Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Winners selected for Douglas College Remembrance Day poetry contest



To mark Remembrance Day, Douglas College asked students to send in original and unpublished poems for the annual Remembrance Day poetry contest.

This year, the panel of judges were tasked with reading more than triple the submissions from last year's contest. The three winning entries, starting with the first-place poem, are below.


"Harbingers of Hope"
By Cid V Brunet


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly


When I manage to sleep, I have
one good dream among nightmares;
that once we've won, we will grow
wiser. End carnage like I have witnessed
here in Flanders fields. The poppies blow

in a silence perforated by bullets and
the shrieking whistle before a mortar
explodes. I hold my breath; lie low
like I am already a body
between the crosses. Row on row

of trenches offer no sanctuary. We are
stained by bloody mud, frozen
in the terror that underlies
being left alive. Yet we muster the courage
to mark our place and in the sky

I recognize the face of my lover. Her cheeks
sweet as a caramel apple. Each day
I fight for the chance to to die
by her side. So I, like
the larks, still bravely singing, fly.


"Dear Soldier"
By Eleanor G. Reed

This is the day of remembrance so today I'll walk with you.

It only takes one step off the curb
of this bustling Vancouver sidewalk
into the meadows where once you fought.
Feel the brush of bloodstained poppies against my legs, their petals smooth, black faces turned upwards in anguish to the heavens.

I'll walk with you and through your eyes, I will see everything. 

Mud squelching under every boot step,
silhouettes hunched with the weight of overladen
backpacks, a blur of faces looking down
as if there was no future to look up to.
Knuckled hands white, fingers trembling
at the trigger and the forces from a familiar
enemy approaching on the horizon. Gunfire fills the air, bodies falling in every direction while my ears are pierced
with the fearful cries of boys at war.
Take my hand and I'll walk with you, feel the softness of my fingers on palms
that are coarse and calloused from the handle
of a trench-digging shovel. Tears will sting
our eyes, dense clouds rolling in over Flanders releasing the first droplets of rain. They slide
down our cheeks across the surface of those scarlet
petals until we are all crying together.

This day is for the soldiers so today I'll walk with you.
This life is because of the soldiers, so forever we 'll walk together.


"The Soldiers"
By Charlotte Ducharme

When they took up arms they did not know
that we would spend solemn days in silence for
their memory. Young men trapped in trenches
shivering in mud surrounded by brothers. Trembling
hands clutching guns feeling cold
metal under fingertips as rain
assaulted the battlefield.

The only warmth comes from pride in country,
knowing a worthy battle worth fighting, they sacrifice
life, but less spoken of they sacrifice mind, body,
family. They leave crying mothers and wives who try
desperately to hold soldiers in one last embrace, aware
it may be their last. They feel the yearning of
home. Wanting nothing more than to be safe but knowing
safety is what they fight for.

They did not know that we would stop in
loaded silence to honor them, however
they still took up arms.

First-place winner Cid V Brunet will receive a $300 tuition credit, while Eleanor G. Reed and Charlotte Ducharme will receive Bookstore vouchers for $150 and $100, respectively.