The Ontario Poetry Society
- The Spring Time Poetry Contest -

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Members' Poetry







The Spring Time

Poetry Contest

Winners & Their Poetry

1st Prize - $50 - 1000 Tulip Bulbs
by Donna Langevin, Toronto, ON
2nd Prize - $25 - Understanding T.S. Eliot At Last
by Marilyn Gear Pilling, Hamilton, ON
3rd Prize - $10 - Lilacs
by Marilyn Gear Pilling, Hamilton, ON
$5 Honourable Mention: ice ships
by Kathy Fisher, Edmonton, AB
$5 Honourable Mention: Spring Migration
by Peggy Fletcher, Sarnia, ON
All recieve Fancy Certificates
Publication in Verse Afire
and on T.O.P.S. Website
Special thanks to our Contest Judge

Kate Marshall Flaherty

She had the difficult task of choosing
the top 5 poems from 250 entries!

1st Prize - Donna Langevin

1000 Tulip Bulbs

I will buy and plant 1000 tulip bulbs,
50 per kiss we stole. Some will bloom
in flames or blaze like unicorns.
Others will shake out penitence
as purple as ripe plums.

I will bury these secret bulbs
beside St. James Cathedral
where women wearing black
whisper in confessionals
with dried-stalk voices.

yet wishing to atone,
I will tend their greening in the city's heart
where people on their way to work
or sunning on a park bench
can watch them flare yet never guess
I've planted kisses,
I've rooted you and me,
unwilling to be cold,
pushing back false snow.

Here in my April-city,
thousands of miles from you,
no one but me will ask
whether these tulips should hang their heads
and dress in crepe.
They will not question penitence
that comes in every hue.

2nd Prize - Marilyn Gear Pilling


April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land

It's not just the lurid green that bursts
surreal from the ditches, not just
the snares of branches crouched crimson in the fields

It's the hot sap of my own quickening, scalding stasis
from my silver linings
it's the peepers that trill from the murk of my swamp

It's not just the green flames that burn the earth
the leaves that unfurl in flawless faith
that their revelations will be not mocked

It's my avian ferocity shredding old nests
the beak that breaks and borrows
to create

It's not the wind changing magnolia from bride
to plain girl, not the wind
changing puddles from mirror to muddle sway

It's that in spring the grass is blue
wind blows it into rapture
on all sides it tarantellas forth to where the earth's in waiting for the sky

It's that winter is temenos and spring
thrusts me out alone
into waves of grass, blue blowing

It's that the wind that blows from the outposts I've banished
carries the scent of every desire I ever denied
the beckon of every invitation refused

It's that the fandango ratcheting up in my heart
takes two

3rd Prize - Marilyn Gear Pilling


How you plant the kitchen stool beneath them, climb on top, tip

your head back, reach towards heaven, wobble

in a swim of scent that nearly drowns you,


The cascade of memory catches in your hair on the way down

instantly you see your mother and her sisters, the three of them

looking a little old-fashioned now, their house-dresses

of tiny, flowered print, their home-done perms.

You gather them, the purple panicles, the fresh green hearts, the little twigs,

your mother and your aunts, gather them from the ground as you

would gather harvest grasses, armfuls and armfuls.

You bring them in, whelm of their scent against your face

settle them in the kitchen, blue delft pitcher

the living room, periwinkle jug

the bedroom, white-flowered china vase.

You let them saturate the air you breathe

knowing where they will take you

knowing what you risk.

Honourable Mention - Peggy Fletcher

Honourable Mention - Kathy Fisher

ice ships

in the winter the wind died down to trees and drifts over the hard-skinned
lake the water bound tethered held still no matter how wild
the weather

that skin started melting two weeks ago slushed up
at the edges first then cracked and split in jagged lines she moaned and cried
with otherworldly snaps and groans as she gave up her ghosts
like Michelangelo's marble giving up its bodies

the last evening of ice skin huge islands of chandelier crystals
sailed by Ritchie Point where i stood the sound champagne and velvet
crushed ice jostling with crushed ice cocktail party soldiers shouldering
their way to the punch bowl

i saw ice ships sail swiftly race in round shapes
destined to crash up onto the opposite shore it was inland Titanic all beauty
and blue notes dance and destiny the face of a final shoreline crash ice

i stood still transfixed by sound and the rose light
caught on an apple-cheeked cloud darkness riding underwater currents the swish
sound of ghost ships untethered untied

it is their last night and they race with ballroom abandon unhinged ecstatic
caught by their own beauty they echo looking-glass gasps as they fly by slide by
mesmerized cut their death glide across the black surface perfect

the next morning i wake up to open water wind whipped
white-caps pound evenly on the broken ice edged shoreline winter has given up
her whiteness and hardness to spring watch as the wind unwrinkles the water
releases this lake's black body from three months of statue stillness
in the waltzing wind white gives herself
to grey