Colin Ward was born in 1954 in Brampton, Ontario and, after much wandering, has
resided in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada for the last thirty years. His work has
appeared online in venues ranging from Beside the White Chickens to
Autumn Sky Poetry and has been anthologized in David W. Mitchell's
Talus and Scree. Colin says, "If you've heard of me you're reading too much
God's Lake Narrows Pilgrimage
Of course the gods speak only Chippewa.
They whistle through stone teeth at God-Speaks-Rock,
wind gusts between the hollowed crags. I saw
your nervous gaze, your gait a wedding walk,
each step a destination, as you clutched
your offering to the old ones. You passed
a block, one sculptor short of art, and touched
it, wondering: "What question will I ask?"
This wendigo memory returns at night
when solitudes arrive in pairs: the first
a language lost in waves, the silent plight
of peaceful tribes; the second is a thirst
for what might drown us all, a thirst more clear
and dear than water. This vision of you persists:
you, standing on that ridge, its edge too near,
the breeze too strong, those flowers in your fists.
The prairie slumbers on. There are more trains
than places here. We watch them centipede
along their fate-worn tracks, across the plains
until the sight, the scent, and sound recede.
This autumn hasn't spared the goldenrods;
thirteen is colder in the fall. You seem
to dwell within your query to the gods:
"What would you give to sleep, perchance to dream?"
The following poem was written by Vilem Pollak, who died in his teens at Terezin
in 1945. The poem was translated from the original Czech by Martin Rocek
and Colin Ward. Rocek explained the story to Ward in an email: "Pollak was a
friend of my father; they were in Terezin together, survived the selection in
Auschwitz, were in a slave labor camp afterwards, and then on a hunger march at
the end. My father was one of the few who survived the march (just barely). The
poem is called "Deti" (Children) and presumably refers to what are known as the
Bialystok children—if I have the details correct,
there was an agreement to ransom some children from Bialystok, but they were in
such bad shape that they were transferred to Terezin and put into a special
isolated area with better conditions. The deal fell through and they were gassed
in Auschwitz. Pollak of course did not know this—he
just knew that a strange group of children was brought to an isolated part of
Terezin, and that they suddenly disappeared."
by Vilem Pollak
translated by Martin Rocek and Colin Ward
Against the wind, beneath these icy skies,
the long queue lurched in packed anticipation.
Could my eyes, my disbelieving eyes,
be seeing ghosts? Be seeing apparitions?
Like tubers buried deep beneath the earth
that sprouted prematurely, tiny blips,
they came, then went, as one denying birth—
gone from our lips, yes, even from our lips.
The darkness blanches into memory,
recalling the light traces of that day,
each child's crusade, though in no hurry,
is under way, already under way.
The roots of that disordered walk have strayed
beyond the flowered path and rooted pack.
I ache for blossoms, petals bright and splayed,
their exodus and promised journey back.
The spring retreats, its promise spent
on tulip kiss and poplar musk.
The summer's greening rays relent
when day meets dark at purpling dusk.
Twin tumbleweeds roll past and part
the dirt to sketch in chicken tracks,
so soon obscured: convectional art
mandalas till the winds
Come autumn, combines comb the fields
to harvest gold canola oil
for toast before November yields
its cold. Like whitened coffee, soil
beneath integument snow extols
the blood and bone of remnant souls.
Embracing Arms: Business End
I envy you your quiet sleep
but I have gone where promise lies
in shadowed doorway, castle keep,
the shallow drains of orphans' eyes.
I've gone to where the prophet lost
disciples to the fear we've sold
and then, at business end, I've washed
the blood away with beer and gold.
Like you those days and nights are past;
these digits say I must retire
to memoirs, pensions, myths that last,
still drawing comfort from the fire.
Looking for Lorca
"Where is my moon?"
words of the Lorca character in Marcos Zurinaga's film, "The Disappearance of
When Andalusian dogs don't bark
Granada nights are calm, like this.
No Cante Jondo violins
call gypsy spirits. Caught in flight,
no butterfly denies its mark.
There are no New York trains to miss.
Havana lingers. Franco wins
no prize beyond
this candle light.
Let five years pass before we speak
of nightingales among these birds.
You sang as if to mourn the sun
that sank at five this afternoon.
No lovers stray, no blood can leak
from sutured scars or silphion words,
but here, between the things undone,
I like to think
I found your moon.
Eva" (published by Autumn Sky Poetry) is an experiment in hypertext