Remembrance Day poetry contest winners announced

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 Students were invited to submit original and unpublished poems in English, on the themes of war and peace.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.

Eleven: Come Homeby Maria Dolores Baylon

The virtual and velvet 117,000 poppies
Projected on the darkened and shadowed buildings of Parliament Hill.
A serene moment; A moment’s notice;
My aged mind brings me back to the jungles of a tropical paradise –
Or what it once was.
Among the translucent and iridescent leaves and vines;
Among the thick and rough barks of tropical trees;
Among the indigenous creatures of the woodlands;
Among the flora and fauna of the living timberlands;
I find myself clothed in darkness, in the absence of the moon.
I wait for the signal, for the flare to rise and illuminate the shadows. One. Two.
I am hidden among the shrubs and the length of the trees. Three. Four.
I held my rifle next to me, against my body.
Safe off. Ready, lock and loaded. Five. Six.
My ears picked up the sound of movement a few yards away from me.
A child walked into the clearing, a solar spotlight upon him,
I raised my rifle, ready to shoot. Seven. Eight.
I zoom in on the child’s head –
A headshot for a merciful death,
A body shot for a merciless long death,
Or, a shot to the heart for an instant death. Nine.
Eye on him, rifle pointed at him;
But I could not take the shot.
My finger would not pull the trigger.
But my eyes would not leave the sight of this little boy in the middle of the woods. Ten.
I had not noticed that I had lowered my rifle.
I walked towards the child, crept towards him and stopped short.
“Go home. It’s not safe here,” I said.
But the child merely raised his almond shaped eyes and stared at me before replying
In a hauntingly ominous voice, “You’re a long way from home. You, go home.”

A minute of silence
by Isabella Kennedy

I wonder what everyone else is thinking, everyone’s eyes are shut.
I shut my eyes too. The scratchy fabric of my sweater itches at my neck
but we aren’t allowed to move. I stand as still as I can, like that statue
game we play at recess. I always lose. I think my finger is bleeding.
I stuck the poppy pin in too deep. I put it in my mouth. Someone coughs
and the boys who stand in front of me start laughing. I feel
like pinching them. I wonder where my poppy is hanging in the gym.
I tried to draw it exactly like my Nonna said. She was my age
during the war. She said they killed her best friend in the ditch
by her house. Who is “they”?
My mom says that the soldiers are in heaven now, with the angels.
I want to meet an angel. I wonder if they look like the faeries
in our yard. The bagpipes have started again and I feel the hairs
at the back of neck rise. I feel like crying. Once the images
come they don’t stop. The fields were full of blood
they said, or was it poppies? The bodies piled up
as tall as trees, airplanes roaring
in my ears. I can’t stop. My tummy hurts.
The minute of silence is over.
I open my eyes.

Never anyone’s Grandfather
by Paul Siemens

Often it seems the stories of war we hear come from grandfathers. Our own, our friends or
maybe our neighbours.
These accounts are passed from father to son, or grandson, Uncle to nephew. These men may tell us
the stories of their time in far lands.
Of the time they smashed a bottle of champagne open on the back tire of a jeep in Normandy because
there wasn’t a corkscrew anywhere to be found;
of missing the troop ship to Hong Kong because he was so drunk, which saved his life,
of adopting a dog in Afghanistan;
or being pinned down by sniper fire in the Balkans.
He might even lean in with a sly smile and tell you softly of the woman he met in France.
How many young men though, never met a woman in France, never had a wife, a girlfriend, or
even a first kiss.
These young men, these teenagers, would not become grandfathers who told their grandchildren
about this moment as they are
huddled in a snowy foxhole shivering so hard their teeth clattered,
teeth that had not chewed food in the last two days.
As he is rubbing frozen fingers together, the thought of mom in the kitchen and dad by the fire brings a slight smile to his lips just as the bullet enters his brain.
The 18 year old who was crouching beside him sees his friend who was only 17 slide down beside him and stare at him with lifeless eyes.
He will live to tell his grandson of this moment, the moment his Brother never had a chance to become someone’s grandfather.

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