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Jude Neale & Bonnie Nish

Jude Neale is a Canadian poet, vocalist, spoken word performer and mentor. She publishes frequently in journals, anthologies, and e-zines. She was shortlisted, highly commended and finalist for many international competitions including:  The Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize (Ireland), The International Poetic Republic Poetry Prize (U.K),The Mary Chalmers Smith Poetry Prize (UK), The Wenlock International Poetry Competition (UK) and the Carers International Poetry Prize (UK). Jude has written six books.


Bonnie Nish is Executive Director of Pandora’s Collective Outreach Society. Bonnie has been widely published worldwide in such places as The Ottawa Arts Review, The Danforth Review, Haunted Waters Press, Illness Crisis & Loss Journal Volume 24 and The Blue Print Review. She has won prizes for her writing and work has been performed to both music and dance all over North America including at the Palace of the Legion of Honours in San Francisco. Bonnie’s first book of poetry Love and Bones was released by Karma Press in 2013.

The Word

There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
~ Mark Strand, “Eating Poetry”

I string words like pearls
across the verdant landscape 
of my mind.

They walk with me,
every mile held together 

with meaning so clear,
that the nouns and verbs 
paint a pointillist painting.

My fingers are slick with rhyme,
as I am thrown back 
into a dizzying reverie 
of mood and distance.

I catch them like starfish
and press each of them firmly 
onto my fresh page,

where they stand together,
sway with context or whimsy.

I write a poem juicy 
as a wet pomegranate,
dripping down hot flesh.

Or find one hiding shyly
In the dusty recesses 
of stubborn memory.

All of this I know today,

when all I asked for 
was just one good line – 

stuck together 
with the paste of good living 
and the hardships slow grind.

Only You

When the wind turns and asks, in my father’s voice, 
Have you prayed?
~ Li-Young Lee, “Have You Prayed?”

I have answered too many questions
as the wind blows through the house.

I have bent low on my knees,
an origami body folded in with suffering.

The words of the dead imprint on my tongue.

I have flown from knowing your tears,
a river of silver, a river of blood,

to wearing your heart
on my sleeve.

I call your name beautiful,
though it dissolves like smoke
behind a mirror of tears.

I have a chalice
for this filigreed grief,
as the dust of a 1000 dead lilies
leaves a bridge 

only you can cross.

What Is Not Mine

Inside the box, two flaking albums their pages loose.
~ John Steffler

How can I see you when the dark
is in the way of your perfection?

Your old hand
can’t even
fold tissue
into squares

where secrets float.

Now, no one else cares
about these black and white photos.
Dust covers of memory
slipped between our fingers.

I can’t capture the silence,
the unsung melody,
of the Blue Danube Waltz.

The dances of your youth
that whirled you
into the bright orange sky,

where black-lined stockings
and Jimmy Dean hair
found you wishing for more.

Your cigarette stuck behind your ear,
and your tee-shirt rolled
just above your biceps.

A rebellion in dress walking my way.

You tried to hold me
in your hooded eyes,
but I put you down


to take what is not mine.


From Cantata in Two Voices
by Jude Neale & Bonnie Nish
© 2018 Jude Neale & Bonnie Nish
Published by Ekstasis Editions