Tag Archives: Winter

2015 Poetry Prize at OIW

At the Ottawa Independent Writers 2015 Poetry competition my “Ancient Tree in Winter” won first prize. This poem was inspired one recent winter by a river walk at Carleton University. An oak tree had been swept over Hogs Back Falls and ended up stuck at the stretch of the Rideau River rapids at Carleton University. Throughout the winter on my daily walks from the bus stop to my office – I would stop and observe this beautiful tree trapped in the rapids. Until one day it was gone, The spring floods released it for the next phase of its journey.

 

Ancient Tree in Winter                                                                                                                                            

 Ancient Tree in Winter,

where did you come from?

Now trapped,

cleft by rocks at river’s edge.

Water eddies carve your shape.

 

Ice mires your branches,

snow creeps fingers across the river

as your body disappears under deep laden snow.

Decaying sculpture of existence.

 

Death and birth are there.

Yet your journey carries you through,

While ducks stand on your broken limbs

Preening their feathers.

 

Did you once stand tall and majestic

in a soft Rideau River valley?

host to birds, small animals,

insects and whispering breeze?

 

Were you alone on a high bluff

shading thundering rapids

that pulled you to their embrace?

 

What felled you,

so that you now lie here

Trapped?

Cleft by rocks.

Exquisite beauty of my winter river walk.

 

Waiting for spring’s flood

To set you free.

 

 

 

 

 

Four Poems

Four Poems
Short Bio of Ian Prattis
http://www.ianprattis.com
Zen Teacher, Author, Editor, Professor Emeritus. Spiritual Warrior for planetary care, peace and social justice. Ian lives in Ottawa, Canada and offers public talks and retreats around the world. Ian encourages people to find their true nature, so that humanity and the world may be renewed. Founder of Friends for Peace: http://www.friendsforpeace.ca

Ancient Tree in Winter

Ancient Tree in Winter,
where did you come from?
Now trapped,
cleft by rocks at river’s edge.

Water eddies carve your shape.
Ice mires your branches,
snow creeps fingers across the river
as your body disappears with warm days.
Decaying sculpture of existence.

No death here, no birth,
Just your splendid continuation.
A stand for ducks preening feathers,
No less.

Did you once stand tall
in a soft Quebec valley,
host to birds, small animals,
insects and whispering breeze?
Were you alone on a high bluff
shading thundering rapids
that pulled you to their embrace?

What felled you,
so that you now lie here
Trapped.
Cleft by rocks
exquisite beauty of my river walk.

River Walk

Lament For A Mariner

The sea is very thin this day
that Archie Ruag has gone.
Master mariner, graceful navigator,
wise teacher of ocean mystery.
No more to grace the ocean’s ships
returned to whence he came.

My sons at eleven years and ten
children in men’s mourning
saw him laid to rest
in my place.
Storms and hail swept the cemetery
and their small frames
grew in maturing
of Archie’s dying.

And I sit here in Canada
writing, grieving,
Knowing the sea is very thin this day
that Archie Ruag has gone.
I saw him last, pale and weary
with calm before his death.
His spirit surrounded by antiseptic ward,
but not beleaguered.

He knows I was not equal
to his dying.
So he spoke gently to me
of ships
and men at sea.
And moorings
safe to guard our boats
from winter’s cruelty.
And so, in this way
did he gently rebuke
my lack of courage
in his dying.
So that I may have strength
in my own time
of death.

This is known
to senses awry with grief’s knife.
The tears of my cheeks
on a rainswept street
a meditation
on the knowing of him.

Yet I miss him.
An anchor gone from my seasons
of the sea.

The sea is very thin this day
That Archie Ruag has gone.

Vietnam War Memorial

Gaunt with grief:
Motionless:
Stilled, Silenced:
Cold December day:
Grey and bleak.

I could not move:
Stunned:
Frozen in Time:
Unbelieving:
Damn it all!
Damn!
It!
All!

It was not my war
don’t you know?
They were not my people
don’t you see?
Do I protest too much?

Name engraved black marble slabs
rising from the earth
sear into my soul.
Burning deep to feel the pain,
of so many deaths, such futility.
Ball of fire flames my chest,
chills the marrow of my bones.

Subterranean edifice hurts me awake,
transforms deep memories
for my own kind.
Fellow Humans.

Americans,
Vietnamese,
All peoples
caught in the sinister web
of dark and deadly shadows
that lurk in all of us:
Hate, Greed and Power.

I circle the profanity of war,
nerve center of our world.
Grimly aware thought:
Our world must be transformed:
Our world must be changed:

And we must do it.
Transforming ourselves
then others in swift urgency.
Else the memoirs
of our civilization
are no more than
Monuments To The Dead.

Our Dead:
Yours
And
Mine.

Weaving

Let me share it –

This symphony of autumn color,
cascading melody from a sky
pastel grey and fiery red.
Descant to the dancing tones of
a painted forest
cooled by lush evergreens.
Sensual beauty,
rhapsody of forest and sunset sky
fused as a golden sheen.
Caught in a still lake
waiting with patience
Beyond time and space,
Waiting
to reflect this moment of
splendor –

Weaving.

Let me share it.

Autumn Sunset