OHF Abroad – 2023.1


Scroll down to read all poems, or select the poem title to go directly to that poem. Select the author’s name to view a short biography (if supplied) and all poems by that author.

Check the map to see where OHF Abroad poems come from.

A trip to ProvincetownConroy Dockal, Roswell, Georgia, USA

Playing with WordsRon Gillis, North Sydney, Nova Scotia

My Grandparents’ HouseCiara K. Harris, Galway, Ireland

Louisbourg FortressGuohua Li, Montebello, New York, USA

No TomorrowsDon Macmillan, Lac Brome, Quebec

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A trip to Provincetown

Poem by Conroy Dockall

Skeins of golden waves amble toward wading men
Standing shadows unaware of a tsunami

We are in love
Gladly lying down with dogs

Tears make their way into the poem
Pages melt when the first red tear strikes

This house has turned to crystal
All that light can afford

Pay attention:
No more Leonard Cohen songs
As ambiguous as the Delphic Oracle…

We coax our minds to the bodies
Now in ashes maybe in urns

Beyond the narrow gate of sorrow
The swells repeat

On the sand
On their feet

Why I Wrote this Poem

It’s forever in my DNA to pay tribute and never forget the lost ones… my people… my tribe… my elders… to a forgotten pandemic.

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Playing with Words

Poem by Ron Gillis

I’m a Cape Breton writer, enjoy playing with words.
Adjectives, nouns, pronouns, verbs.

Tools of my trade, items of my past,
pencil with eraser, scribbler with paragraphs.

Fictional, fact, words that I penned
heard at theatre Savoy as red curtain ascends.

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My Grandparents’ House

Poem by Ciara K. Harris

At Union Street, a little girl ascends
Her footsteps creaking, squeaking every step
She enters now to see a lumpy bed
Inhabited by many kids before.
She settles in to sleep. Her eyes stay wide.
Beyond the window, werewolves start to howl
As bells far in the distance start to chime
The smell of must and moth-balls all around.
Some magazines sit by the darkened wall
Above, a row of knick-knacks stand on guard
A rubber ducky, floating in a pool
Of blue gelatinous liquid, cloaked with dust.
A foot away, the ducky’s neighbor sits,
A magnet for the child’s fearful eyes
A skull with sharp incisors sitting there
Its lack of eyes observing her as well
Foreseeing hysterectomies, and knees
That crack, and ostomies. Alas, poor girl
Whose fear was from her brain, not from the skull.
Ceramic demons later fled her mind,
Her aged imagination now abhorred
To think of all the dust collected since.

Why I Wrote this Poem

I have a very specific memory from my childhood of being terrified of this fake, vampire-fanged skull on display in one of my grandparents’ spare rooms. It was apparently leftover from when my sister had to perform the “Alas, poor Yorick” speech from Hamlet for a high school project. It made me think about how, despite the fact that I’ve aged and my fears have become more rooted in reality, the house has remained completely unchanged. The urge to write the poem arose when I saw the skull again years later, and found out its Shakespearian context.

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Louisbourg Fortress

Poem by Guohua Li

Fortified with blood and stones
for the mirage of empire,
the fortress faded into ruins
under the watch of the sea’s sage eye.

Why I Wrote this Poem

When I toured the Louisbourg Fortress last August, it was windy and rainy. The echoes of history were brought back to life by the roaring sea. This poem came to my mind as an internal monologue.

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No Tomorrows

Poem by Don Macmillan

Tomorrow waits upon us
What does it have in store
Casting light and shadow
Flings open one more door

Uniquely conscious of tomorrow
We may worry, plan, rejoice
Nature, spared of these reflections,
Surrounds us, indifferent to our voice

For there are no tomorrows
Those creations of the mind
Though NOW is all we’ve ever had
With eyes wide open, we are blind

Yesterdays are now behind us
Those tomorrows are now so few
We fumble for that precious key
New pathways to pursue

But tomorrow’s pace, unchanging,
We’re simply swept along in time
Till that final door slams shut
Sublime, we enter the Divine.

Why I Wrote this Poem

These days one often hears of the importance of “living in the moment.” Well into my retirement, I am increasingly aware that on the trundling train of life, I have many more station stops in the past than there could be into the future. And so enjoying and painting today’s sceneries is what’s important; thus my poem, “No Tomorrows” has emerged.

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