The Ontario Poetry Society
- Presents The 2015 Ted Plantos Memorial Award Winners -

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Members' Poetry


Ted Plantos






Mary Rykov & Denis Robillard

Congratulations to Mary and Denis, in recognition of being selected
the 2015 recipients of The Ted Plantos Memorial Award.

“I cannot recall an occasion of having two such fine poets whose work is so very different one from the other
who set such a high standard which honours Ted’s memory. ….. Their work stands shoulder to shoulder in terms of quality and maturity of style and content.”
~ John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford and Poet Laureate of Norfolk County.

Poems by Denis Robillard   Poems by Mary Rykov

The gray language of clouds

I examine ponderous clouds like axioms suspended in ether
mining the sky for its bleak harvest home.
You play down the weird weather, these images
Scribbled overhead by an air genie
And let me play with
the boundless folds of my imagination.

I see trees
I see cars
I don't see many buildings
I see flags, I see grass and plants
I see bears but no ants.

I see cornfields, I see windmills
That loom like robots over this landscape.

Strands of haughty towers piercing the cloud cover
Like melted sky butter.

I see signs to get off the grid
Signs of wounded vegetable life
Signs of cursive circuitry love
Embedded in rhomboid clusters
Of light decay and dander.

I see trails for cows
I see veils for hay
I see bales of hay
Some celestial cleavage and light decay.

Examining these structures and strictures
Like holy Scriptures and Civilization's last clear pictures.
These pure pict clouds
Surely depict some higher cosmic revelation-

From here they look like bats wings
With brocaded plumes and graybeard's doodle
with clown faces piercing through it.

I see above the sfumata quality of charcoal clouds.
40 years after this wireless discovery
I'm still looking for poetic blips on my mind radar
where Nature's splendor writes
in a wondrous cursive gray poem language.

Hammering Into Water

In this decades old house it's hard to nail down
the last board of our muted conversations.
It's like hammering into water-
You speak to me in a voice that is spiders and dust-
some sepulchered gurgle from a morose pit-
We are almost afraid of the sound of quiet buried here-
Sometimes my father calls out to me beneath the rain,
but I don't hear him with the competing platitude
of furnaces and hissing pipes. The house noises conceal
his begging, pleaded voice. Like a muffled scream contained
under layers of blankets and pillows.
Home is not the peaceable bone. But the clanking of cups,
the din of pots and plates. A cacophony
made by mealtime noisy children.

We seek to exist in this landscape
of attenuated noise and discordant sounds,
but are often over-heard.
I want to hear the voice of my father
one last time but it's like hammering into water-

Hommage a Joe Rosenblatt

I got stung once by a jellyfish
off shallow waters on a Summerside
beach. I was only 11.

The following year
Were my naïve clumsy attempts
At poetry written on a big oak desk
That drowned with my father.

Destiny presides in the water here.
My primordial benefactor.

You are not my tentacled lover
But brother of the deepest waters
Where we set our mind traps at ease.

There amidst murk and spume of dirty water
Poetry is churning in our bathic veins.

Our bodies are always trying to resurface.

Shaped from liquid void
We are like the first ever Trilobites
Trying to see their way clear
and gorge themselves on minute bubbles.

We stumble to shore
with our gorgeous gelatinous faces
Planted into the salty spit of sand
Among rows of low docked haddock
drying in the sun.

From a Malbaie Journal


After dinner we walked along the jagged shoreline, the same speckled bay that Champlain cursed. Found a craggy rock tower & climbed it to get a better vista. A battalion of seagulls lurched precariously in the slate gray sky, collectively tethered by a large invisible kite string. They flew overhead spreading themselves in an arc of indeterminable blue sky; a continuously shifting canopy. On our way home the great full moon burned in the west casting a soft mellow tinge upon the sea.

Like a famished seagull overhead , I too fought for my last morsel. Desire still holding sway; while the magic of her tiny bones turned the pages of my moist brain movie.


Murray Bay. It rained for three straight days. Swift slanting oblique pellets like new blades opening an old wound. It seems I came to this rain to question our wounds. Recalling the cold pounding drill bits of rain against the windshield, I sat silently in this hotel wavering between Job and Noah, wishing for higher, dryer ground.


Now we lie silent on sheets clinging to possibilities. Heat rapture melted into liquid form. A rain makers burial, body to body interred in private husks of sleep, we lie, while children sleep soundly in other rooms.

A curious admixture of sounds permeates this prism. Slice & whirr of a fan goes counter punctual to the drip-dripped Mephistophelean atomic water drops. There's a singular laughter in a lone white room imbued with insane paint. Transports & cars like dangerous water beetles spread a virus of sound along Highway 138 leading to the ferry terminal. Sound becomes my unbuttoned self, a crooked smile, horse flesh, rats gnawing at telephone poles. The image of your hand on a switch blade, your scissor limbs creating skin origami inside my brain. Our derelict bodies becoming old ships tuned to the sound of sandbar nightmares.

Octopus Micronaut

I once read that an octopus 90 pounds
Can slip through a hole
The size of a dime. So too, our little
human octopus micronaut
Is ready to test the theory.

Ready to become a floating octopod
Or a sea walker
delicate mover
on Velveteen trampoline
a helium king
emerging from gelatin sheath
ready to dislodge himself
from the mother ship.

Ready to float into the spotty milky way
like a lone star
amid the bloom of
dark suns and moons.

Flailing inside. Weightless.
Time and gravity keep him in check
while he performs his uterine

His micronaut voyage nearly complete
A tiny form, pulsing from the void
Like the fiery brush
of the comet's tail
genuflecting in his baby breaths
looking for the most
delicious spot of terra firma
to land upon.

  Rykov, Mary H. 2014. "a Siren's tale." Pulp Literature 2:69.

a Siren's tale

a thrashing fish struggling to spit free
of the hook meets a rudderless boat

adrift between winds and currents
vying to control its destiny

along comes a gentle man who,
delighting in her food and drink,

fears the dangerous
comforts of her refuge

......he says ......I just want to be friends
......she says... stop kissing my mouth

Rykov, Mary. 2011. "masquerade."
Misunderstandings Magazine. 15:31.


You disguise yourself
as a bag of trash
stepping through
two leg holes cut
into a green plastic
garbage bag stuffed
with crumpled newspaper,
a pipecleaner
twist-tied at your neck

I decorate you with
gutted muffin cups,
fat crumbs, grape stems,
candy bar wrappers
and for good measure
a rusting banana peel

I disguise myself as the
and because of the mask
and wand no one knows
who I really am as I dance
through the crowd granting
three wishes to those brave enough
to confide in me

Whispered in my ear I hear
every wish, from world peace
to good crops, winning lotteries,
and winning wives back

Rykov, Mary H. 2014. "Puertorriqueña."
The Caribbean Writer 28: 38-39.


graduate school fieldwork
finds me at the Jacob Perlow Hospice
of the Beth Israel Medical Center
where the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Mendel Menachim Shneerson
is dying on another hospital unit
not the hospice unit
because a moshiach does not die

well-wishers crowd
the entrance
children sing in the park
the moshiach-mobile circles
the hospital block
speakers blaring

inside I know an easy rapport
with many New York City patients
because like Kotter's Epstein
I am a proud Puerto Rican Jew

I'm a Jewish spic!
my girlish pride
chastised by
Don't say that, you
can't say that, don't you
ever let me hear you
say that

tasked to prepare a music therapy
self-portrait for class I improvise
in binary rondo form a conversation
between my namesake song "Maria Elena"
and a classic Chassidic niggun

So what is a Puerto Rican Jew?

My mother would tell you
Puerto Rican Jews
live in summer heat
all four seasons
no lilacs, no apples

My father would tell you
Puerto Rican Jews
live in a paradise
far from Gestapo selections

Some Puerto Rican Catholics
will tell you they too are Jews
descended from Majorcan Chuetas
forcibly Christianized in 1391
who in 1508 hitch
an Age-of-Discovery ride with
Ponce de León only
needing to hide again
from the Inquisition
in the New World

I will tell you in luscious color
how Yiddish and Spanish merge
in the ear as lullaby
while the surf drones
and the coqui sings
through thick air
warm like a blanket

I will tell you the connection
of this Puertorriqueña
to Puerto Rico
is like the Sabra to Israel
with irrational tribal bonds
that don't let go

Rykov, Mary H. 2012. "Inquiry Triptych." In The Art of Poetic Inquiry, edited by Suzanne Thomas, Ardra Cole and Sheila Stewart, 291-300. Big Tancook Island, NS, Backalong Books. [essay with three poems: "questions before and after understanding," "n=24" and "postphilosophy rant."]


or maybe 23 or 25 or 26
difference between accuracy and truth
incites complexity

Magic spells
or maybe counts
the same way we do

Like the speeding cyclist
who stops traffic to kiss
the startled jaywalker

we create islands to ride
while the ride is good until
harsh words sever meat from bone

We function
in historical moments
hysterical mindsets

Without humour
we die
of despair

Without despair
we die
in peace

Without music
we die
of meaninglessness

Without art to tell us
how meaningless we can be
we lose all reason

Reality through tailspin lens
of pure song and metaphor
mirrors objects closer than they appear

The journey
longing for unattainable fulfillment
never knows its route or destination

We forget memory is disruptive
how easier we imagine
than remember

We stand
as the judge
enters the courtroom

We clap
as the conductor
ascends to the podium

We gasp
as the baby falls
from his mother's arms

to death. Nothing
more can be said

everything is expressible
all.................. in silence

Our duty to tell tales is complicit
with witness and remembrance
of experience beyond words

Good and bad endings
include the backstory
underbelly of the whale

Grief aching poignant want
spends generous gratitude
for all that crosses its path

Truth sprouts
like small crevice wildflowers
after a rain

in 24 perfect petals
or maybe 23
or 25 or 26

Rykov, Mary H. 2012. "Inquiry Triptych." In The Art of Poetic Inquiry, edited by Suzanne Thomas, Ardra Cole and Sheila Stewart, 291-300. Big Tancook Island, NS, Backalong Books. [essay with three poems: "questions before and after understanding," "n=24" and "postphilosophy rant."]

questions before and after understanding

what remains unfinished
in dreams from which I wake

haunts space between absence and presence
at the crossroads of here and there

truths I show and truths I hide
memories I recall and those I forget

moments between then and now illumine
polarities I choose to balance


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