Random Acts of Poetry - Poem of the Day



October 3rd - 9th: A celebration of poetry and literacy in cities across Canada, the UK, and Ireland.


Click on the poets name to read their poem:

Acquelin, José Mac, Kathy
Brown, Andy Morton, Wendy
Carter, Terry Ann Mulhern, Mary Ann
Cormie, Gloe Nash, James
Csamer, Mary Ellen Patch, Janet
Dalton, Mary Pelman, Barbara
Durepos, Fernand Pilling, Marilyn Gear
Figura, Martin Routh, Jane
Gill, Kuldip Salzman, Eva
Glenn, Lorri Neilsen Sonnet, L'Abbé
Hadfield, Jen Sorestad, Glen
Higgins, Kevin Souaid, Carolyn Marie
Holmes, Nancy Thompson, Andrea
Hyland, Gary Tims, Jane
Ivory, Helen Tracey, Shelley
Kemp, Penn White, Marion Frances
John B. Lee Wilson, Sheri-D
MacDonald, Hugh Zetlin, Elizabeth
McGrath, Wendy  


l’inconnu force ŕ la modestie
tu sens que tu vas maigrir
voici sous un dôme de smog
des fruits de l’eau et l’humanité

- - José Acquelin
Excerpt from Mexiquatrains,
Published by Le lézard amoureux, 2005



the August sun pulsated like a heart
behind a gauze of rain as I continued
digging, cutting, slowly taking down
the framework of the season’s growth:

the trellis of sweet peas; gone-over lilies –
and you, wisely, spending hours indoors
keeping the children busy with painting,
model making; calm as an inland sea –

that was when I knew, again, I believe
in you, and always so, the way we believe
in daybreak, the fall of night, turning tides;
the slow decline of rock-face into sand –

as I folded up the tomato canes
and stacked them in the garage for autumn.

-- Andy Brown.


Hallowed Be Thy Name (From Waiting For Julia)

My son brings a butterfly

in from the garden

let’s the silky thing fall

from his palms

onto the dining room table

where I am working.

I see that it is dead

not able to lift its wings

and in that heart space

radiant and bare

I know that we speak

a butterfly language

know that I carry him still

within the cells of my body

those adolescent limbs

a painful unfolding.

-- Terry Ann Carter


Posed By Roses

In the family album, this small portrait
(so old and cracked, it’s kept in plastic)
of you, Aunt Fran, in First Communion
dress and veil.

It is impossible to look at you for long.
You are too open; a face, bone hollow,
bird fragile,
the eyes, pre-flight,
staring from the frame.

In all this retrospective,
these faces held, fossils in amber,
there’s none so fitted for the light as you;
skin like milk, pure, from the pitcher.
I want to pour you on strawberries.

Polar in your innocence, posed by roses,
that are forever on the cusp of opening,
like you, so luminous and grave,
your almost-smile, an aperture to time itself.

These words for a girl in her instant of pure light.

-- M. E. Csamer


The Ragged Jacket

He'd pinch a quarter till it squeaked---
He'd begrudge the very breath you took.
Might as well try to get blood from a turnip
As ask him for the loan of a copper---
That was the word all over the harbour.
Now he's all caught up with that shady outfit;
Now he's the one in the ragged jacket.
Now it's all one to him
That the grave's got no silver sock,
That the shroud's got no pockets.

-- Mary Dalton


Her eyes are a casino



she steadily looks at me

two crystal dice
which promise is off
perfect gloss

the only one I need
to bet all lights
on tomorrow

-- Fernand Durepos


I Work In The Arts Now

I meet creative people
Nice people
Sensitive people

Sometimes they ask me
How long have I been a photographer
And when I tell them four years
They ask me what I did before
That’s when I tell them

I was in the Army
They usually look puzzled then
Shocked even and seek reassurance

How long for they ask
Hoping it was a brief and hateful experience
Twenty five years I say
They’re starting to get worried

They hardly dare ask what I did
But they do
That’s when I tell them
I was an accountant

Now they do look puzzled
As if they can’t decide
Which is the most appalling
Piece of information

The soldiering or
The accountancy

-- Martin Figura



Seasoned with a little fire
I am quicksilver in your mouth.
Drink me down, I am pure enough;
the colour of sky in water.

This could be a good thing for you;
think of it as an experiment.
You don’t even need to do anything,
just accept me into your body.

You will feel a freedom, a fluidity even.
There will be no pain, only light
the kind that floods into every
undiscovered part of your soul.

This may seem dramatic, absurd even –
and a certain amount of trust is required.
But don’t worry - I am only a woman;
commonplace; like the moon, like breathing.

-- Helen Ivory


Love Isn't

thunder and cinnamon.
Is: walls the colour of Provence;
seagulls framed in the skylight
between clouds and the morning moon;
hoya trailing night perfume;
a level floor;
a new sink;
your hands.

-- Wendy Morton


Poet in the house: A handbook

A. Pest Control:

If you are infested with vermin, but know a poet, you’re in luck. Poetry will drive
rats and mice from a house. Rats, especially, have an aversion to rhyme. Jot a
poem on a piece of paper, place it beside cracks in the baseboards near openings
to the ground below, and the creatures will flee to the homes of neighbouring
curmudgeons. This never fails. Of course, you must be a friendly neighbour
yourself. What goes around, comes around, as you have heard.

B. Percussion:

Poets were once called beats for a reason. Ask a poet to join your garage band or
your Saturday blues jam. The vein of poetry, located at the back of the poet’s
head, begins to throb with the metre of the emerging poem. You can choose the
beat: iambic, dactylic, anapestic, elastic, iconoclastic, dipsomaniacal. Gaelic poets
worked in darkness, so ----

-- Lorri Neilsen Glenn


A banjo cuts through blear like brown paper and vinegar on a butcher's greasy window

These wet lambswool days
with cloudy skies and viral shades
of grass and green and the beginnings of grain
and, likely, rain
and sky like dark alloy
making a Goldeneye in the flooded field
gleam like a newly-painted speedboat.

-- Jen Hadfield


A real Galwegian

Because when you watch the woman
sitting next to you writing an e-mail
in what looks like Korean, or find yourself asking
someone called Candy from Saskatchewan
for two bagels with cream-cheese,

it occasionally still hits you; how it's
like the blink of an eyelid since, down this street,
the coffee was rotten, and a night out
just a pint of sad Smithwicks eventually
emerging in a withered hand
from a back-street hatch, a barman telling

a complaining Yank how the lock broken
on that toilet door has been that way
for nearly twenty years, and not
a single shit stolen yet.

-- Kevin Higgins


Lacing Up The Skates

on a winter night instead of language
sails ballooned out of our mouths

our tongues tugged at our breath
until they were rope-burned

our lungs, too, made a canvas escape
launched into the wind
pulling our voices inside out

as we fumbled with the laces of our skates
we began to dread the frozen river:
the dark ice that slid for miles
through the knotted woods

where would our wild rigging
take us?

would we ever be heard from

-- Nancy Holmes


The Transit of Venus

Venus is rolling across the sun
on the TV screen above our heads.

Aglow, you speak of work,
your sister, a garden project.
You touch my hand, whisper,
"Look, the waitress, how beautiful,"
and I look and see she is lovely.

You place your hand on my arm.
and then speak of the one grief
that shadows your life

I tell you what I have read:
No one alive has ever seen Venus
roll across the sun like this.
In 2012 she will do it again
then not for 105 years.
The passage takes under two hours.

We speak of the transit of Venus
and what makes beauty.
Is it our eyes, our dreams, the forms
we make to frame our griefs?
Whether it is the stepchild of time.

As our words move across my mind,
I see how beautiful we are.

-- Gary Hyland


Lunar Perplex

There is a band of words just above
the ineffable fabric of love that allows
for poetry; a slim arc over the abyss of
pure being that roils below, that royal
knowing we aspire to by drowning
self consciousness in a whole blue
that is sea, that is sky, one and the same.

At last, alas, the loss of letters on the tongue
in the circumferenced web of time all present
now. The numbers churn on, press forward
as if progress were real, progression royal, all
things aspiring hold their breath toward
reality for the sake of all sentient beings.

Although there is always time for the typing
of lines on the screen, there is hardly a moment
for editing it back down and over to you.

Lobbing the poem over the net: love all

-- Penn Kemp


Raspberry Picking

summer saw me as a boy
tweaking the fine-haired berry
from the slightly thorny shrub
I felt them float their juices on my fingertip
those tiny polyped
sweet-milked fruits
which gently popped the balsa
with a delicate blush of stain
the smallest dollar box
accumulated to a modesty
of rosy-tainted wood
as kneeling like an infant-animal hunger
I am brought
lower on the cane
to areolas of aspire on the bottom branch
where things are shadow-grown
and under-leafed
though swelling still within the warm aromas
of the earth’s upvapouring heat

I roll them candied to themselves
as with a sticky pluck
they yield and let the green
throb back
as if with sparrow lift
to measure off the loss of song
and when I’ve rounded out
the value of the day’s desire
the grackle’s gluttony of lovely work
appears unbloused and in a field-end frame
as flavoured light
the succubus of beetle-married dark
transforms into a seven-vowelled kiss
which says my name in every living thing

-- John B. Lee



oxide patina
blue green Roman coins
curses kissed into malleable metal
marked and tossed centuries ago
into Bath’s mineral pools

secret springs surrender those words
that wished the worst on
former friends feckless females current foes
hurt hate and revenge
rusted to epithet

downtown Edmonton
my son feels a penny’s raised numbers
the year of his birth embossed
he feels lucky and throws one cent
into the slate-lined fountain

says he wishes for nothing
just wants to throw the coin into water
and listen for its sound

-- Wendy McGrath


About Green

Green likes the staccato language of rain
the conversational mumbling of ocean
& the spicy numinous broth of words

Green tastes these languages
these rainy runny liquids
Fragrant hints of mangoes, kumquats, kiwis,
in rain's language &
sunken treasure, mermaid's scales,
punctured beach balls, in ocean's scent

Ever since Green was small
she was drawn to liquids
even the inarticulate.

-- Gloe Cormie


Mack. The Cat.

White shirt front,
tweedy jacket back
and pork-pie ears
(fights and frost)-
proper Squire's rig,
down to the fine set
of whiskers, incomplete
set of teeth, and
tendency to drool.
A behaviourist
tagged him "successful,"
the cuddly competitor.
Named after trucks,
he lies on sleeping dogs.

-- Kathy Mac


Outside My Window

on the untrimmed lawn
the dandelions
wear parkas
with fur-trimmed hoods.
They are scattered
like a motley army
beyond the wire-mesh fence.
their manes
were golden
and mine
a reddish brown.
Time consumes colour
but dreams
are patient, youthful things
that grasp the slightest breeze,
lift and float away
on silken parachutes.

-- Hugh MacDonald



Remember the music we used to play?
The instruments still hang on the wall,
a trellis of brass roses
or an exotic vine with bugle flowers.
Like plumbing but not joined up,
and silent now.
And the lid of the piano is down.

The tunes still prickle in my blood,
and though blooming less
each successive year,
have kept a scent of you.
And the truth is
that I have grown older and loved others,
but I shall always carry some notes of your music
in my pockets, like petals,
wherever I go.

-- James Nash


"The Red Dress"


a library shelf

in the novitiate

has a paperback

on marriage

the chapter on

conjugal love

sealed with

masking tape

words hidden

like full breasts

under layers

of tight binding


has peeled back

brown tape

opening a forbidden


-- Mary Ann Mulhern


Three Sisters

Majestic sulfur mountains


snow capped in June sun

only the gondola dares

traverse the edges of Banff

below film dealers

play out

their song and dance

vying for the chance

to beat the deal

three sisters have made

in perpetuity

with each other

-- Marion Francis White


Winter's quilt

Across the field
Tucked up
Around the
blond heads
Of tall timothy and tickle tail
The pattern stitched
By the tiny feet
Of mouse and vole
The edged by the ribbon
of black stream

-- Janet Patch, Wolf Tree



Another thrush, its white underbelly
like a small shout. And at my feet,
pale lavender, a throat of yellow,
crocus - whose song is spring:
I am always here
under darkness.

I look up to a watercolour sky
the sun heavy on my winter coat
earth squelching with yesterdayąs rain,
clouds thin and meandering and far away
above the darker blue of the Olympics
white feathers of last monthąs snow.

Gray branches flaked with old skin -
at the edge of the long bones, a soft trembling
Slash of silence, then sound
a fever of calling: I am here.
Where are you.

-- Barbara Pelman


The Field Next To Love

My Aunt was fat. She wore her moustache gladly
to church. I am pie-deprived. I pursue my
moustache relentlessly. Admire iconoclasts.

My Aunt sang hymns with a voice like grass held
between your thumbs and blown on. Her God her Master,
submitted to with fervour. My God’s in hiding.

My Aunt said hoity toity and by golly. She’d been
wedlocked sixty years when she died. I know the
meaning of icthyophagous. I’ve been divorced.

My Aunt wiped hendirt off warm eggs as she
listened in on the party line. I flame my enemies
electronically, send blind copies indiscriminately.

My Aunt and I had nothing in common, yet
I loved her. She was blood, she was kin,
she was above all

familiar, and in me, familiar occupies the field
next to love; there are places along the border
where I cannot tell one from the other.

-- Marilyn Gear Pilling



splinter and splash
the moving darkness
where waves ebb and flow
on the Baie des Chaleurs.

From our window
we are held fast
by this slow dance
of fractured lunar light,
cling to this memory
as sleep pulls us under.

-- Glen Sorestad


Satie’s Sad Piano

everything points to your

dimmed tail lights of cars & outgoing geese
the grim, subtracted leaves

a bristled, Andean chill to the air

you on exotic soil

in the long, wan shade
of home

metaphors not of sadness, really

but of the enormity
of unneeding you

this late in the afternoon

-- Carolyn Marie Souaid



Miles down the road, miles
past the last ruin,
where a single track road
falters into wheel ruts
through bog, and the coastal strip
narrows to an insufficiency
before bony mountains crowd into the sea,
close the gate against the wind:

there’s a broken chain on a mooring ring
and a concrete slip runs out into the water,
as if it were natural to walk the length
of a dead end road into the sea,
as if you could keep on going
to Cape Breton, Newfoundland, Australia.

-- Jane Routh



the August sun pulsated like a heart
behind a gauze of rain as I continued
digging, cutting, slowly taking down
the framework of the season’s growth:

the trellis of sweet peas; gone-over lilies –
and you, wisely, spending hours indoors
keeping the children busy with painting,
model making; calm as an inland sea –

that was when I knew, again, I believe
in you, and always so, the way we believe
in daybreak, the fall of night, turning tides;
the slow decline of rock-face into sand –

as I folded up the tomato canes
and stacked them in the garage for autumn.

-- Andy Brown.


The Yard at the Old Cade House

Winter brambles, a crisp snap underfoot,
their green prickles turned to brittle nails and claws.
Driven by the east wind, raspy on the walls
grab at the window frame and glass, scratch
all night long: Let me in. The leafless trees moan.
She wraps her shawl even more tightly around her
She waits for her husband’s late night return
or at least two rings on the party-line phone
nailed to the wall, to say he must stay in town.
She waits to turn out the lights, to lock out the yard.

Kuldip Gill


The Buddhas of Bamiyan

like the Venus de Milo,
are much more beautiful without their feet
but if your gaze soars upwards
how not too upward? How?

The Buddhas of Bamiyan
cannot compete with an authentic God,
should never bear the face of even the false God.
You, who are as arrogant as the usual man,
may love more deeply the pity of a headless,

footless Buddha of Bamiyan - even doubly so.
You, who can meditate only bodily,
don't deserve the pelvis of Buddha.
God is the greatest practitioner of art
and her favourite sculpture is a modest man.

Like the Venus de Milo
(if you are the man who dwells on her),
the twin Buddhas of Bamiyan,
armless, can still embrace Afghanistan unbroken,
embrace those who would rather die than keep

each Buddha from divinity: its vanishing trick.
You who have a mind to, who can think as loftily
as the Buddhas of Bamiyan, can miss them but let them go.
Imagine all the fragments whole again,
and our signature on the empty sky.

-- Eva Salzman


Bushparty, Great Slave Lake

Caught out in a north
widening, with the wind,
between two skins
of earth and dark sky,
everyone is drunk,

there is no way
home except the swaying
back of a pick
up, cold road a black
brushstroke the truck
smudges with accidental
brakes, marks of
tire treads.

Now and then
through hair blown in
your eyes, through
swerving bodies
breaths, sour clouds
of beer and sick,

the sky leans in
to kiss your way, wears
your path home in pink
northern light, a trace
of lipstick
on its starred black cheek.

-- Sonnet L'Abbé


Evening edge

evening edge
of lake
a corner torn
from the loaf
of hills
red with setting

faint click
sun gone
nasal chuckle
from the farther shore
dusk and bread scraps
scattered on the water

arrows etched on glass
a glimpse
of summer night
tucked under wings

blue-winged teal
greedy for crust and crumbs

frenzied feeding

-- Jane Tims, Wolf Tree


Waking From Anesthesis

i explore like new born

the first thing i see:

a bright pink sash
across a nurse’s breast

fills me with sweet corn
blood oranges
mother love
and sunsets
then, before me appears

a smooth brown head
atop an orderly who reminds me
of an ex-boyfriend

all i know is i want to touch it

must have asked out loud
because he comes towards me
smiles – bows down
my hand reaches out in appreciation
strokes plam across smooth crown

in a moment
barren of pretension
tenderness is sipped
by two from one cup

before the pain crashes in

-- Andrea Thompson



The comfort of the sea is that it is always there. It may

withdraw a little (mostly with dignity), giving you

due warning, but its presence is undeniable. Moody it may be

at times, unpredictable, but then you would be dull to ignore

the magnificent reach of its rage. You are not a fit opponent.

Apart from all of that obvious fury, you have to admire

its discretion; it keeps all of its secrets. True, rocks and even icebergs

do reveal themselves, but only the sea knows

where it all begins and ends and just how much

everything matters.

-- Shelley Tracey


RE: members Snapshot

What does it mean
when you take in a roll of thirty-six shots
and they only develop eleven?

I don’t know
I guess some didn’t turn out
Maybe they were over-exposed

What does it mean
when you start the roll with one love
and end the roll with another?

I don’t know
I guess some didn’t turn out
Maybe they were over-exposed

What does it mean
when you have two loves on the same roll
and you’re not with either of them anymore?

I don’t know
I guess some didn’t turn out
Maybe they were over-exposed
Did you drop your camera?

No, I wasted my film
and I hate it when people charge me
for exposing

Sheri-D Wilson


The Thing With Feathers

Hope is a horny outgrowth
of the heart, a central axis
along which you branch.
Inside, a hollow portion known
as emptiness. And a solid barb-bearing
part called the self, where
contour feathers grow – large, crude,
capable of much flapping. Surrounded
by small stunted hairlike feathers
of soft down, for insulation. When dry,
they leave a waxy powder you polish
each day with your tongue.
You dust yourself off, lick
your plumes, gaudy or plain,
it doesn’t matter. You hold them
in front of you, crooked
like the wing of a swan.

-- Elizabeth Zetlin