Poetry

O'Leary's Prophecy (The Goal)

Though fifty years have passed
Fans retain vivid recall
Of exactly where they were
When Espo's shot came back to Paul

I sat in the Chem Lab
With all the rest at Abbey High
Glued to the fuzzy screen
Of a diminutive black and white

All across our trembling nation
Vancouver, the exception of course,
White-knuckled on the edge of seats
Canadians had shouted themselves hoarse

Last of an eight game series
The final four played on Moscow's turf
Team Canada had endured a lesson
On what the Soviet mettle was worth

Third period, with an even score
Minutes, then seconds running out
Canada had to take the win
Or Russia handed us the rout

Tretiak, a rock between the pipes,
Had become an impenetrable wall
Everyone thought him bulletproof
...Everyone but Paul

As tension mounted ever higher
Our nation defied impending Doom
Reality skewed into slow motion when
Eagleson locked Fate in the dressing room

Foster Hewitt still led the play-by-play
Though somewhere far off, in a dream,
Time quickly snapped back into place
As his voice rose to a scream*

Number 19, at the crease
Picked off the loose rebound
And fired the puck into the net
As mighty Tretiak was going down

Thirty-four seconds left upon the clock
Team Canada backed into a hole
All heroes who knew no quit
Paul Henderson scored THE GOAL!

Back home and around the globe
The broadcast sizzled through the air
Moscow exploded in a frenzy
Hockey players were everywhere

Our super team: guts, heart and soul,
Never ever giving up
Won fortune above the Holy Grail
Even beyond the Stanley Cup

Relief escalated to euphoria
The Chem Lab rocking with our cheers
(Listen close, you'll hear the echoes
Even after fifty years)

And, with a slap upon my back
O'Leary grinned and said to me
"I'm telling you right now, Joe,
That's the greatest goal we'll ever see!"

C. C. Phillips, January, 2022

"HE SCORES!! HENDERSON HAS SCORED FOR CANADA!"
Foster Hewitt, Summit Series, September 28, 1972
Game #8. Canada 6 - USSR 5

The Autograph Book

(For Auburn)

As you grow up to be a lady
And begin to face the world
Know that, in my eyes
You are Daddy's little girl
And if on some occasion
This old world seems to treat you bad,
You can always turn to
My little girl's dad.

And even after I've become
A simple name upon some stone
Turn your weary thoughts to me
And know you're not alone
For I will be there with you
In your heart you'll feel my touch,
Take happy reassurance knowing
I love my little girl so much.

And when your time is near
To pass through those pearly gates
Remember that a father's love
Survives time, calendars and dates
Lightly step across the threshold
Into that perfect world
And I shall be there waiting
For Daddy's little girl

When Would I Go

You've travelled the world
And you ought to know,
You say I should leave here
But when would I go?

Would I leave in springtime
When the crocuses flower,
Cranes wheel overhead,
Wild geese call by the hour?

Perhaps in summer
When the hills are alive.
Doe and fawn raid the garden;
Golden eagles rule the sky.

Maybe in autumn
When copper leaves fall;
Coyote's guard hair grow long;
Bull elk bugles his call.

Or when winter runs wild,
Frozen bit in his teeth.
It's time to fire the yule log
And hang up the wreath.

Now I've packed my grip,
One last look round the room.
A glance through the window:
There's a crocus in bloom.

You've travelled the world
And you ought to know,
You say I should leave here
But when would I go?

A Cowboy Led the Donkey

Them fellows who wrote the Bible
May frown on a cowboy's ways
But let me explain a little known fact
I've traced our roots back to those days

Though a donkey has long ears
And he is a trifle small of frame,
Far from a modern saddle' horse,
He's a beast of burden all the same

The donkey carried Mary,
The Virgin heavy with her child
Joseph had to break that burro
To lead so gentle and so mild

A city dude wouldn't lead a mule,
An' he'd let a lady walk.
Joseph took it all in stride
And that donkey didn't balk.

At the long journey's end,
The Lady and the donkey needed rest
Though the accommodations were in a stable,
Joseph had done his level best.

The weary Lady and beast were cared for,
You can bet, to that Joseph saw.
And, later on that night,
Jesus was born there in the straw.

So Joseph was a cowboy
Way back there at the start,
He didn't wear chaps or ridin' boots,
But he had a cowboy's heart.

Canine Angels

If thur ain't no dogs in Heaven
Wouldn't thet be Hell?
Like drawin' a bucket o' dust
From a dried up well

Thur ain't no point denyin'
Th' canine is a feller's bestest friend
An' shore as shootin' I'm ahopin'
Thur's dogs at th' Round-up's end

The pups ya meet 'crost a lifetime
Can amount t' quite a few
An' each an' every one
Is as special as me an' you

An' they leave a gapin' hole
No other critter kin ever fill
It's downright heartbreakin'
When they go over thet last hill

So I reckon thet there After-life
Includes every mutt an' pedigree
'Cause thur ain't no 'life' without dogs
Or so it seems t' me

An' most has earned thur spurs
Didn't come along jes' for th' ride
They done thur solemn duty
An' deserve a spot on th' other side

In fact, I bet th' Great Almighty
Keeps a passel for hisself
For a canine ya kin alwuss trust
When thur ain't nobody else

Shucks, thur could be dogs aplenty
Wigglin' and waggin' all over th' place
Barkin' an' chasin' thur tails
Or lickin' some angel's face

So, I figure t' go out with m' boots on
When I've played out m' last hand
Don' need no pipes or minstrels
Jes' a few dogs bayin' in th' band

They can escort me 'crost th' Deevide
An' through th' sorting gate
Let me renew canine acquaintance
An' I'll be contented with m' fate

Blazing Trails

(For Dusty)

As you struggle through life and forge ahead
There will be resistance a-plenty
And don't be surprised at the rainbow's end
If that 'pot of gold' turns up empty

Though it's all uphill with the wind in your face
No matter how far you may roam
It will be downhill and the wind at your back
Whenever your thoughts bring you home

Winging Minstrels

I search the skies for that first throng
To herald the Wintersmith's duty done
They honk and call their ancient song
“Another change of season's come”

So it has been since time untold.
And still I marvel as they wing
Do wild geese trail the shrinking cold
Or is it they who fetch the spring

The Last Adventure

Five hundred years ago
An outcast beggar came
Through the streets of Barcelona
To implore the King of Spain

His hair was long and white and wispy
His stride slow and bent
Los niños taunted insults
As, along the cobblestones he went

The years had sculpt their passing
And time had marked its turn
He had the far gaze of a sailor
And how those faded eyes did burn

With raised chin and squared posture
Through the royal portal he passed
Ferdinand must honour this petition
For it would surely be the last

El guardia roughly seized the cadger
And were surprised by his strength
As he was wrestled to the ground
The ancient bellowed out at length

“Scatter you meek peasants
The Queen has fled the hive
Por Dios! I should have audience
If fair Isabella were alive”

King Ferdinand in the courtyard
Heard the angry shout
He reached the palace gate
Before guards threw the beggar out

The voice of the mariner
Caused the sovereign concern
He ordered the guards release him
And bade the sailor speak his turn

The seaman begged, not for himself
But for his sons he plead
That they may live in honour
Long after he was dead

For well he'd served the country
Proven time and time again
This wretched soul had oft risked life
For the King and Queen of Spain

The King feigned compassion
And bade the sailor wait
While he called for a trifle
Then led the old man to the gate

Royalty soon forgot the moment
The old mariner passed away
In a tomb near Valladolid
At eternal rest he lay

A few historians may note
The monarch on that throne
Who meted out a pittance
And sent the weary beggar home

May all the world remember
The old sailor and the shame
Admiral of the Ocean Sea...
Christopher Columbus was his name