

A putrid boil is the only vestige of her existence.

The bearded wizard appears in emerald glory.

A twinkle in his eye, and a promise on his lips –

Assurances of fame and fortune,

Oaths of everlasting love,

Pledges of a joyful eternity.

The wizard reveals his clasped hands,

Enveloping the secret truth.

The power of all time?

The holy grail of her youth?

He exposes it for all to see –

A succulent, golden plum which

Shrivels, into a hardened prune.

The wizard vanishes,

Along with her hopes.

Bright colours drain to

Salt and pepper gray,

And slowly fade

To black.

Toronto-born Melanie Flores divides her time between working as a freelance copy editor/proofreader and writing poetry and short stories.  Melanie has been a contest winner in several national poetry competitions and her poems and short stories have appeared in anthologies of new Canadian poetry and short fiction.

by John Di Leonardo

(Inspired by Kevin Box’s “Rock, Paper Scissors” sculpture, cast bronze and stainless steel; after Octavio Paz’s poem “Wind, Water, Stone”)

Desire dreams love

lust wakes desire, love pausing lust

desire, lust, love

Lust torments lust, love

tears desire, dripping and is lust

love, lust, desire

Lust yawns in its yearning

desire draws on, steadfast, love is still

lust, desire, love

love pines for no other

daydreaming through empty names

desire, love, lust

John Di Leonardo is a Canadian visual artist/poet, past president of The Brooklin Poetry Society and former editor of Verse Afire. He has published two award winning chapbooks Book of Hours (2014), Starry Nights (2015), and is the recipient of the 2017 Ted Plantos Memorial Award. John’s poetry has appeared in over thirty Canadian journals and anthologies, including The Banister, Verse Afire, and Tower Poetry. He writes and paints in Brooklin, Ontario.You can visit him at

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 [email protected]. 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!

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