The Ontario Poetry Society
- Presents The 2007 Ted Plantos Memorial Award Winner -

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Members' Poetry


Ted Plantos






Debbie Okun Hill

The poems by Debbie Okun Hill in her chapbook manuscript, Swaddled in Comet Dust,
reflect the aspirations and vulnerability of a writer at the outset of her literary career.
Fear of rejection and the thrill arising from acceptance are captured in the lyrical
flurries of a self-reflective poetics. What the world thinks of the aspirant and how
a beginner keeps the faith in the event of failure to publish, and how it feels to see
herself in print, represent the universal struggle of all creative artists in a harsh world.

John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of Brantford

Poems from Debbie's Chapbook - Swaddled in Comet Dust

A Writer's Holiday Miracle

With thin stroke of gold ink
Comet curls inspired by
Sparkle gel pen
She leans
Over wicker desk
In empty stable
Her labour, panting
Gives birth to a star
Five points of view
Spinning tails in circles
Cosmic brilliance
Shared with three wise men
Her thoughts twinkling from
An angel's wand
Her feather quill
A silver moon
Skating words on a
Black velvet palette
Until shepherd's
Dust flake footprints
Drift, settle into
A-muse-ing stories
The starlet embryos
Still cradled in her mind

Re*jec*tion Slip

He stares at her
Addresses her formally
From a crisp white suit
Pressed pocket
His handkerchief
Neatly folded
Concealing his decision

She stares back, vulnerable
Contemplates her feelings
Sweaty palms fingering
His stark face, a dark type
Eyes like commas
Pausing, hesitating
A mark, unlike lipstick
Stamped to his forehead

She opens up, massages his back
Loosens his tie, his tongue
And inside the folds
Black ink scratches his words
Like a c-r-a-c-k-l-i-n-g voice
Over a s-t-a-t-i-c phone
A fragment, thin skin of paper
Peeling, revealing the rejection
His decision, so sorry clinging
Like a single rain drop ready to splatter

She turns away, eyes moist
Clasping yours truly, sincerely
Tightly against her breast
Until she too quietly slips away
The bridal lace of her poems
Now tucked away and filed


Her mother waits, uncomfortable
Beneath black curtained sky
Sweat beading on her forehead
A lace-knit shawl draped over her frame

She has been in this position before
Flat on her back, broke
Hands gripping her sheets
Biting her tongue, bleeding
Like Haley's comet
A trail of cosmic dust
From her infant's rocky birth
Long, laboured, delivered by
Tall man in nicely-pressed navy uniform
A regular from the local post office
Who places cold bundle in her lap
Her creation swaddled in a magazine
Its glossy skin covered in plastic wrap

She hesitates to touch, to finger
The cover, leaf blanket pages
Over published words
Calls this child Acceptance

Olympic Gold Revisited

Concealed in darkened arena hush,
a million eyes, wide-eyed pupils
spying like Prime-time witnesses-
murmuring, ripple wave of whispers
"He's the one. He's the one."

A Russian, sleek, bronzed, blonde tresses,
dressed in oppressive black
steel-toe jitters chilling on ice,
femur, tibia, bone icicles, shivering
waiting, his patience, for skating
emotions curtained like wall,
an Iron Mask in silence

Then warming up-heating up-
simmering, his Olympic spirit awakening
behind mask, his peek, sliding out-
gliding forward, his story unfolding
on ice-dream mirrors
body language transcending cultural barriers

Then light elation escalating
twirling, swwwwirling
double doubles, triples and quads
flying pyro-ettes and flame-leaping jumps
toe-pick etchings, sketching glass
swift-blades slicing on cutting edge
sword like arms, armed for battle
razor-sharp maneuvers
steeling hearts
uplifting with no error
dizzy-dazzling spinning, winning ways

The finale, spectators in hot seats, sizzling
hand-clapping, exuberant applause
that thunderous roar-igniting
striking, lightening-his inner flame
an Olympic gold win
resurrecting suppressed emotions
his kiss to the ground, warm lips ice-melting
his face, remembered, unmasked by his tears

Licking Glue From Gold Stars

Could it cause
More brain damage
Than sniffing gasoline
Behind a sagging barn?
An addiction of another sort
Relatively harmless, teacher approved?
Counting the stars, the ones
Placed on a student's paper
For a perfect score
Or stuck on an achievement chart
Displayed in a classroom for all to see?

Who licks the gold stars
Decides on the winner,
The one who rises to
The next level?

Who hands out the silver ones,
The blue and red five-pointed sparkles
To those next in line?

And losers are they the ones
Who give up, light a match
Blow their minds until
The universe dump-trucks shooting
Stars between their forlorn eyes?

Yesterday I wandered
through the dollar store
forty years older still asking questions
amazed to find a package of stars
peel n'stick, no more licking glue
wishing I had a loonie to purchase them
pass them around so no one would be left out.

When Blue Blood Ink Fades

In the end, when some giant Grim Reaper pen
Pencil strokes you out, leaves your eraser crumbs
To relatives who are more interested
In ipods, satellite radio signals
Big screen, high definition tv's
Your written words, poetic phrase antiques
May lie dormant in someone's attic
Your honours, tarnished trophies, and awards
May be bought and sold with the house
Placed on Value Village shelves,
Good Will boxes, and Salvation Army stores
At least the soul within the writer
Rests peaceful, the voices lifting like
White dove balloons over graveyard mourning
The demons once fought, now retreated
The angels singing, "good job"
The best cosmic reward, an invisible trail
"You've done your best."
And you sleep, sleep well.