The Ontario Poetry Society
- Presents The 2022 Ted Plantos Memorial Award Winner -

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Members' Poetry


Ted Plantos






Meg Freer

Here is what our Judge and Selector had to say about this poet:

I was delighted when I read the work of Meg Freer whose poetry is among the best it has been my pleasure to read in honour of Ted over the entire span of my judging of the award.

I wholeheartedly affirm Meg Freer as this year's recipient of the Ted Plantos Poetry Award.

Her work is amazing, original, and it honours the memory of Ted Plantos who was always a champion of up and coming poets.

- John B. Lee, Poet Laureate, Brantford, Poet Laureate, Norfolk County.

Poems by Meg Freer

Grief Has a Name

A full ten minutes at sunset, hundreds
of crows fly south over the woods.
Moments after the last one,
snow blows in from the north.

I follow sheep trails across the fields,
unwind details I have been avoiding,
mental terrain more suited
for moose than human.

Mom's two birthday balloons cling
together in her dining room for a day,
before one migrates to the kitchen
and the other moves into her bedroom.

A day later, the bedroom balloon
floats into Dad's study to stay
just above the books. Dad must be
directing this scene from beyond.

In my dream, he fades into view
in the doorway holding a basketball,
says nothing, watches while I read
on the sofa, then drifts away.

Grief wants me to call it by name,
knows all 360 joints in my body,
tapes their seams to keep itself
from floating into oblivion.

One Art Poetry Journal, April 23, 2022.

I Don't Even Know This World Anymore

Magnets use nasty metals
from weird, temperamental
parts of the periodic table,
elusive rare-earth lanthanides
that may corrupt our future.

I visit Chopin's heart in Warsaw,
while the rest of his body lies in Paris,
and wonder where the music comes from.

Some people have thrown sea creatures
onto the ice during hockey games,
and long ago during a political conflict
someone in the pub handed around
Cornflakes boxes full of handguns.

Some people interpret favors
as interference, and a warning appears
in the newspaper Jumble game words:

Some days I don't know split beans
from coffee, subsist on memories,
try to sweep the edges of chaos
into some semblance of tidiness.

Water slips off my elbow in the shower
in a haphazard way, but tears don't drop
or fall down the drain.

My father falls
and falls, and falls again
until he is carried away.
He wears the bashful grin
of a boy in a man's body,
holds only a snatched
book of poems by Verlaine.

COG - A Cogswell College Publication, Issue 17, Summer 2020.


Rain Stores Memories
for my mother, in memory of my father

Rest with me on golden cloth,
tell me of birds that transcend borders--
the feather that brushed you in the night
as I passed through, an unexpected collage
of cardinals, chickadees and crows near the lake
determined to sing despite bitter cold,
the red-tailed hawk outside its realm
that watched from the railway bridge
as you followed me to the woods
where bluebirds nest in spring rain.

Pull up your socks--there is much to take in.
Living Coral is the color of the year,
Schubert and Mozart await your hands,
frost-kissed carrots want to sing
a sweet musical palette on your tongue.

Do not grieve, imperfect dreamer, for I've seen
the sun rise and set on Pluto in shades of blue.
I've flown beyond our giant green teardrop
that drowns in the darkness between stars.

The World Around Us--Canadian Anthology of Verse 2020,
Beret Days Press, 2021 (Ontario Poetry Society).


On Reading the Fact of the Day

If polar bears can sniff prey
from 16 kilometres away,
best return home when you lie

on the grass and its blades
nip your back, stipple the surface
of the day with regret. Or wait

with false alertness until the bite
disappears, your mouth roofless.
Let the wind blow until the lost

pieces of the afternoon take
you with them to remind you
that mother said, "Hope is faintly

alive yet unknown disaster
may be in the wind." Are these
days the nadir of your existence?

Mirror blessed with memory,
you are a time loop, polar ice caps
are melting, and polar bears approach.

Priestess and Hierophant, Issue 5, "Darkness and Light", June 21, 2018.

Seeking Balance

Locked in the psychiatric ward
the patients may or may not
see Christmas lights this year,
or get to brush their hair, but one
has seen stigmata on her toes.

She says alien life forms
drew wavy brown lines
on broccoli stems in her lunch
left on the floor of her room
where they allow nothing
that can be thrown.

She offers me the vegetable,
but I won't eat it either.

When I won't get her out of there,
she tells me who I am
with a streak of righteousness:
someone who is always busy
doing nothing of significance.

A priest walks through
my fevered dreams,
past bright colored shirts
laid on the floor like lights
ready to be strung,
wipes his runny nose.

Even the holy are ill
during Advent this year.

In the setting sun, power lines
like strings of lights shine
on a hand-lettered sign
tossed onto a snowbank:
Seeking someone who knows me.

Vallum Contemporary Poetry 16:1, "Connections", April 2019.
Runner-up, 2019 Editor's Reprints Award, Sequestrum Literature and Art, Issue 23, March 2020.

I Should Plant More Lavender

I could measure
(but I don't)
spring's abrupt return
sudden dandelions
how fast water rushes from underground
Jupiter's arrival at opposition
the moon's indifferent attitude.

Gravity pulls on my spine
(that delicate nerve)
leaves me chasing memories
not of your convulsions
during the late-night seizure
but of lavender cut back in the fall
and the particular way birds converse
in the evening just before rain.

The Madrigal, Vol. 5, "Poesis", May 2022.


A lost hen walked down
our city driveway this morning,
headed for a better spot
in the pecking order, or perhaps
someone's evening soup.

The drumbeat in the song
on the car radio sounded
exactly like the turn signal,
or the hen's tapping feet,
and I tried in vain to turn it off.

I received news of my mother:
The toe that was bothering her
has been taken care of. When your feet
hurt, you hurt all over, so now she will
stand and sleep in comfort: Huzzah!

When my daughter was young,
she used to write things on small
pieces of paper, random phrases
such as: ask the corn foot club
or: the boot cracks in sore fury.

Take me on a tour of the generations,
weave straight lines into curves, let me feel
the ache of evolution. Where words
leave off, what begins? My hands feel
the motions, braid invisible hair.

COG - A Cogswell College Publication, Issue 9, February 2018.


I almost forgot about you once--
in the turning basin of a dream.
Lost the sweet taste of your hand
that offered polished stones the color of red wine.

I pulled my nest together,
held a bunny to my ear--
warm and soft,
full of whooshing sounds--wished for the ocean.

Found myself muttering like a fool,
"For the rain it raineth every day."
The mind does what it does,
follows its own elusive tidal roll of mulled comedy.

The gentle power behind the stars
pays no mind to my storms.

Eastern Iowa Review, Issue 14, September 2021.

Facts Never Wake Up

My lip splits in the same place
every morning when I smile,
flowering words bleed onto the floor.
How many pages will it take
to get through the desert?

The nursing home residents,
for whom nothing else can be done,
recite, "If today I am to do nothing,
I will do it gallantly," but vultures
eat the noise of prayer.

Life's beginning, an absurd lottery,
its end, a failed experiment. Pack grace
and patience to deal with those who use
years and pounds to quantify respect, who see
only inconvenience at the end of life.

Human wisdom is not cumulative.
The drip torch lights a controlled burn,
and wildfire on the move sounds like a train.
We seek grapes in the bramble bush,
seize the elders' dreams, rush onward.

Love Lies Bleeding--A Canadian Poetry Anthology, compiled by George Elliott Clarke, Beret Days Press, 2021 (Ontario Poetry Society).

Rely on Mystery

A single milkweed plant has sprung
from seeds scattered last fall.
I almost fancy myself a gardener,
except that so much potential
died with those plants that didn't grow.

A door left open says forgiven,
the only word not worn away
from the top of a gravestone
where sumac's summer green
reveals the art of dying.

Contest winner in A3 Review, Issue 10, "Triangles", April 2019.
Reprinted in League of Canadian Poets, Poetry Pause, May 29, 2020.
Reprinted in Eunoia Review, February 7, 2022.


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