Friday, November 14, 2014

Remembrance Day poetry contest winners

To mark Remembrance Day this year, Douglas College held a poetry contest. Students were invited to submit original and unpublished poems in English, on the themes of war and peace.

The three winning entries, below, were selected by a panel of instructors from the Creative Writing Department.

Dear Grandfather
By John White

Our thumbs salute you,
sending tribute through simulated games of war.
Oh how glorious, the bravery, how honorable
it must have been,
blistered, crouched, swollen
in sour moistened green.

Thus you marvel, traditional remembrance -
Synthetic floral reds, silenced seconds, and stunning volleys.

But what is your story?
What struck your mind?
Hunkered at the fallen cedar,
in boots belonging to a man whose feet did not walk him home.

Teach me to speak
to the ignorance, the narcissism.
Quick to embellish all you
ever-desperately lived to mitigate.

Pray tell, the secret to peace
in all its abstraction and
walk me back to the root of remembrance,
so that it's all I'll ever have to do.

Red Road
By Eric Milligan

A red road, over the line goes
to promised pastures rich and green
But wired barbs and trenched scars
are all that lie in-between
Fight for your country, they said
for freedom be brave, be bold
Artillery shells we ride to heaven
as bodies pile upon the road

Dinner is served on the chess board
where imperialist games we play
On shattered minds and scattered limbs
we feast, and throw the bones away
A red tablecloth props up our meal
of mustard and mud-caked weapons
But no matter how bitter our main course
we are eager to ask for seconds

War Poetry
By Jesse Pipe

I am in my 30’s and
the most abstract thought now is an attempt to comprehend
how your exposure as human explains my humanity, 
how your young blood begat mine,
how your lack of a choice ensured mine, and
how your lack of recourse saved my right 
to make poor decisions and walk away,
I can cuss, I can deride, I can steal flowers
from a lonely cenotaph without a second thought -
you can’t do a thing about it.

Is this what you gave it up for?
Is this what you gave everything up for?
Did you welcome these visions of blood out of man,
waking horror and sleep irretrievable for the 
stolid indifference of me and mine?
I feel no shame,
and empathy’s a closed valve for someone
who has never seen their brothers drowning in gas,
their hearts rending under starved flesh, 
Is this what you inherited madness for?
I don’t think I understand.

I am in my 30’s and I can’t read 
Owen, Rosenberg, Sassoon, or the rest
without anxious tears that fall somewhere 
between dodged bullets and feet yet to drop.
This is all the legacy I take
from you.