Archives for posts with tag: Canada

Ode to a wine-lover’s friend
by JC Sulzenko

Not that I’m a drunk or that we’re drunks.
But, after five months in isolation,
ten boxes of empties languish
underneath the basement steps.
Nowhere safe we can recycle them.

Barolos list and lean on Rosés
with the occasional Pinot Gris
and a magnum or three, attesting to
many, many, long, long evenings with
only each other to face and entertain.

What to do with the evidence?
An answer walks up our driveway.
His name is David. He’s thirty-seven, wears
a baseball cap and an unmasked, crooked
smile. He speaks few words with a slur.

David collects empties from around
the county during COVID-days.
He turns them in, donates what he earns
to charities he likes the best.
This gives him purpose, his mother explains.

Two-by-two, David hoists our crates into the van.
He refuses offers of help, raises his hat with joy
when he’s done. Then tilts toward me, runs fingers
through his new brushcut, mumbles what he heard
the barber say, You’re a handsome boy! Indeed.

PHOTO: Wine bottles on stairs by Pixabay, used by permission. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I focused this poem on my first meeting with David, although his backstory also merits further reflection. When I called to book his visit, his mother explained he had been living in a group home when the pandemic hit. When she was told she would have to stop seeing him given the restrictions, she brought him home to live with her and with his stepfather. David’s success at recycling has led to stories in local media, and demand has overwhelmed their capacity. “We are retired, after all!” she laughs. Now they are recruiting other families to come on board.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JC Sulzenko’s poems appeared on Arc’s Poem of the Year shortlist, and have been featured in Vallum, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Oratorealis, Naugatuck River Review, and online — either under her name or as A. Garnett Weiss. The Light Ekphrastic and Silver Birch Press have published her work. In 2019, she won the Wind and Water Writing Contest and WrEN Award (Children’s Poetry), and judged poetry for the National Capital Writing Contest. In 2018, Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press) as well as the Poet’s Pathway and County CollAboRaTive projects featured her writing. Point Petre Publishing released her South Shore Suite…POEMS in 2017. Her centos took top honours in The Bannister Anthology (2016, 2013). She has presented workshops for the Ottawa International Writers Festival, the Griffin Trio, MASC, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the Ottawa Public Library, and a number of Alzheimer societies, among others. She has published six books for children and co-authored the chapbooks Slant of Light and Breathing Mutable Air with fellow Canadian Carol A. Stephen. She currently curates the Glebe Report’s Poetry Quarter, plus serves as a selector for Visit her at

licensed maurizio demattei
War Musket Grass (Bay of Fundy)
by Donna Allard

I see no soldier’s uniform as I walk along these shores
but fresh blood cliffs, musket grass,
and a labyrinth of our relics,
the unfolding of this puzzle to figure out a broader picture,
as rose clashed with la fleur de lys…
like an arcanum shared by a friend
who said to follow water trails
like a pirate in search of a chest, as magnet speaks closer to sand …
He said many have found treasures under the sheet of their own graves.
Yet I favour its peaceful clay to dyed denim & origin,
as I connect with those who fell for their flower & sleep inside
this bay of mud.
Today, hooves flit in Fundy sun,
safe & watchful over my eyes,
and I wonder if that story was ever passed to their offspring,
since man conquers on a saddle.
Come walk with me, sense a presence, their memory
dancing with tides, like a final oratory
along red cliffs & grassy shores.
Let me retreat from time & fog, as I fear ghosts & bellwalkers,
they swear the land still smells of powder.

Herbes, simulacres de mousquets (Baie de Fundy)
par Donna Allard

Aucun uniforme en vue le long de ce rivage,
le regard se contente de falaises couleur sang, d’herbes,
simulacres de mousquets,
d’un labyrinthe de reliques ;
la floraison de cette énigme pour mieux se figurer l’image,
au moment où la rose écorcha la fleur de lys…
comme un arcane soufflé par les lèvres amicales
qui nous invite à suivre les traces de la mer,
tel un pirate à la recherche d’un coffre, tant bien l’aimant
se réveille dans le sable…
Que de trésors à débusquer sous les draps scintillants
du cimetière marin lance-t-il à tout vent.
Mais je favorise l’argile teinter de paix le jean et l’origine,
comme j’amarre mon âme à celle de ceux tombés pour une fleur,
enracinés depuis dans cette baie de boue.

Aujourd’hui les sabots batifolent sous le soleil de Fundy,
hors de danger & bienveillants ;
je me demande si leurs aïeuls leur ont raconté cette histoire,
tant l’homme s’accapare le monde monté sur une selle.
Viens te promener avec moi, sens cette présence,
leur mémoire danser parmi les vagues, ce requiem d’éloquence
le long des falaises vermeilles & bord de mer fardé de vert.

Laisse moi me retirer de la brume & du temps,
tant je redoute fantômes & présages ;
tous jurent que ce bout de nouveau
mon desent encore a poudre.

PHOTO: Sandstone formations, Bay of Fundy, Canada, by Maurizio DeMattei, used by permission. The Bay of Fundy lies between two Canadian provinces, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755) took place in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada, during the French and Indian War when the British ordered the Expulsion of Acadians (French-speaking descendants of French settlers loyal to France). Approximately 7,000 Acadians were deported to the colonies. Many ended up in what was then French-colonized Louisiana. The name “Acadian” evolved to Cajun.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a landmark poem about the French and British civil war fought along the Fundy coastline of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada. Beautiful area with fields of tall grass that sway forever into night and where cows linger with their young. One day we were taking a drive and stopped here…you could feel the history and I wondered if the cows ever passed down to their calves the ancestral accounts of those times…the land still smells of powder…”War Musket Grass” changed my writing career when it won first place for the Canadian Poetry Association.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I took this photo at the Bay of Fundy during the Canadian Poetry Association LitFest I organized. Poets from around the world attended…and a curious bunch, too.

canadian poet Donna Allard

A peaceful purdyesque writer, Donna Allard’s most recent book Cold Fire is short-listed for the 2020 Miramichi Reader’s “The Very Best Book Award” published by SkyWing Press 2019. On Apr 28, 2014, she accepted the position on the Canada Cuban Literary Alliance: Honorary member of the CCLA by Poet Laureate & President Richard Grove. In August 2019, she accepted the title of International Beat Poet Laureate, Canada, from the National Beat Poetry Foundation Inc., Connecticut, USA. She now curates the “Canadian Beat Scene (CBS)” and CBS publishing. She resides in Aldouane, New Brunswick, on a 1909 farmstead, down a long dirt road…

What Runs Through
by Patrick Connors

We went to the Blue Jays game one Saturday
to see that damn Yankee Derek Jeter one last time.

Actually, it was also the first time
we saw him play in person,
at least together.

We participated in a standing ovation for Jeter—
something I never thought would happen.

Best of all, or almost best of all,
Jose Bautista hit a home run, and
our Blue Jays were victorious!

In the days of our youth, rarely did a week pass by
without attending at least one game.

The two of us would meet at Eglinton GO Station,
and, after a short wait, quickly get away from
what we didn’t want to talk about.

We would talk about Moseby, Barfield and Bell—
and Dave Stieb and Dr. Henkenstein—

and whether this would be the year
we would finally break through—

while we passed by the factories and vacant lots,
subdivisions and shopping malls of suburbia.

We would arrive at Exhibition Stadium,
already a monument,
more historical than functional.

We knew guys who worked there—
they said rats ran
’round the bleachers
just before batting practice.

Where did the rats go during the game?
Was it safe to go to the washroom,
especially on a cold day?

After the game we would go back to Eglinton,
and, being underage, use creative means to acquire beer.

Shortly after dark, we would enter
the forest inside McCowan Road Park
to drink.

Every time we dug a new fire pit
or post holes to support a log to sit on,
we always uncovered decades of garbage.

The forest, the park, and the public school
were all built on a dump.

Purple poles positioned throughout the park
allowed pungent methane gas to escape

preventing mini-earthquakes from happening—
at least most of the time.

The creek, basically sewage,
running through McCowan Road Park
originates in the Don River.

We drank the beer complaining that it cost
nearly twelve dollars for twelve bottles.

We talked about the game, who was pitching
the next day, and when we would go again.

Or, we might plan to go to the video arcade,
or to play burby, if circumstances allowed.

We would nurse our last beers,
even talk about things rarely talked about,

in an effort to stay out long enough,
for everyone at our homes to fall asleep.

Now, we don’t go to games much anymore,
although we are as close as ever.

Maybe it’s because we can’t spend
as much time with each other.

Maybe it’s because we no longer
innocently believe in baseball’s ability
to take us away from our problems.

Maybe it’s because we don’t have
anything at home to run away from.

PHOTO: The Toronto Blue Jays play the Chicago White Sox in Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium on April 8. 1977 in the second game of the Blue Jays’ inaugural season. The initial game, on April 6, 1977, was played in a Toronto snowstorm. During the three-game series, the Blue Jays won the first game 9-5, lost the second game 3-2, and won the final game 3-1. (Photo by Robert Taylor, Stirling, Canada, via Wikipedia.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick Connors’ first chapbook, Scarborough Songs, was published by Lyricalmyrical Press in 2013, and charted on the Toronto Poetry Map. He is grateful to Silver Birch Press for their genero(u)sity in broadening his audience in 2015. Other publication credits include Spadina Literary Review, Tamaracks, released in spring 2019 by Lummox Press, and Tending the Fire, released spring 2020 by the League of Canadian Poets. His first full-length collection is forthcoming.

The Red and White Door
by Isobel Cunningham

On the first day
I saw you through the glass panel of the red and white door
I knew.
On that first bold, longing, charged day.
Open, open the door quickly quickly!

I opened my eyes to your face,
opened my ears to your voice with a new rhythm, a new cadence.
opened to el abrazo.
opened my arms to a solid body, to comfort, to ecstasy, to sleep.
opened my mouth to wine, food, to singing.
opened my mouth to laughter, opened my mouth to kisses, the scratch of      your beard.
opened my mouth to words – reasoning, kind, angry, sarcastic, palabras      de amor, jokes,
fighting words.
opened my heart to depths, opened to hope, that most dangerous of      guests, opened to an infinity.

On the last day
even the sky was closed on that day, on that last day.
Car keys in your hand, in your closed hand.
The few, oh, such a few words.
The closing words.
The door opened for you.
You stepped out over the threshold of the red and white door.

Then closing all closing, all closed.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isobel Cunningham writes short fiction and poetry. She is presently revising her first novel. She lives in Montreal, Canada. Her poetry book, Northern Compass, is available on Amazon and her blog is Her work is inspired by observing nature and the mysteries of human behavior.


nd invite

Find more information here or on Facebook.

Congrats to frequent Silver Birch Press contributor Lee Parpart who won an emerging writer prize in Open Book: Toronto’s 2016 “What’s Your Story” competition for the Toronto community of East York. Her short story, “Piano-Player’s Reach,” about neighbors caught up in tensions over a renovation project, will be published on Lee and writers Kate Marshall Flaherty, Michael Januska, and Diana Fitzgerald Bryden will read from their work on Saturday, October 1, 2016, at the S. Walter Stewart Library at 170 Memorial Park Ave. in Toronto. All are welcome to this free event!



HILL - On the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour Heading to British Columbia, Canada Saturday, April 25, 2015
Railroad Lullaby
by Debbie Okun Hill

rock, rock-roll, rock
rock, rumble-rock, roll

Metal cars on track
squeak, grind . . .
on railroad bed

This giant cradle
a rhythmic roll-rock
lone train rock-rattle
engine heart, a heated hearth

spruce scented
twig fingers
swoop and wave
like musical conductor

A poet with a guitar
strums soft,
soft slow chords
as we toss-turn
into lullaby slumber
into cloud pillows
with goose feathers

We rumble-rock-rest
like prairie bison
of mountain stream
this journey by rail

Each berth and sleeper
hushed by ghost breath
memories of passengers
wrapped in history’s quilt

Tonight, the stars lead us
deeper into fabled forests

rock- rumble, rock-squeak

And amongst these
dark moving images
lone bear blurred-blind
against window pane
you are not forgotten
as we wait for a signal
for that familiar whistle
to announce our arrival

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: This is one of several views from VIA Rail Canada’s Skyline Dome Car taken during the Great Canadian PoeTrain Train Tour heading towards British Columbia, Canada on Saturday morning, April 25, 2015.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I fell in love with train travel while participating in the first 2012 PoeTrain Express from downtown Toronto to the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival in Cobalt, Ontario. This April 2015, I joined 18 other poets for a unique April is Poetry month celebration on the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour. The tour started in Ottawa, with readings in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver. This poem was inspired by the rock-roll motion of the train while I rested on the upper berth of a shared cabin. A selection of train poems by Canadian poets will appear in The PoeTrain Anthology edited and compiled by Fran Figge and distributed this fall by PoeTrain Projects.

HILL - Debbie Okun Hill (colour websized) Photo Courtesy Melissa Upfold for The Calculated Colour Co.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debbie Okun Hill is a Canadian poet with over 300 poems published in over 100 publications including Lummox, MOBIUS, Phati’tude, Still Points Arts Quarterly, and Thema in the United States. She is currently on tour with Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014) her first collection of poems by a trade publisher. Additional information about her literary journey can be found on her blog:

Author photo by Melissa Upfold (Calculated Colour Company).

Through my window
by A. Garnett Weiss

A slash-of-red finch
on the cedar bowed by ice.
Drifting snow, thigh-high:
I’m mad to choose to live here
and breathe such cutthroat air.

So much white-on-white.
My street, a single lane ploughed
like a country road,
brings to mind cancelled schooldays
and skiing down avenues.

Weekends back then meant
heavy rubber boots, snowsuits,
walks to the café
hand-in-hand with my mother
for tea and patisseries.

Today, narrow paths
between steel and glass towers
create wind tunnels
I watch my neighbors rush through
to reach that place of their own.

I’m at home, here; but,
abandoned by youth and warmth,
I squint at the day.
The brutal wind, the raw light
assault me. I close the blind.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece was written after the temperature and winds combined to create a wind chill of minus 38 Celsius in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where I live. (At minus 44 degrees, Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures are the same, I believe.) On that day, my city gained the distinction of being the coldest capital on earth, beating out Mongolia’s Ulan Bator. headlineHere’s a link to a media report. Ottawa, a city of parks and avenues, prides itself on the way it embraces winter. From an outdoor festival that runs for three weeks into February to a 7.8-kilometre canal (= 90 Olympic-sized rinks) that is cleared for skating, there’s a lot invested in making people find good reasons to enjoy the snow and the cold. Snow clearing, though, is not where the city excels! I grew up in this climate, looked forward to sheltering from blizzards, to drinking hot sweet teas, and to wearing winter-warm coats, hats, and mitts. I built snowmen, tobogganed, skated, and skied. I never have felt as alienated by the winter landscape as I did on that arctic-like day. I chose the discipline of the tanka form for each stanza in this poem to capture my views “through my window.”

PHOTOGRAPH: Winter lovers were out skating on the Rideau Canal during a snow storm in Ottawa on Jan 29, 2015. (Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poems by A. Garnett Weiss, writing either under her name or as JC Sulzenko, have been featured on local and national radio and television, online and in anthologies and chapbooks. Her centos won a number of recent awards. Various newspapers have carried her creative nonfiction. She has appeared often on behalf of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, which launched both her play and her book about Alzheimer’s disease, What My Grandma Means to Say. In 2012, she served as poet-mentor for The Gryphon Trio’s Listen UP! Ottawa music and poetry composition project.


Morning at Meech Lake
by Nancy-Jean Pément

I should live in a green-coloured world
under a canopy of leaves
leaning low to greet me

I should make peace
with the cold
moss-coloured waters,
cosmos of microscopic life

something not unlike the stardust
from which we are rumoured to emerge,
some carbon element,
some cousin to the stars

we are
collective torchlights,
a canopy of illuminated filament
our bodies cannot hope to contain


I should learn to paddle the red canoe
properly seated at the back,
every stroke,
a stroke of momentum genius

like loons returning at dawn
call out,
I am of earth though I come from light.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written at a time when I was longing to be back in the Laurentian forests of my youth — in a green-coloured world far from the arid landscape of Southern California. Morning at Meech Lake was first published in the 2011 edition of The Moorpark Review.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Ottawa river bordering the provinces of Ontario and Québec” by Nancy-Jean Pément.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nancy-Jean Pément‘s poems have appeared in The Moorpark Review, where she was the featured artist in 2011, Morning Glory, and The Scribbler. She placed second in the 2014 Ventura County Writers’ Club poetry contest and was a finalist in Garrison Keillor’s 2014 Common Good Books poetry contest. She was recently named one of the emerging voices in Ventura County. She lives in Thousand Oaks, California.

Seiche—Long Point Bay, Port Dover
     for my friend John Tyndall who gave the gift of a new word
by John B. Lee

in the dead calm of a motionless morning
when the lake
is smooth as pulled silk
polished blue with a new-washed sky
shining like a carried mirror
with the still reflection
of waist-deep bathers
afloat in colours pooling away from their bodies
like rainbows of wet oil

it comes
at first as a long line
far out
in the fish-deep waters
of Long Point Bay
a linear pulse
visible as if of a counterpane
undulating about
the dream sigh of a water god
followed fast by shore hush
wave on wave sounding the drag of sand and shell

and the waders
respond, briefly rocking where they stand
like the thought toddle
of lost equilibrium

and also in the equipoise of an evening
I have seen this same
windless oscillation
curling its lip in the harbour
nudging docked boats
so they bob and joggle
like the last swirl
of an exhausted dreidel
dizzy with the loss of turning

somewhere in the deep shallows
of felt beauty, well below
the ghost’s slip
of the coming on and the going away
of ephemeral mists
there resides
in me, the true possibility of my soul
its memory alive
at the very tuning fork
of Adam’s resonant bone
receiving life and responding in kind
to that breath of grace

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is inspired by the seiche tides that occur in Long Point Bay (Ontario, Canada).

PHOTOGRAPH: “Stormy Waters” (Lake Erie, Port Dover, Ontario, Canada) by Tracy Bennett. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John B. Lee was appointed Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford, Ontario, Canada, in perpetuity in 2005 and Honourary Poet Laureate of Norfolk County for life in 2015. His work has appeared internationally in over 500 publications and he has well over 70 books in print. The recipient of nearly 100 prestigious awards for his writing, he lives in a lakefront home in Port Dover, Ontario.