Congratulations to Stan Burfield,
in recognition of being selected
the 2014 recipient of The Ted Plantos Memorial Award.
These five poems confirm
Stan Burfield as a poet to be reckoned with. The strong originality
of his perception, most especially evident in the powerful, sometimes
startling endings, gives ample testament to the fact that his poems
honour the award in memory of Ted Plantos. There is real poetry here--the
haunting image at the end of his poem "Then I Saw the Vatican,"
brings to life the connection between painting and viewer almost reifying
the object of perception.
John B. Lee
Some of Stan's
As I lift the spoon
from this morning's coffee
I feel the same long pull of time
that my father did
that their parents did
a chain rattling down
into the well so far
I cannot imagine.
And up, out of that darkness
into this present,
all of it --
the slow ages of our reptilian forebears,
our fearful hominid ancestors,
the entire charging ascent of Man --
comes to a juddering halt
at this drop
from this spoon.
We are stranded here
at the endpoint
of time, banging
on the ceiling.
2nd Prize, 2014 Poetry London Poetry Contest
At the bottom I start
lift myself, glance
And try to peel away
all those things I've always known--
the objects, their dryness, their hold,
even touch those
old splashed years--
some other life.
But now I've decided it's
next foot above the last--
sadness, now relief--
my muscles, my joints, my eyes open,
my own solid walls
My sweetheart was
watching "Flea Market Flip"
a buyer had found an old chest
of drawers for sale its front
all decoupaged up
with a bunch of love letters
some lady had left inside it
so that now
when you go to get
your nightie out
you can sit there and read
a few soft words first.
She looked at me
with that look and said
when are you going to write me
another love poem it's been so long
not wanting to hurt.
She still has my
from when we were head over heels
in that little heart-shaped box
and opens it now and then.
I had just risen
from the toilet
and was pulling up my pants
when the door popped open and
Linda's wide eyes looked up
into mine, and she said,
"I had an aggressive sales lady today."
I caved, as usual:
"Where was this?"
"You know, up at the mall."
"Uh, okay, what was she like?"
"She was very
European, in her forties,
with reddish brown hair
tied up, and reddish lipstick. She whizzed
around at everybody
saying, 'Oh no,
that's beautiful on you - you should take it.'
You know, just doing the circuit."
(Linda was getting
talking through a smile with her arms flying.)
"I came out
of the fitting room
with five dresses over my arm
and handed her back four. She picked one up
and said, 'why don't you like this one?'
I said, 'It's too
long and way too
dressy. I just want a casual one to wear
when I go grocery shopping and when
it's hot.' So then,
in a high-pitched tone,
she said, 'What's wrong with these?'
I said, 'I only wanted one.'
She said, 'Oh, so
you're taking two?' I said, 'No,
just the one.' She said, 'Why aren't you taking these?'
I said, 'Because they're
around the boobs.'
She said, 'Well that one you're taking isn't extra extra large!'
I said 'Well, it
After I paid for it, I looked up at her
and said, 'That's a pretty blouse you're wearing.'
She said, 'Oh.
I didn't buy it here.'"
Then I saw the
All of us mistook
it for some sort of Heaven.
We paid our fees
and streamed in,
and by the thousands poured down the heavenly halls,
glimpsing, above the churning river of our bodies,
gold, enthroned Madonnas done in oils,
frescos of classical motifs, with cherubs looking on,
Popes in robes, surrounded by angels,
all proclaimed under high arches
held aloft by Roman columns,
each inch worked
to the highest art, but we were always pushed on,
our tour guides somewhere calling,
and if I could just stop
and absorb all this
I might think of a prayer or at least a good thought. But no,
under that grand girth of power and glory
we were ground down like polished stones.
Then I discovered
this small painting
by a little-known artist named Crespi
in the old, neglected Castle Saint Angelo.
Alone, in a silent
I stood for a long time,
just inches from the face
of a man worshipped for two millennia,
ever since the long moment of horror
he was living through
there in front of me.
I was held by his
the armoured brute
who was forcing him forward
amid splashes of blood-red spray
into the room
I was in.