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- Presents The 2017 Ted Plantos Memorial Award Winner -

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John Di Leonardo


It is with great pleasure that I name John Di Leonardo winner of the 2017 Ted Plantos Memorial Award.
His suite of ten ekphrastic poems is rich with fresh imagery, original phrasing, engaging lyrical flourishes,
and certain individual poems are both amusing and inspired with lively narrative spunk The artistic allusions,
though not always familiar to this reader, do not obscure the reading nor make a knowledge of the
original work of art an absolute necessity for understanding the content of the poem. Well done!
John B. Lee

Poems by John Di Leonardo

HORSE AND TRAIN
Inspired by Alex Colville's painting,
Art Gallery of Hamilton, Oil, 1954.

A black horse hangs
fixed on a white wall
she is ill, gone wild.
It is Spring, past starlight
in Sackville
below an elaborate cobweb
of clouds.
A wild horse gallops
towards the steamy light
to a sleepless train.
In minutes the broken
mare will die
again -
With a kind of beauty
that invades our dreams
colliding each morning
on waking alone in the dark,
lower lip quivering
against the passage of light.

 

(Second Place Award, Dr. William Henry
Drummond Poetry Contest Anthology, 2015.)
(Second Place Award, The Cranberry
Tree Press, 2015 Poetry Chapbook Contest.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------
LIFE CLASS PAINTING
Inspired by Goya's "La Maja Desnuda" Oil, 1799-1800.

I ask them to take the model, hold her up by candle light
like a white rose with a pink blush
a Sufi image in bloom, of the lover and his beloved.
Caress across each mound and valley, kiss every hollow
of her navel, highlight all contours of her skin.
I want them strolling across the garden of secrets by star light
like a heaving lover, his heart pulsing moonlight
Before Goya's La Maja desnuda, Tiziano's Venus of Urbino.

But all they want to do is frame elegance beside flowers
pile beauty on beauty with plumb lines, model likeness bloodless.
Like the face of some mannequin behind dirty glass
on a vacant street by the Left Bank
cluttered in plastic, flowers pointing this way and that.

 

Hon. Mention Award, Perfect as a Picture,
Anthology of Canadian Verse, 2015.
Judge's Choice, The Saving Bannister,
Poetry Anthology,Vol. 29, 2014.
Shortlisted, Eden Mills Literary Contest, 2015.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
WATCHING GRANDPA SNORE
Inspired by Rembrandt's "Oil Study
of an Old Man" 1630.

Booming thunder
and blackened brimstone
from the Old Testament
kept his breath
almost in melody
with a mild nap
on a rainy afternoon, Sunday
as Father Francis recited
his famous sermon
on Eve's original sin.

Can't remember a thing
except Grandpa's snore
under a stained glass light
inhaling and exhaling
the Mickey Mouse tie
we gave on his ninetieth
fluttering, keeping the beat
to Father's thumping
on the new acrylic lectern.

Even when a light touch
and a deep sigh
in the clarity of communion
failed to keep him awake.

 

Judge's Choice, The Saving Bannister,
Poetry Anthology, Vol. 29, 2014.

 

 

The Gift
Inspired by Hall Groat's painting "Fedora Vintage Hat" Oil.

With the bell I dismiss my class.

The quiet one, Ben Suk Lee
who sits third row down, hovers
at my desk when all elbows
stampede to lunch out the door

gives a polite bow, almost
in need of forgiveness for bending
the ground rules of our class
in his new land of opportunity.

With careful, slow, spaced,
broken English he pulls out his gift
from a worn Wal-Mart plastic bag,
a smart-brown small-brim Fedora.

A token of appreciation,
a weeks savings from his part-time
job in the family 7/11 corner store.
Almost apologetic

he bows, softly mouthing,
May 15,
Teacher Day, in Korea, gift for you,
to thank my Sensei.

I return the bow, read pride
sincerity in his eyes.
He leaves me standing there
feeling my thirty years in education.


Third Place Award, Verse Afire, TOPS Contest, 2012.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
LO STINCO
Inspired by Michelangelo's "David," Marble,
1504.

It might interest you to know
Michelangelo loved Lo Stinco
a roast veal shin dish
he relished while working
in Carrara

at dusk, after clouds of dusty
marble passed over
his aching shoulders, neck
his eyes glazed over
the slow roasting shin
in Vermentino white wine, bay
leaves, juices,

hunger carving directly
into his favorite meal
wedging a knife like a stone
pitching tool
and the four teeth of his fork
scraping like an Auriou claw

sucking marrow from bone
and ever so delicately rotating
in the mind's eye
his terribilitá
how to tackle David's left shin
at sunrise


Second Place Award, The Cranberry Tree Press,
2015 poetry Chapbook Contest.
Hon. Mention Award, Dr. William Henry
Drummond Poetry Contest Anthology, 2014.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
ANNIVERSARY DINNER
Inspired by John Singer Sargent's
"A Dinner Table at Night" Oil, 1884

You could tell they were married.
Silence between them heavy -
like a coffin lowered nightly.

He sliced blue-rare steak
with bobs and weaves catapulting
ox-blood red on the tongue.

The wife raked salad, Julienned
dark leafy china, stabbing edges
organizing greens

to the familiar sigh of candlelight
assembling an exacting order
of a once sunny home

as though she could harvest
long forgotten tenderness, chewable
words to ward off

the hurl of fate, the blur of blue,
the black embrace, loneliness
that ushered them here to celebrate.

 

Hon. Mention Award, Open Heart 11,
Anthology of Canadian Poetry, 2017

 

 


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