Looking for Love Poems 2005.

We're big on love here, as everyone knows—
and Marianne, Suzanne and Ursula wish you all you can handle in the new year.

Here are the on-line finalists in our contest.

Please click on each contributor's name to short-cut to the poem.

Please click herefor contributors' biographical information.



Isa Milman Marianne Paul Patience Wheatley
Joanna M. Weston Mark Lavorato Paul Schwartzentruber
Karen Koegler Mary Ellen Sullivan Richard Arnold
Kelda Larsen Mary O'Dell Roz Bound
Kristin Sumner Natalie Forman Susan Stenson


Mantle of Spruce 'Round My Grandmother's Rocker

© Mary Ellen Sullivan

I went to the window
to watch the spruce trees
along our lane way.
Comfort wrapped round me,
as I watched the way
the branches flowed in the night.

Like how my grandmother used to rock me
Holding me into her softness
And singing to me
"He's Got The Whole World In His Hand."
I would look up into her smiling eyes
like they could surround me.
Imagine that.

It's kind of like a poem,
my Gramma and the spruce trees.

So now I'll know what to do
if I get scared.
I'll hum my poem and rock
like I'm on a big spruce bough.


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Anything is possible now

© Deirdre Dwyer

An electric guitar's hummingbird throb
on late Saturday morning radio,
coffee and a folk song throaty and real.

It's not the song I've heard
so many times since the sixties.
It's the rare transparency of moments
when you can see through everything,
when every rare thing becomes soft,
an apple tender with seed.

Moments like these when
love simmers and boils over
like a pot on the stove,
like a banshee whistle of the kettle.
Windows get steamy.

I could happily let dust collect
under the bed, could refuse
to shake out the mats,
could fill all the kitchen pots
and let them boil over
while I asylum mad,
quietly like 19th century women
doughy, soft, and benign;
smiling, thinking of you.


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Song for the Girl Often Overlooked

© Charmaine Cadeau

From the highway, your name
         on a barnside
         enacts desire,
makes everyone who drives by
    call out to you.

Someone hand painted
    you into this landscape,
         what you are, what is had:
         hint, root, lark. The looping
knot of wood, however planed,

         suggests yielding,
    a strong, open heart. You are lured
by roadside attractions: world's biggest,
world's only. Away from
         any main drag, the smallest also

    lean into you. At night, the empty
band shell at the park
         lends a private concert:
    bullfrogs, cricket song,
your song. In haloed

streetlamps, moths perform
    shadow theatre, each one pretending to
be something else.
         Worthiness, you think, has nothing
to do with love.

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Love Poem

© Susan Stenson

I'll be there. Stop fussing over me. Get your wet thumb away from the cow-lick you call bangs. Kleenex, spat on, is not a face cloth. That's dimple not mayo, chocolate, not beauty mark. Heaven forbid there's a gap between my two front teeth.

I said I'd be there. I could change my mind. Leave you bent over the toilet, retching from the nausea of the cure we all ran for last week, planted our pink ribbons breast high, next to the sport bra, the spandex, the headband, the perspiration (not sweat) accumulating on our sun-kissed foreheads, retching in the middle of the night. Sleep another thing to get through.

I'll be there when you finally stop talking. It will only be the eyes now, I'm guessing, that will talk. Whisper, wheeze, all pink and chattery, blinking shut longer than blinking open and with your little head on the pillow, too, breath's a simple rise in the field of your chest.

For pity. Close my eyes. I can't watch this. All those giddy, inoperable years where every word from your mouth stung the smallest parts of me. Clitoris, ulna, wrist, the colours around a cut, tremolos of purple, blue, yellow, a small mole called brown.

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Another Surprise

© Patience Wheatley

You would expect
sensation to have atrophied
so long after the wrenching

glory of first real surrender
to the tidal wave of love
when what you thought you knew

turned out to be
on the edge only.

Dorothy Livesay wrote The Unquiet Bed
at fifty-five or more—
what if you're over seventy?

then, which organ contracts
to send electric spasms
sharp up through the gut

when the womb is shrunk and
estrogen artificial?
I ask myself can this be

a joke from above?
What purpose is served if oldsters
make love?

sweet though it may be imagined
and doesn't make
unwanted babies or spread Aids?

and if your muscles are hard
your skin soft, your
joints still flexible your

spirit—oh, so eager and willing...
why not dive in and
risk it?

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(for SJK)

© Dr. Karen Koegler

Your sweater's arm so near
my nape grabs a few hairs.
I came tonight because I thought you might
and there you were then sitting beside me
in the warm conference room five minutes
into the lecture you tugged your sweater
over your head leaving behind
an untucked striped shirt
cuffs pushed back from your forearms
nothing up your sleeve, damn you.
I know you could slip your fingers
into my hair and conjure
foil-wrapped chocolate coins
from behind my ear.

I sit up straighter—posture is the whole
deal, you know
—wondering how my hair
looks from the side why I didn't
stripe some perfume in the creases
behind my knees whether I've worn
this blouse a time too many
what I want I think is for you to think
I'm smart and your fingers flexing
on the trouser material over your thighs—
are those push-ups?—smaller, more
fine-boned than I had thought,
those fingers I want now on my nipples
quickly, while the room's hidden panels
slide back and forth in their smooth grooves
and trapdoors spring open at our feet.


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One More Surprising Moment

© Paul Schwartzentruber

Walking in fall's forest, we are lost
again, like kidnapped children homing
toward loves we barely remember,
anymore than these dead birch stumps
remember standing taut
three years ago, before the wind
at last, died down.

When you pick up the bark shell,
it spills out its dusty entrails
in a cloud of unknowing.
Swinging empty in your hands
it could become anything—
a scroll, a flute, a scope for sighting
far off ships.
A palimpsest.
"'There are so many levels,"
you tell me, sagely,
and layers mean richness—
a past decomposing into humus
a future leading off down many trails.
But all I know for now
is this little breathing space
between the canopy
and the rustles underfoot
where, in one more, surprising moment,
we are not entirely alone.


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The Way You Look Tonight

© Roz Bound

Shortbread baking in the oven
sugar's fragrance in the air
I dance around the kitchen
and my fingers flour your shoulder
but you laugh
and kiss my nose
and my skirts turn circles rounder
than the cookies getting browner

         the timer goes
alerts me to the empty space
unburned cookies for a change
my floury face         and on the radio
"The Way You Look Tonight"

and I decide to dance again
however strange, knowing
that the way I look tonight is quite old and plain
        but just supposing
you were there

you'd brush the flour from my hair,
softly sing that sugar-sweet refrain.
Our flying feet would slide and sway
dip and turn while cookies burn
        and you would dance me beautiful again.


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The Science of Skin

© Natalie Forman

It's funny, how I understand,
mechanically, the human hand
but still cannot begin to grasp
the chemistry of the lover's clasp;
the easy way that fingers lace,
divining all the empty space,
and tighten, filling in the gaps
tight as a Chinese finger trap.
It makes no sense to me, the way
man crumbles, soft as desert clay,
when woman's palm touches to his.
What age of alchemy is this?

If one experiment could spell
answers to questions that would quell
this insatiable need to know
just where my heart and lifelines go,
I may, this once, abandon books
and find someone who turns and looks
and sees the naked fingers of
a stranger to the ways of love.
Then, if I find in his first glance
the willingness to take this chance
I'll start my lessons of the heart-
perhaps the perfect place to start.


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© Jennifer Londry

no more lies left to live she says
i've lived every one
from here to there and back again nothing worse than living
a tall tale twice as ugly and twofold your size

she wants to play says she'll trade her jokers for a king
sets her tarnished coins up front
they don't have to be hearts she says, just a pair.


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Jackie Just Met

© Kelda Larsen

Ohmygod she is she is she is
older and
wiser and
sadder than me and
her eyes are bright blue bullets that narrow under dark and perfect eyebrows.
I want to know all of her
there is
so much in her eyes.
She says so little just stumbles out the door
staggered under some pain
waving backwards at us with her wallet chain swinging from her hip
her black jeans black shoes.
I choose all of it
show it to me Jackie and I'll hold you because ohmygod
you are you are you are
I just want to know you
under the thin layer of animated skin.


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gracie in love

© Marianne Paul

it is easy to think of gracie as
a silver foil balloon        losing herself to the sky
the ribbon dangling through the air like
string from the crow's beak        in spring love crazily
in the air so that even the crow
acts like a bluebird and the crone
the schoolgirl

gracie giggles at the thought
of love at seventy      her hair at her sides
in pig tails                 elastic bands chosen
to match colour         and not even the crows can
explain this inexplicable behaviour         explain
the string from their beaks        their frenzy
the mad sweet obsession in their

she is like a flock of birds
in autumn after the lull
of summer         urge
filling the hallow at the
core of winged bones
jumpiness felt in feathers
and held in the dark of perfectly
rounded eyes


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© Mark Lavorato

I am stuck to you
Like the stamp on an envelope
Of one of those letters we write and never send
Licked with a teary tongue
And slapped onto the corner with reckless abandon
That decayed as fast as courage

One of those letters written in frantic sentences
Words trying desperately to convey things that were never said
But should have been
The type of letter that sits in a drawer until it's forgotten
Which is never
And that ends with:

Come home.
Even if I don't know where that is.
I've seen it.
I have seen it.
It's the place where the sun drags slow across the floor
like it's sneaking up on us;
skulking over the wood while you read on your stomach,
crawling with hunted silence
towards your bare feet.

Meet me there.



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© Mary O'Dell

"Again, the holy striving has given way to ordinary joy."
                                                             Jane Hirshfield

Almost as after a mystic arising
I settle past passion,
sated but wanting still to touch
and soothe,
caress you into sleep and dreams of lovely places—
mountains of snow, perhaps—
those Alaskan peaks you love.
Almost content,
almost able to see through your shut eyes
the stinging brightness,
feel with your skin the bite of wind,
I dream awake your Arctic dream,
nudge close and closer,
feel you drifting
yet drawing me into your arms.
Sleep will elude me tonight—
or perhaps I will purposely slip wide-eyed
beyond its pale
not to miss your return.


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Love and Syntax

© Gabriel Dey

If only I could have won you, from the mud.
Your blustery scales, your body coiling heat from sunlight,
your small, insignificant tongue.

There is a stillness.
The husk of night moves
against the pull of the future.
We will love, fearlessly. And our lips
will touch again, like the first green boughs
of our infant breath.

Later, rain with its striped body.
The world, a cage that holds our bones.
All of us, in our torture.

Resting, somewhere in the past,
the air is fragrant with that first breath,
our first night of sleep. The sheets a veil
between the dark, that nestles the fierce bodies of our rage.

I had no dream of this yet. Not of this.
Not of torture, and regret,
with its small and bloodied tongue,
its terrible language.

I have only, that first night of sleep.
It lives dormant inside our bodies. Blooms
only in small slivers. The brush of the sheet,
my gaze a small ball of fire. A river.


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we can know (baby)

© Kristin Sumner

baby, baby, I know how you feel about me
— wait. I take that back—I know
how you felt about me, baby.
back when our words were intimate. back
when our sighs were collective. back before
I told you that I love you.

                               and baby, I don't
have any of that music for lovemaking. turn
your digital audio to rave or techno. we
can keep up with that beat, baby. I'll
keep up with you. keep with me, baby.

I'm with you when you fade. when you grow.
when you turn away, I'm still behind you. I leave
you space, I kiss your face, and baby, I praise
heaven for you.

                   we still have baggage to unpack and
put away, baby.
we'll sort, we'll advise, we'll repack, we'll deal. baby, we
can figure out all the ways we love. we can unfold
the corners and share the surprises found there. we
can spend this time together. baby, we can know we're blessed.
pull me in. push me away. I'm forever where you
want me to be. let me make you happy, baby.
baby, I'm for you.


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The Day You Died

© Richard Arnold

for my father,
Frank A. Arnold, Jr.

Afraid to sleep inside your house that night,
I dragged the stained tarp you used to cover the tractor
Out to a grassy place beneath the trees.

Old sand stuck to the canvas was the whetstone
On which I ground the long bright blade of pain
Remembrance grew into—as I lay down

With by-gone fishing trips, and you and me,
Baited trot-lines slanting into black river,
Talking by the fire and passing the frequent bottle

To keep awake-my memories stabbed and stabbed
While dark needle-bundles on the pine above
Tossed and sighed all night against the stars.

One of them, old blue Regulus, near dawn
Found me out of all the universe with a beam
That left the Lion's paw seventy years ago.

Inside later, I found your old baby shoe
Had fallen from the bookshelf where you kept it—
A dusty shrunken object on the floor, glowing

Softly gold in the newborn sun's caress.


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when my son writes about his mother

© Dorothy Mahoney

if you must write on the subject of me
let the poem be about books shared
the playful ball of words thrown and caught
how we pulled characters from covers
into conversations
like coveted cookies, warm and malleable
how easily you memorized phrases
like favourite toys not long on the shelf
how time was one more
book one more page one more
picture and I would not say no
so much more of mothering I will to forget
so much more of tug and pull
or words best left not said
like all the tasks of learn and tell
of when and where
the swell of anger and regret

it is your younger face so close to mine
as we fought over who loved who
and I said me and you said you
let it be
that when there is the time to say it once again
that it was once
and again


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© Joanna M. Weston

a gentle quiet
in the car

you turn
your head
and smile
       a whole

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Rites of Spring

© Isa Milman

Last night we celebrated the plans for our back garden,
raised beds for your vegetables, ample borders for my flowers,
pathways to raspberries and artichokes, a hammock in
the arbour. The dead cherry will be replaced with a plum,
and the birch we fought over, cut down and removed.
I fret about losing the bowed and feathery branches,
first perch of the morning crow, but everything has its time, my love.

Last year you asked for arbutus, write about that sexy tree,
and I wondered what about it, exactly—it's bark curling back
from red-ochre flesh, and branches undulating, like flamenco dancers,
sunlight glinting from their sleeves. Last year I searched the city
for a pair of scarlet tights to wear with my black velvet jacket,
dressed like the first time we laid eyes on each other, and love
swooped down on us like a hawk with its huge inescapable wings.

For fifteen years we've slept well together,
all the cells we've sloughed off through living
completely renewed in the bodies we now inhabit.
Some essence of you resides in me now, as I am a part of you.
Every night I welcome the length and heft of you,
every morning I kiss your face, linger in the deeper
nooks, and trace the path where they laced your sternum back
together, after rebuilding your damaged heart.
At times we hear the beat of hawkwing, the old pounding

reminding us of who we were. Tomorrow the bobcat
and bulldozer will come, to scrape away the surface
of what is, make ready for new plantings.


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Charmaine Cadeau was born in Toronto in 1977. Her first book of poetry, What You Used to Wear, was published by Goose Lane Editions in 2004. She is currently a doctoral student at the University at Albany in New York where she continues to write poetry.

Deirdre Dwyer is the author of two poetry collections, The Breath that Lightens the Body (Beach Holme, 1999) and Going to the Eyestone (Wolsak & Wynn, 2002). She teaches part time at Mount Saint Vincent University and lives on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore. Her poem is dedicated to her husband, Hans.

Dorothy Mahoney has two books published by Black Moss Press and an anthology with friends published by Cranberry Tree Press. She teaches at Essex District High School and is currently working on a book of poetry about dogs inspired by the family sheepdog, Manfred.

Gabriel Dey resides on Vancouver Island and is currently completing a degree in Creative Writing. "Love and Syntax" is from her collection of lyric poetry "A Glass Boat Dreams of Flying."

Isa Milman is a Victoria poet, visual artist and occupational therapist who immigrated to Canada 30 years ago. Her first collection of poetry, Between the Doorposts, won the Poetry Prize at the Canadian Jewish Book Awards in 2005. Her next book is about the early Jewish immigrant experience in Saskatchewan.

Jennifer Londry's work has appeared in several journals and anthologies. Currently she is working on a poetry manuscript and a collection of short fiction. She has work forthcoming in Poetry Night in Muskoka, and Grimm Magazine. Addicted to love? Nah, addicted to poetry—oh yeah!

Joanna M. Weston, born in England, married, 3 sons, two cats. Writes poetry, short-stories and reviews. Published internationally in journals and anthologies. Has a middle-reader The Willow Tree Girl and a chapbook Watch-night: Christmas in poem and story in print. Lives in Shawnigan Lake, B.C., Canada.

A native Pittsburgher, Karen Koegler lives and writes in the Kentucky Bluegrass. A professor of geography and political science, her writing has been supported by grants from the NEH and the AAUW. Poems recently appeared in The Caribbean Writer and Natural Bridge. A new Masters in diplomacy has not finessed the heart's delicate negotiations.

When she isn't guiding sea kayak trips on Vancouver Island (the summer), or in Baja, Mexico (the spring), Kelda Larsen lives in Courtenay, V.I. in a house filled with driftwood and beach glass. She is currently anticipating her next yoga class, the up-coming Six-Gun Buddha show and the completion of her first novel, "Slowly With Your Hands Up."

Kristin Sumner lives, writes, plays with her pets, and endures winters in Winnipeg, where she also studies Icelandic at the University of Manitoba. Her poem "we can know (baby)" is part of an as-yet incomplete cycle of love poems.

Marianne Paul has come to poetry in recent years and has finally found her true love. Twice a winner of the WRAConteur Poetry Award, she has also had her work published as a Monday's Poem. Marianne's fiction and non-fiction have appeared in various publications, and she is the author of the novel, The Shunning.

Mark Lavorato was raised on the prairies, but has spent most of his adult life abroad, and is currently living and writing in France. He's busy dredging through the tedious process of seeking publication of his first novel, while contentedly working on his second, of which poetry is an integral part.

Mary Ellen Sullivan works as a community occupational therapist and has had poems published in the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. She won third place in the 2005 Elora Writers' Festival Creative Writing Competition (Poetry) with her poem "Quiet by Nature."

Mary O'Dell has been writing poetry for 23 years and her collections Poems for the Man Who Weighs Light and Living in the Body were published by Mellen Poetry Press. A chapbook, The Dangerous Man, was published by Finishing Line Press. Mary's work has been accepted by journals such as The Sow's Ear, The Louisville Review and Passages North. Mary lives in Louisville, Kentucky and is president and founder of Green River Writers, Inc.

Natalie Forman is currently completing the Professional Writing Degree program at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, Alberta. She credits her upbringing in a borderless Northwest Territories town for her affinity for the earth and the written word, and hopes to share her poetry with a world that occasionally forgets just how sweet the most simple pleasures can be.

Patience Wheatley came to Montreal from England at the age of fifteen. Her first published poem was accepted by the Antigonish Review in 1978. Three books of poetry have appeared since then, the first two published by Goose Lane Editions, the third, The Astrologer's Daughter, by Pendas Productions last year.

Paul Schwartzentruber is a sometime theologian and part-time poet who lives on Morrison Island, Quebec, in the middle of the Ottawa River. A student of Northrop Frye and Carl Jung, he supports himself by working at a retreat centre. He and his partner Kathrin Winkler read, write, paint and occasionally get lost in the woods together.

Richard Arnold feels lucky to have had a father who took him fishing many times on the snake-and-alligator-infested rivers of south Alabama. He wishes his father was still around so they could stay up all night and talk about more civilized things, like poetry. Richard lives in Errington, B.C. and teaches at Malaspina University-College.

Roz Bound is a writer, healer and teacher in Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she offers writing workshops and facilitates open floor readings. She has lived in South America, the Caribbean, and England, and holds an MFA from Goddard College in Vermont.

Susan Stenson is a poet living and writing in Victoria. Her latest book, My Mother Agrees with the Dead, is forthcoming from Wolsak and Wyn. She's planning on winning some money soon so she can teach less and write more.

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